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8 posts from August 2007

August 30, 2007

Depth Thoughts & This Week's Prediction

The first depth chart came out on Tuesday for the Penn State game and there were some surprises or were there?? (wink, wink)

I think the most important position on the first Golden Panthers depth chart was at the bottom of the page: subject to change. August 27, 2007.

Belichick From Bill Belichick to Al Bundy (he played a coach in a kids pee-wee football movie), Bundy_4 football coaches will not always reveal their true game day intentions and with good reason: don't want to give the opponent any edge.

  So let's peruse the first depth chart and with a nod to the Handey classic Saturday Night Live skit "Deep Thoughts" (the hilarious one-line segments of life's wisdoms), let's blog our depth thoughts.

"If you have 3 quarterbacks, do you have 1 plus 2 or do you have 2 plus 1 or do you have 75 cents." -- Depth Thoughts.

Let's not even visit the QB position here, b/c we all know the daily saga.

Not a surprise to see Daunte Owens leapfrog A'mod Ned as the 2nd RB to Julian Reams. Owens had an outstanding camp and is able to run between the tackles and has the burst to go outside. Wouldn't surprise to see Owens lead FIU in rushing in any game this season.

Jeremy Dickens, Greg Ellingson and Jason Frierson deserve to be atop the receivers chart. Each one of them stood out this month. James Rucker, Kendall Berry and Torrelt Solomon also had nice camps. John Houston Whiddon is back at receiver after his defensive back experiment. If he's consistent watch out for Solomon, who has the speed and hands to emerge.

Eric Kirchenberg and Moses Hinton look to be tight ends 1A and 1B. Both can stretch the field and have good hands.

The O-line is a work in progress. Read my story in the Herald today for more. http://www.miamiherald.com/sports/story/219938.html

Cody Pellicer has been one of the more pleasant surprises on the defense. Yes, he may not yet have the bulk of a typical D-linemen, but he's got a heck of a motor. With the D-line you should expect to see plenty of rotation so I don't know how accurate the DC is there.

Same thing with the LBs. Remember, before some folks hyperventilate about the sizes of some of these defenders, on defense you have to move bodies in and out to keep people fresh, especially when you're going against a Top 20 team like Penn State.

Outside of Pellicer, the other name that stood out on the defensive DC was safety Alonzia Phillips. The former touch football player from the FIU intramural fields really made an impression this summer. Phillips intercepted like one pass per practice and is extremely fast. He's also spent a ton of time watching film on his own. The kid really missed being away from football and wants to have one great final season.

Jury_3 The kicking game, well, the jury is still out on that one.

But it's not out on the GPP's thoughts for Saturday. Thanks to all who have chimed in with their scores. We'll make Fridays at 11:59 PM EST the deadline to submit predictions.

Since I'm a guest blogger here all the time, my score won't count towards the "Win a GPP Blog" contest, but here are thoughts on the season opener.

The FIU defense should keep this game from being a rout. Depending on what the Golden Panthers new spread offense does will determine whether FIU stays within reach of Penn State. The norm in college football or the NFL for that matter is that opening games are usually NOT blowouts.  2 years ago, FIU came within 2 touchdowns at Kansas State. Joe Pa's gang is a little better than KSU. But I think FIU will play respectable. GPP predicts: Penn State 34, FIU 16.

Will be blogging next time live from Happy Valley!

PANTHER PAWSE

For those not making the trip to Penn State, you can catch Saturday's game on DirectTV Channel 221.

Welcome to the GPP: FIUbusiness, FIU0406, NYCFIUFan, FIU300 and pe323.

FIU Fanatic: Great to hear there will be a good number of FIU traveling to Happy Valley. Along with FIUBlue82 thanks for the kind words on the FIU Preview in the Herald today.

FIUmom: Thanks for the correction on Wayne Younger, for some reason I kept missing the redshirt year on him.

YouGotGold: Eric Kirchenberg is eligible to play this season and should make an impact for FIU.

staugpanther: FIU Fanatic posted a link to the depth chart in the comments section of the last blog.

NYCFIUFan: Welcome to the GPP, you are our second reader from New York. At last count we had reached 11 states, Europe and Puerto Rico.Jlop  As far as the QB situation, what I wrote in today's FIU preview is what I'm guessing since MC has been tight-lipped about it. Wayne Younger will probably take the first snap and you probably will see Paul McCall in there. Unless one of them turns into Dan Marino, they will rotate as MC and James Coley see fit. Colt Anderson may see playing time when FIU gets out of the non-conference sked.

WOrta1128: FIU hosts USF to open the new stadium and I believe Alabama may be playing here in the future. I'll check on other future home non-conference opponents and have your answer on the next blog.

pe323: Good post on the gravy. But some folks want to predict with their hearts, that's OK, that's what makes all of us fans anyway.

Crazy Cane: The reason MC was the right choice for FIU is because the Golden Panthers needed someone with proven recruiting skills, a disciplinarian and with plenty of energy. Yes, he doesn't have head coaching experience, but at the stage FIU is in right now with its program that's secondary. FIU needs as many elite players as they can get as they build the program. MC has surrounded himself with some good assistants and his coaching experience will come. NOT making a comparison here, but, hey, Oldshula Don Shula was a young head coach at one time with no experience. Again NOT comparing MC to Shula, before anyone starts to pound their keyboard. But ask the Baltimore Colts and the Dolphins about that coaching hire. It worked out pretty well.

