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Spring Football Preview: Defense and Kickers

For the first time in four years at FIU, we saw last season what a difference "El Monstruo" made on defense. Not counting Audric Adger's 4-sack impersonation of Antwan Barnes in the season finale win against North Texas, the Golden Panthers didn't muster much of a pass rush last season.

Yf Apparently, this offseason FIU defenders have been in strength coach Roderick Moore's weight training lab trying to become Monstruos of their own.

"The weight room will help some," said MC, of trying to establish a consistent pass rush. "This is the first real offseason that these guys have had here and coach Moore and [assistant strength] coach [Ty] Wise get after those guys. Coach Moore made it very clear and we made it very clear as a staff also: we're going to be stronger or else you're going to run. We don't want big stiff guys that look pretty for the beach and we don't want little skinny-minis that run fast, but can't hold up on a double team and blocks."Jb_4

Like we mentioned in the previous post with the offensive line, the success of the offense begins on the line of scrimmage. The same can be said about the defensive line. Linebackers and defensive backs can only hold their pass coverage so long before the opposing quarterback finds an open receiver. The same goes for stopping the run. If the D-line doesn't make plays in the backfield or handle the opposing O-line's blocks, then the linebackers and defensive backs can't find any room to make plays.

"What was clearly evident up front defensively in the passing game is that we need to get to the quarterback which we did the last game and you saw the difference," MC said. "North Texas was probably the hottest offense in the Sun Belt going into that last game. We literally only gave up 12 points that game. They had a 1-yard drive to start the game."

"We move a lot up front," MC added. "A lot of that has to do with footwork, technique work. Being that our players have a better understanding of our scheme, you should see a pretty significant jump in our defensive play up front. We're expecting to get better with the addition of some of the freshmen that are coming in. Guys that can get to the quarterback. Guys that can run around really well."

It will be another four months before the talented freshmen defenders arrive. So what should we Penerton_2 expect to see this spring from the returning front seven on the Golden Panthers defense?

"Daniel Chacreton is finally healthy," MC said. "He played with a sprained ankle last year so it's hard to tell how good he can be. He's a good player. He's a kid that's going to work his butt off. Last year he was working off one leg. Jarvis Penerton needs to step up and have a big year. Ricky Booker expect him to step up. He's had a hell of an offseason. He pushed hard at 255, 260 pounds. He can run, got a hell of a motor and he gets after you good. He's a hell of a player, a Big East type of kid. Bryan Frye has gained 15 pounds of muscle on his body -- long, lean guy that can run all day. Jonathan Betancourt (knee) could be back by the second week of spring."

The FIU linebackers showed some promise last season. With the addition of just as talented linebackers this fall, expect to see this position take a major step forward in 2008.

"Scott Bryant (right) is a good football player," MC said. "He's another guy that had a great offseason. Bryant_3 It's his turn to kind of step up and lead. Ryan Martinez did a nice job stepping in there after walking-on from New Jersey. Toronto Smith (shoulder) will probably miss the entire spring. He had shoulder surgery after the season. Matt Garris (shoulder) started playing good football there at the end and then he got hurt. He'll miss all of spring as well."

FIU lost Lionell Singleton and Cory Fleming in the defensive secondary, but there are some re-inforcements back this spring and more arriving in the fall.

"Jeremiah Weatherspoon is back on for the spring," MC said. "Dez Johnson, Anthony Gaitor, Robert Mitchell (foot) will all be playing corner. So will [freshman] Marcelus Manear. Ash Parker, Weatherspoon and Kreg Brown will be at safety. Brown started playing good football last year."

Now the $25 billion dollar question, who's going to kick for FIU this season and can he be consistent?

Abed_2 "We're looking for somebody to win that kicking job," MC said. "Dustin Rivest and Chris Abed will compete in the spring. Julio Moraga will join the team in the fall. Abed tore his quad two weeks before Penn State last year and was never the same during the season. Chris Cook has a hurt back so he is day-to-day. He's going to try in the spring, if not Dustin can punt."

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Good piece of info....Seems like Ricky Booker is now officially only a Defensive lineman with the weight gained. I hope he also helps this line to become a lot better than last year. We have Cody Pellicer, Betancourt, Penerton, Chacreton, Justin West, plus the redshirted freshmen Booker, Frye, and Curtis Bryant joining them at the D-Line. Then come in the great DE's we signed this year (Jonathan Jackson, James Jones, and Kambriel Willis).

Here's hoping that we improve dramatically on the defensive line this year!!

Fiudad,

So you want to talk baseball?? As stated numerous times already, there's no getting past this year's shortcoming of pitching. Problem is you throw the big three against conference opponents while mixing in desimone and marban in relief and you basically expose yourself to inferior opponents in mid-week games. If the offense sputters at all in those games, you simply have no chance at all. Does that make those teams better? I don't want to take anything from them but I don't think so! Perhaps I'm dillusional but I don't think we're as bad as our record indicates. We're simply noticeably short on the hill and that is fixable with recruiting classes. The scary part is that you basically go into next year with only polizanno, desimone and marban as proven arms, though I'm thinking that ellison, ramos, trezona and schlehuber will all turn the corner in the second half. Sadly, the pitching woes will be difficult to quick fix with the new transfer rule (must sit a year) but I have to think that TT will have some stud JUCO and freshman arms arriving next year.

