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11 posts from April 2008

April 30, 2008

FIU in NFC South

Three former Golden Panthers are headed to the NFL's NFC South Division.

Falcons Defensive back Nick Turnbull (left) and receiver Chandler Williams (right) signed Cwact_2 with the Atlanta Falcons yesterday and defensive back Lionell Singleton (below) has been invited to the New Orleans Saints mini-camp May 8-10.

Ntact_2   Good to see these guys getting their shots in the NFL. NT and CW were waived by the Cincinnati Bengals and Miami Dolphins, respectively, during the last week.

NT finished his FIU career as the program's all-time interceptions leader. CW is the Golden Panthers all-time receptions leader.

LS, who holds FIU's all-time kickoff return yardage and touchdowns records, will try to make the Saints in front of someSaints_2 of his family members who resideLsact_3 in New Orleans.

Paw GOLDEN PANTHER PAWSE

FIU Fanatic: The new on-campus stadium will definitely be a big part of it.

SouthPaw: Don't know if FIUDad is the same person as any of the Coral Gables crowd that regularly visits the GPP. No one that has posted before on the GPP uses the same e-mail address for two different screen names.

Miri: Bull Durham is definitely worth the $4.50 at the video store. If you think of the movie as highly as I do, then you can get it for $9.99.

UltimateFIUFan: We'll keep you in mind for future writings.

April 28, 2008

Down Goes Another No. 1

Tun The FIU baseball turnaround tunnel is still some distance away, but the Golden Panthers saw some light this past week by taking down two No. 1 teams.

The Golden Panthers played inspired baseball to defeat the No. 1 canes and properly close out the 35-year-old crosstown series with a win last Wednesday in Coral Gables. And yesterday, FIU won the three-game series against the Sun Belt's No. 1 team, Louisiana-Monroe, by belting out a season-high 20 hits, including Ryan Mollica (right) going 5 for 6 with a grand slam.Mollica_3

There are 9 Sun Belt Conference games left and FIU is in 9th place, 1 game behind Middle Tennessee for  the last conference spot in the tournament.

With the way the season started, it would have been hard to fathom that FIU would be in contention at this point. But the Golden Panthers hitting has not stopped. There seems to be some meshing with the pitching staff, in particular, Corey Polizzano, Eric Horstmann (left), James Lajiness and Jorge Marban, and the defense has Horst_2 gotten better with their recent run of errorless games.

The Golden Panthers success of late has been a simple baseball formula that has worked since the game was invented in the late 1800's. You may have heard it in the greatest baseball movie of all-time Bull Durham (below,  right): "You throw the ball, you catch the ball, you hit the ball." FIU has been doing it all of late.Bull_2

Now there are 9 conference games left and to show you how competitive the Sun Belt is in baseball. The 5th place team, Western Kentucky, and 9th place,  FIU are separated by just 3 games. The catch is that FIU has lost the season series/tiebreaker to two of those four teams: Western Kentucky and Middle Tennessee. South Alabama, which is in 6th comes to FIU for a 3-game series starting May 9 and FIU already took the series against Louisiana-Lafayette.

While all the pieces (notably, pitching) are not in place yet for FIU to possibly make a serious run in the NCAA postseason this year, it has been encouraging of late to see the Golden Panthers make a push for the postseason.

FIU has 9 big games left starting this coming Friday at Arkansas State. If they keep throwing the ball, catching the ball and hitting the ball, then who knows, stranger things have happened.

Gppaw GOLDEN PANTHER PAWSE

Need to make a correction from the last post after checking FIU records. The Golden Panthers baseball team's win last week against a No. 1 team was not the first time an FIU sports team has knocked off the top team in the country. FIU men's soccer team beat No. 1 UCLA in 1999. It was, however, the first time FIU baseball beat No. 1.

Mr. Forklift: Welcome to the GPP. Great first post.Mm

FIU Fanatic, Clawing Cancer & FIUJM: Thanks for the props on the Marshall McDuffie (right) story. He's good kid, who decided to make the right choices in the aftermath of the brawl. MM got his degree today and is headed to grad school while he plays his last year at safety for FIU this fall.

CJ: You are a master at understanding T.D.A.O.S. I got a friend who has expressed interest in printing those t-shirts.

FIUDad: Stop hanging out with Cheech and Chong. No FIU will not move down. The Golden Cc Panthers will be just fine in Division I.

Crazy Cane: Actually, it's a pleasure covering FIU. When I get to writing a book about FIU, it will be a much more interesting read to learn how the Golden Panthers program rose from the bottom to the top.

April 25, 2008

Oh, That Wacky Joaquin Andujar

Maybe the former St. Louis Cardinals pitcher had the right idea cooking after all.Ja

Apparently Joaquin Andujar (right) was not as wacky as people thought when in the early 1980's he said about baseball: "You can describe baseball in one word: you never know".

Pretty appropriate considering the result of the final game in the 35-year series between FIU and the canes.

Arriving in Coral Gables on Wednesday night was a struggling Golden Panthers team that hadn't done much right this season. Awaiting them were the mighty canes, their no. 1 ranking and fresh with the memory of a 13-2 trashing at FIU three weeks ago.

