We've reached the halfway mark of the 2007 Golden Panthers football season and there aren't any huge shocks as to the way the season has played out thus far.
Meanwhile, the FIU baseball team is in full fall practice mode -- a blog on that will be posted here in the next couple of days. FIU hoops gets its training camp going on Friday at 12:30 p.m. and will also be having a blog on that later this week. So we got a full plate of FIU sports blogs coming for your reading pleasure during this football bye week.
Speaking of a full plate, had this analogy invade dinner the other night. Was thinking of writing a mid-season report card on FIU football, but all I could come up for grades is incomplete. Here's why.
Right now, FIU football is like a 1 or 2-star steakhouse, where all the ingredients are not there yet to make it a 5-star restaurant. MC and staff inherited a poorly run restaurant, but one that with the right changes can become like a RC's. There are some filets on the Golden Panthers right now, but there are not enough. FIU is overstocked with palomilla steak, which is not bad, but not what you need to become an elite D-I team or a five-star steakhouse.
Add to this that MC & co. were shorted some steak knives after the APR report from earlier this year and might be shorted a few more after the NCAA's notice of allegations last week and you can see why today, the Big Mac and Fred G. Sanford's favorite drink -- ripple -- are more closely associated with FIU than a filet and an Opus One merlot.
But just like it has happened in other places like Rutgers and South Florida, things can change for the better. As far as the NCAA letter last week, we'll know more in February when the NCAA responds to FIU.
In anticipation of possible sanctions, PG, smartly, has already withheld some scholarships from each FIU team. And PG already surrendered the 9 scholarships from the APR.
I've gotten e-mails from many of you pinning all this on Strock, but he's not the main culprit here with the NCAA sanctions. You can pin bad recruiting on him. But blame the past FIU administration from the top on down for the NCAA issues. The resources were not there, but also there was no leadership and that's why all this occured.
Enough talk about this NCAA paperwork. The Golden Panthers offense made some progress against Troy. FIU had its most total yards of the season and passing yards, but did not finish enough drives.
The bigger concern coming out of Saturday's game is the run defense. FIU is not going to win too many games when the opposing offense controls the ball with the run. Troy ran for 299 yards. Need to fix that for the final 6 games of the year and beyond.
Punter Chris Cook had a spectacular game with punts of 71 and 68 yards and a 50-yard average. While he's not always consistent -- much like the rest of the team -- Cook has the leg to be All-Sun Belt for the next 3 years.
There are 6 games left in the season and the thinking is FIU could win 4 of those IF and that is a big IF, if the Golden Panthers can put together a complete game -- offense, defense and special teams. Of the 6 left, don't see FIU beating Arkansas or FAU. The Golden Panthers can beat Monroe, Arkansas State, Lafayette and North Texas.
Win a GPP Blog leaderboard
6-0: FIUrulez 125, Fomenter 136, NY Josh 136, FIU Fanatic 147, Crazy Cane 150, 24/7-11 165.
5-1: FIUPantherFan 141, GPP 154, FIU0406 164, yippee 175.
4-2: FIUJM 161, CJ 172, FIUmom 176, SouthPaw 191.
3-3: Messod 192. 2-4: NYCFIUFan 177. 1-5: YouGotGold 218. 0-6: alt7787 237.
NYCFIUFan: Here are some answers to your questions...Howard S. and Leavitt both had a work ethic and college football knowledge from the start and that's why FAU and USF are ahead of FIU right now. Strock had neither of those qualities and FIU missed out on the first 5 years. Give MC some time and see what he can do. MC brings the work ethic and recruiting knowledge.
NYCFIUFan & FIUJM: 1) Last time I spoke with MC he said Colt Anderson is not ready yet. Wayne Younger has made some progress and MC has said WY has outplayed both CA and Paul McCall in practice. While MC has not said who his QB of the future is, I think it's CA and eventually he will get in there. When given time by the O-line, Younger has shown improvement since Penn State.
2) I didn't think the play calling got conservative in the 4th quarter. In fact, half of Younger's 40 passes came in the 4th quarter.
3) The players are buying into the system and there is promise. That 39-yard screen pass to Ned would have been stopped in the backfield a few weeks ago, but O-line executed their blocks and Ned ran through the Troy D for 39 yards. From what I can tell, the players respect MC. Unlike, the past few years when I've seen players yelling back at coaches during practice. There is none of that with the new staff.
4) The FIU lineup is not the same caliber as other Sun Belt teams, because the recruiting was poor under the previous coaching staff. Strock should have been developing guys the last few years for when the talented seniors on offense and defense graduated this past year.
5) The Sun Belt would love to be part of the BCS, but that's the NCAA's decision and not the conference's. Say this for the Sun Belt, the conference is much improved and if they keep knocking off BCS teams, the NCAA will take notice. SBC has already or is just about ready to surpass the MAC and C-USA real soon.
YouGotGold: Yarimar is very talented and probably could throw a football, but the volleyball team needs her.
sunblazer69: Good to have you back on the blog. I think Rick Mello is on the phone line for you.
Frustrated: Welcome to the GPP. Eventually, the Golden Panthers will have you changing your blog name to Elated.