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15 posts from August 2008

August 30, 2008

Your New FIU Starting QB Is....

LAWRENCE, KANSAS -- Welcome to Kansas, GPP Nation. It's gameday and we're about 6 hours from kickoff. New season. New uniforms (FIU will wear new white tops with new white pants tonight, check the MH sports website later tonight for photos) and maybe a new record. Speaking of records, haven't really followed the band, Kansas, but did some research on some of their song titles and thought I might apply Kansas them throughout this post. So here's "What's On My Mind":

There will be a quarterback under center for the Golden Panthers tonight. Here are some clues as to who is the FIU starting QB this season. If you read the FIU preview in the Miami Herald "print" edition on Thursday, then you will only need one or two clues to figure out who is FIU's starting QB this season. For those that didn't read the MH, you may have to "Hold On" until the end of this post.

Chime in with the answer when you know who the quarterback is after reading these clues: the Golden Panthers new starting quarterback will be starting grad school in September seeking a master's in computer engineering. Thinks V for Vendetta is the perfect movie, Thinks an Italian girl is the perfect girl. Thinks lasagna is the perfect meal. Thinks a Corvette Stingray is the perfect car. Thinks the 1972 Las Miami Dolphins are the perfect team. Thinks Christian Bale is the perfect actor. And thinks Italy is the perfect vacation spot. If you still haven't figured it out, then the answer is at the bottom of this post.

On to today's game. It's a chamber of commerce type of Saturday here in Lawrence, Kansas. The weather is clear, sunny skies with about 60 degrees in the morning, should be up in the 70's by kickoff tonight.

This is not exactly a tune-up opener for FIU as they face the second highest scoring team in the nation last year in the Jayhawks, who hung 42 points per game on opponents and 55 on the Golden Panthers in a 55-3 win last year. KU's defense also allowed the fourth fewest points in the nation last season, 16 points per game.

Don't see FIU pulling off any upset tonight, that would be "Miracles Out Of Nowhere" but here's what we'd like to see: an FIU offense that can score some TDs and not settle for FGs or turn the ball over. Ku_2 The FIU D has looked good in camp, now let's see them at least contain this high-powered KU O. This is one of those learning experience games for the Golden Panthers that will only make them better come Sun Belt play.

In last year's game, it was a competitive one in the first half with KU leading 10-3 until the second half meltdown when the Jayhawks scored 45 unanswered points, thanks in part to 5 FIU turnovers. Limiting or not committing any TOs tonight, might and I say might, make for a game. Of course, another handful of TO's could make FIU "Dust In The Wind" tonight. Don't know if a competitive game could happen, because its the season opener and KU -- already feeling slighted by the national media saying last year was a fluke -- will be out to prove everyone wrong and FIU has not been good in hostile venues before. Maybe that changes tonight.

GPP says: Kansas 44, FIU 14Pm_2 

No more "Mysteries And Mayhem" if you still haven't figured out the QB and just scrolled down here, then here's your new FIU starting QB, Paul McCall:

A look "Down The Road" at the rest of the FIU season has me thinking 4-8 in 2008. Might see the Golden Panthers sneak out of Toledo with a W and then go 3-5 in the Sun Belt.

Logo GOLDEN PANTHER PAWSE

**Remember, last possible minute to get your FIU scores for tonight's game and for our 2nd Annual Win A GPP Blog contest is tonight at 6:59 p.m. (EDT) by the GPP clock. Read the previous 3 posts for rules and regulations.

FIUJM: Is there reason why visitors section is using high school benches?

GPP: You wouldn't want to put the FIU fans in those uncomfortable, no backrest seats. So that's why visiting teams' fans get those seats from the old FIU Stadium.

CJ: Question about the field..is it just me or does it look a bit sandy and streaky?

GPP: In that photo they just fed the field sand and ground up tires. After a while, the sand and tires settle into the turf and you don't see those streaks.

FIUFan: Hasn't FIU requested to be called FIU and not Florida International University by media outlets? How's that going?

GPP: The first page in the football media guide says "We are FIU and please refer to us as FIU. Do not use Florida International University, Florida International, Fla. Internat'l....or any other variation". Some of the media is getting used to it, especially the local TV, others it has taken time. I know I usually have to remind the people who edit my stories NOT to change FIU to Florida International in the first reference.

Roary_2 ** Thanks to B for posting that picture on the GPP. With your permission, B, I'm going to re-post it here since it is such a pretty picture. Thanks again.

Oh, you say Roary is in the photo? Now, I just noticed him.

Gold: Can you do a tour of the finalized project? There has to be pictures up of what each section of the stadium will look like when everything is complete. Can you get a picture of the girl who is taking you on the tour. She looks cute.

GPP: Guess the title of the last blog is a little misleading. That was the last stadium tour before the Kansas kickoff. I'll be back at the stadium in a few weeks with my camera and a Herald photographer for another GPP Stadium Tour blog and for a story I'm doing for the MH on the new stadium that will run before the USF game.

Allison's picture is up on the last few blogs.

alt7787: Hey, Pete have you been working out with the players lately? Your looking pretty juiced up in that picture. You better watch out, I dont know if you can have those guns out in public.

GPP: No, don't workout with the Golden Panthers, but it must be all the typing that's shaped the guns.

Miri: Have you heard about anything cool they would do for the team entrance at games?

GPP: Nothing yet, except the Panther Walk, but I'm sure FIU has some pre-game plans up its sleeve.

SouthPaw: I enlarged the Younger photo, and still can't see the "panther eyes." Wyeyes_4

GPP: The Panther Eyes are on the white plate on the crown of the helmet. The eyes are not that big, but it gives the helmet a different look.

You good people got my FIU season outlook, what's yours:

August 27, 2008

Last Stadium Tour Before Kickoff: GPP Fans Seats, Club Suites, Earmuffs

Your Golden Panthers have been focused on Kansas all summer long, but before we turn our attention to the heartland's top team, let's finish the August edition of the FIU Stadium Tour. Please click to enlarge each photo for a better view.

Dsc03603 Follow Odebrecht King Rudy (white pants), Allison (only girl in the photo) and myself up the ramps and let's visit the concourse and club suites. On the right is a shot of the SE ramp from just outside the Panther Club. All the FIU Stadium ramps have an Orange Bowl feel to Dsc03587 them, without the urine and beer smell.

As we went up the ramp that day we got a good view of the four steel pillars that will hold up the new jumbotron video scoreboard. Here on the left, to the left of the white pickup you can see the Dsc03615 scoreboard pillars.

As we get onto the concourse, if you remember from one of our earlier tours, I gave you good people a view from the worst seat in the stadium, which is located on the SE side. Now take a look at the view of the field from the worst seat in the stadium and tell me if this is actually a bad seat. Here's the picture on the right.Dsc03608

This next 2 photos (below left) from the SE concourse is for CJ and where he will be sitting -- a shot of the FIU Student Section which will be located in the east end zone. The bleachers for the student section are right on top Dsc03609 of the visitors locker room. The 2nd photo is the view from the top of the student section.Dsc03614

Next up (below right) is a view from the east end zone of the outside of the club suites. Hold your horses, we're going to go in the suites.Dsc03618

OK, last photo before we go into the club suites, here below on the left is another photo to show you how close the south seats are to Dsc03612 the FIU sideline.

First up in the club suite level -- you may say "oh, not again" but you'll thank me when you need it. Here's on the right is one bathroom in the club level.Dsc03625

Let's walk on down the long hallway Dsc03628 into a suite.

Here is the suite setup of cabinets, sink and the hole in the middle is for the fridge.Dsc03629

And here (below, left) is what the suite looks like when you walk in. The entire club level and suites have been turned over from Odebrecht to FIU. So the university has some interior decorating to Dsc03632 get to.

Stepping outside the club suite, we can see the newly installed gray club seats, with movie soda cup holders.Dsc03636

Let us go up on the roof of the club suites and to where the camera perches are located. The following photo below left is taken from where ESPN would set up its camera IF the worldwide leader showed up on Sept. 20 to televise the stadium opener against USF. Or when they show up for any other Dsc03639 telecast.

Here's the rooftop camera perch I'm talking about in the photo on the right.Dsc03641

Heading on down to the south seats. We got a few more pics to show. The first photo on the left you can see our stadium tourists standing on the first row of seats in the south stands. You good people that have your seats Dsc03647 here will be able to hear most of what is said on the FIU bench. Earmuffs for the young ones.

Here are a couple of shots from Max's seat on the 8th row of section 114. The first shot on the right is yours truly sitting in row 8 and the second shot is the view from row 8 looking down at Allison and Rudy.Dsc03652 Dsc03651

As we finish our tour, here on the left is a pic of where the Golden Panthers will emerge from on 2009 game day once the fieldhouse is complete. The wall in the middle of the photo is the Dsc03653 exit from the FIU locker room.

This pic on the right shows the wall of the equipment room which is also the base of the suites/patio area embedded in the west end zone seats. The walls of the fieldhouse are going up quick.Dsc03538

And finally, here is a rough drawing of what the lobby of the fieldhouse is going to look like with the FIU Hall of Fame in there. Again, this is a sketch, so some things may change from Dsc03529 this drawing.

We'll move on to the season on the next post with a season outlook.

Logo GOLDEN PANTHER PAWSE

Check out the Miami Herald's FIU football preview tommorrow (Thursday) morning. Look for 35 cents in between the cushions of your couch and pick up a copy.Mh  Besides FIU, there are also previews on the Dolphins, the NFL, UF, FSU and high schools.

**Remember, just 2 1/2 more days to get your FIU/KU predictions on here in order to play our 2nd Annual Win A GPP Blog.

Predictions for Saturday's game must be in before 6:59 p.m. (GPP time) and you must pick FIU's score each week before that week's game in order to qualify for our 2 prizes.

For rules and regulations, in the U.S., Canada and worldwide, read the "Who's Getting On The Bus?" GPP post that is located 2 posts down from this one.

**Said I was going to give you a look at the mini-Panther eyes on the crown of the helmet and here they are modeled by Wayne Younger. The eyes are not that big to be a distraction, but it's somethingWyeyes_4   different. Enlarge the photo for a better look.

Gold & Miri: Can someone or Pete please post a picture of the new Roary?

GPP: Working on that. Asked FIU media relations yesterday and they don't have one, but we'll get one on here from the marketing dept. soon.

FIUfantastic: Is Pete going to Kansas? How high will the jumbotron be installed? Are they going to have it lower for this year and then raise it up when the upper deck is installed?

GPP: Flight leaves Friday morning at 5:40 a.m. -- only early flight that was non-stop to Kansas City. I'm sure I'll be sleeping on the plane. The jumbo will be high enough for all to see. Don't have exact measurements, but you won't need glasses. The entire stadium has been built to expand -- when you see those free-standing mini-pillars on the concourse, those are the supports for the beginning of the second deck.

Ultimate FIU Fan: 1) How long does it take to install and prepare for operation, a Jumbotron scoreboard?
2) All the "touch-up" work like the Panther Club floor AND ceiling; the brick-campaign area; the "completed" bathroom still needed work; etc. None of that is done and we're playing in a little over 3 weeks! What is a reasonable timetable?
3) Finally, all outside aesthetic areas outside of the stadium (i.e. grass, walkways, etc.). How long does that take?

GPP: Ultimate, I know school recently started around South Florida, but you're already giving me Pencil homework. I don't have a No. 2 pencil, but let's see about your questions: 1) The Jumbotron is scheduled to go up on Sept. 12 and will be tested that day. The Golden Panthers already did their poses for their video profiles on the jumbotron earlier this month.

