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That Winning Feeling

The quarterback being carried off the field on the shoulders of his teammates. The head coach Mcgator_3 gettting a Gatorade shower from linebacker Scott Bryant and receiver Greg Ellingson. The defensive end acting like a "Monstruo" and the kick returner finishing his career with a sprint and winning an award for it.

Pmcall There was plenty of winning  at the Orange Bowl on Saturday night thanks to your Golden Panthers, who buried North Texas 38-19 and the 23-game skid. Great to finally be able to write a winning game story after 728 days. FIU sends OB out a winner

Looks like FIU may have found its quarterback for the next two years after Paul McCall's (below, left) performance on Saturday night. The sophomore looked like a senior All-American with the way he directed the offense going 11 of 19 for 228 yards and 3 TDs. (I know it's been repeated here before: McCall is a sophomore on the field and a senior in the classroom. He still has two years of eligibility on the football field).

Mccall I have not seen an FIU offense look as productive and as in sync since possibly the last few games of 2005. Not too shabby a debut by PM. Could he have played earlier this season? Saturday's game sure made a case for it. Here's what impressed me the most from PM against North Texas. Early on when the offense couldn't get in rhythm, PM did not panic. PM looked so poised out there sort of like he had been running this offense in a video game or since Pop Warner football. He took what the defense gave him. When protection broke down, PM scrambled and made smart plays such as throwing a ball away when there was no one open or tucking the ball and running. As for PM's running, he looked pretty nimble to me when he did take off. On that 9-yard run in the third quarter, PM made a move to fake out a NT linebacker to get the 9 yards. He sure did not look lead-footed. PM also went through his reads and did not stare down his receivers which had the Mean Green DBs off-balance.

Several Golden Panthers carried PM off the field afterwards and when PM entered the Orange Bowl locker room his teammates serenaded him with chants of "Brady, Brady, Brady" for New England QB Tom Brady. Since Tb PM wears No. 12 and had a Brady-like game on Saturday.

Going into spring practice in about 3 or 4 months, MC and offensive coordinator James Coley will have a great situation on their hands -- 2 QBs that can play. Although it's only been one game and a half, PM may be a more complete QB than Wayne Younger. But you cannot discount WY's athleticism. Heck, we may even see him at receiver next season (like Hines Ward), just a hunch. The great situation sort of plays out like the LSU QBs. This year LSU has a passer in Matt Flynn and a runner/passer in Ryan Perrilloux. Not to mention, you have to see how Colt Anderson progresses in year two and don't discount freshman Darold Hughes, who ran the scout team this season while redshirting. Hughes showed some talent and a strong arm. Regardless, FIU's QB situation is 100 percent better than it was before the opener at Penn State just 3 months ago. Some college teams don't even have one good QB. U interpret as u like.

How about defensive end Audric Adger (right) saving his best performance for his last college game in the Adger_2 Orange Bowl's last college game. AA tied Antwan "El Monstruo" Barnes' school record of 4 sacks in one game. Couldn't have happened to a nicer guy. Afterwards, he gave some kid the Joe_2 wristband he wore during the game. Almost like Mean Joe Greene in that old Coke ad. AA also may have had the quote of the year when I asked him about his final college game and the OB's final college game, Adger said: "It was the last game and you got to let it hang loose. It was awesome to win the last game here. It's something other teams couldn't do so we're proud to close this building the right way." Wouldn't it have been funny if FIU would have scored 48 points??

Lionell Singleton finished his FIU career in a hurry with that 84-yard blaze of a kickoff return for a touchdown that put FIU up for good at 14-12. He also had an interception. This morning LS was awarded the Sun Belt Special Teams Player of the Week honor.

If you read this morning's Miami Herald, then you know MC and his coaches did not wait long to hit the recruiting trail. FIU coaches recruiting . From watching this season, some of FIU's needs are impact pass rushers (a la El Monstruo, Alexander Bostic, Keke Bouie). FIU also needs some beef on both O & D lines. Could also use an impact, workhorse running back, defensive backs and a kicker.

Let's see what February's signing day brings. Already mentioned spring practice is in 3 or 4 months. Here are the official countdowns as of today for: 2008 opener at Kansas (271 days) 2008 new stadium opener vs. USF (292 days). Ending the 23-game losing streak in the OB's final game: priceless.

