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10 posts from September 2007

September 29, 2007

Countdown to FIU/MT Kickoff

MURFREESBORO - Howdy from near the Music City on the campus of Middle Tennessee. We're about two hours from kickoff where one team will end a long losing streak.

Just learned that Middle Tennessee will be going with their true freshman quarterback Dwight Dasher and not Joe Craddock (back contusion) who helped put up 42 points against Louisville. Yes, the Cardinals are overrated but regardless, Craddock is good.

For those future meterologists: very low humidity, clear blue skies and a comfortable 70 degrees up Mete_2 here. The weather's been as pretty as the sights as a visit to downtown Simp Nashville confirmed last night. Yes, Daisy's in Georgia, but Tennessee borders Ga. Close enough.

But enough of that, before I get another e-mail from that one reader who e-mails me saying I should not write about what's going on outside of the football part of my trip.

Oh, the heck with him. If you're ever in Nashville make sure you get downtown. Lots to do.

Which brings us back to the Golden Panthers. Since FIU is such a young team, it's imperative that the Golden Panthers get off to a good start tonight, especially since they are on the road where they have struggled throughout the years.

MT is just as hungry to get that first win and this is a conference game so the Blue Raiders are going to kick it up a notch.

One thing about FIU this season is that they have always put themselves behind the 8 ball in the 1st Ocho quarter. That can't happen tonight if the 16-game drought is to end.

Let's see this FIU offense finally show what it can do with the spread scheme. Score some points (more than 10, please) and let the Golden Panthers D stuff MT. Do that and they'll be singing country tunes on the plane ride home.

PANTHER PAWSE

Puma: Spoke with PG recently and the FIU soccer program is here to stay contrary to all those rumors, which were just that -- rumors. You can't get rid of a soccer program if you're trying to lure pro soccer to FIU's new stadium.

Why is the FIU offense so anemic you ask. It's a new scheme (FIU went from a pro-set offense to a spread with the new coaching staff). The players are young and the Golden Panthers could use some more talent on O, because not much was left by the previous coach. The play-calling has been much better than years past and the scheme is designed to take advantage of the speed MC is recruiting in players. Also think the quarterbacks need more experience. Wayne Younger got better last week against Kansas starting 12 of 13 in passing. Let's see what happens tonight.

CJ: The new FIU stadium rendering you saw is accurate on the concourse. There will be a concourse in the west end zone side where fans can walk and see the game from. That latest rendering is not completely accurate in the sense that it's a drawing that has only 35,000 seats on there. When the rendering with 45,000 seats is produced then you can get a better sense of what the stadium is going to look like.

Quijote: The reason FIU basketball is playing Purdue and Kentucky in December is because NCAA hoops begins conference play in January and there are less dates to play out-of-conference games. And I don't know about Dec. 31 being such a great date to play hoops anyway, because everybody's got New Year's parties on their minds. Purdue and Kentucky were scheduled by PG and Sergio.

Bso alt7787: Go Red Sox!

TNGolden Panther: You won't be the only FIU fan in Johnny Red Floyd Stadium tonight. The Golden Panthers are bringing fans.

This is a public service message to the readers of this blog....Could we please keep the "my school's academics are better than yours" off to another blog. The GPP appreciates your interest in this blog. We really do! But no one really cares which school cafeteria makes the better chocolate chip cookies or who has the better erasers or parking. These academic rants are like car accidents -- there will be a handful of people that will stop and look, but I think the majority of us would like to just keep driving or in this case, reading. Thank you very much.

September 27, 2007

Sixteen Candles

The infamy started in Murfreesboro, Tenn. last season when what looked like an FIU offense that was going to blow out a Middle Tennessee defense fell flat after the opening 17-play, 80-yard touchdown drive.

The infamy is of course, the 16-game losing streak the Golden Panthers are currently on -- the nation's longest. So is there a better place to end this misery than against the team and at the place where it started?

Sixt_3Birthdays are traditionally celebrated with candles, so why not celebrate the deathday of the losing streak with candles as well, sixteen candles.

Saturday's game will not be as easy as some people believe. Many of you have written in predicting an FIU win, but here are things the Golden Panthers must do to blow out the streak.

1) Obviously, score. Need more than the high 10-point game FIU posted against Maryland. The MT defense can be scored on as FAU, Louisville, LSU and Western Kentucky have shown. FIU needs to sustain drives (CONVERT 3rd downs) and be able to run the ball so that Wayne Younger gets time to throw. When given time last week, Younger started the game 12 for 13 passing.

2) FIU's D needs to contain MT QB Dwight Dasher, who is just as elusive as Younger. Mobile QBs have always been sore point for the FIU D (see Louisiana-Lafayette's Jerry Babb, Troy's Omar Haugabook, USF's Matt Grothe and last week KU's Todd Reesing). If Dasher is able to run, then FIU's secondary is in for a long day, because the passing game will open up.

3) If MT's regular QB Joe Craddock (back injury) returns for this game, it will be tough for FIU to snap the streak. I know Louisville is overrated, but Craddock had that offense going against the Cardinals. He is not only a good runner, but he's a much better passer than Dasher.

Was going to add that FIU needs to make an extra point (last year's game was 7-6), but let's get real. There was no excuse for the Golden Panthers to score only 6 points in last year's game, especially with the way the offense manhandled MT's D on the first drive. Offensive adjustments were never made to MT's D's adjustments after that first drive last year.