Raimy_2 Not a chance for FIU. No way. Tu estas loco?

A 13-29 team can't possibly beat a 33-4 team. . ."You never know".

By the way, great catch by Raimy Fuentes (left).

While I appreciate the kind words Miri and FIU Fanatic, the idea for the last post "You Stay Classy, FIU" came from Mr. Andujar and Ron Burgundy.

Like FIUandME pointed out, FIU is making a habit of closing out some traditional things the right way --Let's see:

Ob_2 Turning out the lights at the Orange Bowl....FIU 38, North Texas 19

Tt_2  Turning out the lights on the FIU/canes baseball series....FIU 6, canes 3

Turning out the lights on the FIU/canes hoops series in 2008-09....Priceless??

No pressure on SR and the FIU hoopsters when they play the final game of the Golden Panthers/canes hoops series next season in Coral Gables.

While the baseball series with the canes was entertaining throughout the years, don't bank on that continuing unless someone from the canes (new AD?) orders JM to continue the series. Don't see it happening.

When I asked JM at FIU three weeks ago about it, a frown came across his face and he began to mumble his responses....which he basically said -- no more games with FIU. Not to keep bringing Willie Nelson into the GPP, but you can read JM's answers in the April 4 GPP post. Last night, George Richards, who covered the game for me, says JM avoided the discussion of continuing the series. Sure Ttjm_2 it will be a shame for the local high school kids who won't play each other at the two schools, but continuing this series shouldn't really be a concern for FIU. Water off a Dd duck's back.

The Golden Panthers need to focus on winning the Sun Belt year in, year out and becoming a college baseball power -- something that should have happened a long time ago for a university with a Miami address, but that's another story. Now that the right head coach (TT) is in place that will happen at FIU.

Entering its series with Sun Belt leader Louisiana-Monroe on Friday night, FIU sits in 9th place in the conference. The top 8 teams make the SBC tourney. The Golden Panthers trail 7th place Louisiana-Lafayette and Middle Tennessee by one game and are just 4 games from fourth place Western Kentucky. FIU has 12 Sun Belt games left. Considering how poorly, the Golden Panthers have played this season, maybe Wednesday night was the spark they needed.

Hey, it's baseball: you never know.

Gppaw GOLDEN PANTHER PAWSE

MaXx: Checking the FIU media guides, this was the first time the Golden Panthers have beaten any No. 1 team at least in Division I. The Division II records are not clear.Pg_2

The FIU Fan: Glad to hear you are still hanging around the GPP. You shouldn't wait around for JM to come out and fully explain his reasons for not continuing to play FIU. Here's the most obvious one: JM could start losing annually to TT and that would not be good for his blood pressure.

hankgoldberg: Sorry to hear about the name change. You would think with DLB's one-year vacation coming up, you would still be able to use the name.

Yes, you are correct it was Turtle's decisions in the top of the 9th that led to FIU getting those two insurance runs. Great moves by TT with the squeeze bunt and then the hit-and-run. Way to keep putting pressure on the defense.

UltimateFIUFan & Clawing Cancer (formerly MB): We shall agree to disagree on the FIU coaching.

FIUandME: There will be more clutch games from FIU in the future like the OB closing and the canes series closing. With the risk of (those-who-do-not-understand-the-meaning-of) pounding their keyboards upon reading this, I say never forget the start of T.D.A.O.S. Many on the GPP know what I'm talking about.

Gold, CA Cane & AlexFAU06: Welcome all to the GPP.

We're trying to get Cindy Crawford in town and on time for the FIU spring football awards on the next GPP blog.

April 23, 2008

You Stay Classy, FIU

It's no secret the FIU baseball season has not gone as many on this blog envisioned and everyone's got their own ideas why and you're more than welcome to vent those thoughts on the GPP. . .Hey that's what blogs are for, right?

Since we've been dallying in the whole two cents theme of late on the GPP, my two pennies Castillo_2 regarding FIU baseball revolve around poor pitching and poor defense. If you don't have either at any level of baseball, you're not going to win too many games. Just imagine where this team would be without the hitting of Jorge Castillo (left) and Ryan Mollica this season?

FIU does not have enough quality pitchers that can consistently locate more than two pitches for strikes. And on defense, many of the fielders don't have the necessary speed or range to get to balls that they should be getting to. The most striking examples of that were in the USC series and against Middle Tennessee as well.

So while TT does his best to fix those two areas, we'll get to the purpose of this post and that would be the final game of the 35-year baseball series between FIU and the canes. Tonight in Coral Gables, the Golden Panthers and the canes meet for the final time.

No need to re-hash the somewhat comical, unclassy events of the first meeting of 2008. If you do need a refresher, then look for Willie Nelson on the post entitled "You Are Always On My Mind". That GPP post was written April 4.

Not sure if Vegas lays odds for college baseball, but if they did FIU would be a huge underdog in Bilson_3tonight's game. But here's the thing and it's another beauty of baseball (might as well get a beauty photo on here since tonight's game could get ugly).

