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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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 to 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.