Can the Golden Panthers turn Johnny Red Floyd Stadium into a library and snap their losing streak that Library seems to get mentioned every other day on ESPN's College Football Live Show?

Sure, why not, since we're on the theme of candles, cakes and birthdays, FIU breaks the losing skid on the week of Catherine Zeta-Jones' birthday. Oh and by the way, Zetaj_3 FIU's head coach turned 37 on Monday.

Don't think it will be as ugly a game as last year's 7-overtime sleeping pill against North Texas, but it could be a struggle for points in this one.

GPP thinks: FIU 19, MT 16

PANTHER PAWSE

UltimateFIUFan: Plays have been run for Moses Hinton, but either he has not been open or Younger hasn't been able to get him the ball. Like you, I did not expect him to have only 1 catch for 49 yards through four games, but let's see what Sun Belt play brings.

YouGotGold: I would not be surprised if the FIU playbook has not been completely opened with Sun Belt play yet to start. But you have to admit, the plays in this offense are much more imaginative and less predictable than years past.

NYCFIUFan: Here are the basics about FAU's stadium: 30,000 capacity, cost $62 million, 20 skyboxes, opens in 2010 vs. Michigan State.

CJ: Lionell Singleton will be alternating with Greg Ellingson and others in punt and kick returns. Like MC said yesterday, the depth chart that is released each Wednesday is NOT official. I've learned from Cam_2 college and the NFL not to read too much into depth charts. Deception is a big part of football, just ask Bill Belichick.

FIUJM: Speaking with MC this week, Marquis Rolle is rounding into "football shape" after missing all of camp in August. Rolle was in on 20 plays last week, but no passes were thrown at him. MC says Rolle could play about half the game or maybe three quarters as of this week.

FIUBlue82: After August, the GPP dropped to No. 5 when the Herald combined the Dade and Broward high school blogs. We'll get back up this month.

FI-UM Fan: Yes, MC has said he will wear shirt and tie on the sidelines each game. He said it is to respect the position of head coach and to represent the university well.

fiugrad78: Hey, I got baseball fever as much you do. The playoffs start next week, it's October or Actober as the commercial with Dane Cook goes. I'm going to shoot for an FIU baseball blog when we have the first bye for football which is after the Troy Bosox_3 game next week.

FIUWatch: Welcome to the GPP.

Be blogging to y'all next time from Nashville, Hee-Haw!

September 24, 2007

Think. The Big - - - - - - - Picture

Apparently, the last session several readers of the GPP had with our guest psychologist Dr. Frasier Crane did not really help matters when it comes to putting this season and the state of FIU football in perspective.

So let's try this again, but this time with a different approach so none of you Golden Panthers fans goes Bracco all Paulie Walnuts FOUR games into the season. Let's see if Dr. Melfi and Tony can Soprano help us out here.

GPP people. . .We're not in Kansas anymore (that's the last Wizard of Oz reference here until the 2008 season opener back in Kansas). The out-of-conference schedule is just about done, with the exception of the Oct. 27 game in Arkansas. So now we'll get a better measuring stick of where FIU football is at with games against the Sun Belt.

For those of you who wrote already complaining and hyperventilating about MC....I'll let Mr. Soprano deal out some advice for you folks. As TS said in one episode..."Think. The Big [Frigging] Picture." Of course, he used a more colorful word that begins with "f" and ends with "ing". But hopefully you get "The Picture".

(Before anyone starts pounding the keyboard, I AM NOT COMPARING MC to the coaches in the following examples -- just the situations) Here are two NFL historical examples of what MC DID and DID NOT INHERIT at FIU. Walsh_2 When S.F. 49ers coach Bill Walsh retired in 1988 he went out with a Super Bowl win and left a loaded team for George Seifert. The only thing Seifert had to do was NOT screw it up. He didn't and won the 1989 Super Bowl. If Seifert starts 0-4 with the '89 49ers then he's being run out of town with pitchforks. THIS IS NOT MC'S SITUATION coming into FIU.

MC's situation is more like when Jimmy Johnson inherited the 1989 Dallas Jj Cowboys. Tom Landry went 7-9, 7-8 and 3-13 in his final three seasons and there was a lack of talent on the Cowboys. JJ had to come in and build his team with draft picks and trades -- like the highway robbery of sending mediocre Herschel Walker to Minnesota for a bevy of picks. THIS IS THE SITUATION MC inherited when he took over at FIU.

Forget about the Kansas game for now. Yes, FIU was annihilated, but I think KU may be the best of the 4 BCS teams FIU has played this season. We'll find out for sure when Big XII play starts, but the Jayhawks have a balanced high-powered offense and a stout D. Penn State could not run, but threw on FIU, and its D denied the FIU offense. Maryland will struggle this season. The Hurricanes have a good D, but their offense is like tea -- it's hot and cold.

Now in these next 7 Sun Belt games we'll see where FIU is at. The offense had some spurts in the first half against KU. Wayne Younger went downfield more and the freshmen receivers made some plays. KU focused on A'mod Ned and they shut him down. The defense had no answers for that no-huddle KU offense. That reminded me of the Louisiana-Lafayette no-huddle offense which has given FIU fits over the years. The FIU special teams are better than last season, but are still a work in progress.