2) All the touch up will be done before Sept. 20 both Odebrecht and FIU have said so. In fact, there might be a dress rehearsal open practice during the bye week so that fans can test run the stadium. Nothing has been set yet, but if it does happen you'll know here.

3) The grass has been laid all around the stadium with the exception of the fieldhouse area, because that's still under construction. The areas under the seats will have pebble flooring like the Orange Bowl. All the club suites and the Panther Club has been painted, now it's just a matter of bringing in the toys and the booze.

**The KU bloggers asked the GPP to participate in one of their blogs, so here it is: KU/FIU Blog

**Haven't had a GPP Worldwide Readership Update of late until tonight when Belgrade, Serbia logged on and joined the Prowl. So our GPP readership scorecard is: 31 STATES the GPP is read in: ALA, ARI, CA, COL, FLA, GA, IDAHO, IL, IND, IOWA, KAN, KY, LA, MASS, MD, MICH, MIN, MO, NEB, NC, NJ, NY, OH, PA, RI, SC, TEN, TEX, VA, VER, WIS.

11 COUNTRIES: Australia, Brazil, Honduras, Hungary, Italy, Panama, Serbia, Spain, Thailand, United Kingdom, U.S.A.

1 DISTRICT: Washington, D.C. and 1 TERRITORY: Puerto Rico.

Before we get ready for kickoff, here's a stadium question:

August 25, 2008

FIU Stadium Tour (Part 2): Panther Club, Superman's Landing Site, Pete's Office

Oz_2 It's T-minus 5 days from the season opener in Dorothy's home state -- Kansas. The Golden Panthers were off today, but return to the practice field Tuesday. Still, no starting QB announcement. GPP's educated guess is No. 12 will be under center in Lawrence, Kansas at 7 p.m. Saturday. But No. 14 is going to play this season. Until we know for sure here's a story on FIU's top 2 QBs: FIU QBs

Let's proceed to the east side of the new FIU stadium and into the luxury area in the 2nd part of our 3-part August tour. Got the glitch fixed with the enlarging of the photos, so NOW YOU CAN ENLARGE all these photos and the ones on the previous blog.

Before we go to the Panther Club, let's walk into the visiting locker rooms and officials room. This building which is underneath the east stands (FIU student section - so that FIU students can stomp on the metal bleacher floors to make hearing a chore for the visiting teams). Here's a shot on the right of the Dsc03561_2 visiting team's training room. The visitors training room like the visitors locker room contains 2 separate rooms. That would be one each for when high school teams or soccer teams use the stadium. For FIU's opponents, the doors separating these rooms would be open so that the areas would be one big training room or locker room.

Now when you yell "Hey, ref you stink (or something more vulgar)" during an FIU game, the official will know you mean his officiating, because they got showers in the Dsc03569_2 officials locker room as the photo on the left shows.

The visitors' locker room is pretty boring and not too big -- it was built smaller on purpose to make the opponents as uncomfortable as possible. To give you a comparison with FIU's fieldhouse, the visiting locker room is 6,000 square feet. The FIU fieldhouse is 40,000 square feet -- nearly 7 times as big. Let's get out of the visitors locker room and keep moving. By the way, here on the right is what the outside of the visitors locker room looks like.Dsc03577

We'll go out of the visitors locker room through the northeast corner of the stadium and give you another shot of the field (photo, left) from the Dsc03578 NE view.

I know I probably have overused the Superman theme this month with references to his father, Jor-el and Alonzo Phillips, but when I first saw the holes in the ground for the new jumbotron video scoreboard, the first thing that came to mind was when Superman crash landed in that Smallville cornfield as a kid in the first movie. Here on the right are 2 of the 4 holes, that have been dug into the ground behind the east side bleachers for the new scoreboard.Dsc03580

The holes were covered by plywood, because when we took the photo it was raining.

Before we walk into the Panther Club, here's a shot on the left of Dsc03584 what everyone at the stadium will need at one point or another. Those are finished bathrooms on the left.

Let's walk on over to the Panther Club.

Here on the right is the walkway to the Panther Club and also a closer view of the entrance to the PC.Dsc03591 Dsc03586

Before we enter the Panther Club, take a look below on the left of a couple of pics of where the FIU Bricks are going to go. The first photo is of the square area where all the bricks will be laid before you enter the PC. The Dsc03590 second photo on the left is of a Dsc03589 GPP Brick that we laid down for the photo. (No, the GPP is NOT selling bricks for the website)

Let's roll out the red carpet for you good people and go on in to the Panther Club. Below on the right are 3 different views from inside the Panther Club. All that is left to do is for FIU to pick either tile or carpet for the floor, install the plasma TVs on the wall and stock the bar with booze.Dsc03594Dsc03593  Dsc03597

On the last tour was told by one of the FIU staffers, that the photo below on the left will be my office.

Don't know if he meant I was going to bartend on a part-time basis Dsc03596 or they would actually set up a desk with a PC for me at the bar?

Before we finish this part of the tour, here are some more photos of the Panther Club.

On the right here is a shot looking outside the PC windows into the south side parking lot.Dsc03599 And then below left is a pic of what the Panther Club looks like when you walk Dsc03600 in from the south side of the stadium.

Plenty to still show you in the final part of our August FIU Stadium tour. On the next blog, which should be up at some point Wednesday, we'll have: the view inside the club suites, the poles that will hold up the new jumbotron video scoreboard, photos of the field from the concourse, ESPN's view of the field and the view from Max's seat on the 8th row of section 114.

Logo GOLDEN PANTHER PAWSE

Congratulations to Yarimar Rosa for being named the Sun Belt Conference's Preseason Yr_3 Volleyball Player of Year. YR is a two-time All-American at FIU and likely a 3-time if she plays like she has the last 2 years.

CJ: See if you can get any pics from the student section next time. I will either sit in the first row or 4, 5 rows up depending how early I get into the stadium.

GPP: Will have 2 different photos from the student section on the next blog.

SouthPaw: How about a couple of pictures of the new helmet, with the panther eyes on the front? Are any pictures of the road uni's available?

GPP: Will have the Panther eyes photo on here soon. Trying to get road unis on here as well.

Gold: Will fans be allowed to sit in the west end zone during the season or will it be closed since it will be under construction through out the season.

Dsc03548 GPP: Yes, the west end zone seats are open and fans will sit there this season. The patio/suites area (the holes in the middle of the stands) will be roped off so no one decides to take a dive down there.

FIUBlueandGold: So our guys will be dressing at the baseball stadium. What about halftime? Are they walking back over there? Is that street not designated for tailgating and tents?

GPP: That's the plan for FIU to use the new visitors clubhouse at the baseball stadium. They would be walking back over there at the half. The tailgating tents on the north side of the stadium will be parallel to the field. So there won't be any interference with the walk. Remember, there is no parking on the west side of the stadium, because of the fieldhouse construction.

esteban688 , FIUBlueandGold & FIUAce: I'm signed up to PantherPass at fiusports.com so I can watch the away games. They don't have the Kansas or Iowa games on the list yet. Is there any way you can find out if they'll play them? If not is there any other way to view it, or will I be stuck to my radio all Saturday? Any way of finding out which FIU games will be on TV?

GPP: Unless, you're traveling to KU, your Radio will be your best friend this Saturday. The only place you can see Saturday's game is on local Kansas TV where the game will be shown on a tape-delay basis. What will be live on Panther Pass is the radio broadcast of the KU game. There is no video for this Radio game, unless you live in Kansas. The Iowa game is on the Big Ten Network, which you can see at any bar with a satellite. FIU has 2 ESPN Regional TV games: vs. North Texas and Troy. All the other Sun Belt games can be seen (video) on FIU's Panther Pass at fiusports.com or on the opposing Sun Belt team's website. The USF and Toledo games are not scheduled to be on TV, but that could change.

gpantera: Where can we find official FIU Football digital downloaded goodies such as wallpapers, fight song, pictures, etc?

GPP: FIU is redesigning its official sports website (fiusports.com) and will have all your goodies on there in the next few months.

August 23, 2008

Stadium Tour (August, Part 1) UPDATED To Enlarge Photos

Pm The final scrimmage came and went and MC said the QB race for the starting jobWy  is down to 2: Paul McCall (left) and Wayne Younger. The FIU coach said "let Kansas prepare for both" and that PM and WY are "definitely ahead of the pack". For details on the rest of today's scrimmage check out tommorrow's (Friday's) Miami Herald or go on-line to the Herald website. There you'll find another great day for the defense and T.Y. Hilton and Anthony Gaitor both with big days on special teams. For now let's go back to the new on-campus stadium....

Here are the latest photos from your "Crown Jewel", FIU Stadium. A couple of numbers (7, 29) to keep in mind before we begin our latest tour -- which will likely take a few blogs to complete, because new GPP photographer and FIU media relations maven John Angel went nuts with the camera and took a good number of photos. Please enlarge all these photos with your PC so that you have a better view.

There are 7 days remaining before Odebrecht hands the stadium keys over to FIU. Here's proof: Dsc03527_4

Since there are just 7 days left, we will have several blogs in the next few days with stadium photos since I got about 45 pictures to show you good people.

Well, it was 8 days when the photo on the right was taken. That's the official electronic countdown to the second that hangs in Odebrecht's office trailer that sits west of the stadium.

Let's move on to the fieldhouse. Here's a shot of the where the FIU gym (left) will be and next to it is a rendering of the front of the FIU fieldhouse where the ticket offices, FIU memorabilia store and Hall of Fame will beDsc03537  located.Dsc03530

For this season until the fieldhouse is completed in July of next year, your Golden Panthers will dress in the newly built visitors clubhouse at the FIU baseball stadium and then take their "Panther Walk" to FIU Stadium.

Once they enter the stadium, FIU will come in by the northwest corner. Here are a couple of shots from the tunnel and you'll also notice the new plush green field turf installed. In the first photo on the right is the view that your Golden Panthers will have when they sprint out of the NW tunnel. The 2nd photo is the view of the NW tunnel.Dsc03540 Dsc03542

Let's stay on the new field. Must say the new field feels like walking on a brand new carpet in a new home you just bought. The field is being fed daily ground up tires and sand by some John Deeres. Down below on the left is the most exciting photo of ground up tires that you'll ever see. And then there's a shot of the new turf being fed.Dsc03546 Dsc03543  

  Here's a pretty interesting picture to show you the difference of how much closer FIU fans will be to the field than the visiting teams fans -- who will sit in the bleachers from the old FIU Stadium. After all, that is the visiting teams fans section as it is diagrammed in the FIU Stadium plans at fiusports.com. If you remember from our last tour, I explained that all the seats at the new stadium are on top of each other and not on a slope away from the field like the old stadium's bleachers. Take a look at this pic here below on the right of the old and new bleachers and notice the difference. Those bags in front of the old bleachers are filled with ground-up tires and sand for the new field.Dsc03544

We hadn't taken shots from the visiting team's bench before on our tours, so here on the left are the views of the stadium coming from the opponents bench from the north side of the stadium. The first photo on the left is looking at the west end zone from the visitors bench. The next pic is a look at the south side of the stadium from the north.Dsc03548

Dsc03547 The following picture below right is a view standing in the east end zone of the field and looking into the west end zone. For the Golden Panthers sake, hopefully these end zone views become a familiar thing this season.Dsc03551

Before we get to show you how close the seats are to the field at field level, here is a pic of one of the two soccer goals (white thing lying on the asphalt in the photo) that have been dropped off at the new stadium. Yes, there will be soccer played here at some point.Dsc03552

Back to the field, in the next three photos, focus on the blue dots on the field. These blue dots that have been painted into the turf are markings for the following: 1) the sideline out of bounds; 2) FIU's sideline; 3) Area for corner kicks in soccer. (FYI: You may have to enlarge these to see the blue marks).

