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First Practice Thoughts

As you good FIU fans may already know there are space constraints in the print newspaper therefore I couldn't get in all the first impressions about FIU's first spring practice in Wednesday's MH. 1st Spring Practice story

MC announced today that all spring practices are open to the public. The next one is tommorrow, Thursday at 3:30 p.m. FIU also practices Friday at 3:30 p.m. and scrimmages at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday. For the rest of the spring schedule go to fiusports.com.Algore

Good thing, this guy Al Gore invented this internet thing, where space is endless. At least, that's what South Park says and you know everything on their show has to be true. Gotta give David Quinones from the Herald Sports Dept. an assist for the Gore/internet/man bear pig reference.

Manbearpig_2 Anyways, back to the gridiron or as it's known for now the FIU Rec Fields and your Golden Panthers.

From not having seen most of the team since the Orange Bowl finale victory, apparently that weight training lab of Dr. Roderick Moore has paid off. Not only did a lot of the Golden Panthers look faster on the field Tuesday, but some have also put on some weight and the normal weight that is, not the Barry Bonds-kind.

Yes, the focus until the kickoff at Kansas, Aug. 30 is likely to be the quarterback battle, but Wayne Younger is not expected to participate in spring practice. WY is still healing from the broken collarbone.

MC said Paul McCall and WY enter this season splitting first team snaps, but looks like PM will get those this spring while Colt Anderson and Darold Hughes look to take another step up. All 3 QBs had their moments Tuesday and we'll have 14 more practices and all summer to talk about them. So let's move on.

Here's a guy to keep an eye on this spring and beyond: fullback Trenard Turner. You remember him as Tt the beneficiary of those fake double reverse, fullback-wide-open-down-the-sideline touchdown passes last season. TT may be getting some more passes and some carries this season. Coaches really like his athleticism.

The receivers looked to be running more crisp routes and hanging onto the ball on Tuesday. Of course, getting the freshman hiccups out of the way helps. Remember, the majority of the FIU receiving corps will be either sophomores or freshmen this season.

Former defensive end-turned-tight end James Wiggins may be your sleeper this spring. The redshirt freshman from California is 6-5, 255 pounds and runs like a deer in the open field. Don't be surprised to see him become a favorite target of FIU QBs.

Didn't really spend too much time looking at the defense in the first practice, but will get a closer look in the next few days. The FIU secondary got much better with the returns of Jeremiah Weatherspoon, Mitch Marshall McDuffie and a healthy Robert Mitchell. Plus, wait until the highly touted freshmen defensive backs arrive in the fall.

There's a new kicker in camp: Carlos Munera and he was both punting and kicking on Tuesday. Punter Chris Cook is out with a bad back and did not practice. MC said Dustin Rivest is taking care of some academic issues. Munera showed a pretty strong leg especially with the punts. In his field goal kicking after practice: it was like two-thirds of a Clint Eastwood movie: the Good and the Bad.

Not a bad turnout - fan-wise - for the first spring practice. While there was a good-size group watching Ce_2 from the end zone, there weren't too many people watching from the concrete club suites (a.k.a - the parking garage).

Paw GOLDEN PANTHER PAWSE

Before we get to some reader inquiries, expect FIU's basketball arena to have a new name before the next hoops season. Since the Pharmed company went bankrupt, the Pharmed Arena will be re-named the ???? Arena. FIU is actively pursuing $$$$partners$$$$ for a new name to the arena. You got cash: Your Name Here Arena.

Hello The new football stadium naming rights are also being shopped. Also, if you got $150,000 a year in between the cushions of your couch you can own the naming rights to FIU baseball's University Park Stadium. 

Got to salute FIU P.A. announcer Roman Garcia, who became a father last weekend. RG also did not welch on a friendly wager, made like Harry Caray and sang "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" at FIU's game last week against Jacksonville.Caray

Speaking of Harry Caray, I pitched an idea to the FIU athletic department to have a different fan at each FIU baseball game wear a Harry Caray wig, Coke-bottle thick black glasses and sing "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" during each 7th inning stretch. No word yet from FIU on my idea taking life.

gpantera: I'm not anointing WY as Vince Young or Tim Tebow, all I'm saying is the kid showed substantial improvement from being a scout team receiver under Strock to being a starter for most of the season last year. Strock never gave the kid a shot or worked on his throwing mechanics. Former OC James Coley constantly put in extra time with WY and toward the end of last season you could see WY was getting better. Especially the game against Louisiana-Lafayette. Is he the best passer FIU has, probably not. PM holds that distinction. PM may have played the best game ever by an FIU QB vs. North Texas. However, it would be interesting to see how much WY has improved with one year of the spread under his belt. And the FIU offense is in good hands if PM produces during a 12-game season like he did against FAU and NT. Hey, competition can only make everyone and the team better.