One of the many beauties of baseball is if one player, just one, pitches the game of his life, or one guy gets a timely hit or if the ball bounces a different way at a critical juncture of the game, then you never know who may win the game. You baseball purists, who read the GPP, know what I'm talking about.

I know there are a lot of ifs and buts here and if ifs and buts were candies and nuts we'd all have a party.

Former St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Joaquin "the dog" Andujar (left) said it best about baseball when he Ja was asked to describe the game, JA said: "You can describe baseball in one word: you never know".

Of course, JA threw a better curveball than he solved a math problem, but that's besides the point.

So if one Golden Panther pitches the game of his life, or another FIUer gets a clutch hit or makes a game-saving play then this crosstown series could end with a win by the visiting team.

Now I know all the cynics and amateur psychiatrists will want me to take a session on the couch for writing this post after FIU has stumbled to a 13-29 record. Having seen FIU play for most of this season, I'm not counting on an FIU win -- so there, I'm clinically sane. I'm just offering here one scenario, stranger things have happened.

Although I won't be able to be in Coral Gables tonight to cover the game (Herald hockey writer and half French-Canadian, Gui Reeshards or as he's known in the U.S. - George Richards will fill-in and will have a live game blog going on his Herald On Frozen Pond blog) here are some things I would count on if for some hell-freezes-over-reason FIU wins: 1) There would NOT be any chants that include a word that rhymes with "puck" followed by the opposing coach's name coming from the FIU dugout. 2) TT will shake JM's hand (like TT did in the first game) and not give the alligator handshake that JM gave. 3) The Golden Panthers would NOT trash the visiting dugout. To quote the esteemed and "I'm kind of a big deal" anchorman Ron Burgundy: "You stay classy, FIU". Ron

April 21, 2008

Ooohs and Aaahs

Pretty lively crowd at the Blue & Gold Spring Game on Friday night and from the reactions of the more than 3,000 spring game-record crowd your Golden Panthers didn't disappoint. As MC said "it's good to see when there are ooohs and aaahs and there's all kinds of cheers."

BTW, for the second consecutive year, the FIU athletic department and marketing dept. did a bang-up Fiuers job with the spring game atmosphere. Plenty of ooohs and aaahs there. From the free caja china pork sandwiches, t-shirts, to the games and music. Once again the spring game Gd_2 was not just a game, but a well-organized event. Also, it was great to see some former FIU football players in attendance: safety John Haritan, DB Greg Moss, DB Lionell Singleton and LB James Knapp (a.k.a. the Mayor of FIU) were among the former Golden Panthers I ran into. I think it means a lot to the program when those FIU pioneers come back to campus.

The Golden Panthers offense got the ooohing and aaahing going early on. On the third play of the game, FIU showed the quick strike offense many FIU fans would like to see more often in 2008. Quarterback Paul McCall (right) delivered a laser through the middle of the defense that receiver Jeremy Dickens (left) snared andPm  sprinted past the secondary for a 63-yard touchdown. When PM released the deep pass you got the ooohs from the crowd, when JD caught it and scored you heard the Jd_3 aaahs. PM finished 13 of 22 for 170 yards, 1 TD and 2 INTs.

On the second series, Julian Reams ripped off a 37-yard run and PM connected with John Ellis and Travis Felder for 12 and 13-yard passes, respectively. Safety Jeremiah Weatherspoon ended the offensive party on the drive with a deep interception.

Don't be surprised if Ellis and Felder become integral parts of the offense this season. JE has been working at h-back in the spring. With his pass-catching abilities and muscle he added in the off-season he could be a chore for opponents to bring down. TF also had a good spring. The former basketball player has excellent athletic ability and good hands.

The third series pretty much showed all the offense was going to do for the rest of the game. Quarterback Colt Anderson (left), who has improved this spring, led the offense to the second touchdown with a 32-yard touchdown up the sideline to Marquis Rolle. CA finished 5 of 6 for 60 yards, 1 TD and 1 INT. In the last two scrimmages, CA combined to go 15 of 18 for 197 yards.

Ca With a few exceptions, the rest of the game belonged to the FIU defense as they would win 29-18. It was encouraging to see the defense -- which has had trouble with the new FIU spread offense -- makes adjustments after the first quarter.

Linebacker Jarvis Wilson forced a fumble that led to a touchdown. Jonathan Betancourt was a menace in the offensive backfield tackling Daunte Owens for a 3-yard loss on one play and two plays later sacking Darold Hughes. In between, Devin Parrish broke up a pass intended for Rolle.

Marcelus Manear, who joined the team last season from Milford Academy in New York, picked off CA.

The only other time the offense moved the ball was when Hughes led a 4th quarter drive that ended in a missed field goal. On the drive DH connected with Jason Frierson for 23 yards after the pass went through two defenders hands. DH also hit James Rucker for 14 yards.

The final drive provided the last ooohs and aaahs of the night.

Quentin Newman got his second sack and JW sealed the game with his second interception. But the loudest crowd reaction came on PM's block of Marshall McDuffie. The FIU QB stuffed MM so well that the high school players standing on the sideline were left in awe as they yelled: "Was that the quarterback with the hit? Was that the quarterback with the hit? Wooo! Man! The quarterback made that hit."