So when it comes to FIU this season and next, the GPP like TS says "Think. The Big - - - - - - - Picture". MC has to clean up and build what was left from the previous coach, which is basically nothing. Asking Ja fans down here to follow TS's quote is like asking Jennifer Aniston to be ugly -- it's an impossible task (BTW my pick, Jen over Angelina). But that's where FIU football is at. With each game and practice these young Golden Panthers gain a little more experience and develop. There are too many great athletes down here in our area for FIU not to become a successful football program. The previous FIU leadership did not capitalize on that and that's why FIU is where it's at today. Have faith and "Think. The Big - - - - - - - Picture.

PANTHER PAWSE

GPP WinaBlog leaderboard

4-0: FIUrulez (79), NY Josh (84), FIUPantherFan (86), MRedArmy (90), Formenter (91), FIUmom (96), GPP (96), FIU Fanatic (100), Hay (106), 24/7-11 (107), FIU0406 (108), yippee (121), Crazy Cane (122).

3-1: CJ (111), JMFIU (111), SouthPaw (132).

2-2: Messod (135).

1-3: NYCFIUFan (127), YouGotGold (149).

0-4: alt7787 (151), FIUandME (156).

** FIU/Middle Tennessee scores need to be in by 11:59 pm on Friday, Sept. 28.

quijote: Got to have the Cuban coffee pix in there - good stuff. As far as your Texas A&M question, they are just overrated. I don't think you can read too much into what FIU did vs. the Hurricanes and what the Hurricanes did vs. A&M. Only if FIU and A&M played each other. There is nothing new on the PG situation. And in NO way is getting Don Strock back going to be better for FIU. Like has been said before here you can make a strong argument that DS may have set back the FIU program 2 or 3 years, because of his recruiting and lack of work ethic from practice to game planning.

MRedArmy: MC & PG inherited the brutal out-of-conference schedule from DS & Rick Mello. Word is future out-of-conference games will be toned down some instead of playing a gauntlet of Top 25 teams. MC & PG take control of the sked in 2010. FIU's sked is booked through 2009.

YouGotGold: 1) Chris Cook is just a sophomore and he's still developing. He has gotten better from last season. Read my story on him in Tuesday's Miami Herald for more info. 2) There is no excuse for FIU's offense to be taking those early timeouts vs. the HCs and KU. They need to get better organized, b/c that will cost them in a close game. 3) As far as the QBs in the 4th quarter, I'll look into it and have your answer in the next blog. 4) I don't follow your question about kicking a field goal when down 27-3??

UltimateFIUFan & chil'in man: Nothing is wrong over here. I did not travel to Kansas, because the Herald decided to cut the travel budget for last week. I WILL BE IN Nashville this weekend to cover the FIU/MT game. Looking forward to some good BarBQ and country music.

FIUJM: There is nothing new on the PG front. Ryan Young is a writer from a Kansas newspaper who filled in for me last Saturday. I'll be back with the Golden Panthers this Saturday in Nashville.

Caned_out & fiurabbit: Welcome to the GPP!

Must correct myself on one of the highlights from the Turtle Thomas interview on Descarga Deportiva last Wednesday. It was FIU pitcher Chris Allen whom TT noticed was tipping his pitches last season, and NOT Corey Polizzano. TT fixed Allen's problem and said Polizzano has been hitting the weight room like never before.

September 20, 2007

There's No Place Like Home, There's No Place Like Home

A couple of items make up our title for this latest installment of the GPP.

First of all for the sake of FIU athletics, hopefully PG is thinking this line from the Wizard of Oz: Ozz "There's no place like home, there's no place like home."

Dorothy's home is Kansas and that's where the Golden Panthers are headed on Saturday. More on the FIU/Kansas game in a second.

Not sure how serious the Pitt thing is and only PG knows. But PG has always talked about how he likes to build things. He sees FIU as an athletic monster ready to erupt, because of all the local talent in South Florida. He's also very fond of living in South Florida.

If you think about it, FIU is a perfect set-up to build a college athletic powerhouse. Your backyard is one of the hotbeds, if not the best hotbed for recruiting. FIU is a state university where you can get those walk-ons or hidden gems on your teams, because it's only about $3,000 to go there. I'm sure Turtle Thomas is stocking up on those players as we speak. (More on TT's radio interview later). And FIU is in Miami, which is not only a major market, but is an attraction itself for recruits. FIU is a major Division I university in South Florida. I remember asking PG last year about the number of coaches that applied for the FIU football and baseball jobs before MC and TT were hired. And PG said everyday he received a ton of inquiries about the jobs. The point is: the FIU adminstration needs to wake up and smell the Cafe coffee PG is brewing and the potential FIU sports has.

Now all of the above, doesn't mean squat for PG or for that matter anyone else interested in FIU, if Pres. Maidique and the rest of the FIU administration do not fulfill the committment they made to PG when he was hired last October. I could be wrong, but the Pitt thing is NOT about money for PG's wallet. It is more about $$$$upport for the athletic programs at FIU.

TheFIUFan made very valid points in his post on the last blog. One of which was the impact athletics have on a university. Obviously, that has not been the previous case with FIU, because of a previous inept athletic administration. Now that FIU has someone (PG) that knows how to run a Top 25 Division I athletic department, moves (hiring & firing of coaches) have been made to establish a winning culture and build FIU athletics.

If the FIU administration does not recognize this and does not give the support to the new FIU athletic department, then THEY ARE 2 BLAME if PG bolts. Because unlike some posts on the last blog, I believe to have a top-notch Top 25 Division I athletic department, you need a strong AD and not just a figurehead. This is a moment of truth for FIU's administration to show how serious they are about athletics.

Redsoz_2 Let's have Dorothy take us back to Kansas.