August 27, 2007

The Mystery of the 3-Headed Quarterback

Nothing has been made official on the FIU quarterback situation as of Monday afternoon.

Maybe today is the day after practice when MC announces his starting quarterback, but regardless of whether he does or not....solving the Golden Panthers starting QB against Penn State or QB mystery for 2007 may not be that complicated. Neither is your chance to win an opportunity to be a guest blogger for a day on the GPP. Details after our mystery.

Scooby_2  While the GPP thought of contacting Scooby and the gang or even Sherlock Shomes Holmes, we figured why not take a stab at "The Mystery of the 3-Headed Quarterback" ourselves.

You guys can also play along at home with the home version by sending in your comments. Here we go....

The players in this case are: sophomore Wayne Younger (good feet and mobility, improving accuracy), sophomore Paul McCall (good arm, mobility not as bad as some may think) and freshman Colt Anderson (has all the tools, may or may not be ready for college game speed). The site of the mystery is FIU's new AstroPlay practice field facing SW 8 Street.

The clues are scarce as one look at the FIU depth chart for the Penn State game shows. On the depth chart this is how the starting quarterback is listed: C. Anderson/P. McCall/W. Younger. So in other words, the average fan reading the DC will come to conclusion that 1 of the 3 will take the first snap. Elementary, My Dear Watson!

But we know that you good folks who read the GPP are not the average fan, so we'll press on....

After scouring for clues on the practice field, around Pharmed Arena and asking questions of MC, the 3 QBs, James Coley and anyone else involved with this mystery, here's the conclusion the GPP has come up with.

Wayne Younger and Paul McCall will probably alternate depending on the game's situation. Right now, Younger is the most mobile and with an O-line that is developing, WY may be the most suited to run the Clip offense. That's not to say PM will have a clipboard glued to his hand. The gut feeling here is when the coaching staff feels a change is needed in the game or if WY struggles then PM will enter. PM wasn't really given a full shot last year to show what he has. Might be wrong, but the thinking here is CA may hold the clipboard the longest while he's worked into the rotation slowly, because he is the future of this team and you don't want to shellshock the kid.

OK, in honor of Bob Barker stepping down from the Price is Right earlier this year, we're going to start Bbeaut our own game show where one lucky person can write their own blog on the GPP after the season concludes with the Orange Bowl finale against North Texas on Dec. 1. Of course, if FIU wins the Sun Belt or another bowl invitation we'll move the guest blog date to after the bowl game.

Here's how you can play: Each week before FIU's game send in your game prediction with a score. Example: FIU 24, Penn State 23. Whoever has the most correction predictions on FIU's 12-game schedule will win a guest blog. There will probably be several people with the same number of correct games so the tiebreaker will be the overall closest to the exact score of each game. Continuing with the example above: if the actual score of the game is PSU 30, FIU 10, then I'm 0-1 and I missed the exact score by 21 points (PSU 30-23=7, FIU 24-10=14) Therefore I'm minus 21 on the season. We'll add up each week's games to the point total. In the tiebreaker, the person with the lowest points total at the end of the season will win the showcase and the guest blog.

Standings and point totals will be posted each week on the GPP and you MUST predict ALL 12 games in order to be eligible. All persons in the U.S. and the world are eligible to enter, but you must be over 18 or have your parent sign a permission slip. Thanks and enjoy!

PANTHER PAWSE Gppaw

FIUJM & FIU Fanatic: Marquis Rolle is looking like he will be ineligible for this season. As far as FIUJM's question about not naming a QB being good or bad. I'll bet the team already knows who the QB is, but it can only help if Penn State does not.

FIUGolden: I'm hearing there may be a pep rally before the Maryland game since it's the home opener. Haven't heard anything on Penn State game.

Hay: PG left enough space when he re-designed the stands in the new stadium so that soccer can be played on the new field. FIU is still talking to MLS to bring a team down here. Looks like PG is taking a lot of the home field advantages from the OB into the new FIU Stadium.

MancuniasRedArmy: I've had some news on FIU baseball in recent previous blogs, regarding the new assistants and the 2008 schedule. Spoke with Sergio Rouco the other day at football practice and he's very excited about this season. The Golden Panthers begin hoops training camp in mid-October. We'll have an FIU basketball blog soon. And another FIU baseball one as the season draws closer.

UltimateFIUFan & FIUBlue82: FIU hoops plays Dec. 29 of this year at Purdue and Dec. 31 at Kentucky.Judd_2   The non-conference home sked features: South Florida (Nov. 26), Hurricanes (Dec. 8) and George Mason (Dec. 21). The cat quick FIU guard is Kenneth White, who transferred from Texas A&M. He hit a half-court shot to win one of the Pharmed League games this summer.

CJ: The rivalry with the Hurricanes should continue in football, especially since North Texas bowed out of the Hurricanes sked in 2008. But what I'm hearing is the Hurricanes do not want to play FIU.

SouthPaw: Good take on QB situation. But I don't know if you throw CA to the Lions (no pun intended).