The blue dot on the photo on the right is where the sideline out of bounds is on the FIU sideline bench.Dsc03553

The photo below left shows the blue mark where the FIU bench is in relation to the first rows of seats on the south side of the stadium.Dsc03554

And finally, our last photo (below, right) for this blog has our lovely GPP intern for the day, Allison, demonstrating where the soccer corner kick would be in relation to the first row of seats on the south side of the stadium.Dsc03557

Check back in the next few days, for the next installment of our latest FIU Stadium tour blog. We got 30 more photos to get to. Like the Jeffersons, "we'll be moving on up Jeff to the east side and getting our piece of the pie" in the finished club suites and we'll take a look at the Panther Club, which is just missing the plasma TVs.

Logo GOLDEN PANTHER PAWSE

A lot of early enthusiastic responses in our 2nd Annual Win A GPP Blog contest. Reminder, last day and time for predictions for the KU game is Saturday, Aug. 30 at 6:59 p.m. by the GPP clock. For official rules in the U.S. and abroad check the previous post.

** There was one reader who wrote: "You know what, I'm going to correct my prediction. We are FIU and we have talent, FIU 21, Kansas 14."

You didn't fill in your GPP screen name with your prediction, so I don't know which prediction to correct? Please reply to correct your prediction, Thank you.

FIU Fanatic: I couldn't help but notice you didn't mention Mannie Wellington among the linebackers expected to produce. He did play a lot last season....Is he still at FIU? Incoming freshman Kasey Smith, from Seabreeze HS....Is he at FIU as well?

GPP: Yes. MW is at FIU, but is currently out with a hernia. He is expected back at the end of September. KS is at FIU and he got a sack the other day during 11-on-11.

clm88: Hey Pete you seem to have something against kickers. What position did you play in college, and then the pros. I'm having a hard time remembering your name.

GPP: I didn't kick in either. I played center field and I pitched. And I'll be the first to admit I couldn't make a field goal beyond 25 yards. I have nothing against kickers. In fact, I would love to write a good story on an FIU kicker like I did about Adam Moss when he was a Golden Panther. But, the Miami Herald has me write this blog for two reasons: 1) To stay in touch with the FIU fans and detractors and generate on-line interest and we've successfully done that as the GPP is consistently among the top 10 blogs among the 40+ blogs at the MH. 2) To provide my insight and opinion on FIU and judging from spring practice and camp this month, FIU's kicking game is inconsistent. The kickers will make 2 field goals and then miss 2 field goals. Kickoffs are usually landing at the 10-yard line and not any deeper. Hopefully, this all changes, but right now if FIU was faced with a field goal of 35 or more yards, I think MC calls for a pooch punt or goes for it on 4th down. By the way, Welcome to the GPP and thanks for your readership.

SouthPaw: Can you give us an update on a few guys whose names have been conspicously missing over the Spring and Fall camps?: Jarvis Wilson, James Rucker, Elliott Dix, Justin West.

GPP: Like Little Canada, Jarvis Wilson has had a good camp and has been running with the second team D. JW has a motor and should figure prominently on D and special teams. The other 3 have done OK, but there have been other players at their respective positions that have excelled.

lgo: You forgot about peter riley, who is second team on the depth chart.

GPP: You are correct. PR has been deflecting passes and playing tight coverage in camp. PR just adds to an already deep and talented secondary. Former Golden Panther Alexander Bostic said last year when he was a grad assistant that PR was a player and he wasn't kidding.

August 19, 2008

Who's Getting On The Bus?

Your Golden Panthers had the day off today after practicing Sunday and Monday in anticipation of the Bus_2 weather.

After Monday's practice, MC said Thursday's final scrimmage (closed to the public) will determine positions and playing time for several Golden Panthers and yes, that includes the starting quarterback.

It's time to find out, as MC repeatedly has said during camp to those players on the bubble for the travel squad: "Who's going to get on that bus?"

So why don't we start up that bus and judging by the work in spring ball and this month in camp, let's use our football IQ and at the same time look in the FIU Witches magic brew (you guys remember them? photo, left) to see who we think will earn significant playing time for FIU this season and who Chrm_3 has got a seat on the Greyhound.

While Colt Anderson has closed the gap and Wayne Younger seems to have improved in the short time he's had to work in the new offense, the thought is Paul McCall should be under center for the first snap against Kansas and should remain there unless he stumbles. PM has the best grasp of the new O and is the best decision-maker, along with having a strong arm and he's proven to be no Statue of Liberty with his feet either.

Do see CA and WY getting snaps this season, whether it's in games out of hand or a couple of series in the middle of a game.

Julian Reams (right) has had a terrific summer and might be ready to assume that No. 1 RB job. Being Reams_3 a little bigger than A'mod Ned, JR can be that workhorse back. Keep an eye on Trenard Turner, who is capable of playing both tailback and fullback and came on at the end of last season. Daunte Owens will get some carries too, because of his speed. Darriet Perry and Shawn Bright are talented enough to play this season, but one or both might wear a redshirt.

FIU uses a ton of receivers with the spread, but Greg Ellingson and Marquis Rolle should line up with the first team. Junior Mertile has had the kind of camp that could have him starting in the slot. Don't be surprised if Blue25 gets a lot of playing time. Again, there are plenty of passes to go around with the spread, so look for T.Y. Hilton and Jeremy Dickens to get their share too.

Eric Kirchenberg has stood out among all the TEs, not only for some tough catches he's made, but for the 270+-pound frame he's carrying. As one practice observer noted: EK with his new size in all his football gear "looks like RoboCop". Be interesting to see Moses Hinton once he gets in there. Still no Robo_2 word from the Sun Belt.

The O-line looks to be anchored by Brad Serini, Andy Leavine, Joe Alajajian, Ula Matavao and Cedric Mack. Dustin Gibson could be playing too. Freshman Stephen Bailey looks like a beast, but at 265 may not be ready. Coaches have eagerly been awaiting the return of Mario Caraballo from a foot injury.

The D-Line is like the receivers, FIU rotates a ton of personnel in and out. We all know what kind of impact the Booker T. boys have had and should see plenty of action. D-Line stalwarts like Reggie Jones, Jonathan Betancourt, Jarvis Penerton, Daniel Chacreton, Quentin Newman and Artis Warthen should see their time. Among the younger guys, look for Ricky Booker, Curtis Bryant and Andre Pound to see some action. Jonas Murrell looks to have regained the menacing form he had the last time he played for FIU 2 years ago.

You'll see Scott Bryant and Michael Dominguez start at LB with likely Ryan Martinez as the other starter. But from what they've shown in camp: Little Canada, Tyler Clawson, Franklin Brown, Aaron Davis, Matt Garris and Winston Fraser should all see plenty of action. Little Canada (13 in photo, right) is healthy again and back to being his usual pest in the offensive backfield. He should have a big season.Lc Lcc

The secondary should be the heart of this year's D and why not? Look at the depth and talent: Anthony Gaitor, Jeremiah Weatherspoon, Ash Parker, Robert Mitchell and Marshall McDuffie. Then you got others who will contribute like Chuck Grace, Derrick Clark, Emmanuel Souarin, Dez Johnson, Devin Parrish, Marcelus Manear and Franklin Brown -- when he's not playing LB.

The guess here is Carlos Munera wins the punting job and Dustin Rivest starts as the kicker, but we all know how fickle those jobs can be. Would be no surprise to see FIU soccer players pulling double duty before it's all said and done.

The return game (kickoff and punt) looks to come down to 5 guys: T.Y., Weatherspoon, Reams, Gaitor and Blue25.

Logo_2 GOLDEN PANTHER PAWSE

We'll have the latest FIU Stadium photos on the next blog to alleviate any concerns several of you have expressed on the GPP about the stadium not being ready for Sept. 20. It will be ready.

Also, since we're about 10 days away from the season opener at Kansas, time to start up the 2nd Annual Win a GPP Blog predictions contest.Gpp

Here are the 3 simple rules so that the attorneys from Coral Gables don't take the GPP to court: 1) Make a prediction each week on the FIU game (name a winning team and score) 2) The deadline for each game's predictions is anytime before kickoff. We are going by the time on the GPP, so DO NOT think if it's 6:59 p.m. on a Saturday on your clock, it's also 6:59 on the GPP clock, because you'll be late and you're out. 3) Standings tiebreakers at the end of the season will be the total point differential of your scores. Point differential is the number of points you miss FIU's score by and number of points you miss the opponent's score by. So if you pick FIU 27, Kansas 20 and the final score is FIU 34-21, then your point differential is 8, because you missed FIU's score by 7 and KU's score by 1. We'll keep a running total of the point differential throughout the season.

Two prizes this season: 1st prize: Write your own GPP Blog. 2nd prize: a 2008 FIU media guide yearbook. You can start sending in your scores for the Kansas game!

To the questions:

SouthPaw: Has Wayne Younger gotten any looks at any other positions in camp? On the subject of the Booker T. boys, what ever happened to Tarvis Pullins?

Wy_2 GPP: From the practices, I've seen WY (red jersey, left) has only been at QB. He could be used at WR with his speed. He played there on the scout team in Strock's last season. TP did not make it academically into FIU.

RDSM6: From what you've seen so far, how do you think we will do against the rest of the Sun Belt?

GPP: I think FIU could go anywhere from 2-6 to 4-4 in the Sun Belt this season. It's a very even league where Florida Atlantic and Troy are above everyone else right now and then it's a crapshoot. In 7 SBC games last season and with a younger and less experienced team, FIU was blown out in only 2 (Middle Tennessee and FAU). And the MT game, FIU should have been in that one, because MT is not 41 points better than FIU.

NYCFIUFan: I down loaded the FIU Football Media Guide from the fiusports.com web site and noticed that our win to FAU was not in the "Records" section of the guide. Why?

GPP: As part of the NCAA mess, all FIU game scores from 2003-2005 were erased by the NCAA. Only the FIU players stats from those years count, but the game results were "vacated", that's the term the NCAA uses. So the series record against FAU stands 3-0 Owls, with wins in 2002, 2006 and last season.Erase

Pantera Dorada: If you go to the FOX Sports website, they have the very first Golden Panther logo as the schools logo. Any chance you could pass this observation on to someone in athletics so that it can be changed?

GPP: Saw the "Thundercats" FIU logo. I'll let FIU people know.

August 17, 2008

Saturday Doomsday Defense

The FIU football slogan this season touts a lot of newness: stadium, game and attitude. Add to it new uniforms for the Golden Dazzlers (left). The new unis for the FIU ladies resemble the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders outfits a little bit.

Dazz Kind of appropriate, because the Golden Dazzlers are the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders of the NCAA. And you could say the Cowboys cheerleaders are the Golden Dazzlers of the NFL.

In Saturday morning's scrimmage, your Golden Panthers defense resembled another Cowboys team, albeit going against the FIU offense, which it has seen everyday for the last 2 weeks.

Granted it was a scrimmage, but the FIU D manhandling the O looked like the famed Dallas "Doomsday Defense" (right) of the 1970's.Dd_2

As MC yelled at the offense during the middle of the scrimmage: "It's been an ass-kicking all day."

Yes, indeed it was.

Nine sacks, 3 INTs, a safety and the FIU O crossed mid-field just four times.

Once again, the Booker T. boys led the charge with Jonathan Jackson's 3 sacks, Kambriel Willis 1 sack and Franklin Brown 2 INTs.