On paper it looks like another mismatch for FIU, but outside of the 2nd half at Penn State, the Golden Panthers have held their own this season.

KU is a 32.5-point favorite and has averaged 53 points in its 3 games. However, I believe like Messod pointed out the Jayhawks have not faced as good a D as FIU's. But the big hiccup to this game is FIU's offense and scoring points. The Golden Panthers have yet to prove they can throw the ball with consistency.

Around KU, there is a t-shirt about KU coach Mark Mangino (picture, right) that reads: "Our Coach Can Outeat YourMang Coach". In this case, Mangino's team can also outscore MC's team.................GPP thinks: KU 42, FIU 13.

On to the diamond....tuning into Descarga Deportiva yesterday, FIU baseball coach Turtle Thomas was on there. Here are some of the highlights from the 15-minute interview.

1) TT says: junior pitcher Steven Stewart, out of all last season with injury, is the real deal and can possibly be the No. 1 starter for FIU this season.

2) Watching lefty pitcher Corey Polizzano, TT immediately noticed Polizzano was tipping his pitches last season which may partly explain his 4-8 record. TT fixed that problem already and also has Polizzano hitting the weight room like never before.

3) Obviously, TT cannot be specific about recruits, but he did mention a catcher from Washington and another from Boston are supposedly headed to FIU next season. When he arrived to the DD show, TT mentioned he had just left the batting cage working with new FIU slugger Jorge Castillo.

PANTHER PAWSE

UltimateFIUFan: There is no local TV or cable for the Kansas game. FIU is on TV (Sun Belt Regional telecast) against Arkansas State 11/3 and against FAU 11/24. From my understanding, MC is not doing any coach's show this season.

CJ: FIU plays at Alabama next season.

Quijote: What new city can we count on the GPP.

alt7787: I would not say FIU football and baseball are a mess and are years away. I think you'll see baseball turnaround quicker, because it's easier to build a baseball team. TT has made wholesale changes to the way the program is being run and you'll notice it this season. With football, MC is a tireless recruiter and he'll have the program back on its feet. Like I've said before, DS did not leave the football program in the best shape for MC.

Kevin, Tal, fiufan751: Welcome all to the GPP!

September 17, 2007

See U Next September. . . .Maybe

See, that wasn't so bad after all, now was it? Turner

The Golden Panthers and Hurricanes can play a good football game in a friendly environment, except for the few knuckleheads that needed a police escort out of the OB. Here's hoping these 2 teams can get together to open next season at Joe Robbie Stadium. Get it done, Dee and Shalalalala.

While Saturday's game wasn't the result FIU was looking for, the Golden Panthers showed there is promise ahead.

Water_2  Now before all "the glass of water is half empty people" come out. Yes, I know FIU lost 23-9, but the organization, attitude and effort that this team has put forth so far this season is a far cry from previous years of FIU football.

Yes, there were more talented players on the 2005 and 2006 teams, but the leadership was not there. NOT the players fault, they didn't have much guidance. Heck, I remember being in Middle Tennessee for last season's opener and watching FIU go right down the field on its opening drive and scoring a touchdown. The offense had MT in a daze. I turned around to FIU media relations people: Margaret Belch and Kevin Hassett and said this game will be 35-0 by halftime and I'll have my story written. But then the Blue Raiders made some adjustments on defense on the next FIU possession and the Golden Panthers couldn't do anything the rest of the game losing 7-6. That's what I mean by missing guidance.

But yesterday is history. Judging from seat 15 of the OB press box on Saturday, here's where FIU stands today.

Dom_2  The defense is still the strength of this team. Those 11 guys kept FIU in the game against Maryland and the canes, plus for the first half against Penn State. The run D held Javarris James and Graig Cooper under 100 yards. The linebackers like Michael Dominguez (picture, left), Scott Bryant, Toronto Smith, Mannie Wellington and Matt Garris are developing. Anthony Gaitor, Lionell Singleton, Robert Mitchell and Alonzia Phillips have played well in the secondary.

Is this defense as good as last year's No. 28 ranked unit? As of now the answer is no. A constant pass rushing threat, like El Monstruo, has yet to emerge. There have been many times this season where opposing QBs sit back there in the pocket scanning the field without worry. The pass defense has been suspect at times. There were breakdowns against Penn State and for a "few moments" on Saturday, Kyle Wright looked like Peyton Manning.

Fores Run A'mod, Run. . .Like he has shown since he arrived at FIU in 2005, Ned, who was Broward County's leading rusher his senior year at Northeast High, is a Ned_3 talented runner with moves, speed and ability to break tackles. Though not as fast as FIU all-time leading rusher Rashod Smith, Ned is very similar. He helped FIU win the time of possession battle against the canes, gained yardage and kept FIU's defense fresh on the sidelines. The 159 yards FIU rushed for against the canes were the most the canes have surrendered since LSU ran for 272 yards against them in the 40-3 2005 Peach Bowl loss.

Now the passing game has to step up. The system is there. This is not your grandfather's 1920's high school pro-set offense that FIU is running. The FIU spread scheme is patterned a bit after LSU's offense. (Yes, half-empty glass people, FIU does not have same type of players, not yet at least). But the system works. The Golden Panthers offensive players just need to develop. The two touchdown passes this season have shown how the spread can work when executed properly. Plus, the misdirection on hand-offs have also helped the running game.

Nobody said FIU was going to win the Sun Belt this season, especially with 68 of its 91 players being either freshmen or sophomores. MC and staff are basically starting from scratch here. An argument could be made that the previous coach set this program back a couple of years.