INS PUB ADJ: No truth to the rumor of Jorge Fernandez becoming FIU's hoops coach. SR will be back next season and I don't think JF would be FIU's first choice anyway.

CJ & FIUJM: Thanks for the props. Will try to get as many updates on spring ball as possible on the GPP.

confused: Don't be your [screen name]. TT's leadership should not be in question, what should be is the recruiting of the previous coach. Just like MC will endure some of DS's bad recruiting for the first few years on the football field, TT will have to do the same with DP's evaluation of talent. However, TT should be able to turn around the FIU baseball program quicker than MC would in football. Just need a couple of strong recruiting classes of pitchers and some team speed on offense and defense. Football is a whole different animal.

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Props to Roman (and, more importantly, his wife) for being parents! Load up on the coffee, 'mano... you're going to need it!

No more Pharmed, eh? Oh, well. I guess it's too much to hope that Golden Panther Arena comes back. I always found it appropriate that a college facility has the initials "GPA". And I, for one, don't think that all schools should go corporate with their stadium names, even cash-strapped ones. Tradition counts for something. Honoring your past does, too. I'll always think of that place as GPA, like I think of JRS.

As for baseball... we'll agree to disagree on Price, Pete, and probably always will. But how can you say TT's leadership shouldn't be questioned? I guess you didn't see my previous "novel"... but if you think TT's team now is more talented than what Price had the last couple of years (and I'm assuming you do), then please explain to me how he shouldn't be questioned for losing to the type of schools that Price consistently beat? Especially when TT is supposed to be a better recruiter AND a better coach AND a better game-day coach than DP? Losing to USC and Miami's one thing. Tampa, FGCU and Jacksonville's something else entirely.

I say that knowing that I'm not there to see the games... and I'm more than willing to concede that I'm working off of incomplete information and that you're in a much better position to judge... but speaking from the layman's point of view, it seems absolutely silly to put these losses off as "poor recruiting" by DP. That does NOT compute.

DP didn't leave a nuked program like Strock or Marsh behind. There's talent there. And Lord knows, DP didn't have pitching or a real pitching coach near the end of his tenure, yet I don't remember another year where FIU's given up so many runs. It sure seems to me like there's reasons to question what's going on. All things being equal, TT should be doing better than DP with the players DP coached AGAINST the kinds of schools DP beat. At least, that was the hype being thrown around.

Am I missing something here??? If I am, please correct me, Pete.

Again, I'm not saying TT should be fired... and I'm not saying it was a mistake to get rid of DP and bring in TT (I don't think it was)... but to say he shouldn't be questioned for what's going on right now doesn't make sense to me. Blaming DP's recruiting for being 9-17 right now doesn't make sense to me, either. Not with losses to schools like Tampa.

Good to read FIU football stories once again. Thanks Pete, and keep them coming (those practice reviews) as much as possible for us, FIU Football-information- starved fans.

As for Pharmed and formerly GPA...I absolutely also used to think that was a very "adequate" initials for a college arena...

I also agree with Messod in many of his points, including that I don't think baseball talent was that bad...except for obvious pitching....however, even with that stipulated, it's waaaaaaayyyyyy too early, not even with a half full recruiting season, and without being there in person to really ascertain TT's leadership qualities, and in-game coaching...to make any comments starting to question TT's leadership as FIU's coach. In this regard, I TOTALLY agree with Pelegrin.

Pete, I also read somewhere where FIU is asking...or is already getting soon...$5 million for a "renovation/expansion" of the "east" side/lobby area of Pharmed/GP Arena...Any news to report there? What about some other hoops commitments/signings? Thanks for all the information...

MB, my thoughts EXACTLY! I remember many posters to this blog complaining about Danny's team playing Florida A&M or Bethune Cookman over and over again. I know, I was one of them! However, we are playing LESSER teams than Florida A&M and Bethune Cookman, including D-II schools and still lose.

Again and to re-enforce MB statement, TT needs time; full-recruiting season, etc. however NOTHING TT has done impressed me. I hope something changes.

GO FIU!!!

Way too early to get excited about football. Too many things can change between March and September. I can get excited in August.

But we are smack in the middle of baseball season, so I am gonna go there, which should not be a surprise to anyone.