PM said afterward he felt bad about the block, talked with MM and the two shook hands.

April 16, 2008

On The Fence at the Blue/Gold Game

OK, the post really should be titled On Defense at the Blue/Gold Game, but why not get a little creative.

Defense_2 Actually, from the looks of the seating at the FIU Soccer Stadium, if you don't arrive early to Friday's spring game, you may be standing by D fence, because of the limited seating. Or just bring your own lawn chair.Lc_3

Enough on the FIU fencing, let's get to your Golden Panthers defense and what's been going on in the first 13 spring practices.

In the two scrimmages, the defense has started slowly, but eventually come around. The two scrimmages, notwithstanding, the FIU D has had its moments in the other 11 workouts thus far.

Last season, until the North Texas game, the Golden Panthers didn't muster much of a pass rush. Then Audric Adger went all "Monstruo" on the NT QB. Well, AA has graduated and El Monstruo has been terrorizing NFL QBs for a year now. So what's the pass rush look like this spring, you ask?

D-lineman Reggie Jones has gotten six sacks in the scrimmages and Quentin Newman has also had a fine spring getting into the offensive backfield. Jonathan Betancourt, Curtis Bryant, Cody Pellicer and Jarvis Penerton all have delivered pressure as well.

What has not really shown up consistently this spring has been that speedy pass rusher that EM was Speedy during his 4 years at FIU. Maybe we'll see it in Friday's game, or maybe we'll have to wait for the BTW freshmen and James Jones to arrive in August.

The D-line's run stopping has been pretty good at times. There have been several instances where they've denied the FIU O when the team has practiced goal-line situations.

The linebackers have not been at full strength this spring with Toronto "Little Canada" Smith and Matt Garris limited with shoulder injuries.

Still, Scott Bryant looks more and more like a future All-Sun Belt performer. SB has put on some muscle since last season and looks faster on the field as well. What's stood out from SB this spring is how he's Sb_2 kind of taking control as the quarterback of that defense. When SB's not tackling, he's coaching up the other defenders.

Fellow LB Mike Dominguez continues to make plays this spring. MD has picked off a few passes and even returned one for a TD in the first scrimmage. Jarvis Wilson and Ryan Martinez have also had good springs.

The FIU secondary may be the strength of the defense this season. Counting the returns of Robert Mitchell, Jeremiah Weatherspoon and Marshall McDuffie, FIU will have 9 new defensive backs this season. Of course, RM, JW and MM were previously on the team, but didn't play much or at all last season.

Those 3 returning veterans have looked like they haven't missed a beat this spring. JW is even excelling as a kick returner. Anthony Gaitor and Ash Parker have continued their stellar play and Brandon EllisonAp_2   and Kreg Brown have also made some plays.

The secondary is only going to get better when the 6 freshmen DBs/safeties arrive in August.

Nothing new with the kicking game. Walk-on punter Carlos Munera has handled all the kicking duties this spring and will likely be looking for some ice and a massage for his right leg after the Blue/Gold Game.

Punter Chris Cook (back) has not practiced all spring. Kickers Chris Abed, Julio Moraga and possibly Dustin Rivest are expected back in August.

There have been a few FIU soccer players and walk-ons try out for the kicker's job this spring, but nobody has made any kind of impression with the FIU coaches to start getting measured for an FIU football uniform.

Gppaw GOLDEN PANTHER PAWSE

FIU Fanatic: Besides Freddy Asprilla and J.C. Otero, FIU will also sign guard Michael Dominguez today. MD played at a Colorado JC last season. Counting guard Josue Soto that will give SR four new players on this year's team. And SR still has one more open scholarship to fill before next season.

FIUJM: Right now any talk of Charlie Jones coming to FIU is just that -- talk. Same thing goes with Alphonso Bryant and Ricky Barnum. Nothing is cooking yet with any of the three players.

MaXx: Hopefully, the kicker talk above clears up the current situation for you. Expect for FIU to have several kickers battling in August, because unfortunately many times games come down to the kicker as we have all seen at all levels of football.

April 14, 2008

Spreads at the Blue/Gold Game

There should be plenty of spreads at the FIU Blue/Gold Game on Friday at the FIU Soccer Field. Who could forget the caja China pork from last year? And who knows what other Food Network quality faresIh_3  they'll be cooking up on Friday.

But right now, I know there's only spread on the minds of FIU fans and that's your Golden Panthers revamped spread offense.

As you know football is what drives FIU fans and the GPP -- just check the number of comments whenever there's a football post.

Just two spring practices left before the Blue/Gold Game. Here is what's cooking on offense this spring. We'll have the FIU defensive menu on the next post and you can look for our GPP Spring Football Awards Show on the blog next week.

As it's been talked about a lot on here and in your comments, Paul McCall has looked like a 10-year veteran running the revamped spread offense FIU is employing under new O-coordinator Bill Legg.