Having had the chance to see the way the first five years of FIU football were run, I can tell you this program now has a plan, it has direction. Canes receiver Darnell Jenkins said after Saturday's game, "FIU is a team on the rise." Was he being complimentary? You decide. But one thing is for sure, the Golden Panthers won't fall anymore from a lack of preparation or guidance.

PANTHER PAWSE

GPP WinaBlog leaderboard:

3-0: FIU Fanatic (51 points), FIUPantherFan (51), FIUrulez (53), FIUmom (62), Hay (62), MRedArmy (63), Fomentor (64), NY Josh (64), 24/7-11 (72), GPP (73), FIU0406 (77), yippee (81), Crazy Cane (105).

2-1: CJ (69), FIU4EVER (73), JMFIU (79), Messod (80), SouthPaw (90).

1-2: YouGotGold (93)

0-3: FIUandME (97), alt7787 (98), NYCFIUFan (100).

* Scores for Kansas game need to be in before 11:59 pm on Friday, Sept. 21.

NYCFIUFan: The known oral commits for FIU as of this writing are: LB Cory Lattimore, DE Milhomme Jean-Charles and WR/QB Marquee Williams.

As far as the BCS, take away the "C" and that's what it is. I know there is a ton of money in bowl games, but the NCAA should find a way to install a playoff system. It works for NCAA hoops. Every Division I school -- if they have as good a record as the BCS teams should be allowed Boiseto be in a playoff for the national championship. Boise State was a great example last season knocking off Oklahoma.

As far as FIU, right now we'd be putting the carriage in front of the horse. FIU needs to win some Sun Belt titles like Troy and the attention will come, and believe me it will, especially with FIU being in a major market like Miami. And I would not write off the Sun Belt Conference just yet in possibly moving into the BCS picture, especially with the way teams like Troy, FAU and Arkansas State have played well lately against BCS teams. Although FIU has not won any games against BCS foes, the Golden Panthers have generally held their own against those teams. 

Messod: Can't tell you what canes administrators are thinking, but I don't think they got FIU on speed dial to play next season.

UM Cane and g: Welcome both to the GPP!

g: FIU would have trouble making roster cuts if it started a bikini team. How could you set a roster limit on that team with all the lovely ladies walking around FIU?

NY Josh: The GPP responds to all questions and welcomes all posters. Thanks for your help being the GPP's question police, but we'll take it from here. We must be doing something right when this blog is read in 13 states, Puerto Rico and we have Owls, canes and Gators as regulars here.

24/7-11: MC will be all right with recruiting. There is a ton of good football players in Florida and like they have shown with this year's freshmen, the FIU staff has recruiting ties in Nebraska, California, Georgia, Louisiana and Washington D.C. With just three weeks to recruit this past off-season, FIU got some impact players like Anthony Gaitor, shown here picking off Kyle Wright. Gaitor

September 13, 2007

So Hard to Say Good-bye??

48 In less than 48 hours Golden Panthers vs. Hurricanes football will be done and over with. Or will it?

We'll get to the game preview in a second, but first let's see what you good people of the GPP think? Is this the last FIU/canes football game? All signs point to it with the canes saying they're booked until 2011 or 2012. But don't let your jaw drop if you see FIU opening Joe Robbie Stadium next season against the Jrs_2canes in the canes' JRS stadium debut as a home team.

Heck, FIU is already closing one stadium (Orange Bowl) this season, so why not open 2 stadiums next year: the new FIU Stadium and Joe Robbie (before canes fans go hooting and hollering -- that would be FIU opening the stadium as the canes new home stadium, I know JRS has already opened, although I don't know if people know it has opened for Marlins games this season).

Both schools have been very amicable this week and it seems like there will be plenty of sportsmanship in Saturday's game. Plus, the canes have to fill the spot left vacant by North Texas in their 2008 season opener. So why not?

Ebens_4  Yes, FIU is not at the canes level and yada, yada, yada. Heard all the arguments, but this should be an annual game like USC/UCLA and Houston/Rice. Can't call it a rivalry, just yet, because each team has to win for a rivalry to ensue like FIU and canes baseball. But I am saying FIU/canes football should be played every season and once FIU has finished its stadium with 45,000 capacity, the game should be a home and away series.

FIU is scheduled to open 2008 at Kansas. I think PG drops that game in a heartbeat if the canes want to open with the Golden Panthers. FIU and the canes can open next season against each other if the canes want to do it.

If the series does not continue then after 2008, only FIU and canes hoops will continue meeting annually. Because after next season's 2 baseball games, the canes are ready to dump FIU from their baseball schedule because of Jim Morris's past issues with Turtle Thomas.

As for Saturday's game, there could be some serious issues if FIU cannot convert on 3rd downs. The Golden Panthers are 2 for 25 on 3rd down conversions this season and we all saw what happens when you can't get a 1st down and your defense is on the field for a long, hot time. Penn State answered with 35 points in the 2nd half in the season opening rout. If the same happens on Saturday, Canes backs Javarris James and Graig Cooper will have a field day and this game will be a blowout.

FIU's defense will be challenged with the run like they were not at Penn State or with Maryland. While PSU had a superior passing game, the same cannot be said of Kylirby Wrightman. But here's the thing, if James and Cooper get going on the ground, Wrightman will look like Peyton Manning back there, b/c Peyton FIU will be focused on the run.

So what can FIU do to make this a game and maybe set itself up for a shot at possibly winning the game in the 4th quarter. 1) Make 1st downs: keeps FIU D fresh on sidelines and keeps canes backs also on sidelines 2) Don't turn the ball over. There will be a new punt returner this week. Greg Ellingson, Kreg Brown, Daunte Owens and Alonzia Phillips all have worked returning punts this week. 3) Score....need more than 10 points from last week to win this game.

If the Golden Panthers can follow through on those 3 GPP keys to winning, then I would say FIU 23-17, but I just don't see the consistency with the FIU offense yet. The offensive play calling has been clever and precise the first two games, but not all the offensive horses have arrived at FIU yet. Sorry GPP faithful, but GPP sees it more like: canes 44, FIU 13.

PANTHER PAWSE

Remember to have your WinaBlog scores into the GPP for Saturday's game before 11:59 pm on Friday.

CJ: Like Messod pointed out Western Kentucky has been around with football forever. In fact, the Hilltoppers played their first bowl game in the 1952 Refrigerator Bowl.....no kidding, that was the name Refr of that bowl game.

Andy D: For whatever it's worth, FIU was the fastest football program to Division I. I remember 4 years ago at the Sun Belt press conference announcing FIU and FAU's move to the Sun Belt, commissioner Wright Waters mentioned to me that FIU filed their papers to join the conference into the Sun Belt office that day about 4 hours before FAU. But again, for what it's worth. Again yada, yada, yada.

fiugrad: Rest assured I have not forgotten about writing an FIU baseball blog. In the blog titled "MC Gets a Kick Out of Who?" I wrote about the top out-of-conference opponents for FIU this upcoming season: USC, Arizona State and the canes. I've heard the fall roster for baseball has plenty of new faces, but now is when TT evaluates to see which new ones stay and which go. When football slows down, I'll have an FIU baseball blog.

Messod: Hope your question about FIU and the canes playing football again was answered at the beginning of this blog.

E-Man: Welcome to the GPP!

September 10, 2007

Before the Sept. 15 "FOOTBALL" Game

By now I'm sure you folks know what lies ahead this week. You probably even had the date circled on your Oct calendar since last Oct. 15.

We'll have plenty time to blog about the rematch with the Hurricanes, but if you're looking for any brawl recaps this week you'll be disappointed if you're searching the GPP. This week there will be a ton of media that will only talk or write about the brawl. But here on the GPP, we're going to focus on the Sept. 15 "FOOTBALL" game. The only exception being that the Herald is having me help out on a behavior story for Wednesday's paper. They sign the checks, duty calls on that one.

But I'm sure the worldwide leader -- who has one of its networks, ESPNU, broadcasting Saturday's game -- will refer to the game with catchy nicknames like "Armageddon II" or something like that. But the only armageddon Liv_3 reference you'll find on the GPP is maybe if we talked about the movie starring Liv Tyler.

Before we get to the Terps game thoughts, the GPP caught up with the newest Miami Miadol_4 Cw_6 Dolphin WR Chandler Williams.

Here's how CW became a Miami Dolphin last week. Turns out CW was at the airport ready to go to a tryout for the Tampa Bay Bucs when his cellphone rang.

"I thought someone was joking with me when he said he was a Dolphins scout on the phone," Williams said. "He said 'Do you want to tryout for Tampa Bay? or Do you want to become a Miami Dolphin?' I didn't even have to think twice. It's what every player dreams of playing for their hometown team."

The way the Dolphins receivers dropped passes against Washington on Sunday, Miami could have used the sure-handed CW. So could have the 2007 Golden Panthers last Saturday.

Yes, there were some improvements from the Penn State game, but FIU still has to work to do to reach the next level. Once again mistakes put the Golden Panthers in a hole. FIU gave up 19 points on turnovers. Final score was 26-10, you do the math.

As usual, we'll go with the positives first. The offense showed more life than vs. Penn State. Wayne Younger displayed mobility and kept his poise. WY sold the fake reverse really well before hitting Moses Hinton for the 49-yd TD pass. A'mod Ned gave the running game some life. Ned had a slick move on a 9-yard gain making two Terps miss. The O-line played better but still did not give WY enough time to throw or open enough holes for the running game.

WY has greatly improved his passing from throwing like a shortstop to throwing like a QB. WY played shortstop a lot in high school. The concern right now is there is no deep threat for the Golden Panthers. WY has not yet grasped the touch on deep balls. The concern is opposing D's eventually will stack the box with 8 defenders and make WY beat them deep.

On D, FIU kept showing why that is the team's strength. Keon Lattimore's 42-yd run on the first play of the game was a busted play. After that MD could not move the ball against FIU. Good point by UltimateFIUFan regarding FIU D-coordinator Phil Galiano making some adjustments. I'm telling you guys, MC hired some talented assistant coaches.

Most of your blog comments centered on LS's dropsies. Yes, they are a huge concern especially when the latest one kind of sealed FIU's fate against MD. I believe we're going to see a new punt returner this week. MC said "we're going back to the drawing board" on the punt returning duties.Etch_2

To his credit, LS did play a whale of a game defensively with some solid open field tackles and pass coverages. The kid is a Sports Illustrated All-American for some reason and his D on Saturday showed that.

Congrats to Chris Abed on nailing a 42-yd FG on his first college try, but let's not hoist him on the Rutge shoulders yet. Gotta see some consistency from the kicking game, especially when FIU is close to winning games.

