Although I am not a trained psychologist, but I did stay at a Holiday Inn in Happy Valley, I had to let everyone vent for a few days after the season opener at Penn State. And did you folks ever vent. Whoa! Get off that ledge and get yourself a glass of red wine.
So now here with the help of Dr. Frasier Crane, I'll try and put the Golden Panthers FIRST game in perspective for the Golden Panthers faithful and anyone else who reads the GPP who may need help understanding the state of FIU football right now.
OK, so the score wasn't pretty, but let's start with the positives of the season opener. Yes, there were positives.
On offense, there was actually some imagination and guts in the play calling. The little flip screen in the middle of the field from Wayne Younger to Daunte Owens that went for 13 yards was something not seen on this team before. How about the creativity of using one of your fastest players, Lionell Singleton, on offense. LS caught a 22-yard pass from Younger. Freshman receiver Greg Ellingson looked good too and wait until he gets bigger and faster with some time in a college weight room.
After Younger got the ball stripped from him early on, the redshirt freshman kept his poise and did a decent job in his first college start.
Sticking with the positives, the FIU D-line did a great job stuffing the Penn State run in the first half. FIU was just as fast as Penn State. They only surrendered 35 yards rushing and this without some key players (more on that later). Punter Chris Cook also had a pretty good game showing improvement from last season. But you know it's all not rosy when the punter makes the highlights. No offense, Chris.
Now to what FIU needs to work on. The offense's inability to sustain a drive, outside of the late first half possession, may have been what turned this game. This led to the defense getting worn down in the second half and 35 2nd half points by Penn State. The offensive line did not show much improvement from last season. There were no holes for the backs to run through and Younger was pressured too much.
The D-line showed up against the run, but was non-existent with the pass rush. Boy, was El Monstruo ever missed. This was just a two touchdown game against the No. 17 team with less than 3 minutes left before halftime. But the result of those touchdowns was another concern. Both scores were the result of blown coverages and missing defensive backs (more on that later). STeams and offense need to hold on to that football. Although it was given only one shot, the kicking game was not good either.
So Dr. Holiday Inn, what's the diagnosis of FIU, you ask?
It's a VERY young team (67 of the 91 players on the roster are either freshmen or sophomores). That's more than 2/3 of the team if my math is correct. FIU lost a lot of talented seniors (C. Williams, congrats on the Dolphins signing). Now these freshmen and sophs have to step in and they are going to make underclassmen mistakes.
Not only that, the cupboard was not left completely full by the previous staff. This is a transition year. MC has brought in about 20+ of his players and will need to continue stockpiling talent.
Patience is needed here folks. The program was not left in the best state. This is not a 1-year turnaround. These young players have to develop at the college football level and in the weight room. There will be growing pains, but the program now seems headed in the right direction.
For the critics, of T.D.A.O.S., you folks just don't seem to grasp the concept. Go back and read some blogs from March and April. FIU folks, let's quote the philosopher Reginald Martinez Jackson for those that have jumped on FIU after one game: "They don't boo nobodies."
The days of the head coach leaving before the beat reporter after practice are over. No more gotta beat that Turnpike traffic. The new head coach actually burns the midnight oil now.
One former FIU assistant recently told me nearly 2/3 of Florida high schools had never had FIU recruiting on their campus until this season. It doesn't cost much to rent a car and drive.
The practices have intensity and there's no fear of trying different things, like the shotgun on offense. There is discipline and it was much needed.
These are just some examples and these things needed to happen. The W's will come. In SFla, it is a mountain to ask, but patience is needed with this program. Until then pour a glass of merlot, breathe and watch this program grow.
Here's our WinaBlog leaderboard after Week 1: (send in your Maryland predictions before Friday at 11:59 pm)
1-0: Fomentor (27 points), FIU Fanatic (28), NY Josh (31), 24/7-11 (32), FIUJfer (38), FIUPantherFan (38), Messod (38), GPP (41), Crazy Cane (41), MRedArmy (42), Hay (44), FIU rulez (45), WOrta1128 (45), FIUmom (46), yippee (47), CJ (48), FIU0406 (49), JMFIU (51), Baltimorepanther (55), Roman (55), YouGotGold (55).
0-1: alt7787 (60), SouthPaw (61), FIUandME (62), FIU4Ever (62), FIU-GO-PAWZz (62), FIU300 (62), NYCFIUFan (62), Quijote (62), fiugrad (65), TheInsider (71).
SouthPaw: Here are your answers: Penerton (suspended 1 game team rules, will play Sat.) R. Jones (suspended 1 game team rules will play Sat.), Weatherspoon (academically ineligible out for season), M. Jones (2nd team), Flood (2nd team), Parrish (sprained ankle, should play Sat.), C. Bryant (foot fracture, out for now), J. Hill (2nd team, but should play Sat.), Rucker (stress foot fracture out for a while), Henderson (acad. ineligible), Frye (not ready to play - MC's words), Ned (suspended 1 game team rules, will play Sat.), Wiggins (not ready to play). Marshall McDuffie was kicked off the team with Chris Smith last season. Murrell is suspended for this season, but is expected back for next year.
alt7787: It looks like it's Wayne Younger's job for now. MC said this morning that Paul McCall and Colt Anderson may get into the Maryland game.
CJ: Yes, that would be a good idea if fans wore blue and/or gold to games.
UMCane, Howard S., Andy D, Reality Check, FIUDejection: Welcome to the GPP!
Howard S., Andy D, Reality Check: Troy was the Sun Belt champion last year. Although Middle Tennessee tied for first, Troy was the SBC champ due to tiebreaker.
24/7-11: And I thought you only visited the GPP for the FIU witches. Now, it shows that you really do care about the writings of yours truly. You're even wondering, praying and counting down the days until the next GPP blog. Thanks for the support! Here are the girls anyway.............................