WOrta1128: Everything is coming down for the new stadium. The north stands will remain for the first year before they build the student center in Phase 2. There will be new locker rooms and weight room where the current field house is now.

seiscervezas: If your buddy Bruce Hardy shows up this Saturday at FIU, he'll be disappointed, because all the players will be in Happy Valley, PA.

August 22, 2007

Last Golden Panther Out, Please Turn Off the Lights

It's still dark on the FIU quarterback situation, as MC said today that he'll need to see 3 more scrimmage-like practices with Wayne Younger, Paul McCall and Colt Anderson taking reps before making a decision. And soon it will be dark in a historic football stadium, while a future football stadium is moving right along on schedule.

First, with the OB take and then we'll get to FIU Stadium news. . .No shocker as the Orange Bowl lost their second tenant after this season on Tuesday. FIU was already gone after its 2007 season finale for a new on-campus stadium and now the Hurricanes are exiting stage left as well as they move to Joe Robbie Stadium (always will be JRS) next season.

Ob However, it's the team that is the one-year renter that gets to turn out the lights on Switchthe venerable stadium. With the Hurricanes finishing their home schedule Nov. 10, the Golden Panthers host the final 3 football games at the OB -- Nov. 17 (Louisiana-Lafayette), Nov. 24 (FAU) and Dec. 1 (North Texas).

Yes, it'll be sad to see the OB go, after all the Miami Dolphins had some great years there. The first Dolphins game saw Joe Auer return the opening kickoff 95 yards for a TD, but Miami lost to Oakland. Of course, The Perfect Season of 1972. Never will forget Marino_2 seeing Dan Marino's home debut against the Buffalo Bills, a 38-35 OT loss. The Dolphins Monday Night mastery of the then-undefeated 1985 Chicago Bears as Dolphins players from the 1972 Perfect Season roamed the sidelines that night. A true home field advantage for the Dolphins.

Speaking with AD Pete Garcia on Wednesday, it looks like FIU Stadium will be built to have a true home field advantage as well. PG made some changes to the design of the stadium. Garcia said: "We wanted to incorporate a lot of the home field advantages that the Orange Bowl had. For instance, being close to the field, we made that a priority for us and we wanted to make sure our fans feel like they could almost touch the players. The seats will be the minimum distance from the field that the NCAA allows. As we are going into different phases of the stadium we are designing it so it can be the loudest place that it can possibly be. The biggest part of that is having the fans as close to the field as possible."

PG also said they are pretty much done building the foundations of the stadium and in early October construction will begin on the east end zone and continue until the west end zone. Unlike, previous whispers there will be NO open end on any part of the stadium. The stadium will be enclosed all the way around. PG added construction is right on schedule. FIU opens the stadium next September against South Florida.

As for that item about the Hurricanes asking FIU to join them in the OB, when PG was with the Hurricanes he approached FIU about joining them. But then PG took the job at FIU and the Hurricanes re-visited the idea. By then FIU was ready to build its on-campus stadium.

PANTHER PAWSEFiupaw

Quijote Pimpalito: The cafeteria reference by MC was to fire up the kickers, because of their poor showing in Saturday's scrimmage. Apparently, it worked because in Tuesday's practice in the Orange Bowl they made all 4 field goals. Dustin Rivest even hit one from 50 yards.

Bee Before we move on here, reading some of the comments from the last blog it looks like you guys want to have a spelling bee between FIU and the Hurricanes. Caunt mee out, I uuse Spelchek. Or maybe I should.

WOrta 1128: Wayne Younger's high weight this summer was 190, but is currently down to 181. MC says Younger has a tough time maintaing weight, because of a fast metabolism. Like most college football programs, FIU has two eating tables: the fat people table and the skinny people. Younger eats at the fat people table.

yippee: Colt Anderson is not that much heavier than Younger. CA is listed at 195, but that's a generous 195. At 19 years of age he is still filling out and wait until strength coach Roderick Moore gets him in the weight room. He'll be 215-220 by next season. Because he's got two years in a college weight room under his belt, Paul McCall may be the strongest of the QBs to withstand the hits they may get this season.

Quijote: Not sure if you're related to Pimpalito, above, but anyway, love your enthusiasm in the blog, but let's try to keep it clean. The GPP Claw had to come out on several words of your post. 

FIUDad: If we're witness to another year of missed field goals and extra points, then I would have to agree with you. I would much rather watch missed field goals and extra points from someone like this:

Kiusa_2 God Bless America and Kathy Ireland!  

August 20, 2007

MC Gets a Kick Out of Who?

Sinatra    Obviously for a team that was winless last season there are number of questions Stew that need to be addressed this month as the Golden Panthers and their new coaching staff prepare to open the season at Penn State on Sept. 1.

The big ???s mostly center around the offense: QB, O-line and kickers. That's not to say the defense is set to go, but we all saw that the major issues were when FIU had the ball last season.

Yes, QB and O-line are uncertain, but the kicking game is what I think has MC and co. scratching their heads the most right now. We'll update the QB and O-line situation in a second, but unlike Frank Sinatra and Stewie Griffin, I don't think MC knows who he gets a kick out of right now.