If you haven't been to any of the spring practices, check out the new offense, which asks the quarterback to be more mobile, including rollouts and the option. It seems to be a very quarterback-Jm_2 friendly O and takes some pressure off the O-line with a moving pocket and quick, short passes. Although it's not the same scheme, the offensive "style" has somewhat of a look of the West Coast offense the San Francisco 49ers ran with Joe Montana (left). Again, before I'm accused of hanging out with Ricky Williams-- I am NOT comparing FIU to the 49ers.

Also with the QBs, check out sophomore Colt Anderson (below right). There have been times this spring where he's looked like a top-notch QB, especially with his play-action rollouts and at times with his throwing.

FIU did not scrimmage last Saturday, but practiced game situations in a driving rain. During some of those situations, CA had some strong passes connecting with Jeremy Dickens on a 25-yarder through Ca_2 the rain.

A'mod Ned and Julian Reams have had solid springs, but let's see Daunte Owens take that next step. DO ran for 110 yards in the first scrimmage, but was limited to 18 yards in scrimmage No. 2. DO is the fastest FIU RB and using his speed can definitely help this season.

Among the receivers, Marquis Rolle, Dickens, Greg Ellingson and Kendall Berry have stood out in the first 12 practices. If he continues to develop, Rolle can be the top receiver on this team for the next 3 years. Dickens (left) just seems to find the ball and run the right routes every time. GE and KB have shown Dickens some secure hands.

It doesn't look like Moses Hinton will get that extra year of eligibility from the Sun Belt. New tight ends Travis Felder and James Wiggins have shown flashes this spring. Both are big bodies. TF has made some acrobatic catches this month. JW is making the transition from the D-line to TE.

The O-line appears to have gotten better judging by the success the running backs had in both scrimmages this spring. But one concern that has occurred for most of the spring has been the snapping.

Granted, it's only April, but there have been several fumbled exchanges between the centers and QBs. Also, some shotgun snaps have sailed over the QBs heads or have had the QBs acting like shortstops reaching for or at times diving for the ball from the center. I'm sure they'll be working on that until they get it right before Kansas on Aug. 30.

Gppaw GOLDEN PANTHER PAWSE

FIU Fanatic: College hoops signing day is this Wednesday. FIU is going to sign 6-10, 255-pound power forward Freddy Asprilla and 6-7 small forward J.C. Otero. There might be two or three more signings from what I'm hearing.

The OC Panther: Of the FIU seniors from last season, Lionell Singleton may have the best chance to catch on in the NFL. Of all the NFL Draft previews I've encountered, none have LS being drafted, but you never know if he catches on as a free agent. Spoke to Chandler Williams at last Saturday's practiceCw_4  and CW said he feels like he may have a shot with the Dolphins this season. CW right now is one of a handful of Dolphins receivers that is looking to make an impression on the new coaching staff. The Tuna (I know Tony Sparano is the coach, but the Tuna is calling the shots) has been known to be an equal opportunity football guy. Remember, he gave Wayne Chrebet a chance and he ended up having a pretty good career.

FIUBlueandGold: Yes, this version of the spread will count on the QB to make plays with his feet. We've seen the option unveiled this spring and I've seen several bootlegs as well. As far as Troy Dannehower, yes he was in high school last season, but he may have the most experience of all the FIU QBs running this spread offense. He ran it his entire high school career and yes I know high school football is much different from college. Don't be surprised if he's NOT redshirted.

FF II UU FIU: Thanks to the magic of the internet, where space is endless, we can dedicate as much or as little space or write on any topic on any particular post and not have it wasted.

April 11, 2008

Can't Buy Much with 2 Cents

Whoa! Let's all get a cold one to drown the little baseball salsa that Coral Gables brought over to the lastT  post.

FIU fans, the Golden Panthers baseball team has much bigger issues to deal with than anything brought onto the GPP by the Coral Gables faithful. Congrats, Canes fans you got a great team, Your team is number one on the diamond and should do well in Omaha. Off the diamond is another story (see Willie Nelson post below). But I digress, since that's not the point of this post.

Instead, want to take this opportunity to focus on what's keeping most FIU football fans' minds busy: the starting quarterback.

Yes, Paul McCall should be the FIU starting quarterback when the season opens at Kansas on Aug. 30. PM may have had the best game ever by a QB in the 6-year history of the program when he led FIU to a win against North Texas last season. The junior has earned it after the last two games of 2007 and with his command of the new Golden Panthers offense this spring. PM is accurate and has the strongest arm of all FIU QBs. PM has shown he can move with the ball last season and this spring when the new offense calls for the QB to be more mobile and at times run the option.

Two So there's my 2 cents.

But of course, everyone knows what you can get with 2 cents nowadays. Let's see: you could use 2 cents in that "Leave a Penny, Take a Penny" tray at gas stations to round off a purchase. You could throw 2 cents in a fountain and hope you hit the lotto. Hell, you could even Penny collect 2 cents 50 times and buy yourself a lotto ticket.

Now is my writing that PM should be the starter going to have any impact? Well, this post does state my opinion that PM should be under center, but it's also in response to one reader that states I "have to play the game with MC". There's no game being played. I mentioned to MC before spring started that I thought PM looked like the starter. He said it will be a competition that will be decided in August. (You can read about that in previous GPP posts).