Others who contributed on D were Daniel Chacreton with 2 sacks, Quentin Newman got a sack that resulted in a safety. Reggie Jones and Tyler Clawson also had sacks. Freshman LB Aaron Davis had a tackle for loss and so did Little Canada, who has made a habit of that. Anthony Gaitor (left) also had a pick.

Ag_2 Now, we've had several people post comments concerning the offensive woes. Yes, the O looked horrible Saturday with the dropped passes, no pass protection, passes thrown to the wrong spots and little room to run.

All that has to improve in the next 12 days or FIU will be clicking its heels like Dorothy when they play in Kansas on Aug. 30. You know: "No place like home, No place like home".

This is not to say the O is awful, far from it, if you followed the O with Guillermo Pierna's (Bill Legg, for our non-bilingual friends) new spread offense in the spring and in the first week of camp when they pretty much had their way with the D.

But let's give a lot of credit to the FIU D that seems to have regained the speed they had in 2005 when they were No. 1 in the NCAA in tackles for loss, the 28th-best total D and 4th-best pass D in the NCAA. You remember the Killer B's (El Monstruo, Bouie and Bostic).

A similar type of formula is brewing for this D: you got the speed and power on the D-line and LBs and aRice  secondary that is like white on rice.

If you're looking for positive signs from the O on Saturday: Julian Reams had a couple of nice runs to start the day. Paul McCall led the only drive that had a scoring threat (missed 47-yd FG by Dustin Rivest) and Wayne Younger (8 of 14, 74 yds) had a good day. WY also took off on the longest run of the day a 16-yarder that was the one time the FIU D was fooled Saturday.

When the scrimmage ended, the O had to run from Miami to Russia and back. The D was excused from Ak_2 any running after the clinic they put on. It was an ugly the day for the O, so here's something pretty that lives in Miami but is from Russia. (Gotta keep the Cowboy theme of this post alive)

There's another scrimmage scheduled this Thursday (closed to the public as of now), let's see if the O can pick itself up by then.

Logo_2 GOLDEN PANTHER PAWSE

Had lunch Friday with Odebrecht VIPs to catch up on the latest of the new FIU Stadium. Thanks to King Rudy, Santiago and Miss Odebrecht - Renata. Was told the stadium is on schedule ready to open on Sept. 20. 

After Saturday's scrimmage, did an impromptu tour of the new FIU Stadium to get some updated photos for your viewing pleasure. A lot of progress to show you good people from the newly installed field turf that was getting fed sand and ground up tires. Yes, the turf needs to eat too. Also, got shots of where FIU will stand on the sideline, finished suites, bathrooms, visiting locker room, the holes in the ground for the new scoreboard and a Panther Club that is just about done. Will have it all on here early this week.

Before we get to the questions, here's a funny anecdote told to me by a local TV sports cameraman, who was waiting outside the Marlins clubhouse with me Friday before the Cubs game. (Got a Jorge Cantu Camera story this week in the MH)

Here's the story: The camera guy, who shoots UM regularly for his station, comes up to me and says: "The FIU coach has got UM changing their practice policies". I said "What do you mean?" Camera guy says the folks in Coral Gables decided in the middle of the day on Friday to open the first 15 plays of their Friday night scrimmage. I said "So what does that have to do with FIU?" Camera guy says: "Everytime we go to shoot UM footage or interview UM guys, there are so many restrictions and we told UM that Mario has had open practices and accomodates us with whatever video footage and interviews we need at FIU". Upon hearing this from the camera guy, a UM staffer says: "Well, Mario hasn't won anything and he won't win anything there. That's why it's open over there."

On with the Pawse....Great to meet FIUJM, esteban688 along with CJ out at Saturday's scrimmage.

blkpanther: Should we be worried about these long run backs on Special Teams? How is our punt coverage?

GPP: The long run backs on ST occurred toward the end of the ST scrimmage. The new speed FIU has Light_2 will be used on both return and coverage units. With these runbacks, let's also give credit to T.Y.  Hilton, who if he sees a little daylight, very few people are going to catch him. Julian Reams also has improved returning the ball. The punt coverage is better, but needs to be more consistent.

Max: Were there any times that the punt team made the spectacular plays?

GPP: For most of the ST scrimmage, there weren't any long returns. Still, like every other part of this team, there has to be more consistency. They can't be flashes in the pan.

CJ: This may be dumb but I'm not getting the Superman's father ref.?

GPP: Ok, no more Superman's father (Jor-el) references when talking about Alonzo Phillips. Remember, when he started making plays in camp, Blue25 was listed a Jerrell Lamb. Jerrell is just a play on words Dk_4 for Jor-el (Superman's father). Prefer Batman anyway.

FIU Fanatic: Is it true that A.J. Grant..one of last signing class most heralded recruit...while not enrolled at FIU right now, will actually enroll in January and join the team then?

GPP: Thanks for Booker T. story. Grant is recovering from a knee injury and is expected to be at FIU in January.

FIU Fan: Do you know if the team will actually get to practice IN the stadium prior to Sept 20? Doesn't seem like there's tailgating space [in north side], are they going to open up the space under the bleachers?

GPP: There has been talk about the team holding an open practice at the stadium during the bye week between the Iowa and USF games where all fans would be invited to give the stadium a test-run. When I know for sure about this open practice, I'll post it on here.

The north side will be used for FIU's tailgate party and activities. There will be plenty of tailgating space on the east side of the stadium in the open green field of the Youth Fair. West side is blocked off due to the ongoing fieldhouse construction.Tg

gpantera: Will the main facade of our new football catherderal, the face of the stadium be facing the Dade County Youth Fairgrounds? And the back of the stadium facing the campus? Shouldn't it be the other way around?

GPP: Like FIU Fanatic pointed out, the south side is the temporary facade until the north side of the stadium is built. The north side with the student services and welcome center will be the facade of the stadium.

Baltimorepanther: It seems that PM is separating from the rest as the leader of the offense. Is that correct?

GPP: PM definitely has the best grasp of the new spread offense. This new offense requires the QB to be a little more mobile than last year's O and PM has shown that he is not a statue back there. But must say that CA has made some big strides from his freshman season and at some point in his FIU career -- don't know when -- could end up as the starter.

Gold: Can someone enlighten me on how many of our fans are showing up at these practices? Is there a significant amount of high school students in attendance?

GPP: When the practices were open there have been a good number of fans there. Definitely, there are more and more high school players showing up, which is great for FIU.

Let's take the concerned pulse of FIU Nation:

August 14, 2008

Just When You Thought Practice Was Over....

Interesting end and teaching moment to Thursday's practice for the Golden Panthers.Teach_2

Now, what happened I'm sure has been done before by several college coaches across the nation, but if you have followed the history of FIU football, then you'll know why this ending to practice made an impression on the team.

Thursday's workout was for the most part a special teams scrimmage (more on that later in this post). At the end of practice, as usual, FIU did its grueling conditioning. Thursday it was 40-yard sprints.

Afterward the team was nice and tired and thought practice was over (Over? Did you say over?).

Jb_3 That's when MC yelled out "Overtime" and told his boys "This is how you are going to feel at the end of the 4th quarter of a tied game."

Good way to get a tired team ready for an overtime situation. MC then instructed the defense after the FIU offense scores: "If you get an interception or recover a fumble stay down, because that will be the ESPN highlight."

The D won the overtime session with "El Oso" Scott Bryant (below, right) and Tyler Clawson combining on a tackle behind the line of scrimmage. El Oso and Marshall McDuffie had pass deflections. Jonathan Jackson and James Jones had sacks to finish OT.

Again not groundbreaking stuff here, but never witnessed that game situation ever worked on before atSb  an FIU practice. That's one thing about this coaching staff. They work on every possible game situation during practice.

Before the ST scrimmage on Thursday, the focus was on the offense getting out of the end zone from its own 1-yard line. And they would have on one nice pass from Paul McCall to Blue25, but -- breaking news here -- Blue25 finally dropped a pass.

As far as the ST, FIU has some game-breaking speed this season in T.Y. Hilton, who took a punt back 70 yards for a TD. (Wasn't it written on here before that opponents would be seeing a lot of the back of T.Y.'s jersey?) Jason Frierson had a 51-yd punt return that would have gone for 6 if not for kicker Dustin Rivest's diving tackle. Julian Reams returned a kickoff 53 yards.

Ty_2 The kickers went 7 of 8 on FGs all from 27 yards out. Give you one guess, who blocked a FG on the only miss of the day? (Hint: Superman's father)

Thursday's offensive hi-lites: Daunte Owens with some 20+ yard runs -- Jorel one came courtesy of some good blocks from Greg Ellingson and the O-line.

Once again, an active D with Michael Dominguez, Ricky Booker, Jackson, Andre Pound and Kambriel Willis recording sacks. Little Canada was in the O backfield again causing trouble.

The lowlights from Thursday were the kickers inability to get kickoffs past the 10-yard line. All 3 struggled with long boots. MC said afterward there would be some more kicker tryouts in the next week.

Logo GOLDEN PANTHER PAWSE

Some hoops sked news in the middle of football camp. FIU will play at UCLA and Georgetown next season in its OOC sked. The UCLA game is the Saturday of Thanksgiving weekend and play the Hoyas on Dec. 23. Don't worry Golden Dazzlers, the UCLA cheerleaders have got nothing on you ladies.

alt7787: Hey Pete is that your prom picture?Ucla

GPP: No. My prom didn't start until after 9 p.m. and I wore a black tux, not a white James Bond tux.

FIU Fan: Do you think we can get some audio/video interviews with some of the guys? For Sept 20, is the stadium going to have 1 or 2 scoreboards?

GPP: When the MH gives me a camera we'll get some video interviews on here. Considering we're at a salary freeze right now, don't know how soon that will be.

There will be 2 scoreboards for the new stadium opener. East and West. The west board is the old one that was on the east side of the old FIU Stadium. Been told the new video scoreboard will be installed the week before the game. The Golden Panthers were taping their individual player profiles for the video board the other day.

inspubadj: I hear another basketball coach has left Rouco's staff. What is going on?

GPP: Yes, Ken Huber left to Gardner-Webb, family thing is the word. FIU did hire Heath Glick from Florida State, who was FIU's director of basketball operations a few years ago.

August 12, 2008

Defense And The Fence

D The first scrimmage is in the books and it belonged to the defense. It wasn't until the action moved closer to the fence that the offense got going and FIU police wanted to show someone to the back of the fence -- all part of an interesting Tuesday morning at the FIU rec fields.

                                                                                                                                                         

Outside of Julian Reams (below, right) breaking off a 54-yard TD run early in the scrimmage, there was not much offense to speak of thanks to a physical, aggressive FIU D.

                                                                                                                                                       

The O could not sustain a drive, in part because of dropped passes, penalties and a tough run D and Jr_4 pass rush. The O went 3-and-out on the first 3 series. Freshman DL Andre Pound had a tackle for loss early on and Marshall McDuffie had a nice pass breakup on a 4th down to stop the offense.

                                                                                                                                                         

On the 4th drive, Reams looked to be stopped on the right sideline, but bounced out to the left and took  off on his 54-yard TD run. He finished with 5 carries for 72 yds. A'mod Ned was given the day off.

                                                                                                                                                       

The good pass D continued with Jeremiah Weatherspoon deflecting a pass and Dez Johnson with an INT.

                                                                                                                                                      

Also in the defensive action getting tackles in the backfield, were "Little Canada" Toronto Smith, Armond Willis, Jonas Murrell, Ryan Martinez (twice), Robert Mitchell, Quentin Newman and Tyler Clawson.