PANTHER PAWSE

Cham Whoa! Everyone settle down. I've consulted with the FIU witches (here they are on the left with the Win a GPP Blog winning cake) and I've read everyone's comments regarding the Win a GPP Blog. Since I got a little lax enforcing the in-times for scores, we'll have two guest bloggers as the winners of Gpp our Win a GPP Blog. By count of our final leaderboard, FIUrulez and CrazyCane were the only two readers to finish with perfect 12-0 records by correctly predicting FIU to win last Saturday. CC may actually be an FIU fan after all who has a closet of blue and gold.

FIUrulez and CrazyCane write your blogs to my e-mail: ppelegrin@miamiherald.com and also include whatever photos/art you want me to put on your blog -- whether you send the art yourself or you want me to go find the photos/art that you want on your blog. When I have read your blogs to make sure they are clean, then I will post them in their entirety on the GPP.

For the FIU faithful, FIUrulez will have his or her blog up first and then CrazyCane. I will advise when CC's blog is up so that if you do not want to read it, then you don't have to.

Here is the final Win a GPP Blog leaderboard:

12-0: FIUrulez 236, CrazyCane 326.

11-1: FIUPantherFan 232, NY Josh 246, Fomenter 264.

10-2: FIU Fanatic 261, GPP 280, 24/7 303.    7-5: Messod 286.

On to the GPP reader mail....

Quijote & Baltimorepanther: We may have gotten a glimpse of Paul McCall's talent in the 2006 season opener at Middle Tennessee when Josh Padrick got knocked out for one play. PM entered. MT went with an all-out blitz on PM on the first play. PM scrambled through the rushers and on the run hit Chandler Williams for an 18-yard completion. Could he have come in sooner this season? Like I wrote above, if we use the last two games as an indication, then yes. WY had a better spring, but once PM got comfortable in the spread throughout the season you saw what he can do. I thought before the season that PM and WY would split quarterback duties the whole season until one emerged. But coaches thought WY was better suited to the new spread offense. Now we know both can equally run the spread with McCall being the better passer.

Andy D: Though this is not an FAU blog, we'll take your coincidences since the Dolphins got hammered Scar yesterday. How about that wise old Owl Howard? Tell your boys to try the beignets at Cafe Du Monde in New Orleans and say hello to the Scarlett Johansson look-a-like bartender at Luke's on Charles Street. Tell her it's your first rodeo in the Big Easy.

Puma: Judging from the first five games, the FIU hoops team does not have it together physically and mentally. The team is not aggressive driving to the hoop, many times settling for jumpers. There is no Ivan interior defense. Opponents have had a field day with easy baskets in the paint against FIU. And the Golden Panthers don't have that one horse they can count on when they need a basket like they had when forward Ivan Almonte was here a few years ago. IA is currently playing in Europe. At this rate, TT and baseball season cannot get here soon enough.

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That was a great way to end the season. Thanks for a great job reporting all season Pete. Im looking forward to following the baseball season.

Regarding Audric Adger, that kid he gave his wristband to was my 10 year old son. I to recalled that Mean Joe Green ad from yesteryear. Mr. Adger made my boys day, week, year on that special night that the ole OB sang her swan song.

Reading about Mr. Adger, it appears he could be a good role model in terms of sharing with others, particular kids, how to overcome adversity, stick to your goals and come out on top at the end. If you ever run into him, let him know that he has a growing fanbase in Pembroke Pines and that my kid will cherish his wristband forever.

As always, Go G-Panthers!

Thank you Pete. Looking forward to Crazy Cane's blog. Should be interesting.

Great job Pete. Good call on allowing both FIUrulez and CC to write blogs. Even though I don't like the U, i'm intrigue to see what CC has to write.

GO FIU!!!

Im surprised i am posting it first...WHO SAW THAT SACK...

EL MONSTRUO!!!!! Tom Brady who???

but before you get too excited, big RAY RAY, Ed Reed and Willis are playing with a BIG chip on their shoulders.

Yes, El Monstruo! That was awesome.

I've been saying it for a while, he's gonna be great as a DE/OLB in that defense.

