Wow, go out of town for my day off on Sunday and return to an extraordinary lively GPP. Which can also describe the great college football game day atmosphere at the inaugural game at the new FIU Stadium on Saturday where your Golden Panthers would have shocked the college football world and owned the MH front page this week with a little more offense.
The FIU D played their hearts out and probably the best I've seen it since 2005 or when they closed out college football at the Orange Bowl in fine fashion last season in a win vs. North Texas. There were even shades of the 2005 FIU D which the led the nation in tackles for loss and finished 28th overall.
I don't buy the theory that USF was still thinking Kansas. The FIU D deserves a ton of credit for Saturday's performance. The Golden Panthers went up against a USF offense that averages 494 yards and 42 points per game. FIU D held USF to 321 yards and 17 points.
Your next two FIU guys to get a shot in the NFL will be Jeremiah Weatherspoon (6 below left) and Robert Mitchell. Those two were spectacular on Saturday. JW cleaning USF RB Mike Ford's clock on 1 of FIU's 3 goal line stands against the No. 12 team in the land. JW also led FIU in tackles.
Saw the replay of Saturday's game on ESPNU and in the blocked FG, RM sped past the USF line and stretched out like Superman to block the kick. RM also blasted through on his sack of Matt Grothe and had several other solid tackles.
The rest of the FIU secondary deserves some applause too for holding the dangerous MG to only 136 yards passing. Anthony Gaitor showed his speed with a couple of tackles for loss and Marshall McDuffie (22 left) had some strong stops in his first start.
The FIU D-line was just as good not letting the USF O-line push them around. Jonas Murrell had a huge stop on the final goal line stand of the night and then went and gave MC a 350-pound chest bump that the ESPN cameras and announcers ate up.
Jarvis Penerton (below right with the safety), Daniel Chacreton, Quentin Newman, Armond Willis, James Jones and Juan Nieves all played well too. As did LBs Scott Bryant, Michael Dominguez and Tyler Clawson.
The only thing that I thought the D was not consistent enough in doing was rushing the passer. We still have not seen that on a regular basis from this FIU D. But with some more time in the weight room, that pass rush will come. As we get deeper into the season, expect to see Jonathan Jackson and Kambriel Willis among others to have that impact.
What is still troubling after 3 games is the lack of offense from the Golden Panthers. Thought for sure with the short FIU drives in the 1st half on Saturday, that the FIU D would wear out in the 2nd half, but thanks for proving me wrong on that one, FIU D and a big tip of the cap to Rod Moore and his off-season conditioning program for that.
It seems like the FIU O are not all on the same page right now. Which got me thinking to last season when FIU went to a new O and it took about 5 or 6 games for FIU to get it together on O. This season is another new O with new OC Bill Legg. Maybe it will take 5 games for FIU to get the O together.
Also, the banged-up O-line blocked better in the 2nd half and I thought -- with the exception of 1 run where he danced too much and La Pierna let him know it on the sideline -- Julian Reams (below, right jumping with Brad Serini after a TD) did a nice job of running when he got some openings. Greg Ellingson also showed his sure hands.
Wayne Younger did give FIU a spark with his legs when he came in the 4th qtr, but unlike several of you good people, I'm NOT giving up on Paul McCall, because we all saw what he could do last season with some pass protection.
This will be an especially crucial week for the O to get it together, because Toledo hung 54 points on No. 24 Fresno State last week and FIU's D can't be saving the day all the time.
Like I mentioned at the beginning of this post had the day off yesterday, but from what's been going on it sounds like Manny needed the day off. Glad to read most of you good people have put Mannygate under the bridge. MN apologized and let's all move on.
Here is the Win A GPP Blog leaderboard after week 3: (FIU/Toledo scores must be in by 6:59 p.m. GPP Time on Saturday)
3-0 (pts. differential): FIU LOVE (46), ridgepanther (46); Fomenter (47); FIUBlue82 (48); NYCFIUFan (49); outofthecage88 (50); FIU 0406 (51); FIUVoice (55); fiufan751 (56); Puma (57), TheU24/7 (57); The OC Panther (58); FIUrulez (59), TheChampionUnderdog (59); FIUChris (60); FIU Fanatic (61), Gold (61), inspubadj (61); FIUPantherFan (62); lol62 (64); esteban688 (66), Quijote (66); Gazi (67); alt7787 (69), MIA/NY Josh (69); CJ (70); Baltimorepanther (71); CrazyCane (81); Ultimate FIU Fan (82).