(For those not familiar with the Sinatra and Stewie reference: Old Blue Eyes had a hit song called "I Get a Kick Out of You". Stewie sang the song on an episode of Family Guy). Back to the blog....

With walk-on kicker Chris Abed on the sidelines with a quad strain, Dustin Rivest and John Paul Fraites combined to miss 4 of 5 field goals in Saturday's scrimmage. This prompted MC to yell "I'm going to go Doris to the cafeteria to find a kicker".

Lunchr_2  Being this late in camp and without any kicker showing he deserves the job, I don't see how a trip to the FIU lunch hall would hurt. Heck, the FIU soccer team is working out right next to the football team each afternoon as the Golden Panther futboleros (that's probably not a word) began their training camp. I'm sure MC will walk about 15 yards west and check out the soccer players.

This FIU team lacks experience and the last thing they need is to play a close game with a chance to win late and not have a reliable kicker. Judging from camp, Abed seems to have the strongest leg of the 3, but none of the 3 has yet to show any consistency. There's less than 2 weeks before the opener, maybe by then someone emerges.

The quarterback competition is pretty much down to 3 with Darold Hughes out with a hamstring strain. He might end up being redshirted. With the other 3 (Wayne Younger, Paul McCall and Colt Anderson) they each do something well. If you combined the three you eventually would have an all-Sun Belt QB.

As has been documented here before, Younger has got the elusiveness and speed. However, offensive coordinator James Coley has really fixed Younger's throwing motion and he seems more confident each day. Last season, Younger threw the football like a pitcher in baseball, this month he's throwing it like a QB.

With the spread offense, some GPP readers have discounted McCall. I say hold your horses. McCall is a smart guy, who may know that offense better than the other 2. While he's not Randall Cunningham with Randall his feet, McCall can be shifty and right now may have the strongest arm of the 3.

If he does what he's supposed to do to get better, Anderson will eventually have the starting job all to himself. He is the most talented overall of the 3, but needs some seasoning and a year in a college weight room. So what's it look like this season behind center?

With a relatively green offense, why not experiment and use more than one quarterback. Go with the hot hand. We have already seen in spring that Coley is a pretty creative guy when it comes to play calling and FIU won't be playing for a national title this season so why not try out different formations with different QBs and see what happens. Just a thought. Let's see when a starter is announced later this week.

Speaking with MC today, he said the O-line is getting better, opening some holes and protecting. Right now, they are looking for the best combination on the line, that's why freshman Brad Serini is playing center and Xavier Shannon has switched to guard. You need versatility on the line and Serini, although he is a freshman, seems to have a bright future.

Look, the FIU offense averaged 9.6 points per game last season, a new spread offense was brought in and any effort made to spice things up is a welcomed change. Will it all work, who knows, but if you don't do something to try and change that scoring average you'll stay stuck at a 9.6.

PANTHER PAWSE

YouGotGold: There are several good walk-ons that could have an impact. One is safety Alonzia Phillips (check out the Miami Herald on Tuesday for him). Phillips has been all over the secondary this summer and made numerous INTs. He's an FIU track standout who may be the fastest Golden Panther. As others develop I'll post about them here.

yippee: The Miami Herald thanks you for the photo. Needed something other than a kicking photo for that story.

Dc Dall  WOrta1128: Right now there are no significant injuries, just some bumps and bruises. Lionell Singleton had a minor shoulder injury, but he said today that he's OK. I think you can expect to see some 2 TE sets like the Dallas Cowboys, especially with the talent FIU has at TE.

SouthPaw: The Heat-Seeking Missile is a good start for a Scott Bryant nickname, but that might be too wordy. Let's see him make some plays this season and then we'll take a vote on here.

FIUandMe: Scott Bear Bryant is clever. But with "El Oso" we may have a winner there. Like above, let's see Scott show some of "El Monstruo" and Keke this season and then we'll vote.

UltimateFIUFan: There's really no good news about FIU in many of the season previews. Most have them going 0-12 again or winning just 1 or 2 games. But hey, that's why they play the games.

Manguera: La Amenaza. I had to think about that one for Bryant. We'll see.

FIUmom: The Predator is under consideration. I'll run all these nicknames by Scott and see what he thinks.

FIU Fanatic: I really didn't find the PB Post's blog as taking a shot over here. Marcus Nelson, who writes that blog, is a good guy. He was referring to the Sun Sports reporter who was here for the MC feature on the Sun Sports Preview show. The reporter told me she remembered that last year's practices were not anything like what she saw that Friday morning when she made "The Braveheart" comment.

Quijote: Hopefully, your kicking concerns were answered above. I'll have more on them as camp progresses.

fiugrad: FIU baseball does have USC, ASU and the Hurricanes on next year's sked. I have not heard about FSU or USF yet, nor Texas, but I wouldn't be surprised if they appeared on the sked. T.D.A.O.S. is reaching the baseball program.

john rodriguez: Welcome to the GPP! Yes, I have worn a jockstrap before. Played high school baseball. No, I did not play in college or the pros. My intentions are not to sound tough on this blog, but rather to point out the fact that FIU baseball needed a change. The program was getting stale and losing interest with the local high schools in South Florida. Since your comment was written PG-rated, it will remain posted on this blog. At the GPP we take the storms with the sunshine. I think Reggie Jackson said it Reg Liberty best: "They don't boo nobodies". Here's the beauty of this country and sports: we are all free to express our opinions. The readers of the GPP have theirs and they are all welcomed here (including yourself) as long as they are written PG-rated. The Herald pays me to express mine here. Once again, thanks for your interest in the GPP.