Very nice way to end the season, I must say. A W here is way better than trying to get one to start 2008. Gives the team a nice warm feeling entering the off-season... not much of one, granted, but still, anything's better than another 0-for-the-season.

Even nicer is McCall's performance. I won't say the kid's the QB of the future... but I think he's proved a lot of people wrong already. To be honest, I always liked McCall when I saw him in practice during Strock's time, but I never thought he could run a spread effectively. So much for that. That was the best QB performance at FIU in a LOOOOONG time. That kid's earned the #1 job, in my opinion, and should be there until someone beats him out. I know NT's defense isn't that great, but a W is a W is a W... he should be the starter.

Younger may not be a bad QB, eventually, but I'm convinced his true talents lie as a WR. So I'm glad to hear Pete say that MC and Co might do that. Younger did time as a WR when Strock was here, so he has some experience. And with Anderson, Hughes and don't forget Brian Mann coming... I don't think we need WY at QB. Besides, nothing says we can't see Younger line up and run some trick plays from WR. I think this coaching staff would do that with the right guy around. Hell, why not try him at DB? Lord knows we need help there and he's probably athletic enough to play it.

Anyway... got a chuckle reading about Mario hitting the recruiting trail already. I swear, that man's either going to be an amazing coach in 4-5 years or he's going to have a heart attack. Maybe both. I don't know where that guy gets the energy, but God bless the man. Say whatever you want about him as a coach, but no one's out-working that dude. It just isn't happening. I just hope he's taking care of his family. Nothing's more important than that.

And, finally, I'll take my last place finish in the Blog leaderboard and smile. At least I got the FIU win right. Just curious, Pete... does that entitle me to write an anti-blog or something? Anything special for last place? :)

Oh... Pete... one more thing. I heard that crews were already disassembling the OB as soon as the game was over. I had a friend of mine at the game who told me that. Any truth to it? When that old girl goes down for good, that'll be one hell of a sad day. I always did like that place. Even in her current state and with having to pay Pepito $10 to park on his lawn, no one could rock a big football game like the OB. May she RIP.

And just imagine... in 5 years, you can ask anyone you know "who won the last college football game at the OB?" and I'll bet you money you will stump at least 90% of people with that questions. It's nice to see FIU on the right side of an answer like that, for a change.

El Monstruo played good tonight, it was good to see him sack Brady and keep putting pressure on him all night. I hope to see other Golden Panthers in the NFL next year. By the way what do you guys think about this the year NE goes undefeated, and the Dolphins go winless.

I still believe in Mario as a coach. His discipline and energy alone make him a huge upgrade over Strock

but wow McCall looked like everything we have been looking for in a QB. What did Mario not see in practice?

Younger in his best game isn't half the QB that McCall was in this game.

Younger will always have my respect because he played his heart out but there is no comparison.

Congrats to McCall and FIU!

In all fairness, one game does not make or break a quarterback. McCall was helped a lot by his recievers actually catching the ball, something they struggled with for the entire year. Trenard Turner looked like he had never caugh a pass in his life at times this year, but caught both passes thrown to him. He probably cost Younger 3 or 4 TD passes by himself.

Early on in the game, when the O-Line was playing with it's typical Paper Bag style, I turned to my friend and said "shockingly, the most glaring weakness with the offense hasn't changed even with a new quarterback". And then they went on to prove me wrong, and have a great day.

It wasn't all McCall. He made some pretty terrible throws at times, overthrowing wide open recievers on at least 3 occasions. He had a good game, and he impressed me alot, but I'm not ready to hand the starting job to him out of hand. In my commentary today on the game in the Beacon, I meant to write that McCall should still have to earn the starting job, but it was cut due to space restrictions.

McCall looked pretty shifty at times, but then there were other times when he looked sluggish as all hell. Maybe it's just that I'm used to seeing Younger back there, but I'm not ready to say he's a scrambler.

I don't mind if McCall wins out in the Spring and Summer, but if the coaches stuck with Younger all season, they've got to see something, and I do too. He's a hell of a playmaker, and for whatever reason, his recievers had trouble making catches all year. Maybe he throws uncatchable balls, but I doubt that.

Either way, I think the future is looking really bright for next year. .500 is a definite possibility, lots of young talent on this squad.