                                                                                                                                                      

Other INTs were recorded by O' Darris D'Haiti, who returned an INT 35 yards for a TD. Scott Bryant also got an INT off a deflection from the WR.

                                                                                                                                                       

MC said afterward about the freshmen: "I know you just went to prom 5 months ago, but you were Prom_2 brought here to play as a freshman."

                                                                                                                                                      

Some of the freshmen defenders must have heard that before, because Kambriel Willis, Jonathan Jackson and James Jones all got sacks on Tuesday. KW also had two quarterback hurries. Might be too early for a nickname, but if KW keeps this up he shall be dubbed "El Mini-Monstruo".

                                                                                                                                                       

Quentin Newman also added a sack to the defensive field day.

                                                                                                                                                      

When the ball was spotted at the D's 20-yard line, the offense got going.

                                                                                                                                                      

Freshman running backs Shawn Bright and Darriet Perry scored short TD runs. Daunte Owens (right) did not score, but showed some gritty running inside the 10-yard line moving the pack a couple of times to set the ball up inside the 3-yard line so the freshmen could punch it in for the score.Do

                                                                                                                                                       

The top 3 QBs were about even in their performances. Paul McCall finished 5 of 9 for 76 yds, 1 TD, 1 INT. Wayne Younger was 5 of 9 for 67 yds, 1 TD, 1 INT. Colt Anderson's stats were a bit skewed, because 5 of his passes were dropped by the WRs. CA was 3 of 12 for 2 yds and 1 INT.

                                                                                                                                                    

Still, CA has shown enough in the spring and in camp to have MC say afterward: "Colt has really made a tremendous jump. All of the sudden he’s put himself in a position where we’re sharing reps now. It looked like 2 guys had separated themselves, all of the sudden Colt is back in that mix. You can’t deny a young man playing time when he makes up ground like that. You got to give him a chance."

                                                                                                                                                       

The thought here is: CA has definitely improved, but don't think it has been quick enough to grab the starting job. PM still is the top decision-maker, has command of the new O and has a strong arm to get the starting nod. WY and CA have definitely gotten much better than last season, but PM seems the most in control out there. FWIW (For What It's Worth).

                                                                                                                                                                                             

Ap_2 On the receiving end, don't have to mention that Blue25 (White25 in photo, left) made a couple more nice grabs. You already knew that. B-25 had a 28-yd catch and a 26-yd catch. B-25 did show he can be subject to Kryptonite by dropping a beautifully placed pass from CA that would have set up the offense Kryp inside the D's 10-yard line.

                                                                                                                                                    

Greg Ellingson snagged a tough throw for 21 yards and made a diving catch on a TD. Marquis Rolle was solid as well. Junior Mertile beat his defender to catch a 34-yard TD.

                                                                                                                                                       

About FIU police making the GPP blog, as CJ posted on his comment: someone with a green and orange shirt showed up to the scrimmage and FIU police jokingly told him he was not allowed to watch the scrimmage. Can you blame the green/orange guy? If you're not a season-ticket holder in Coral Gables, you are not allowed to watch practice over in CG. Welcome to FIU, the university of the people.

                                                                                                                                                      

Logo GOLDEN PANTHER PAWSE

                                                                                                         

Glad to see we can move past all the uniform talk already as 76.5 % of you good people have said the new unis are sharp and let's drop the GQ magazine. Amen.

                                                                                                                                  

Max: I just want to know how high row 8 might be? Had no idea that players were puking last season, I guess the tougher practices took their toll last year huh?

                                                                                                                                  

GPP: The way the stadium rows were built was that each row is higher than the previous row. So whether you're in row 1 or row 8, you will not have anything or anyone blocking your view. Unlike the traditional stadiums that have the rows of seats going backwards from the field, FIU Stadium has its rows of seats going up toward the sky so that if you get Yao Ming sitting in front of you will still beYao_2  above Yao. And by going up with the rows, that also ensures that your seat is close to the field. In the diagram I saw, the section numbers were somewhat fuzzy so I read 114 when it was 124. Your seat is behind the FIU bench.

                                                                                                                                                       

There was more puking from players last season, because the Golden Panthers were used to the country club practices that the previous coaching staff ran where it was 4 gassers and off to the showers. Last season, the players were in a bit of shock when the new conditioning program was installed with the new coaching staff. The team is in much better shape this season.

                                                                                                                                                         

Quijote: Do you see Colt Anderson as the new front runner @ QB? You haven't been raving much about Paul McCall..what's the inside scoop?  Also, FAU ranked #3 in their non bcs power rankings....pretty impressive. What's your take on their team this year, SunBelt champs with maybe a BCS bowl or last year's news?

                                                                                                                                                      

GPP: Colt has had a terrific spring and 1st week of camp, but Paul (left) has been just as good and has a better command of the offense and decision-making. Guess, I've gotten used to PM making plays. CA Pm has definitely gotten better and will eventually be a starting QB for FIU, just don't know when.

                                                                                                                                                       

FAU should repeat as Sun Belt champs, but like I said in the previous blog: this is the Sun Belt where there is a lot of parity so don't be surprised to see FAU stumble a little, but the Hooters should be there at the end. Troy is looking for revenge on FAU after last season's final game loss.

                                                                                                                                                         

FIUJM: I noticed that Andy Leavine is playing RT position. I'm assuming that once Cedric Mack (below, right) gets cleared to play he will be our teams LT. Am I right to make this assumption? Is game against Kansas going to be broadcasted? Are the new jerseys available yet?

                                                                                                                                                       

GPP: Mack has practiced since the start of camp. Leavine is playing RT because starter Mario Caraballo Cm will be out until probably the South Florida game with a foot injury.

                                                                                                                                                         

Right now, the KU game is only televised in Kansas on a local TV station. Been told by FIU that the new on-line store is supposed to be ready at the end of the month with all the gear with the new logo.

                                                                                                                                                         

FIUBlueandGold: I'd like to know who is wearing #56 on the O-line (Dickerson?)

                                                                                                                                                         

GPP: 56 is Devon Dickerson, who switched over from the D-Line.

                                                                                                                                                      

Nfl_2 FIUmania: Has the NFL visited FIU practices lately?

                                                                                                                                                      

GPP: These are the team scouts I've seen at the first 8 FIU practices: Jets, Chiefs, Vikings, Saints, Chargers, Falcons, Jaguars, Lions and there's 1 NFL guy that has been to almost every practice, but does not wear his team's gear, might be the Dolphins. Not a gambling man, but here's an early wager: If he keeps working hard and has a good 2 final seasons at FIU, the next FIU player in the NFL is Jeremiah Weatherspoon in 2 years.

                                                                                                                                                      

Gold: I was wondering if FIU was on pace to complete the stadium prior to the inaugural home game or should we take hard hats to game one? You mentioned that there were more and more high school students present at our practice. Any updates, names or schools that we should look out for?

                                                                                                                                                      

GPP: Unless you're a fan of the Village People, you can leave your hard hat at home for the USF game. Odebrecht will hand the stadium keys over to FIU on August 28. The 1st phase of the stadium is justY_2  about done. What is being worked on now is the inside of the club suites and Panther Club. Odebrecht will work on the fieldhouse throughout the season that's why you will still see their trailer and equipment there. Just to alleviate any concerns, I will go on another stadium tour in about a week or so and have new photos on the GPP for all to see. Central and Northeast are some of the schools out there.

                                                                                                                                                         

john thomas: If CM has such a strong leg why are his kickoffs so short?

                                                                                                                                                       

GPP: Welcome to the GPP. Like all 3 FIU kickers, CM is not consistent, but during punting drills there is no mistaking whose punt is about to bring down rain. Here's the story on CM: Munera

                                                                                                                                                       

SouthPaw: Any updates on Derrick Clark and Aaron Davis? Just curious if the coaches have given Kambriel Willis any looks at LB vs DL.

                                                                                                                                                       

GPP: Both have made plays, but have not stood out like Kambriel Willis, Jonathan Jackson and Chuck Grace in the 1st week of camp. KW has been working with the D-Line. Have not seen him with the LBs.

                                                                                                                                                       

clm88: Is there practice or another scrimmage this coming Saturday, I would like to go and watch?

                                                                                                                                                    

Jc GPP: Welcome to the GPP. As of now, today was the last open practice. Like they say at Wally World: "Sorry folks, we're closed". If there is another one, I will post it on here.

                                                                                                                                                      

FIU Fanatic: How is Jonas Murrell looking?

                                                                                                                                                      

GPP: He came in at 350 pounds and has since dropped into the 340's. JM is still making plays in the backfield like he did the last time he was on the field for FIU. He's a powerful dude and once he loses a little more weight, he will be a factor on D this season. In the 1st practice I thought JM was not going to make it in the conditioning drills, but then he's smiling and talking as if nothing afterward.

                                                                                                                                                         

                                                                                                                                                      

                                                                                                                                                    

August 10, 2008

1st Practice Week & Top 10 List

Time to wrap up the first week of camp with some highlights from Friday and Saturday's practices and also a Top 10 list of what we have learned in the first six days of 2008 FIU football.

Maybe it's because they couldn't wait to model the new FIU uniforms in Friday's FIU Media Day LuncheonDbs_2 or maybe they just wanted to get their names in the award-winning GPP blog, whatever the reason the Golden Panthers defense kept up the good work from Thursday's practice into Friday. That's the FIU secondary on the right. (L to R: Marshall McDuffie, Robert Mitchell, Anthony Gaitor, Ash Parker, Jeremiah Weatherspoon)

On Friday, safety Kreg Brown picked off Darold Hughes. Devin Parrish, Tyler Clawson, Peter Riley and Anthony Gaitor all had pass deflections to make it a tough day on the receivers.

Daniel Chacreton, Armond Willis and Jonathan Betancourt all got sacks and "Little Canada" Toronto Smith seems to be healthy again as he was a disruptive force in the offensive backfield all day Friday and into Saturday.

Before we get to Saturday, the offense had their moments on Friday. Freshman running back Darriet Perry had a nice run over left tackle during team drills and made some nifty moves on a screen pass to pick up yardage.

Lam Greg Ellingson, Marquis Rolle and Jason Frierson all had nice grabs on passes from Colt Anderson. GE and JF's catches were on deep passes. Once again T.Y. Hilton caught a pass in traffic and then outran the defense. T.Y. is the Lamborghini or Ferrari, whichever is faster, of this team. Junior Mertile would be whichever car T.Y. is not.

What was apparent on Friday was how much quicker the FIU defense has gotten. Wouldn't say it's "El Monstruo"-speed yet, but definitely faster than last year's D.

SATURDAY'S 2-A-DAY

This first day in pads with full contact turned out to be the day of the quarterbacks. The top 3 QBs: Paul McCall, Wayne Younger and Colt Anderson (right) all showed what they could do during 11-on-11's and 7-on7's.

CA placed a perfect pass over a DB's shoulder that Junior Mertile hauled in. CA also found Reggie Ca_2 Thompson on a 60-yard TD. CA's passes have been sharper and are tighter spirals all this week and in the latter part of spring. His decision-making seems to have improved considerably as well.

No shocker here, Blue25 (Alonzo Phillips) made a couple more acrobatic grabs both from PM. The second catch was more impressive. The FIU D blitzed a lot Saturday and on this play PM made a nice move to avoid the blitz, kept his composure and stepped up in the pocket to find a darting Blue25 across the middle, who caught the pass with one hand before securing the ball with the other hand. Found a Blue25 pic from last season on the left.

Ap_2 WY got free of the D's blitz several times -- no surprise there with 14's athleticism. He also had some crisp passes, one of which was a bullet to Elliott Dix, who held on after he got hit hard.

