Before we get to the latest Q & A, took another tour of the stadium yesterday and must say that is one impressive football structure. Will post all the latest details and photos on here real soon. Now on to your questions....
FIUJM: With the loss of Lionell Singleton, which players (current or recruit) do you feel are ready to handle return duties?
MC: A number of guys. I think in our kickoff return they are going to see Jeremiah Weatherspoon. He’s a strong runner. He can get downhill fast. He’s a big body. We’re getting all these young players in which should upgrade our special teams. Guys that can move and guys that can break those arm tackles. I think Jeremiah and Julian Reams (right) give you a great shot at doing so. I think Daunte Owens will get a crack at that as well. At punt return you’ll see a couple of guys. Anthony Gaitor did a great job returning punts. His godbrother who is coming in, T.Y. Hilton will be involved as well. Greg Ellingson did a nice job last year so did Jeremy Dickens. The nice thing is now we have 4 to 5 who can do something. We have to find the special guy that can do the most.
SouthPaw: What players have made the biggest improvements in the off-season from last year's roster?
MC: In the secondary, a couple of guys really stood out. Jeremiah Weatherspoon (below, right) really showed what he can do. Hopefully, he can keep it coming and become a real impact player. I love what Ash Parker did as well. He was a guy that struggled in conditioning and he was pressed to get better and he did so. I think the competition that really stepped up in the secondary really helped him out. I think Anthony Gaitor really took a big step. He put 12 pounds of muscle on his body and his reaction time and his change of direction is really something. He’s going to be a special corner for us. Matt Garris is doing well. He didn’t get to compete (shoulder injury), but he is a guy that is doing a real nice job. Mario Caraballo is a guy that has really stood out. He got himself to 280 pounds. Has played tackle, can play guard, can play center. He was one of the more dominant linemen that we had in the spring time. Expect big, big things from him. Brad Serini took a big jump. Joe Alajajian (50) had a great winter and put a ton of muscle on his body, really leaned up and got more flexible in his hips and his ankles. He played with more explosion. We’re pretty fired up about him as well. The running backs all stepped up and had a good spring. I thought Paul McCall had a real good spring. He was real effective in taking on a new offense. Paul did a hell of a job. Marquis Rolle did a hell of job. Greg Ellingson was solid. Jeremy Dickens (5) had a great spring. All these guys their bodies are changing, now there’s muscle here, muscle there, where they didn’t have it before. A bunch of guys had great springs. I can go on and on and on, but we have to continue to get better. When I say get better, it was expected. They had to get better and that’s what the expectations are going to be all the time.
FIU Fanatic: Any news in when will Phase II of the Stadium Construction start?
MC: I expect it to start right away. I truly do. FIU moves fast. We’re so behind most other programs that have been around a while and that’s OK. We’re behind in terms of talent, facilities, but we’re ramping up at warp speed. What you see around the country is that every year people continue to build more and more, for us to catch up to the rest of the country we have to continue to get ourselves better and better. What the new stadium does is continue to put out there the commitment of FIU becoming a big-time program. So we’re very happy with what’s going on right now. The fieldhouse is well on its way up. The stadium is looking beautiful. It’s a big-time facility. You will be hard-pressed to find a better place to develop as a football player. It’s something that we need. It takes hard-ass work and identifying the right guys to develop and you need a facility to develop those guys and it’s on its way.
CJ: What are the chances that FIU will strongly pursue North Miami Beach High QB Nico Flores considering they have recruited 3 QB's (4 if you include Bryan Mann) in the past 2 years?
MC: I can’t comment on recruits.
GPP: How is the kicking situation looking heading into fall practice?
FIU LOVE: My question for MC is fashion. Is he going to continue to wear the tie or will he begin to style a more unformal look?
MC: I’m not sure yet. I think the shirt and tie really represents our school well. I want to make sure – whether we’re playing horseshoes, speaking at a convention, putting on a clinic or addressing the media – we want to make sure we look as sharp as we can. We want to represent at the highest level. Is it the most comfortable for a coach running around on the sideline? Of course not, but whatever it takes we’ll go with it.
Ultimate FIU Fan: We know about Morris and TT, however your statement about FIU coaches not enjoying a cold one with UM coaches sounded more than just baseball. How is MC's relationship with RS? If they are tight, then I guess RS is not in charge of scheduling. Their AD must be. Your thoughts.
GPP: My statement about FIU and UM not having any Sunday afternoon barbecues together goes for UM athletics, overall. These folks just have some animosity toward FIU, even though FIU has not really challenged them on the field or court during the history of the series. Several times that I've gone to Coral Gables to cover an FIU/UM game, I'll get remarks degrading FIU from the people over there and I'm not just talking about fans. It's the usual: "[FIU players] wish they could play here" type of nonsense. As far as MC and RS, don't really know what kind of relationship they got. But regardless of that, it's UM's new AD that controls the scheduling and he came out the other day and said NO to scheduling FIU. Even JM said the AD controls the scheduling when I asked him about continuing to play FIU back in April. Of course, that's a bad example, b/c we all know JM wants no part of TT. Really, FIU doesn't need UM. With apologies to Al Davis, FIU should just concern itself with one thing: "Just Win Baby!" In the fickle South Florida sports scene, winning solves everything.
CJ: I have taken notice that the FAU team is getting together for voluntary player hosted practices. Do you know if FIU is doing the same thing?
GPP: FIU players are practicing on their own. Been told Wayne Younger is constantly out there rehabbing his collarbone and throwing the pigskin.
alt7787: Let's talk Marlins baseball. Now that Josh Johnson is back and Anibal Sanchez is expected after the break, what's going to happen to Hendrickson, Miller and Badenhop? I guess Tucker is working out of the bullpen now. Hendrickson and Miller have been pitching very badly as of late and I havent seen Badenhop pitch in a while. Is the starting rotation going to look like 1)Nolasco, 2)Olsen, 3)Johnson, 4)Sanchez, 5)Miller/Hendrickson. Oh and what the hell is up with Joe Nelson's face? He kind of looks like Popeye.
GPP: The rotation for the foreseeable future until Sanchez returns is: Nolasco, Olsen, Miller, Johnson and top pitching prospect, Chris Volstad.
Mark Hendrickson was moved to the bullpen after another poor outing last Sunday in Denver. He was not happy with the move at all after that game, but his ERA has ballooned and he has not won since May 25. Ryan Tucker has also been moved to the 'pen. Burke Badenhop is on the disabled list and will likely go back to the minors when he's healthy. Joe Nelson looks like Popeye, because he shaves his head and chews tobacco. That's why he has that bulging cheek. He's just missing the pipe.
You good people read MC's answer to SouthPaw's question above. Now it's your turn to answer. We'll go with the offense first and we'll ask about the defense on the next post....