Antwan played very well last night. It was great to hear them reference FIU every time he made a play.

Baltimore won that game, but the coach called a timeout and blew it. Then they stopped them again, and a penalty gave them another chance. That's when the Patriots were able to get the first down. It's hard to stop a team like New England once, let alone three times. It was a great game. Mcgahee played like a man on a mission. So did Ray Lewis. Their hearts were heavy, and they left it all on the field for their fallen comrad.

With the experience our young guys got this year coupled with the return of several players who could not play this season for various reasons and added to the new recruits that come in.....that all equals growth and improvement. The future looks bright ahead!!!

Is it August yet?

For all of us FIU fans, listen to the top of the hour ESPN Sports Center and the review of the Pats vs. Ravens game. When they show El Monstruo's sack, he described as "HE IS A BAAAD MAN", describing Barnes aggressiveness & speed!

As a Fins fan, I HATE THE PATS!!!! They are GREAT; however add to that, every play BOUNCES their way!

On the FIU Football front, I think MC has grown up tremendously because of this very difficult season. This will help his development as a head coach. His work ethic is OUTRAGEOUS! I agree with Messod Bendayan's take that either MC becomes an incredible coach (WE HOPE!) or has a heart attack. Message to MC: "after this trying season, do get some rest, spend time w / the family. You'll need the energy to continue leading FIU's climb to the top!"

Pete thanks for creating this blog. FIU being ignored for years by the local media was maddening. You given us GP fans a place to call our own! We FIUers need to continue spreading the word about the GPP to show our "Strength In Numbers!"

GO FIU!!!

i tuned into the pats game late and the first play i see was barnes harrassing brady.. i couldnt help but pound my chest just a bit... when i heard ray lewis's speach pre-game on SC i got chills everyone on that ravens team laid it out and i think the DC of balt. and the ref's blew that game

o pete like i made mention earlier in the season christobal should go to his roots and recruit the senior rb at columbus and put the early work on lil gore. got 2 years to work on him. kids a stud. i would tell him.. y go to the U and be always remembered as lil bro. make your own name right here

Congrats to our guys on the win. It's something to build on for the future.

Pete, the witches can't hold a candle to the cowgirls. Put em up!

Great job Antwann Barnes!!! Baltimore's defense is perfect fit for his skills.

Personally, I can't wait to see which players Cristobal & CO. sign on February. All that hard work is going to pay off. And like many of you are saying...Coach Cristobal, "please spend time with your family".

GO FIU!!!

lol i agree spend time w/ the family and what better way to spend the holidays than to take a multi-city tour to tampa, orlando (theme parks anyone), o and while your there im sure theres a player or to you might find could help lol

EL MONSTROU IS BACK!!!!! I had a big feeling he was going to have a good game yesterday. Thank the gods the coaches finally decided to use him the right way, on every down. Up to this point the coaches used Barnes mostly on third downs and passing situations, thats why going into last nights game his stats were weak. Fast forward to this morning and El Monstrou has 2 sacks and 3 tackles to add to his resume. Not only that, but against the NE O-Line, probably one of the best in the NFL. Not bad for not being a starter.

Pete, just wanted to echo UltimateFIUFan's comments and thank you for setting up this blog. It's great to have a forum to share with other FIU fans. I've been pleasantly surprised by how many of us there are.

Hopefully someone put up El Monstruo's sack on Youtube.

One quick question, is Rouco's contract up after this year?

Congrats to Cindy Russo for DEFEATING UM AGAIN!!! FIU Ladies hoops just went into UM's arena and beat the CANES! Lets hope that starts a trend and Sergio finds that formula TONIGHT against Buffalo and Sat. against UM. Speaking about Sat.'s game, Raja Bell's number #13 will be retired at the game. Lets fill up Pharmed with BLUE & GOLD to show Raja some appreciation for what he did @ FIU and what HE HAS DONE with the Phoenix Suns!!!

GO FIU!!!

Hey did anyone else see the end of ESPNs College Game day when Mark May give Defensive End Audric Adger the helment sticker for his performance in the streak ending win for the panthers? I was just happy to see FIU getting praise on ESPN gameday. Good job panthers!

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