August 16, 2007

Postcard from Camp Cristobal

Bch_2 Greetings, from Camp Cristobal. Wish you were here. Well, you can be.

Only two more days for you folks to get a glance of the Golden Panthers in person as practices are closed beginning Monday. This Saturday the team will scrimmage at 8 a.m.

Unlike my postcard to you all, the Golden Panthers will tell you the scorching summer practices on the AstroPlay field are anything but lounging on a beach chair under a palm tree with a tropical drink and a little umbrella in it. In fact, players may tell you camp is a bee-ach, but in the long run they'll be better for it.

Anyways, with daily FIU features (among them a wrestler, DJ and pianist)http://www.miamiherald.com/sports/colleges/fiu/story/202448.html

http://www.miamiherald.com/sports/colleges/fiu/story/204879.html

and FIU preview stories keeping me away from the GPP the last 5 days, it's time to sneak in some Cristobal Camp tidbits and some FIU baseball news.

Looks like the QB battle may go on a bit longer since none of the 4 have yet to standout. Wayne Younger is taking all the first team reps and just because of his ability to run the spread offense I got a feeling he'll be under center for the first snap at Penn State. But I still stick with my earlier comment that Colt Anderson will be the regular QB of this team.

The other day Anderson showed why MC went to Nebraska to get him. During 7-on-7 drills, the play was breaking down and the defense was closing in on Anderson. The freshman kept his poise and stepped up in the pocket and with several defenders hands in his face, CA did a Doug Flutie-like hop and easily Flutie delivered a dump pass to A'mod Ned, who took off. Not that CA is 5-8, he's 6-4, but the D-line's hands blocked his vision.

Daunte Owens is turning heads at running back. Hurt most of last season, Owens has the speed to run outside and the toughness to pound it inside. Julian Reams is also carrying the ball with more authority. RB coach Mike Cassano has shown him how to prevent fumbles.

While the receivers keep impressing, tight end Eric Kirchenberg is looking as good or better than Moses Hinton. EK, who MC brought from Caneland, has velcro hands and can get upfield. Might see plenty of 2 TE sets with those two.

The defense still looks strong. Up front along with Roland Clarke, Jonathan Betancourt and Audric Adger have bullied the O-line on occassion.

Speaking of the O-line, really can't get a grasp on them yet. One play they'll protect the QB and open a big hole for the RBs, but on the next they break down. Maybe we'll get a better look in Saturday's scrimmage.

Linebacker Scotty Bryant is not as big "El Monstruo", but that guy is all over the place. He's has EM's speed in Keke Bouie's body. Need to come up with a nickname for that guy. Tyler Clawson has also had a solid camp at Bouie's old spot, middle LB.

You folks need to show up and check this team out for yourself in Saturday's scrimmage. Like the personality of William Wallace and his FIU coaches, the scrimmages are NOT like other teams' Flag_3 scrimmages -- a glorified version of flag football. Send me your thoughts after watching the scrimmage.

On to FIU national pastime news. While camping this week at FIU, I ran into TT in the football offices and word is FIU will play a 4-game series this upcoming season at Arizona State. Add to it that the Golden Panthers home opener is a 3-game series with USC and I'd say TT is not backing away from playing real teams. No more University of Puffcake lining the FIU baseball sked.

Also, heard from several local high school coaches that TT has rounded up about 17 new pitchers and that TT is actually visiting schools the previous FIU coaching staff never went to. Former Louisville 1st baseman and cleanup hitter Jorge Castillo is now a Golden Panther. He was named MVP of his summer league playoffs hitting 4 HRs in 5 starts and a walk-off HR in the 9th inning to win the league title. Suddenly, FIU baseball, like football, is getting interesting.

PANTHER PAWSE Fiupaw

Before we get to GPP mail, check out "El Monstruo" Antwan Barnes on national TV Sunday night on NBC when the Ravens host the Giants. No, the Peacock network did not pay me to say that. There's been nothing to watch on there since Seinfeld ended its run.

FIU Fanatic: Toronto Smith is an interesting guy. He was supposedly headed to N.C. State, but the Wolfpack ran out of scholies. From what I hear he can play ball, but has yet to stand out in camp. Marquis Rolle is awaiting word from the NCAA Clearinghouse to practice. He's ready to put on the FIU uni, but the NCAA has to clear him.

FIUJUM: Hinton is lining up on the 1st team, but like I said above watch for Kirch. Joey Myers has also made some plays in camp as well.

Ultimate FIUFan: Speaking with Alexander Bostic, he tells me Keke in is Pahokee getting ready to start up his own business. No word on Sam Smith. Last we heard, Sam was cut from the Saints camp.

A Miami timeout here....Since I sent the postcard atop this blog from Miami, let's take a break from the mail to send another postcard of another Miami beauty.............................. Eva_2  

FI-UM Fan: GPP is glad to provide damn good summer reading. Well said on NY Josh's practice diatribe.

