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.
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.
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.
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).
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 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.
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 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 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 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.
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: