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 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 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 and 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 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.
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.