Messod, I must agree with you. This team has talent and should NOT be losing to the teams we have been seeing. Seems they played well against UCI and ASU despite the losses. I know - we pitched our three best there. Still - last year Price had to use more than his top three and the losses were not like what we see this season.
I am so tired of hearing about the great all powerful recruiter that is TT. Fine - sweet talk top level talent. But can you get them to PLAY? Together? And do NOT tell me that the lack of time to recruit is TT's problem here. Plenty of the guys who are playing are TT recruits: Castillo, Sujo, DeSimone, Boza, Stropp, Guy. But there are DP recruits playing that TT seems to like (why wouldn't he?)and should be here for at least one more year like Townsend, Arrojo, and Pollizano.
Yeah - blame the bullpen. Anyone who has seen any games would know that. There have been a few flashes - Preshong has performed well at times and Horstman had a nice outing against Jacksonville, but those guys are seniors. Danny DeSimone will improve as he gets used to the type of hitting he has to throw against and also to coming out of the pen, something he did not do much of in high school. But Santana is nowhere near the same place he was last season. He held his own against UCG. What did the coaching staff do to that kid?
Fix the pitching you say and the team is sure to go to the series? Funny, but I noticed that the ASU pitching staff is decidedly short on lefties - did not TT recruit most of those players? If he is going to recruit "top-notch pitchers" let us hope he remembers that we need some who can throw with the other hand. All due respect to John Petika - a great hitter - , but I do not think he is the answer to our lack of lefties on the hill.
And while I am on a rant - just who in the world do any of you see taking the hill against UCG next week if the three top starters will all be used this weekend in Loiusiana and the next at WKU- as they should? Outside of Santana, the only pitcher we have back who could handle UCG last season is not going to be available (if folks have not noticed - go to a game and look around the stands) and he would not be a starter, anyway. Maybe let DeSimone give it a shot? At least it would be fun to watch him pick off people.

No - don't fire TT after half a year, but do wonder if being a great recruiter is enough. Right now I feel bad for the players and the fans. We all want to see the success we know can be there.
But there are 30 more games ot be played this season before conference tourney time. It might improve.

Paul MCCall should be the starter period. I am all for saying there is competition at every position but the bottom line is winning!!! What it took wayne to do all season with out results it took only a game with Paul. plus the team is behind ...him he is a leader just my thoughts

Paradox,
As usual your thoughts are right on the money with the possible exception of pitching DeSomone against Miami. First, we can not burn him during the week with Conference games on the weekend and why would you send a very promosing freshman into the fire against a team like Miami. I know everyone wants to beat Miami from a pride standpoint, but the Conference games are far more important. Unfortunately, we do not have the manpower to compete with Miami this year. TT will turn this around as long as everyone is patient. The team has 3 quality starters and two guys in the bullpen that are capable of competing, therefore leaving us very bare for the midweek games. I do not follow the other FIU sports as closely as baseball, but I can guarantee you that baseball will win sooner than the rest, not a knock on the rest, baseball is just closer. We will have to make the most out of the Conference games and hopefully get lucky in the Conference tournament to have a successful season

ridge i agree that PM took 1 game to do what younger could not in 10 and 1/2 but remember we really havent seen what the the red shirt frosh hughes can do and anderson really didnt have much of a chance. if Hughes could command the pocket. i wouldnt mind seeing him in there. but for now i agree PM should be the starter

Messod,

We'll agree to disagree on FIU baseball just like we did the in press box when you were at FIU. That's the beauty of sports, everyone has an opinion and is entitled to it. Let's see where the program is at four years from now when TT's contract is up.

I don't believe TT's team is more talented than DP's the last few years, because with a few exceptions TT is coaching DP's roster.

This team has little to ZERO pitching. It may get ugly for the good guys against the Coral Gables school on Wednesday at FIU. Especially, with Morris's bad blood toward TT.

After a check of the FIU record book: The schools you mentioned DP beat on a regular basis: DP never played Tampa (2-time defending D-II National Champions), DP never played Florida Gulf Coast, who threw their best pitcher (a USF transfer) against FIU. And....DP was 6-11 against Jacksonville. DP was 2-3 against Eckerd (Isn't that a drug store?) and DP was 2-7 against Florida Southern (I think that's a church?)

Although FIU baseball was not "nuked" like Strock left FIU football, the Golden Panthers baseball team left by DP is "charred". FIU baseball was not exactly planning on making any kind of hotel or dinner reservations in Omaha before this season.

And here's something to think about. A friend of mine who works at Perfect Game sent me an e-mail with the latest College Recruiting Rankings for 2008 High School Classes.

FIU currently has the 15th best 2008 baseball recruiting class in the NATION. Not 15th in the south, in the NATION.

Of course, this is assuming most of these recruits do not sign pro contracts. Still it's pretty damn impressive for a program that has gone nowhere since the USC super regional loss.