Will they be close to winning Saturday's game? We'll see in the next blog.

PANTHER PAWSEGppaw

Here's our WinaBlog leaderboard after Week 2:

2-0: FIU Fanatic (39 points), Fomenter (42), FIUPantherFan (43), NY Josh (43), FIUrulez (47), GPP (48), MRedArmy (50), 24/7-11 (51), FIUmom (52), Hay (53), yippee (58), BaltimorePanther (60), FIU0406 (64), Crazy Cane (72).

1-1: CJ (61), Messod (61), FIU4Ever (67), JMFIU (70), SouthPaw (75), YouGotGold (75).

0-2: FIUandME (79), FIU-GO-PAWZz (81), NYCFIUFan (82), alt7787 (83).

*Game predictions for the FIU/Hurricanes game must be in before 11:59 pm on Friday.

*Those not listed did not turn in a score for the Maryland game. We have lovely parting gifts for playing GPP WinaBlog.....Now to your questions.....

FIU0406: Stadium construction is on schedule and we should start seeing the east end zone facade going up in October. There are no new renditions as of now.

FIUJM: LS has had a couple of tough weeks with punt returns. Talking to him, he said it's just mental mistakes. I think MC having LS concentrate on D only is good right now for LS's frame of mind. You saw what a great defender the kid is against the Terps.

SouthPaw: Ricky Booker has dressed for the first two games, but he may not be ready to play yet. MC has said before that some of the freshmen are not ready like James Wiggins and Bryan Frye. Booker may be in the same boat.

FIUrulez: The GPP welcomes all to the blog. True, about the number of readers going up, but when they combined the Herald's Dade and Broward High school blogs into one last month, the GPP slipped one spot to No. 5. But we'll get back up next month and climb back into the top 4. I think once FIU starts winning more, the GPP readership will shoot through the roof.

NYCFIUFan: USF's success can only help FIU. Going into an SEC power's stadium and beating them was a great accomplishment for an 11-year-old program. And this is the USF that FIU had beat last season. Remember, FIU was up 20-14 with 2:32 left in the game before a fuuuuummmmmbbbblllleee.

I believe what happened at the OB last season was primarily b/c both former coaches did not instill discipline or have control of their teams. MC has done both with the Golden Panthers and the players know the consequences.

UltimateFIUFan: Nick Turnbull is still with the Falcons, but he is on injured reserve. Chris Smith did get cut from the Eagles and last I heard he may be headed to the Canadian Football League.

michael esteban: Welcome to the GPP! You might want to wait more than just two games before making judgement on FIU's new coach.

September 07, 2007

Adhere the Turtle

Not exactly the title I was looking for this blog previewing Saturday's game against the Terps. In fact, English teachers all over would strike their red markers on the use of adhere, here.

Terp But couldn't come up with a word that rhymes with fear and replaces it. See, UM (that's University of Maryland, for those scoring at home) has its slogan "Fear the Turtle", but fear is such a useless word, not because of the Terps. It's useless in life in general. "Fear is nothing moreHill than a state of mind." - author Napoleon Hill (right)

Of course, some of you probably read the title and thought, "Oh great, an FIU baseball blog". No not that Turtle, but an FIU baseball blog will surface on the GPP in due time.

Which reminds me, this morning when I walked into LA Fitness I saw this new sharp, gold FIU baseball batting practice jersey. A friend of mine, Nelson Lopez, was wearing it. FIU's Turtle gave it to him. Nelson is the commissioner of Tamiami Park baseball and TT has reached out to the park making kids and their parents aware of FIU baseball. Could be a sign of no longer having 21 people in attendance at an FIU baseball game. Good to see TT reaching out to the community.

Anyways, back to tommorrow's game. The Golden Panthers have to "Adhere to the Turtles", because this is not the talented FIU team from last year and this is not the slow-footed Maryland team from last year either.

In last year's game, the Terps had to double and triple team "El Monstruo" freeing up the rest of the FIU D which kept the Terps in check. What is an FIU concern is that no one on D really delivered any kind of pass rush last week at Penn State. UM is just as physical a team as PSU on the O-line.

On top of that, UM QB Jordan Steffy is a fast, mobile QB which FIU must account for. Add to that bruising RBs Keon Lattimore and Lance Ball and it could be a long day. Not to mention, FIU's pass D was not on the field last week.

I'm sure all this UM offense has been harped by the coaches to the players this week in practice, Graf especially Steffy, who can beat FIU with his arm and legs.

Of course, none of the defense matters, if the Golden Panthers offense cannot sustain a drive or for that matter, score. What killed FIU last week in Happy Valley was that the defense spent most of the entire first half and eventually the game on the field. Penn State ran 32 more plays than FIU and had the ball almost 11 minutes more -- that's almost an entire quarter.

Left tackle Andy Leavine (fractured hand) probably won't play so Xavier Shannon shifts over to LT and Dustin Gibson, Javon Hill and former DLineman Roland Clarke should play on the re-shuffled O-line.

Wayne Younger had a decent game for his first college start considering he didn't have much protection and there was no running game to speak of. Julian Reams led the team with 11 yards rushing. Getting back A'mod Ned might help this week. Not saying here FIU has to score like Austin Powers, but Ap definitely need at least 17-20 points to have a shot in this game. Don't know if this offense can put up that many on the scoreboard yet. Pour another glass of merlot....

