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.
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 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 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 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 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.
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.