Here's the link:

http://www.pgcrosschecker.com/collegebaseball/2008/rankings/college_recruit_rankings_32108.aspx

You can also click on the link in the middle of the page to see all of FIU's recruits.

Geez, this post turned into one of your novels, Messod.

Now, let's get back to spring football and Saturday's scrimmage.

Thanks for sharing that Pete. It's not bad being nationally in the Top 15, especially for a team that's 9-17. TT has a good reputation. It's just a matter of time before we start seeing the W's. DP did a nice job and will always be appreciated, but TT will get us to the next level. Like Pete said, we can discuss this in 4 years.

Like many have said here...It's all about the pitching!!!! Pitching wins you games and that's why unfortunately we've won only 9 this year.

I really hope we can somehow beat the Canes on Wednesday. Just want to see TT beat arrogant Jim Morris.

GO FIU!!!

I also want to send my congratulations to Roman. Hope to see you at next week's baseball games.

As for baseball, many people are assuming that we are playing weaker teams simply because they haven't heard of them. Fact is that this schedule is MUCH tougher than what we have played in the past. Our record in the Sun Belt should determine the quality of the program at this point. Just give Turtle some time before asking for his head. A lot of Hilltopper basketball fans wanted Horn out at Western Kentucky and look what he did with them this year, sometimes it pays to be patient.

Just saw the score and FIU beat Louisiana Lafayette, 9-1. With this win FIU is 4-3 in the Sun Belt and can still make a run in the conference. Great pitching performance by Chris Allen, going 8 and a third and only giving up one run. Good luck Panthers, go for the series win tomorrow!

I'm not saying TT's leadership SHOULD be questioned, Fanatic. I like what he's done so far, record nonwithstanding. What I am saying is that, based on what we've seen so far, it's fair to question what TT's doing. If someone wants to say "this is a real problem", I can't say they're wrong... and I can't agree that those losses are because of poor recruiting or depleted talent.

As for what Pete just wrote... Lord knows, some of those convo's were fun, even if you did make me look stupid now and then. And I'm glad they never got aired on WRGP, too! :)

But I think you're missing my point. Sure, DP was 2-3 against Eckerd... but when's the last time FIU played them? 1985? (By the way... I'm pretty sure that one of those 2 wins over Eckerd was a no-hitter.) DP also owned lots of schools like them. He had, like, 60 or 70 wins against FAMU alone.

This isn't about one particular school. It's about a program level. DP did well against the FGCU and Jax's of the world historically. So far, TT hasn't shown he can win games against schools that should be inferior.

Granted, he needs more time, but he does have a lot of his players there now, Pete. It seems strange to say that TT needs to recruit to beat schools like FGCU. Last I checked, we WERE beating teams like FGCU on a regular basis. I thought the point of his replacing DP was to beat the Miami's and USC's of the world.

Losing games to teams like FGCU isn't very inspiring to anyone, especially to the high-caliber recruits TT's been so good at getting historically. And, if TT can't beat schools like Jacksonville with who he's got now, why should anyone think he can do it with schools like Miami once he's got "his guys"? It's a fair question to ask, and it looks like that's starting to happen.

Very good win for TT and FIU against ULL AT Tigue Field, where winning is very hard to do, historically. Well, Messod, not that it matters much, as opinions are just that, opinions we all have. However, I was just looking at your post, and you did say..."But how can you say TT's leadership shouldn't be questioned?" I gather from this that you meant it should....and I just don't agree with that. However, I do agree, as I said, that so far the team has underperformed to my expectations, particularly because of pitching.

BTW, FIU's record against Jacksonville under DP was way under 500.

Glad to see the Golden Panthers win last night!!! One thing I wanted to mention since Jacksonville keeps coming up. You guys realize they have split a series against the #18 Florida Gators? They lost first game at Gainesville 11-6 and won at home 8-5. They are not bad this year and we should give them some credit.


GO FIU!!!

Just came back from today football practice and I wanted to share my opinion for those who are interested in FIU football. I'm only able to make it during the weekends so I was pumped up going today to practice.

First of all, McCall looks really comfortable in the pocket. He stood out over DH and CA. It's a shame that WY is hurt. I guess we're going to have to wait for him. It's McCall job to lose!!!!

As for other players that stood out. Ned,Reams, and Owens looked good in the backfield. They each had their good moments. I would say the O-Line played a part in them running the ball well. It's obvious FIU is getting bigger upfront...that kid Cedrick Mack is huge and is definitely going to help us have a better year in the line of scrimmage. For goal line situations, I'll take my chances and just run it behind Mack.

Last of all, the defense didn't do that bad. They got some turnovers and were solid. I can't wait for MC's defensive recruits to come in the summer and help this defense.

GO FIU!!!

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