CJ: Speaking with Coach Mirabal yesterday, he confirms he no longer heads butt players without a helmet. He does say he's pleased with the TEs progress.

FIUandMe: The offense did not show up in the OB scrimmage the other night. They have been hot and cold all summer. Let's see which one comes out on Saturday.

WOrta1128: You gotta think the O-line will get better with one season under its belt, but they have yet to show any consistency. Here's hoping that the defense is just that good that they are making the O-line look shaky.

Aijail_2  NY Josh: Certainly a Columbia grad like yourself knows that practice is important. I wouldn't put too much stock into anything AI says when it comes to practice. However, if you're looking for help on how to do cornrows then he's your man.

Congratulations to Atlanta Braves manager Bobby Cox on breaking the all-time ejections record with his 132nd career ejection on Tuesday night. Bobby got 133 last night and he's never juiced. Getting tossed out of games has been all natural for Bobby. Bc_2

August 11, 2007

Braveheart and The Offense

   For a moment early Friday morning, Kristen Hewitt didn't know if she was in Scotland or FIU.

   The Sun Sports reporter in town to do a feature on the Golden Panthers and MC, was greeted with a wake up call of "Those Days Are Over, Son!" before the Golden Panthers took the field for their workout on a hot as Hades morning.

   What Hewitt saw was MC rallying the team before the first workout in full pads. Said Hewitt: "He was moving his arms wildly all over the place and yelling and then he sprinted onto the field and the players followed behind him. It was like a scene out of Braveheart."  Mc_3 Braveher_3 

   The feature on FIU head coach William Wallace airs Monday night at 7pm and 10pm on Sun Sports.

   Today (Saturday morning), the Golden Panthers scrimmaged for the first time this camp and the offense showed what it can do.

   Once again, the receivers looked like the strong suit, more on them later, but the running game got on track behind good blocking by the o-line and power running by Julian Reams and slick cutting by A'mod Ned.

   Reams and Ned combined for 135 yards with Ned getting 84 and a touchdown. If these two can put it together, FIU may have a decent running game.

   The quarterbacks showed something as well. Not that it might mean anything, but Wayne Younger again got first snaps. He went 6 of 14 for 65 yards with 1 TD and 1 INT. Paul McCall was 3 of 7 for 26 yards. While they are just one week into college, Colt Anderson and Darold Hughes displayed their talents.

Pene   Judging from the first week and AGAIN, it's only 1 week, but for my 2 cents, Anderson seems to have the most natural quarterback skills -- with his throws, footwork and pocket awareness. But again, what can 2 cents buy you these days?

Anderson had a nice 15-yard quarterback draw and connected with Travis Felder for 21 yards on another play. Anderson was 5 of 10 for 64 yards.

   Hughes started slow with an incomplete and a pick, but rebounded with a 35-yard pass to Torrelt Solomon, who made an acrobatic catch along the sideline. Then Hughes found freshman James Rucker, who looks like the real deal, in the corner of the end zone for a 16-yard TD. Hughes was 4 of 8 for 55 yards.

   MC said he expects to have a decision on the starting quarterback late this upcoming week.

   As for those receivers, Freshman Jason Frierson probably had the catch of the day -- no, not the Tro_2 lemon pepper trout -- when he used all of his 5-8 frame to snag one-handed a pass over the middle.

   Freshman Greg Ellingson (who -- again 2 cents -- I think will be a starter before the season ends) made another good catch going out of bounds on a deep sideline pass. Besides the 35-yarder, Solomon caught another pass across his body.

   Tight end Joey Myers, who along with fullback John Ellis were the most underused talent last season, held on to a pass while getting clocked in traffic and Jeremy Dickens made a leaping grab.

   Those warriors from Braveheart looked like they could play D and so did FIU's defense on Saturday. Kent Henderson, who was sorely missed last season, picked off Younger at the 10-yard line and was home free for a 90-yard TD. Freshman Devin Parrish intercepted Hughes. Jarvis Penerton, Audric Adger, Tyler Clawson and James Wiggins all had one sack.

   While this was just a scrimmage and the defense really didn't show much as far as schemes go, it was encouraging to see the offense show some life after averaging just 9.5 points per game last season and heck, Kristen got a kick out of it, too!

PANTHER PAWSE

FIUBlueandGold: Reams has the tools to be that every down back, but Ned is just as good, because of his moves in the open field. They both have the potential to be 1,000-yard backs, but now they got to show it.

FIU Fanatic: Like he said in the Q & A, MC welcomes back all former Golden Panther players. Watching Bostic coach these past few days, gives me the impression that he'll be a good one. During one moment in Friday's practice, Bostic was diving on the ground showing one linebacker how to make a stop on the goal line.

FI-UM Fan: Practices are definitely more entertaining than years past. Here's MC on why he changes the practice routines every day: "The more you can create sudden change, the more you can create the unexpected, the better. What you want to do is prevent your team when a situation comes about that you weren't expecting to start running around like a chicken with its head cut off. We want to make sure by the end of camp, regardless of the situation -- that our guys are up, recognize the situation and go attack it." The "Play It" drill he brought in is going to help this team. In the drill, he stops practice and creates a game situation for the offense and defense. Friday, he lined them up in 1st and Goal from the 3-yard line.