Jason Frierson and freshman Troy Dannehower also had a good throw and catch.

Marquis Rolle showed his toughness when he got drilled by two defenders, the ball popped in the air and MR still caught it. His right arm got banged up and missed the rest of practice, but came back for the 2nd practice in the afternoon. He's OK. There's the update you requested FIUJM.

The collision of the day, brought to you by State Farm Auto Insurance, occurred when 220-pound + safety Jeremiah Weatherspoon and tight end Eric Kirchenberg rammed into each other after EK caught a short pass. JW knocked EK's mouthpiece out, but EK remained standing while JW hit the turf.Crash

EK looks to have packed on the most muscle from Rod Moore's off-season strength program. He's listed at 235 on the roster, 250 in the media guide, but looks like 270 and did I mention he can catch the ball too.

Let's not forget the defense from Saturday. The freshmen DBs continue to shine. Emmanuel Sourain and Chuck Grace had INTs.

Little Canada had a tackle for loss and was a menace on blitzes. Franklin Brown (1 of the BTW 4 Ds) Zach_2 had some solid tackling and recovered a fumble.

Kambriel Willis, who looks like a Zach Thomas (left) clone, but with speed, got another sack.

Like FIUJM pointed out in his comment on the previous blog, punter Carlos Munera has got a helluva leg. Now if CM can improve the accuracy on field goals, then the Golden Panthers have got both jobs covered. CM nailed a 52-yard and a 57-yard punt on Saturday. The ball is like cannonball shot out of his leg on punts.

Top 10 List of What We Learned During the 1st Week of Camp:

10. OC Bill Legg's voice can be heard from SW 57 Ave.

9. If T.Y. Hilton or Junior Mertile get a slight opening, the D is not going to catch either one.

8. So this is what it feels like to be part of the workforce: getting up before the sunrise and driving to work each morning.

7. More and more high school football players show up for each FIU practice.

6. The new uniforms look sharp and have a different look from all those futuristic styles that are the fad nowadays.

5. There has been less puking during and after conditioning drills this season.

4. The top 3 QBs have all definitely gotten better with their arm strength and decision-making.

3. The freshmen on D are going to have an impact this season.

2. FIU's strengths so far are its "Air" people -- pass catchers and pass defenders.

1. There is no Jerrell Lamb on the team, but Blue25 is pretty good at receiver.

Logo GOLDEN PANTHER PAWSE

Your LAST CHANCE to see your Golden Panthers before they take on Kansas is this Tuesday, August 12 in the team's first scrimmage. Practice begins at 8 a.m., but as MC says "the hitting begins at 8:20 a.m". Sounds like it's time to call in sick to work.

FIU would scrimmage later on that day, but been told there's a risk of losing a practice day with the typical Miami summer afternoon thunderstorms.

**One more thing about the unis, which I think is a unique feature: all the new helmets have the eyes of a Panther above the facemasks. So when an FIU player is talking to you, there are four eyes looking at you: the player's eyeballs and the Panther's eyeballs. Will try to get a photo of it on here soon.

The idea is the brainchild of new FIU equipment manager Steve Smith. No, not the former FIU O-Line coach Steve Smith, this SS comes from Northeastern University.

Max: Section 114, row 8

GPP: From looking at the stadium diagram, it looks like you're seating is in the west end zone. So this onMaxseat  the right is what your view would be like. This photo is before the turf was laid down last Friday.

FIUChris: Where's the info on these bricks?

GPP: The FIU "Not Another Brick In The Wall" campaign (GPP patent-pending) is alive and well. Call FIU Brickmaster, Jose Sotolongo at 305-348-8393. Mention the GPP sent you and you get free admission to Tuesday's FIU football scrimmage.

FIU Fanatic: Any updates on what went on at the Media Day Luncheon?

GPP: MC spoke about the upcoming season, the players walked down the catwalk with the new unis  and Pig media people pigged out on free Shells food.

NYCFIUFan: Has anyone seen the new SI College Football report? They have FIU ranked 118 out of 119 Division I schools and predict that we will match our win total from last year. (oh by the way they predict that FAU will go undefeated in the SunBelt and win 10 games this year). What are your thoughts, is there really that much of a disparity?

GPP: Remember most of these publications have never seen FIU in person and go about making guesses based on stats alone. I read SI and the 1-11 and 0-7 Sun Belt record predicted for FIU. I think FIU can win anywhere from 3 to 5 games this season, considering last season they were within a touchdown in 5 of the last 7 games in the second half. FAU is loaded and could run the table in the Sun Belt and will be good next year, too. The Sun Belt is a very even league so don't be surprised by anything that happens in this conference.

TheChampionUnderdog: What's Wayne Younger weighing in at now?

GPP: 180 from the latest roster handed out at practice.

SouthPaw: It does look like we're officially dropping the "golden" from our name in looking at these uniforms. Pete, can you confirm that isn't true?

GPP: I am still writing "Golden" Panthers in everything that hits the Miami Herald both in print and inBlue  cyberspace. FIU is NOT making any official announcement of dropping "Golden". Only shortening the three words of the school to just FIU for all sports stories and references. So what we got is the "FIU Golden Panthers". BTW, the beloved blueberry pants from last year are being used as practice pants. The new blue pants are a darker blue.

FIU Fanatic: Are Cedric Mack and James Jones, two of FIU's best recruits, eligible for this season and/or enrolled at FIU?

GPP: Mack practiced all week and looks like a mountain. Jones is awaiting clearance.

chris smith # 39: Welcome to the GPP. This secondary has a chance to be as good as your No. 4 FIU pass defense of 2005.

OK, all you Monday morning GQ editors, you decide:

August 08, 2008

New Uniforms

Here are the new threads unveiled today at FIU's Media Day. You folks take a good look at them and let's hear what you think.

The gold in the uniform is found on the shoulders and on the stripes down the sides of the pants. The Golden Panthers debuted just the blue tops and white pants today, but like I wrote in the previous blog they'll have 4 choices come game day: 1) blue top/white pants; 2) white top/white pants; 3)white top/blue pants; 4) blue top/blue pants.

On the left, you got WRs Jeremy Dickens and Marquis Rolle. Below on the right, is CBS Sportsline's FIU Jdrolle_2 quarterback Paul Younger. Nah, just kidding, you guys know who those 2 QBs are.

The word "Panthers" is just below the neck line on the front of the Qbs_2 uniform and if you can enlarge these photos then you can notice that "Panthers" is in the same font from last season, which gives it a jungle-look. It was the same font that they had "Golden Panthers" in the end zones of the old FIU Stadium. BTW, they laid out the new turf at the new FIU Stadium this morning.

Got to get back to hammering out these FIU football preview stories for the MH (deadline is Sunday). You can check out in tommorrow's MH a story on the FIU receivers.

Be back on here with a blog full of everything from today's practice and tommorrow (Saturday's) 2-a-day. First practice is at 8 a.m. tommorrow morning. Second practice at 4 p.m.

August 07, 2008

A Harvey Dent-Kind Of 2 Days For The Offense

Plenty to get to from today and Wednesday's practices. Had to take care of some stuff for the Miami Herald's College Football Preview on Wednesday, so you good people get a happy hour practice special blog: 2 for 1.

BTW, the MH's FIU football preview hits newsstands and on-line on Thursday, August 28. That's in the Hdb future, let's stay in the present.

It was a Harvey Dent-kind of past two days for the FIU offense. We'll get to the "I Believe in Harvey Dent" offense first that showed up in Wednesday's practice. 

The last couple of days in camp have shown us that the FIU freshmen might be ready to make an immediate impact. I usually don't pay much attention to all those recruiting services, but this time those folks may have gotten it right when they said this is FIU's best freshman class in the 6-year history of the program.

Let's start with Wednesday's highlights. Jerrell Lamb, oops, Alonzo Phillips (Blue 25) continued his good work at receiver opening the practice with two more nice catches and then split the defense snaring a bullet from Wayne Younger that goes for 6 if they are playing for real. WY and AP connected again later in practice. If Blue 25 learns the offense quickly, FIU may have a secret weapon on O.

Staying with the O, Greg Ellingson (right) is making a case for the being the top pass catcher on the team. HeElling_2  made a terrific sideline catch on a pass from Paul McCall. And then hauled in a 35-yarder from PM.

Freshman receiver T.Y. Hilton showed his speed zipping past the FIU D and grabbing a 40-yard pass from Colt Anderson. Going by summer timing, T.Y. is the fastest Golden Panther. But he saved his best for the end of Wednesday's workout, when he went across his body to snare a pass from CA.

CA also found senior walk-on Jodie Basemore for a 20-yard pass that turned into a 60-yard TD when JB got past the defense.

Jeremy Dickens (left), who has a knack for the big play, made a tough catch in traffic on a pass from Darold Dickens Hughes.

There was defense played on Wednesday.

Freshman safety Chuck Grace got a sack and two plays later got in on a pass deflection. On those two plays, Grace reminded of the speed and ballhawking abilities from the El Monstruo-led 2005 FIU defense.

Linebacker Matt Garris was all over a CA pass that would have been an INT return for a TD if he holds on to the ball. Quentin Newman and Artis Warthen combined for a sack.

Then another frosh, defensive end Jonathan Jackson (1 of the Booker T. 4) blew past the O-line and sacked DH.

THURSDAY'S PRACTICE (1st day in shoulder pads)

Today, the offense had some early moments, but after that the FIU defense made it a miserable day for the O. Got so bad for the O, that at one point, MC stopped the practice and had the O doing Up/Downs.Hd_3

The O may have fallen on some spilled chemicals on Thursday.

Again, center/QB snaps were a problem. Plenty of botched snaps. According to MC, starter Brad Serini did good, but reserve centers: freshman Kenny White (who is being worked as a center for the first time in his career) and Juan Gonzalez need work. Backup center/starting right guard Joe Alajajian has missed most of practice this week due to final exams and was not at practice Thursday.

Daniel Chacreton and Tyler Clawson got an early sack. Toronto "Little Canada" Smith got into the O's backfield to cause havoc like he did at Arkansas State last season.

DB Peter Riley had a heck of a day defending the pass. PR broke up two deep passes and another on a sideline route. PR also got an INT off a bobble by frosh WR James Watkins.

Mm_2 Marshall McDuffie (left) and Jeremiah Weatherspoon have looked sharp this week. MM deflected two passes today.

At the end of practice, it became the Kambriel Willis Show. KW went into the O's backfield on four straight plays. He got one sack, a tackle for loss and batted down a Hughes pass. Any wonder the dude led the state in sacks last season?

The O's top plays from Thursday: Greg Ellingson did like T.Y. on Wednesday and caught a ball across his body. Then while GE was getting mugged down the field by two DBs (easily pass interference), he got separation -- Rod Moore's summer strength and conditioning program paying dividends -- and grabbed a deep pass.

Junior Mertile, a freshman receiver, made a diving 1-handed catch on a deep pass from PM.

And a practice report this week wouldn't be complete without a Blue 25 sighting. PM did a nifty job avoiding the blitz and stepped up in the pocket to find Blue 25 for a 15-yard gain.

You good people have 4 more chances to catch your Golden Panthers in practice: Friday at 9 a.m.; Saturday at 8 a.m. & 4 p.m. and the team's first scrimmage is Tuesday, Aug. 12. The scrimmage is open to the public, but the time has not been set yet. It will be posted on here as soon as they tell me.

Logo GOLDEN PANTHER PAWSE

FIU is expected to unveil the new uniforms at Friday's Media Day Luncheon. If it happens, will have photos on here for you later on Friday.