The reader continues saying he would like to see me "put an opine if I dare and call out MC".....What are we back in Pop Warner football here? If Johnny doesn't start, then the sportswriter won't bring any Juice juice boxes and cookies to the next game.

Does anyone really think that MC is going to care about what is written about who the FIU QB should be? Maybe if MC was related to Cam Cameron (below right), then MC may start reading and cutting out articles about FIU football.

(For those who don't remember, it was Cameron who came out after Week 7 of last Cc season and told the media to be please be more positive in their articles, because the Dolphins are having a tough season. Then of course, when Bill Parcells took over, one of the first things he mentioned after firing CC was that he didn't want a coach who was more worried about what was being written about him than what was going on in the football field.)

Myself and everyone else does not have the job title "head coach". But we all can be head coaches on-line, on sports talk radio and among other fans -- hey, that's the beautiful democratic aspect of sports and what makes sports so popular. (Did you know that each day at least 3 of the top 5 stories in the Miami Herald are sports stories? True.) Everyone is entitled to their opinion when it comes to sports. God bless the U.S.A.

But in the end, unless you are the one getting paid to make those sports decisions, it's all just 2 cents.

April 08, 2008

Spring Scrimmage No. 2 Views

Appreciate the enthusiasm from you GPP readers for FIU baseball in the last post. Like most sports tend to do, everyone has an opinion and that's great. That's one beauty of sports.

I'll stick to my guns and wait until TT's four year-deal is up to reserve judgement. TT didn't exactly make like Joe Girardi and walk into the Yankees kingdom of an All-Star lineup, a rich, historical tradition and unlimited resources to get the players he needs.

Ld I'm not here to curb anyone's enthusiasm or theories on FIU baseball, but I do want throw a long post pattern to you good people from University Park Stadium to the FIU rec fields and talk about last Saturday's second spring scrimmage.

We're halfway through spring practice, only seven more workouts left including Scrimmage No. 3 this Saturday at 10:30 a.m. and the FIU Blue/Gold Spring Game on Friday, April 18. So far what we've seen this spring is that the Golden Panthers offense apparently is picking up new OC Bill Legg's offense rather well, while the defense has been needing some time each scrimmage to get warmed up.

Of course, take all this with a grain of salt, because in the spring it's FIU vs. FIU and not FIU vs. Kansas. Still, usually when an offense is revamped, at whatever level of football, the tendency is for the offensive players to struggle somewhat picking it up. Not saying the Golden Panthers offensive players have not made any mistakes with the new O, but they haven't looked lost either.

On to Scrimmage No. 2. At the outset, the FIU offense started strong again scoring touchdowns on 3 of their first 5 possessions. Paul McCall was efficient again running the first team, but Colt Anderson had a hell of a day and proved me wrong after making a comment to an FIU staffer - more on that later. For some of the scrimmage stats you can check this out: Scrimmage No. 2 . For the details, keep on reading below.

Running back Julian Reams (right) showed the form of a No. 1 running back opening with an 11-yard run and Jr catching a 12-yard pass from McCall. On a 4th and 1, with a good push upfront from the O-line, JR charged 3 yards for a 1st down. JR eventually punched it in from 2 yards out for the score.

The next two series had Darold Hughes under center, but the FIU defense stepped up. Defensive linemen Reggie Jones, who had another big scrimmage with 3 more sacks, and Curtis Bryant each made stops in the backfield. Dez Johnson had nice pass breakup to end one series on downs.

On the 4th series, PM was back at QB and combined with receiver Jeremy Dickens on two long pass plays. The duo hooked up for 28 yards on 1st down and then JD took a screen pass and went 25 yards.

Jarvis Penerton and Jarvis Wilson got in the backfield a couple of times in the series to bat down passes, but the possession ended with A'mod Ned scoring on a 1-yard run.

Reams set up the next possession nicely with a 40-yard kickoff return. Anderson took over at QB and completed his first five passes. In between some passes, defensive linemen Jonathan Betancourt (left) and Jb_2 freshman Jonathan Nieves had tackles for loss in the backfield.

But when CA had time, he showed what he could do. CA made a nifty move to evade the pass rush on one play and find fullback Trenard Turner for 16 yards. CA also has the play-action down pretty well. Twice the FIU defense was going in the wrong direction when CA did play-action.

About halfway through the scrimmage, MC spotted ball at the offense's 1-yard line to see what the O could do from there with 99 yards of open space ahead. The O didn't do much getting stopped all 5 times - 4 of them on safeties. You can bet the O will be working on that scenario a lot more before Aug. 30.

Once they got back to more manageable field position, the O kept it going. DB Anthony Gaitor started the next possession making a tackle for a loss on a screen pass. But then Ned took over from there breaking a 29-yard run and then eluding two tacklers in the backfield for a 46-yard touchdown run. That play showed what I've mentioned before -- these FIU players are stronger and faster thanks to having a genuine off-season conditioning program -- Ned is not Superman or the Flash, but I don't know if he Supe_2 breaks those tackles and outruns the defense in his previous 3 years at FIU on that play.