Let's break some of this print monotony for a second with a quick hello from the FIU witches: Chrm_2

Lok-co: NY Josh did not write Georgia Southern is in Division II. That was my mistake that I did not double check before I pressed save on the last blog. That would be E-W, if you're scoring at home: error on the writer.

CJ: They really hit for the first time today during the scrimmage. More FIU stories will be in the paper and on-line soon. Right now, juggling the Herald's FIU preview (which comes out Aug. 30) and going to practice daily. 20 days until Happy Valley.

FIUJM: Check FIUsports.com daily to see if practices are open to the public.

Before getting back to the preview and practice, the GPP would like to congratulate baseball's true All-time Home Run King: Henry Aaron. Someone may have squeezed a little too much juice for 756, but not the Hammer for his 755.Ha

August 06, 2007

Fall Practice Preview: The Defense

In about 17 hours the Golden Panthers will open fall practice and you're invited to come check it out.

The first practice tonight is open to the public. The team takes the field at 7:45 p.m. Practices will be held on the fields behind the parking garage that stands just north of the basketball arena.

Let's wrap up our fall practice preview continuing with the FIU defense and of course, with our classic TV theme....

Munsters Defensive Line: The Munsters

You may have seen this one coming with the departure of "El Monstruo" Antwan Barnes to the Baltimore Ravens. There is plenty of experience and talent on the defensive front with Roland Clarke, Jarvis Penerton, Reggie Jones and here's someone to keep an eye on: Jonathan Betancourt, who always seems to cause havoc in the offensive backfield. The promising freshman class features Ricky Booker, who from what I'm hearing has the same motor as "El Monstruo". But let's not get ahead of ourselves because Barnes's shoes are pretty big to fill. Curtis Bryant, Bryan Frye and Cody Pellicer all have a chance with the rest of this unit to become "Los Monstruos".

Linebackers: Cheers                                                         Cheers

Last year, FIU was the place where everybody knew their names: Keyonvis Bouie, Alexander Bostic, James Black and sometimes even when "El Monstruo" lined up in the linebacker slot, these guys were the heart and soul of the 28th best defense in the nation and the No. 1 ranked defense in the nation in tackles for loss.

This year's linebacking corps won't exactly make you shout "Norm!" when you first see them (there isn't a Norm among them), but get to know them, because there's potential there led by Scott Bryant, who had a strong spring. Matt Garris showed his versatility when he was forced to play d-line after all the suspensions last year. Now, Garris returns to his natural position and that can only help. Mannie Wellington made some plays when pressed into duty last season and Michael Dominguez also can play. Having seen a couple of Jarvis Wilson's games last season at Carol City, I think he might emerge.

Ent_2 Defensive backs: Entourage

Ok, this is not classic TV, but it will be. The writing is great and Ari Gold (Jeremy Piven) is hilarious. Right now, Lionell Singleton is getting all the publicity from the national media when it comes to FIU, but the other members of the defensive backfield entourage can make a name for themselves with their play this season. Robert Mitchell looked like he was on the verge of breaking out last season with that interception returned for a TD against South Florida and Jeremiah Weatherspoon and Cory Fleming also contributed. Keep an eye on Kent Henderson. The last time he was on the field for FIU we saw him have a huge game against Middle Tennessee in the 2005 season finale. With former safety Chris Smith (now with the Philadelphia Eagles), Henderson knocked down the final play Hail Mary to preserve FIU's last win a 35-31 triumph over the Blue Raiders in December of 2005. Wow, doing the math, that makes it 21 months since the last FIU win.

Special Teams: The Jeffersons                                             Jeffer_2

Yes, we all know they were anything but special last season. So we'll turn to George and Weesie and sing...."They'll be moving on up" or at least we imagine that's the only way to go. Just seeing some of the drills new special teams coach Apollo Wright had his new unit doing in the spring is cause for optimisim. Several former Golden Panthers who were standing next to me and talking, told me they had not seen some of Apollo's ST drills since high school or had never seen them at all.

Apollo Ring the bell, Apollo, "ding-ding"....let's get this season started.

PANTHER PAWSE No. 27

FIUBlue82: I think not only with the wide receivers, but with any position group on this team -- anyone can wind up the starter. It's a new coaching staff and as is the case when a new staff takes over, that staff will likely have a different eye for talent than the previous one. Player A may have been considered a starter for Strock, but maybe MC doesn't think of Player A that way. We'll find out in the next 3 weeks.

CJ: I do appreciate the history behind Golden Panther academics and the founding of FIU, but let me Stoob make like Captain Stubing here and direct this boat that we call the GPP back on course to FIU sports.

FIU Fanatic & Puma: I'll look into the soccer and get back to you.

YouGotGold: Football practices will be held this season in the fields behind the parking garage that is north of the FIU basketball arena. You could see the fields on the left when you're driving west on SW 8 Street between SW 107 Ave. and SW 117 Ave.

scUMsanitizer: I can not stop laughing at your Gainesville photos. That was awesome!

Baltimorepanther & yippee & FIU-GO-PAWZz: Thanks for the blog props.