It's was a HD-kind of moment on the GPP for SouthPaw. First the good: let's hear it for SP for being the first GPP reader to get the Sidd Finch question correct. The bad: FIU's new uniforms will not have gold pants. The only gold will be on the trim lines that run down the sides of the uniforms.Ned One last look at the gold pants as A'mod Ned (right) models them against Bowling Green.

FIU will have 4 new uniform combinations to choose from: 1) blue top/white pants; 2) white top/white pants; 3) white top/blue pants; 4) blue top/blue pants.

Max: Keep us up to date on those stadium tours. I am anxiously awaiting to see what the view looks like from my seats.

GPP: Where are your seats? I might be able to put a photo on here from your seats' view.

CJ & Civil Eng FIU: Any word on Alphonso Bryant's status?

GPP: Great to meet you, CJ, at practice today. Bryant is enrolled in classes at FIU. He is expected to join the team at some point during the season. He is on the roster and listed as No. 15. Still waiting on the NCAA. Same deal with Moses Hinton, FIU is waiting on the Sun Belt. When I was in New Orleans, the Sun Belt people were telling me they expect to allow Hinton to play.

Pantera Dorada: Any idea how the brick campaign is going?

GPP: Last I heard about the bricks, there were more than 100 sold in the first month.

alt7787: Forgot to give you props on getting FIU smack dab on on the front page of the sports page. Plus it was also interesting to see Armando Salguero writing about FIU.

Mh_2 GPP: Thanks and I thought AS wrote a good story. He did some research on FIU, unlike some writers from other papers that write stuff about FIU without actually knowing the facts about the program.

The Miami Herald front page could be FIU's on a regular basis. The phrase the MH higher-ups always tell me at the start of every FIU football, hoops and baseball season is: "When FIU starts winning, you'll get more space and they'll be on the front more". It's not just the FIU fans that are eagerly awaiting for the Golden Panthers to turn the corner, the largest newspaper in Florida is ready to give FIU its due. Of course, the 140,000 FIU alumni also has something to do with that.

FIU Love: Please tell me FIU got a good kicker during the off-season recruiting.

GPP: FIU has 3 kickers in camp: Dustin Rivest, Eric Karcinski and Carlos Munera. DR and EK are more accurate in field goals. CM has got a booming leg and will likely be the punter. Although, MC said the other day if he had to kick a 65-yard FG to win a game, CM would be in there.

esteban688: It's been said that FIU has only sold 2,500 season tickets, which is not much. We all have read from many sources the "the USF game is sold out" as you can see none of this adds up. Can you find out about the ticket sales situation?

GPP: If the sources you're talking about are Tampa-area sources, then they're not correct. The USF game is "close" to being sold out. The only way to get tickets to that game is by buying season tickets or if you're an FIU student, then you get one free admission to the game. FIU is not releasing season ticket sales numbers. But there are still tickets available.

FIU Fanatic: How many Club Seats have been sold? Is there any major advertising campaign on the Movie works in order to substantially increase these season ticket sales?

GPP: Been told there is a major advertising blitz for FIU football this month that will include: TV and radio ads, billboards and ads on movie theatre screens before your featured motion picture begins.

TheChampionUnderdog: Welcome to the GPP.

Time for you good people to be the fashion critics....

August 05, 2008

Blue 25, Blue 25....Who The Heck Is Blue 25?

Day 2 of Camp Cristobal brought about the first position switch of the new season. Well, it could have been on Monday since the rosters handed out were not completely accurate, matching the names and the numbers.

But there was no mistaking the acrobatic grabs of No. 25 in the offense's Blue practice jersey on Jorel Tuesday. Well, at first there was. Lamb

On the roster No. 25 Blue is listed as freshman running back Jerrell Lamb. Turns out there's no such player. In fact, there is no Golden Panther player with the first name Jerrell (or Jor-El, left) or the last name Lamb at camp for FIU. Is this another case of Sidd Finch? (Free plug on the next post to the first person that knows who is Sidd Finch, below left)

Finch So all through Tuesday's practice as we're seeing 25 Blue go long and haul in a 35-yard bomb from Paul McCall and then 25 Blue makes another highlight grab on a 25-yard pass from freshman QB Troy Dannehower....the thoughts on the media/spectators sideline is who the heck is this No. 25 Blue?

Turns out it's former safety-turned-wide receiver Alonzo Phillips (only Alonzo photo I got, below, right).

If you remember from a story I did on AP last season, he was the lightning quick walk-on safety/FIU Zo track runner, who had been playing intramural football at FIU and came out for the 2007 Golden Panthers and made the team.

Tuesday, AP looked like he had done this receiver-stuff before. Well, he has as a receiver at Vero Beach High. Already among the fastest Golden Panthers, AP just made the FIU receiving corps even faster along with freshmen speed demons T.Y. Hilton, Junior Mertile and senior tight end Travis Felder.

Others highlights of Tuesday's practice: DBs Devin Parrish, Robert Mitchell and Peter Riley had some nifty deflections in pass coverage. Riley had an INT return for a TD, but couldn't hold on. (Might as well, Riles keep the Heat theme going with Riley, left) Ash Parker did pick off Colt Anderson during team drills.

CA did redeem himself with a tight sideline pass to Marquis Rolle and a perfectly placed 15-yard pass to freshman WR James Watkins. WR Elliott Dix made a tough catch in traffic between two defenders.

No pads or hitting yet and just the 2nd day of camp, but for what it's worth, MC did say today that McCall does lead the starting QB derby.

Artis Warthen and Quentin Newman combined for a sack during 7-on-7's.

That was the good. The bad and the ugly consisted of too many bad snaps between the QB and centers. Also D-End Cody Pellicer is on crutches and wearing a leg brace trying to heal from a strained left quad that he sustained in summer workouts. MC hopes to have him back by next week.

Punter Chris Cook does not look like he'll be available this season. Still dealing with a sore back. MC hopes to make a decision 6-10 days before the Kansas game.

Senior JUCO transfer Carlos Munera has shown the strongest leg of the 3 kickers vying for the punting job. Dustin Rivest and freshman Eric Karcinski are battling for the placekicking job. MC said if he had to kick a 65-yard field goal to win a game, Munera would be in there. But for shorter FGs, DR and EK have better accuracy.

Logo GOLDEN PANTHER PAWSE

Like Max, yours truly thought it would be a given (QBs) would lead our last poll, but you good people have pointed out that the D & O Lines are the most pressing question of camp. Good point, football games are more often than not won in the trenches. Keep voting.

scUMsanitizer: Please clarify for us if alcohol (beer or spirits) will be served in the stadium?

GPP: On the improvised stadium tour with PG and others on Monday, the FIU AD said booze will only be served in the Panther Club. So, unfortunately, it's either become a club seat holder or down the liquid courage with nature on the Tamiami Park grass parking lot.Booze

Ultimate FIU Fan: What is the schedule for Saturday's practice?

GPP: Saturday is the first day the Golden Panthers put on the pads and hit each other and it is also the first day of 2-a-days. And it is also the last open practices of camp. FIU practices at 8 a.m. and again at 4 p.m. this Saturday.

Max: Has Mario given any idea when he will name a starter at QB?

GPP: MC's patent-pending response to the starting QB question is: "It could be decided day 1, 10 days out or a week out. . .The bottom line is when a guy distinguishes himself as the guy, He’s the guy."

FIUVoice: Pete, remember to set up the automatic brew for Tuesday's practice.

Coffee GPP: Passed by Starbucks and got a blueberry muffin and a bagel. Might hit La Carreta on Wednesday.

Gold: Pete, I've got a cold one with your name on it come game one!

GPP: Been told by some, I would write better with a cold one...Thanks!

CJ: Pete, you goin out there every day to the practices? I just started working out at morning hrs. I'm a try to swing by for a bit, catch a bit of practice. Are fans allowed to take pics?

GPP: Yes, I am out at practice every day. Stop by say hello. Fans ARE NOT allowed to take pictures. Taking photos would be a great way to get all practices closed to the public.

FIUBlueandGold: Why did they decide to close practices?

GPP: Practices are closed after this Saturday, August 9. You never know when USF scouts start showing up.Py_2

Clawing Cancer: Does anyone know who Paul Younger is?

GPP: Paul Unger used to be a Miami Herald editor and Paul Young is that 1980's singer. You sure CBS Sportsline didn't mean to write that FIU's QB is Paul Colt Darold Troy Wayne....the only Division I QB with 3 middle names and a distant cousin of John Jw_2 Wayne

FIUJM: Heard FIU is offering tour of stadium to FIU faculty, is there anything planned for season ticket holders?

GPP: FIU is planning stadium tours for season ticket holders. Heard it might be during the first 3 weeks of the season when FIU is at Kansas, at Iowa and during the bye week of Sept. 13.

August 04, 2008

It's Too Early In The Morning

Clock Yeah, it's never too early for your Golden Panthers to take the field after you good people have been waiting all summer for practice to start for the 2008 season, but for the next 20 days it will take the nocturnal GPP some getting used to these practices at an ungodly hour.

Did take an improvised stadium tour after practice and will have updates on that after the following first day practice notes....

So there were the Golden Panthers and yours truly at 6:45 Monday morning stretching and hollering in their first practice. The Golden Panthers were doing the stretching and hollering. FIU coaches and staff were all decked out in new FIU logo shirts, shorts and hats.

While the first four practices are glorified "P.E. classes" as MC calls them -- since the team is in shorts Camp_2 and shells and there is no hitting -- there was some action Monday morning at the FIU rec fields.

For starters, 85 of the 99 players on the camp roster went through the entire practice, about 14 freshmen had to leave at 8 a.m. for orientation.

The team does look bigger and stronger than last season -- a year older and a year under Roderick Moore in the weight room will do that.

We saw some offensive action when FIU broke into 7-on-7's.

Mccall Paul McCall (left), who was not wearing his usual red No. 12, because it was not available yet, did just fine wearing No. 11.

So did Wayne Younger (below, right) in his first team practice since breaking the collarbone last season against FAU. According to MC, PM and WY were 95 percent accurate in their decision-making during 7-on-7's.

PM took the first snaps with the first team and looked comfortable completing short and intermediate passes. WY looks like his arm is 100 percent healthy and it showed on a 25-yard completion to tight end Travis Felder.Wy

However, it was Colt Anderson and Darold Hughes that may have had the prettiest passes of the day.

CA and Greg Ellingson connected on a 35-yard bomb down the left sideline -- similar to the deep pass CA hit Marquis Rolle with in the Blue/Gold Game in April.

DH and Jason Frierson hooked up on a 30-yarder a few plays later.

There wasn't much notable from the freshmen since many of them had to leave practice before the team drills started. But guys like T.Y. Hilton and company should be at it the rest of the week. By the Ty way, this (photo, left) might be the view opposing defenses will have of the speedy T.Y. this season.

As far as the backs, Julian Reams and Daunte Owens broke a couple of long runs.

Again, these offensive highlights need to be taken with a grain of salt, because the FIU defense showed very little as far as schemes Monday and probably will be vanilla until they get into pads on Friday.Salt

One noteworthy defensive look Monday was Jeremiah Weatherspoon (below, left) lining up at safety with the first team. Again, salt there, because of it being the first day, but I could see that happening all season.

Jw After practice, visited the stadium and since it was not a planned tour, don't have photos, but here's some updated info.

They started putting up the wall that surrounds the FIU locker room and the south part of the fieldhouse.

The four lights poles and lights are up and was told they were on all day last Friday and several people working in Downtown Miami that know Odebrecht people called FIU to tell them that you can see the FIU Dm Stadium lights from Downtown Miami. Well, you can see Downtown Miami from FIU Stadium as you folks have seen photos on the GPP regarding that.