Before CA proved me wrong, the sophomore had thrown some wounded ducks that were caught and two others that fell incomplete -- CA's only 2 incompletes on the day. Watching that, I mentioned to one of the FIU football staffers on the sideline that I wasn't sure if CA could be consistent enough with his passing. The staffer told me give CA some time. He needs time.

Sure enough on the next drive, CA finishes with four straight completions -- two of which were nice spirals to Marquis Rolle, who BTW is looking every bit as advertised. MR has all the tools to be Kb something special catching the ball. Another WR enjoying a strong spring is Kendall Berry, who made an acrobatic catch for 20 yards from PM on a 3rd and 20 earlier in the day. KB went up and held onto the ball while getting smacked in the air by two defenders. Anyway, CA closed out the scrimmage with a 32-yard TD pass to MR. Yeah, I'll stick to writing and not evaluating QBs.

Gppaw GOLDEN PANTHER PAWSE

MaXx: Like I wrote in the previous post about TT and JM's history, everybody has their Oliver Stone-type conspiracy theories. The same can be said about the theories and rumors the peanut gallery experts have about the whole "MC and so-and-so player is not an MC player" BS. The facts are both PM and WY are Don Strock players. And MC is playing plenty of DS players: Scott Bryant, Ash Parker, A'mod Ned to name a few.

Before the FAU and NT games last season, all we had to judge PM on was an 18-yard completion to Chandler Williams in the 2006 opener at Middle Tennessee and then some garbage time in the blowouts of DS's last year, in which DS only had PM handing off -- why is beyond me and if anyone runs into DS at the Miccosukees, please ask him why. He never returned any of my phone messages.

MC apparently did not see enough from PM in practice last season to play him earlier. Now, however, after PM's performance in the final 2 games last season and this spring, everyone and MC knows what PM brings to the table. I think MC wants to see what WY brings once fall practice begins before naming a starter. And I don't think MC has his mind made up already.

April 04, 2008

You Are Always On My Mind

OK, I'll admit it I listen to country music once in a while, there are some good country songs. Not every country song is about a guy's pickup truck breaking down, his girl leaving him or his dog dying.

Willie_2 So with apologies to Willie Nelson, we're making a little change to the title of one his songs for this post. Willie's original song title is "You Were Always on My Mind". Let's change the verb for the theme of this post.

Judging by the response to the GPP's FIU football posts, that seems to be the sport that is on most FIU fans minds. With that in mind, Spring Scrimmage No. 2 is tommorrow (Saturday) at 10:30 a.m. We'll see if the FIU defense can get going earlier than last week, if the running backs can keep up their production and if Paul McCall continues his solid effort toward winning the starting QB job.

But Willie's song for this post is in tribute to what happened Wednesday night at University Park Stadium with the opposing coach, because apparently TT is still on JM's mind or in his head as the psychology folks like to say. From JM's comment of "Turtle, Who?" in the preseason media day and againTtjm_2 on Wednesday night.

Let's get the baseball facts out of the way first: um has a heck of a baseball team and they should challenge in Omaha this June.

The other fact is FIU is not on that level yet offensively, defensively or with its pitching. There are several people on this blog that think the Golden Panthers baseball program TT took over was not in as bad a shape as the football program MC inherited. News flash folks: FIU has little to zero pitching and when a good opposing pitcher takes the mound the FIU bats struggle. Add to it that FIU is handicapped by having only 8 to 9 scholarships available per year until 2010, because of past APR no-nos and you have a baseball team that needs to be built, not re-built.

Back to the point of this post. It makes no difference to me whether any of the series between the two schools in the three major sports continue beyond this season. As many have pointed out and I agree with: the two schools are on different levels right now. (BTW, the hoops series ends after next season's game in Coral Gables).

What caught my attention on Wednesday was the lack of class displayed by the visiting team and their coach.

As MaXx pointed out in one of his comments and was heard loud and clear from the press box (which also means most of the stadium heard it): what kind of classy team gathers before a game and screams "(word that rhymes with "puck") Turtle Thomas, let's kill these guys!" The opposing players were still in middle school when TT was an assistant under JM so they wouldn't know anything about the history between the two coaches.

Os Jfk Which is another thing, only the two coaches really know what happened between them in 1999 when JM let TT go. I get a kick out of all these on-line experts from the peanut gallery with their Oliver Stone/JFK conspiracy theories of what happened between the two coaches. You all know the types: "Yeah, I'm real close to the program and I know the real truth....yada, yada, yada, yada".

The other moment that stood out Wednesday was the meeting at home plate to exchange lineup cards. TT extended his hand. JM looked at the hand, thought about it and then as one of our regular posters, FIUJM, wrote in the comments section of the MH Game Story, JM got "alligator arms" when he shook TT's hand.Wally

Neither coach wanted to talk about the past on Wednesday and that's fine. That's their business and their prerogative. After Wednesday night's game, I asked JM about continuing to schedule FIU and that TT wanted to play his team four times a season starting next season. JM frowned and changed his tone of voice when responding to both questions. You can read his comments in the game story link above.