B & G: Why does the Herald cover Montoya so much in NASCAR, I really don't know, but that's a good question. I'm not a big auto racing fan. I covered the IRL a couple of times when they're down here in March -- that's the extent of my Herald experience with the autos. You can e-mail our auto racing writer Sarah Rothschild at srothschild@miamiherald.com and ask her. I do thank you for your interest in the Golden Panthers Prowl.

August 01, 2007

Fall Practice Preview: The Offense

Plenty of questions abound on both sides of the ball as fall practice nears for the 2007 season. A number of key players on both offense and defense were lost to graduation and the NFL, so let's see what we can make of the 2007 Golden Panthers before Camp Cristobal opens next Monday night.

Since fall usually signifies the start of the new television season, let's see if we can tie each of the position groups to a classic TV show here. First, the offense. . .

Quarterbacks: Three's Company 3c_2

Better make that four adding Cindy or Terri. With 4 QBs to choose from, offensive coordinator James Coley is sure to be keeping long hours watching each practice film and carefully studying each quarterback in practice to see who will be under center against Penn State on Sept. 1. It's a new offense: spread and after spring practice many on this blog think Wayne Younger is the guy. Yes, Younger had a great spring and Coley helped him with his throwing mechanics which were a little off last season. But don't discount Paul McCall. Although he did not stand out as much as Younger in spring, when he has to run McCall has shown the ability to move. Freshmen Colt Anderson and Darold Hughes look great on film, but they weren't playing Penn State or Arkansas in those games. Let's see how the rookies do in the next 4 weeks.

Trek Running backs: Star Trek

Never was a big fan of this show, more a Star Wars fan. Anyhow, since Rashod Smith graduated FIU has been on a trek for that star running back. Julian Reams has all the tools to be that guy, but has yet to put it together. A'mod Ned has the speed, but has also had the injury bug. Yes, the offensive line has to block for anyone to run effectively and we'll get to that, but until his senior season, Smith, never had a great o-line. Incorporating fullback John Ellis more, like MC and Coley did in the spring, will work out. Ellis had some nice runs and caught some passes in March. Be interesting to see what Daunte Owens and Devon Freeman can do. MC said seniority has nothing to do with who plays. May the best back show up this month.

Receivers and Tight ends: The Wonder Years Wy

There is a plethora of talent in this group. Ash Parker, Jeremy Dickens and John Houston Whiddon showed some flashes last year during their freshman season. Coaches are really high on incoming freshmen Greg Ellingson, Marquis Rolle, Kendall Berry and Jason Frierson. With the spread offense, these receivers should see plenty of action. Not to mention tight end Moses Hinton, who has made it a habit of dragging tacklers with him when he catches the ball. Plus, there's also tight end Joey Myers, who was so underused last season by the previous coaching staff. This could be the strength of the offense if someone can get them the ball consistently.

Offensive Line: Mission: Impossible ?  

Mi Before Tom Cruise took it to the big screen, MI was on TV. The reason I added a question mark to the title is because the o-line's mission: to block people and open up holes for the backs, is not impossible. Last year, there was a complete turnover of the o-line and it showed with Josh Padrick running for his life and backs getting stuck at the line of scrimmage. But with one year under their belts the o-line can only get better, right? Some reinforcements are in with freshmen Brad Serini from New York, Ernest Goodley and Georgia's Chris Cawthon to help out Xavier Shannon, Jeffrey Eugene, Joe Alajajian and Andy Leavine. Plus, there are now 2 coaches to show this unit the way. MC and o-line coach Greg Laffere, both of who were former o-linemen.

Wh_2 Kicker: What's Happening 

The last thing FIU fans want to see is a "Re-run" of last season. Ok, that was a bad pun. My bad. But you get the idea. Most of your e-mails have been asking about the kicking situation this season. As camp draws near, there are 3 candidates looking to win the starting kicking job: incumbent Dustin Rivest, newcomer Chris Abed and quarterback-turned-kicker John Paul Fraites, who was All-State in high school. Rivest had some good moments last season and has worked diligently since last season ended. I saw Abed kick for Cypress Bay High a few games and the kid has a pretty good leg. Fraites, who did not get a chance to kick last season, was all-state so he has talent. Let's see who's lining up for that first field goal in September.

Send in your thoughts and concerns with the offense. On the next blog, we'll turn the channel to the defense.

PANTHER PAWSE No. 26

CJ: The Miami Herald's FIU preview runs on Thursday, August 30.

YouGotGold: TT will have three assistant coaches: a pitching coach, fielding coach and a volunteer assistant.

gpantera: Glad the GPP could bring the Jersey noise.

FIUBlue82: As soon as the July numbers come out, we'll post them. Last month we stayed at No. 4 in sports, but dropped to No. 10 out of 32. Politics, Crime, TV and Gossip blogs leaped the GPP.

FI-UM Fan: They haven't decided which FIU football practices will be open yet, but MC said there will be some that will be open to the public. As soon as I know I'll post it here.

24/7: Read FIU X's explanation in the last blog's comments regarding the politics of the Florida legislature. All that political stuff doesn't really interest me. That's the reason I didn't choose to be a political writer.


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