The last layer of pebbles is on the field and the field turf is expected to be installed either later this week or next. All the asphalt surrounding the field has been laid down and the walkways under the stadium were all being paved as we walked today.

All the club seats have been installed and the club suites are just about done. There are only 5 unsold suites left. The media structures for TV cameras are installed on the club suites roof.

The visitor's lockerroom is just about done too. The Panther Club was having its windows installed today and the Panther Club bar is open, but no booze has arrived yet.

Will be back to the Crown Jewel in a few weeks to snap some updated photos.

Logo GOLDEN PANTHER PAWSE

alt7787: Do you have any info whatsoever on when [USF game] tickets will go on sale to the general public? or Do you know any reputable scalpers?

GPP: Like FIU Florida Power & Light wrote below your comment, the only way to get tickets for the new stadium opener is to buy season tickets. Unless, you're a student then hurry to the FIU ticket office. "Reputable scalpers" that's sort of like saying "Ugly SI Swimsuit Models". Sorry don't Si know if either of those two groups exist.

Gold: I wonder if the stadium had anything to do with verbal?

GPP: Don't know about ET's particular verbal with the stadium, but I have spoken to several recruits from Dade and Broward and one of the first things they mention when talking about FIU is the stadium and the closeness of all the seats. This new stadium is a great recruiting tool for MC.

college football fan: Has FIU ever had a QB throw for 3,000 yards or even close to 3,000?

GPP: Welcome to the GPP. Former FIU QB Josh Padrick (left) holds the program record with 2,493 passing yards in 2003 and threw for 2,461 yards in 2005. And he was an option quarterback coming out of high school. With a little bit better coaching, JP could have thrown for 3,000 yards. An average of 250 yards Jp passing per game can be done. I don't think it will happen this year, but with the spread offense an FIU quarterback could make that happen in the future.

Keep the votes coming on our poll questions from past posts. In the last one, 53.6 percent of FIU Nation says the O-line's improvement will lead to 3 or 4 wins this season. Folks in Melbourne, Fla. and Washington D.C, have bigger aspirations, voting that better play from the O-line will translate into 7+ wins and a Sun Belt title. From your keyboard to God's eyes, sure would like another trip to New Orleans this year.

But for now we're back at the FIU rec fields for the latest question.

August 03, 2008

Wide Bodies and Wide Receivers

Wrapping up our pre-camp look at your Golden Panthers with less than 8 hours before fall practice opens.

Time to check out the heart of the offense: the offensive line.

A more experienced offensive front will be charged with protecting FIU quarterbacks and opening holes Serini for the backs. Anchoring the line will be sophomore center Brad Serini (right) -- a Rimington Trophy Candidate.

Going into camp, the rest of the starting line stacks up as LT Andy Leavine (Jr.), LG Dustin Gibson (Sr.), RG Joe Alajajian (Jr.) and RT Mario Caraballo (Jr.).

Of course, we can't forget about newcomers Cedric Mack, Ula Matavao, Kenneth White and Stephen Bailey. The word is Alajajian, Caraballo and Bailey have had strong off-seasons and could make some noise in camp.

While the line is still relatively young -- Gibson is the only senior -- the Golden Panthers should have a better season run and pass blocking. How much these linemen have improved will be a good indicator on what type of season FIU will have. As we all know any good offense starts up front with the line, if Brady you don't believe that, ask Tom Brady (left) about the last Super Bowl when the New York Giants mauled him.

If you're a regular reader of the GPP, then you know the opinion here is the secondary is the strength of the FIU defense this season. Well, over on offense, the thought is the receivers are FIU's best offensive asset.

Of course, we need to figure out who gets these guys the ball, but once the receivers do have the ball look for a big season out of Marquis Rolle, Greg Ellingson (right), Jeremy Dickens and freshmen T.Y. Hilton and Junior Mertile.

Rolle showed with his hands and body in the spring that he can be that No. 1 receiver. Ellingson has Ellingson velcro and Dickens can be a big play receiver like his long TD catch to open the Blue/Gold Game showed.

Hilton is a pure athlete and will play guard for FIU hoops when football season is over. Mertile might be one of the fastest guys on the team.

Where you could see some special production this season for FIU is at the H-back position. At 6-4, Travis Felder showed what he could do in the spring. John Ellis (left), when he's not lining up at fullback, is Ellis also a dependable receiver at H-back. Ellis had a few long receptions in the spring.

Eric Kirchenberg and Moses Hinton man the tight end spot and both can play. I'll never forget Hinton's first catch ever at FIU. Against Middle Tennessee in his sophomore season, Hinton caught a short 5-yard pass from former FIU QB Josh Padrick and proceeded to drag 3 Blue Raiders on his back for another 10 yards to get 15 yards for a first down. Heard freshman tight end Joey Harris, fully recovered from a knee injury, could also make an impact.

Fasten your chin strap, because we'll find out about all these guys and the rest of the 2008 Golden Panthers real soon.

Logo GOLDEN PANTHER PAWSE

FIUJM: Will you give us updates on practices during the week?

GPP: Yes, I will. There will be a daily report in the Miami Herald, but unfortunately -- like it is for UF, FSU and UM -- that daily report will only be about a few paragraphs long. So I'll try and get more comprehensive info on the GPP throughout fall practice and into the regular season.

FIUBlueandGold: What's the word on Moses Hinton, Is he going to be eligible for another year? and I'm curious, who are the fastest Golden Panthers, top 3 on the team right now.

GPP: Hinton was granted his senior year of eligibility by the Sun Belt Conference, but they may make him sit out one game. It's not clear yet, whether it's the Kansas game or the first Sun Belt game this season at North Texas.Speedy_2

When they tested speed this summer at FIU: freshmen receivers T.Y. Hilton, Junior Mertile, James Watkins  and tight end Travis Felder were the four fastest Golden Panthers. QB Wayne Younger, RB Daunte Owens and S Alonzo Phillips were right behind that group of four.

NYCFIUFan: How does our O-Line look this year? Do you see the "substantial improvement"

GPP: We'll find out quickly how much the o-line has improved when the FIU offensive front takes on Kansas. While that won't be the most accurate barometer, since KU is a bigger team, I think the FIU O-line will be better this season with one year together under their belts and an off-season in the weight room. The line was made up of freshmen and sophomores last season, so one year wiser and stronger should help. Not sure about substantial improvement since we are still talking about a young team overall, but if an FIU back gains 1,000 yards rushing and an FIU QB throws for 3,000 then I guess we have substantial improvement, because the O-line will be a huge part of those accomplishments.

Gold: I just saw on Scout.com that JC, 4 star, WR Edgard Theliar from Kansas gave his verbal to FIU. Can you get some news on that.Et

GPP: That is correct and great news for FIU, but like I've always said let's see E.T. phone home and put his John Hancock on the dotted line for FIU in February 2009.

Jh_2

RDSM6: Welcome to the GPP.

We haven't had new areas of the world join the GPP of late, until Saturday night when someone in San Pedro Sula, Honduras logged on and voted in our latest poll that Paul McCall is the most essential FIU "back" this season.

Gracias por su voto, Honduras y por leer el Golden Panthers Prowl.

Break out the GPP readership scorecard: The 31 STATES the GPP is read in: ALA, ARI, CA, COL, FLA, GA, IDAHO, IL, IND, IOWA, KAN, KY, LA, MASS, MD, MICH, MIN, MO, NEB, NC, NJ, NY, OH, PA, RI, SC, TEN, TEX, VA, VER, WIS.

Hon_2 10 COUNTRIES: Australia, Brazil, Honduras, Hungary, Italy, Panama, Spain, Thailand, United Kingdom, U.S.A.

1 DISTRICT: Washington, D.C. and 1 TERRITORY: Puerto Rico.

The previous poll is still open and what do you know, 74.4 percent of you think Paul McCall is the most essential FIU "back" to the success of the offense this season. . . Read on for our latest poll question.

August 02, 2008

Backs Ready To Move Forward

Less than 36 hours from the start of camp for the Golden Panthers so let's switch sides of the ball and take a glance at the offense beginning with the quarterbacks and running backs.

Pm Yes, the one zillion dollar question is who will start at quarterback. Talking to MC yesterday, the FIU coach said Paul McCall (left) will start camp taking the first snaps with the first team and then Wayne Younger (right) will get his shot with the first team. WY is fully recovered from the broken collarbone sustained last season against Florida Atlantic and ready for camp.Wy_3

MC added PM and WY are ahead of Colt Anderson and Darold Hughes right now, but CA and DH along with incoming freshman Troy Dannehower can gain ground in the next 26 days.

From the looks of spring ball with new OC Bill Legg's offense, PM looked like he had been running that version of the spread since Pop Warner football.

Two cents and for what it's worth -- since the opinion here or anywhere else in cyberspace doesn't mean much inside the FIU locker room -- but WY would have to have a tremendous Tim Tebow-like fall camp to match PM's spring production or PM would have to fall flat in August for PM not to be the starter in Lawrence, Kansas on Aug. 30.

Even if PM takes the starting reins, still see WY involved in this offense, especially with his speed and Ned_2 athleticism. Plus, La Pierna's creativity coordinating an offense might have WY lining up wide or coming in to QB several plays. We'll find all that out in 28 days in the heartland.

The running back position could be a carry-by-committee if one of FIU's 4 tailbacks doesn't stand out. A'mod Ned, left, (shifty moves), Julian Reams, right, (power) and DaunteReams  Owens (speed) all have a shot to emerge as the No. 1 back. Put all 3 together and you have one damn good back. We shall call this back that we have created in our football lab: A'julidaunte Nedreamowens. The name rolls right off the tongue, doesn't it?

Freshman running back Darriet Perry showed what he could do in Georgia preps ball, but now it's time for college. One back who emerged last season and coaches drop his name in the running game conversation all the time is fullback Trenard Turner (below, left).

TT showed he can catch the ball and outrun the defense last season with several long TD receptions against UM and North Texas. Been told he Tt_2 might get a significant amount of carries, because of his power and speed. John Ellis could also see time at fullback, but he adapted quite well to the h-back spot in the spring hauling in several passes over the middle.

We'll get to who will be grabbing most of the passes for the Golden Panthers on the next post as well as the heart of this offense and, any offense for that matter, the offensive line.

Logo GOLDEN PANTHER PAWSE

Gold: I heard a rumor that there will be a new Roary outfit this season. Can you scoop up any information or pics of that. I hope they bulked him him.

GPP: Got the same info. Word is Roary needed to get in the gym and build some muscles. Just look at the Golden Panther on the new logo compared to the old logo. Forgot which reader of GPP Nation said it, but the old Panther (below, left) looked like he wanted to beat you by staring you to death. This newAs  logo Panther is on the Prowl. The new Roary is expected to be bulked up, but not Ahh-nold-like bulked up. FIU needed to change the Disney-fied version of Roary and make Old him a PG-13 character.

Ultimate FIU Fan: From what I hear, Jim Mandich's media rights to FIU sports are over?

GPP: The FIU radio rights are over after this football season. No word yet, on what FIU's plans are for future radio coverage.

FIU Fan: I am confused..who will be using the Baseball stadium locker rooms, FIU or the visiting team?

GPP: There is now a visiting team locker room where there wasn't before. FIU has always had its own locker room. TT is trying to get several improvements done to University Park Stadium. The ultimate improvement will be when he can get the field level seats behind home plate done. That's one of the grand plans for the stadium.

How about a grand question on the FIU offense....


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