On offense and defense, the picture is much brighter. Townsend, Sujo, Guy, Main, Boza, Stropp/Mirabal and Arrojo have all shown promise. These guys all like to play and given four ABs a game, runs will not be a problem. Throw in the fact that TT has a few nice position players coming in and it's a safe bet that the offense will be very good and the defense will be much improved. We already see a couple of these guys being used as defensive replacements late in very close ballgames.

Bottomline, we're not that far from being a good team. Until then, keep the baseball talk alive!

I think what you have said about the baseball team is well said, the only bad that we have played in the the last 9 or 10 was against Northern Colorado. The defense has been solid going 5 straight games without an error and no big errors in a while. The infield has been very good with Arroyo leading the way, a couple of his errors were on throws after amazing plays that no one else would have made. Stropp has sured up the defensive catching problems and the offense has been good. Your thoughts on our main 3 pitchers going on the weekend and leaving us bare during the week is right on the money, unfortunately there is nothing that can be done about it this year. The year is shot as far as making a regional based on record, we will have to win the Conference to make it. The Conference is wide open and maybe we could catch lightning in a bottle for a couple of days, the offense is strong enough and the first 3 pitchers are solid enough. As far as the future, we will have to depend upon JUCO for immediate success and time for long range success. TT is an excellent coach and it has shown already if you follow the team closely and the record will start reflecting it soon. Do not worry about the future of FIU baseball, it is in very capable hands as long as we can keep the coach from moving on.

Did anybody attend the first football practice?

El Monstrou!!!!!!

by the way I thought Rivest left the team. Why do we struggle to find kickers??

i completely forgot the practice whas yesterday... is their practice thursday lol

btw Pete Nice article

I dont know how to take this latest loss to Tampa. They are a division II team that has beat only one other division I team in the last 2 years. But they are also the defending division II champion.

So is this latest loss cause for even more concern about this team and TTs leadership?

TT's leadership is NOT a concern, this was another example of what was explained earlier, pitching depth. The team needs a little more talent, the coaching is fine.

I have to agree with Baseball Fan. It's all about the pitching and TT will take care of that by recruiting top notch pitchers.

Pete, great article on football practice yesterday. Please keep them coming for those that can't make it during the weekdays. Seems like it might be McCall job to lose!!!

GO FIU!!!!

Wow... sorry to spoil the good vibes, but this Tampa loss is disturbing. Very disturbing.

I'm not talking so much the game itself as in the general trend we've seen this season. I get that Tampa's the D-II champs... and I don't have a problem playing a school like that... and if this was just one of a few losses, I'd excuse it more. But what about the loss to FGCU? Jacksonville? A 9-17 record from a man whose resume is one of the most impressive I've ever seen from an assistant baseball coach at this level? I'm sorry... this isn't something to just dismiss glibly. We're seeing a bad pattern of losses to schools that, frankly, is not acceptable.

Many of you here hate on Danny Price and love to bitch that he never got talent, but Danny Price's teams didn't lose to schools like Tampa. No one can sit here and say logically that "recruiting" is the problem when DP beat schools like FGCU and Tampa and TT isn't. Especially when many of you are also saying that this very FIU team is more talented than we've seen in the past couple of years.

FIU's talent level RIGHT NOW should be spanking schools like Tampa. I don't want to hear about "recruiting" with a loss to these guys. I can accept that with USC. I will NOT accept that here. That entire baseball team should be embarrassed right now. Especially the pitching staff. They are clearly not carrying their weight. And if this coaching staff can't figure out how to beat FGCU and Tampa with who we've got now, then someone please explain to me why a top-level recruit would think that very same coaching staff can beat the likes of Miami and USC with "better" players?

I'll admit that I may be guilty of freaking out for no good reason... and Lord knows, I've covered enough college baseball and FIU games to know that you don't freak out over one bad game, or even a stretch of them... but I'm starting to wonder about this coaching staff, and the rest of us ought to be, too. We don't have a history to go back on with Turtle as a head coach.

Pete, I hope that you're planning to ask Turtle the very question I'm asking here... how can we expect TT to lead this program to Omaha when he's losing to teams that DP beat with "lesser" talent? I think it's a legit question, and he needs to answer it if he doesn't want the few fans to just quit on him.

Let me be clear... I'm not saying TT should be fired... he needs another 2-3 years, at least... but he's got some explaining to do here.

OOOOOOh bye the way, the whole special teams either left (quit) or are taking care of "issues" except for the long snapper, and i mean very loooooooong snapper. Looks as if Coach Wright is doing a really good job LOL.

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