GPP thinks: Maryland 30, FIU 13

PANTHER PAWSE

Here is FIU's out-of-conference schedule for those who asked in the previous blog:

2008 - at Kansas, at Iowa, home vs. South Florida (new stadium opener), at Toledo, 8 Sun Belt games.

2009 - at Alabama, at South Florida, at Florida, home vs. Toledo, 8 Sun Belt games.

2010 - right now the only OOC game is at Maryland. First time PG gets his own sked. Former FIU AD Rick Mello did the sked through 2009 season. PG is working on other 3 OOC games for 2010.

BaltimorePanther: Good point on FIU fans travelling to Penn State. I was on the field for warmups and I noticed a good size of Golden Panthers faithful in the seats on the 15 yard-line behind PSU bench. You could see from the pressbox, which was somewhere near God, the blue & gold shirts standing out among the blues & whites. By the way, Beaver Stadium was nice, but the pressbox is from like 1912. Sat in some kindergarten chairs.

YouGotGold: Never really understood the purpose of Anna Faris in Entourage. Was going to put her picture up here, but not motivated to do so. As far the FIU partnership with Miami Dade Public Schools, I've been told that will continue beyond this season and kids will be rewarded with seats in the new FIU Stadium. It just won't be 10,000 rugrats in there like the OB this season.

CaneShame: Welcome to the GPP!

Andy D: The GPP is an equal opportunity blog. Tell your Owl pals about us. FIU does beat most of those I-AA teams, but would like to see some offense from the Golden Panthers if I were to go to Vegas with my statement.

September 05, 2007

Golden Panthers fans. . ."I'm listening"

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. Wine_2 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 Frasier_2 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.

Couch Golden Panthers fans: "I'm listening...."

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 Ab 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 Reggie that have jumped on FIU after one game: "They don't boo nobodies."

Cliff_2 Here are some cliff notes on TDAOS.

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.

PANTHER PAWSE

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.............................Chrm_3 

September 01, 2007

Your new FIU QB is.....Colt Paul Wayne

HAPPY VALLEY - Plenty of time to think about Saturday's kickoff on the way up here to Happy Valley on Friday.

When you have a 3-hour layover in Charlotte, NC (by the way, got a kick out of the white rocking chairs Rockchair all throughout the Charlotte airport for passengers to relax on, rocked away on that for 2 hours). Plus, had a 1 hour and 30 minute drive from Harrisburg to Penn State, nice scenic mountainside drive. But you can only spend so much time on a laptop or reading the newspaper. So here's what scrambled around the old noggin on Friday.

Cjack Like if you guys didn't already know, there was NO announcement Friday on the starting quarterback. The 2007 FIU starting quarterback still goes by the name of Colt Paul Wayne. I guarantee you good folks of the GPP this....there will be A quarterback taking the first snap for FIU at 12 today. Take it to the bank. Still sticking by my thought that MC will rotate McCall and Younger in the first few games and eventually work Anderson into the mix as CA gets ready to take over full-time.

By the way, there's a rumor floating around that Colt Paul Wayne is a great grandson of John Wayne. Jwayne Which is appropriate now that FIU is using the shotgun.

If any of you folks had any doubt about the intensity of the new FIU head coach as he's less than 12 hours away from the Golden Panthers and his debut as the 2nd youngest college coach in the nation. How's this.....heading back to my hotel room, got a glimpse of a focused MC walking back and forth in the parking lot at 12:39 a.m.

Franklin2 Since I'm here in Pennsylvania and Benjamin Franklin did his best work here. Wondering which of his famous quotes would he give the Golden Panthers in a pep talk tommorrow, that is if MC asked BF to speak.

BF: "Diligence is the mother of good luck"...."One day is worth two tommorrows" and "Energy and persistence conquer all things".

I'm not kidding when I say I had a lot of spare time getting here Friday.

Or maybe it was just that I did not have any Cuban coffee all day. Around FIU, MC's administrative Cafe assistant Michelle Csatari makes a great Cuban coffee, even though she didn't know what it was when she moved to Miami 8 months ago. But, alas, Michelle did not bring any cafe up here to Happy Valley. That's why my mind was working overtime today. Maybe FIU takes Penn State to overtime?? Stranger things have happened, like Billy Brink Joel marrying Christie Brinkley......And you thought, you'd get a picture of Billy Joel here...maybe you should get some Cuban coffee?

PANTHER PAWSE

WOrta1128: Got to give Frank DeMarzo, one of our Broward High School writers, credit for the Little Giants, Al Bundy reference on the last blog. I asked him if there were any little league football movies to include on the last blog.

Roman: I'm hearing you may be the new internal PA voice of FIU?? You gotta sing at halftime and you gotta tell the folks to pack the OB this season.

Quijote: Like I told the angry DP supporter that came on in a recent blog, you gotta take the storms with the sunshine on my prediction. But you know what, "as of this writing", I'm sensing an upset of the Terps next week.

CJ: The Louisville and Rutgers blowouts on Thursday just proves I'm human. But I still stick by my Kryp_2 theory that traditionally season openers are not blowouts, because teams have usually not peaked.

FIUJM: I don't know if we can compare Cody Pellicer to anyone yet. He hasn't played a down in college, but the kid is an athlete and you will see that on the field. Daunte Owens has been outstanding this summer, now it's time to show you all.

FIUJfer83, TheInsider: Welcome to the GPP!

Will have all your prediction standings and point differential totals in the next blog after the opener.

Thanks to all for the props on the FIU preview in the Herald. Glad to see they gave me as much space as they did and glad you people enjoyed it.


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