The teams meet for the final time on April 23 in Coral Gables. Don't see FIU winning that game, unless it gets a Cy Young pitching performance and Cy Young has been dead for a while now. However, it would be interesting to see how the Golden Panthers react (classy?) if they do finish the 35-year-old crosstown series with a win.

Fiupaw GOLDEN PANTHER PAWSE

FIU0406: Have faith man, the Golden Panthers can still go 19-6 and you can win the "Win a GPP Blog II". As it's looking right now, as Princess Leia would say in the first Star Wars Leia movie: "FIU0406, you're the blog's readers only hope".

FIUVoice: Or shall we say the Voice of Reason here. You are correct in pointing out that the two previous FIU coaches never played the type of schedule TT has this season. Were the games TT scheduled a bit too ambitious for the type of team he inherited? Probably so, but you're not going to get better playing Eckerd Drugs and Florida Southern Church.

24/7-11: Considering FIU has not sniffed the Sun Belt tournament in recent years and has resided at the bottom of the conference standings, being in third place right now is good considering the overall season.

April 02, 2008

The Prez Talks New Stadium, FIU Athletics Part 3

With a break in spring football here on a Wednesday -- the next practice is Thursday at 3:30 p.m. and Scrimmage No. 2 is set for 10:30 a.m. on Saturday -- let's take this time to finish up the interview with Mmmm FIU President Mitch Maidique.

Yes, I know the Coral Gables team visits FIU baseball tonight for the final time. Canes coach Jim Morris is not renewing the series after the April 23rd game in Coral Gables. We'll get to baseball later in this post.

In this last part, we'll get MM's take on the new stadium and the state of FIU sports. Let's get to it....

GPP: So what are your initial thoughts on the new stadium?

MM: I think the most exciting thing that is happening is the new stadium and the fieldhouse. It will be both a gathering place for all our university as well as a football place where all the university staff, Stad faculty, friends, alumni, administration can all come together to cheer our team. I think that will be a transformative moment on September 20 in FIU's history. I just hope everyone that is a supporter of FIU athletics is there. The more exciting thing that can happen is to begin winning a few games in football.

GPP: Is the student services center still on target for construction in 2010 and finishing the north side before the 2011 season?

MM: Yes, but we're trying to accelerate that. What will be done by Sept. 20 is everything except the north side. The fieldhouse, we're negotiating right now for a completion date, but it shouldn't be more than a few months later than Sept. 20. Both levels of the fieldhouse. By the time we're done playing in 2008 it will be completely done, but we hope it will be done sometime during the season. That's what I'm shooting for.

GPP: I'm sure you already walked the concourse of the new stadium. What do you think of that view from the east end zone concourse (photos below left, right) where you see the downtown Miami skyline, the Ritz Carlton in Dade Coconut Grove, the Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables and Dadeland?

MM: It's phenomenal. It's the best part of the stadium. And when we go to 45,000 capacity which is the next step, you will have an even better view in an even higher up concourse. It's wonderful that Miami is not so built up that you can see the downtown from the suburbs. I can't wait to get in that presidential box and see the original kickoff. I may not even be in the box for that. I'll probably be down on the Econ field.

GPP: What's the latest on Main Street FIU?

MM: We need cooperation from the county so I'm trying to get the county to make available the land that we need to build that. But as far as we're concerned, it's a question of timing, but that's something we are going to do. We are going to do.

GPP: The land you are talking about is the Tamiami Park/Youth Fair area?

MM: Yeah, so the parking garages could spill over. They will be used by the Youth Fair, by Tamiami Park. We would make more efficient covered parking so it's a real asset I think. The Main Street would go between the stadium and where the performing arts center is. The residential parking lot would go and we would actually push back the space a little bit and we would have Main Street there with dorms on both sides, residential, commercial. It will be phenomenal.

GPP: Why do you think in the past FIU has not had that athletic success that you want to have in the future as a major Division I college athletic program?

MM: I think the main thing is I had focused on academics and I had focused on getting new programs and building a research university and not an athletics powerhouse. Up to the time that Pete Garcia got here, the athletic director was a secondary figure reporting to a vice president, maybe even sometimes an associate vice president. Right now with football, athletics becomes a major force in the university Elling and the athletic director reports directly to me and is aware of everything that is going on in the university. I think the priority we're giving to athletics now, if you look at the athletic budget now it probably doubled over the past five or six years. So it's a question of investments, it's a question of attention and I think we are on the move now.

Gppaw GOLDEN PANTHER PAWSE

Tonight will be the first of the final two meetings between FIU and the Coral Gables school and with a stacked Hurricanes team it could get ugly for the Golden Panthers and their suspect pitching -- especially since TT is not exactly on Morris's Christmas Xmas card list. Don't be surprised if the score gets run up.

Yes, a win would be great for FIU and TT, but the focus for the Golden Panthers has to be on the Sun Belt right now since the 11-19 record does not give any hope of an at-large regional bid. By the way FIU0406 is looking like he or she is in the driver's seat for the "Win a GPP Blog II" with a 30-26 predicted FIU record.

FIU has played well in the conference this season at 5-4, where that record could easily be 7-2 with a little better pitching and defense. Still at 5-4, FIU is one half game from third place in the Sun Belt.


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