2-1: Clawing Cancer (49); FIUJM (63); TNGoldenPanther (87); FIUBlueandGold (90).
1-2: Max (85); gpantera (95); FIUfantastic (96); SouthPaw (112).
GPP: 3-0, 65.
**If your GPP name and score is not listed, then either you did not post a score for the Iowa or USF game or posted after last Saturday's 4:59 GPP time deadline.
On to the questions....
alt7787: Do you still stand by your Marlins not making the playoffs prediction?
GPP: I know you asked this last Friday before the Phillies took care of the Marlins, but I still stood by the Fish not making the playoffs. Need more consistent offense and a better bullpen for them to contend any year. Too many Marlins that either strikeout or homer, need some guys that hit above .300 in that lineup.
Clawing Cancer: Pete... did FIU relent at all from their "you gotta buy season tix to get the USF game" line?
GPP: No, they did not, but individual tickets are on sale for the rest of the home games. Yes, I too heard Roman loud and clear on the ESPN broadcast.
FIUFloridaPower&Light: Pete-Can you find out if there was something wrong with the sound system, it was very low. They need to raise the volume. Do you feel like I do that this game was winnable, if not for those personal fouls? Your thoughts on Toledo, what do they bring to the table and how do we compare?
GPP: I'll look into it. One thing about the speakers and music: Message to whoever plays the stadium music, you CANNOT play it when FIU is on offense. Several of the Golden Panthers offensive players mentioned to me after the game that they had trouble hearing the signals and snap count from PM and WY, because the music was playing. This is FIU Stadium. Give the Golden Panthers some home field advantage on offense. Zip it!
The USF game was very winnable with a little O, forget about the personal fouls with the way the FIU D was playing. Toledo brings a very potent O to the table and if FIU does not score it could be a long night in Ohio. If the Golden Panthers can show some life on O and score some TDs, the Toledo game is a winnable game.
gpantera: PETE, is there any way for us in cyberspace to get a hold of that video, post it on our Facebooks, favortie blogs, etc. and effectively share FIU with the world?
GPP: Will let you know about the status of the FIU video. Thanks, for the shameless plug. Nothing wrong with a little P.R.
FIUJM: Pete, question for you...Alonzo Phillips. He is 3rd fastest player on the team, is he even suiting up for games?
GPP: AP made a great tackle on punt coverage against USF when he flew and tripped up the returner at the 15. He had a pass thrown his way, but dropped it.
GPP: The fieldhouse/team meeting rooms/6 extra club suites/patio area is expected to be done by next April. The north side is in the process of being designed. Construction on the north should start in 2010 and should be done by 2011. The upper deck will largely depend on how quickly FIU starts winning on a consistent basis. The tentative timetable for the stadium to be done with 45,000 capacity is 2015.
Miri & Quijote: Pete, my friend just said that Miami FC wants to move to the FIU stadium. I saw them at the game, so I was wondering if something was brewing. When do you think the move will happen?
GPP: Miami FC is likely headed to FIU next season, at least that's what the soccer club said last week during their final week playing at Tropical Park. The MH had a couple of soccer articles last week mentioning the move. FIU has been negotiating with them for a while now. If that's the case for the first couple of FIU football home games in 2009 we may see the end zones just plain green and with no PANTHERS lettering, because of soccer.
Ultimate FIU Fan: Pete, just found out that our men's Basketball team will play UCLA during Thanksgiving. I'm already booking my flight to LA to support our men's basketball team!!
GPP: Yes, I believe a few blogs ago I posted the hi-lites of the men's hoops OOC sked this season: at UCLA, at Georgetown and at Washington along with other OOC games such as the final game between FIU and UM. Have a turkey drumstick for me in L.A.
**Almost 70 percent of you said you were looking forward to watching an FIU game at the new FIU Stadium the most in our last poll question. Now chime in on your inaugural game day experience at the new on-campus home of your Golden Panthers: