Thank you: gpantera and Quijote you guys are correct. I should not quit my day job and go make a living in Las Vegas. And you know what? That's just fine with me.
BTW, Quijote, nice play-by-play blog you conducted on Saturday night. And it was great to see the huge GPP turnout during Saturday's game. I was planning on going live on the GPP Saturday night, but I got called for other MH duty.
Glad I was wrong about the Golden Panthers this past Saturday, because covering a winning team is a lot easier than what you good people in FIU Nation and yours truly have experienced during most of the first 6 years of the program.
Before we get into Saturday's win over Toledo (Do those 8 words sound and look good on the GPP?) Here's a true story of what I was covering on Saturday night:
I was at Traz Powell Stadium in North Miami focused on The Miami Classic football game between Howard University and Savannah State, which featured 15 former Dade and Broward prep players. This used to be the Orange Blossom Classic that FIU played FAMU a few years ago, but is now renamed the Miami Classic and is expected to move next year to FIU Stadium, but with 2 different teams.
While at The Miami Classic part of me was thinking of what was going on in Toledo........since I had to write a follow-up story on FIU's win for Monday's paper. You can check it out click here.
MC said when the Golden Panthers bus pulled up to FIU Arena at 5 a.m. on Sunday morning about 200 FIU fans were waiting for the team and screaming "FIU!, FIU!" and he said the players went nuts on the bus and were all proud of the support shown by the FIU early birds before dawn.
As for the grounding of the Rockets, the FIU D was huge again. The Golden Panthers allowed just 146 yards after the 1st quarter to this high-powered attack that put up 54 points on No. 25 Fresno State last week. Coordinator Phil Galiano's FIU D has been stout the past 2 weeks against 2 explosive offenses.
Jonas Murrell and Marshall McDuffie -- a couple of veterans from the 2005 FIU D that was No. 1 in the nation in tackles for loss and No. 28 in total D -- played really well. As did Robert Mitchell (right), Michael Dominguez (right), Scott Bryant, Anthony Gaitor and Dez Johnson. It was encouraging to see the D not panic when it got down 13-0.
The FIU special teams set the D and O up with some strong hidden yardage. Jonathan Faucher's forced fumble and recovery gave the FIU O great field position. Punter Carlos Munera (below, left) nailed 4 punts inside the Toledo 15 and geez, he's only in his 4th college game and we're already running out of superlatives for freshman T.Y. Hilton. Or as MC said Sunday: "T.Y. is like a video game. He makes everyone look silly."
Good to see the FIU O get it in gear. The O-line has improved considerably since the South Florida game and that in turn helped create holes for Julian Reams and A'mod Ned to rumble for 126 yards and 4 TDs. Also congrats to JR for eclipsing 1,000 career yards at FIU.
Now can all the Paul McCall (below, right) detractors on this blog please just sit back and watch what this QB can do with some time to throw. Like I wrote on the GPP last week, don't give up on PM, because we all saw what he can do in the final 2 games last season.
No, PM did not put up Marino-like numbers or Brady-like, in PM's case since that's his favorite QB, but he did show some grit. He stood in the pocket, knowing a blitz was coming right at him and completed a pass to TE Eric Kirchenberg for 22 yards and got knocked pretty good. The hit took PM out for 1 play and Wayne Younger entered, but it was PM's show the rest of the way.
While Saturday's W was what the doctor ordered for FIU, there are still some things the Golden Panthers need to work on as they prepare for North Texas: 1) FIU is still too inexperienced to be getting off to slow starts and trying to recover each week. 2) While the O showed much improvement, they still have to prove they can drive the ball the length of the field. Would like to see FIU put together some 70 or 80-yard drives. 3) Still haven't seen the deep ball from the O. Maybe the Golden Panthers are just saving it for later? 4) Can't be overconfident going into North Texas. Forget about last year. I had written last Friday that overconfidence could have set in going into Toledo, but the FIU coaching staff addressed that last week just fine.
Suddenly, not only has the FIU season gotten more interesting. So has our WIN A GPP BLOG leaderboard (FIU/North Texas scores must be in by 6:59 p.m. GPP Time on Saturday):
4-0 (pts. differential)
FIUChris (75); Baltimorepanther (86), CJ (86); Ultimate FIU Fan (99).
Clawing Cancer (69); FIUVoice (77); FIUJM (80); FIU Love (82); outofthecage88 (83); inspubadj (85); Puma (86); FIU0406 (87), Fomenter (87), ridgepanther (87); FIUBlue82 (88), Gold (88); NYCFIUFan (92); The OC Panther (94), U24/7 (94); FIUPantherFan (95), TheChampionUnderdog (95); fiufan751 (97), FIU Fanatic (97); FIUrulez (99); Quijote (101); esteban688 (102); alt7787 (105); FIUBlueandGold (106); Gazi (107), TNGoldenPanther (107); MIA/NY Josh (119); CrazyCane (121).
Max (99); gpantera (111); FIUfantastic (127).
GPP: 3-1, 106
GPP: You can click on the FIU Stadium photo in the last blog or here on the right to get a bigger size. If you want to mess around with it go to fiusports.com and click on the FIU Stadium link and that might provide a larger aerial photo of FIU Stadium.
The OC Panther: YO Pete! get the headline on the game story fixed.
Puma: Case in point Pete. While not exactly a signature victory (Toledo is ranked near the bottom of DI schools), look at what we get for coverage. A special to the Herald article by I assume the local Toledo correspondent. The guy gets it wrong by saying it’s our first victory against an FBS team. We can’t even get a Herald journalist to write the story? Why read the Herald’s wire stories when we can get that somewhere else on the web? If you’re going to remain relevant you need to focus on the LOCAL content
GPP: Puma, you are preaching to the choir. Your question/comment is exactly the situation I encounter on a daily basis. You and the rest of FIU Nation can try to make a difference by writing in to sports editor Jorge Rojas at firstname.lastname@example.org and let him and the rest of the MH know how much interest and support there is for the Golden Panthers in South Florida -- not sure the MH understands that. Just the GPP alone got a ton of hits during and after Saturday's game. Let's see where the blog numbers have us on Monday. As soon as FIU won against Toledo, my campaign began to fly out to Denton, Texas to cover next week's game. Let's see what they tell me this week.
caFIUne & SouthPaw: Pete, I saw the participation report for the game on fiusports.com and it said Daunte Owens started at receiver. Is that true?
GPP: No, Owens did not start at receiver. Was told Greg Ellingson, T.Y. Hilton and Junior Mertile started.
GPP: gpantera, roger that, good buddy. This is Pete Pelegrin to Earth. Hear you loud and clear. My bro and his wife had a baby boy today. Became an uncle and a godfather. Sorry I'm late to the GPP party, but better late than never. While I may not post something at an instant on the GPP on days off, I'm always around.
SouthPaw: I've been surprised to see Johnathan Nieves (below, left) seeing action in so many of our first four games. Can you tell us more about this freshman? Suprised that he's seeing the field ahead of more heralded guys like Curtis Bryant, Andre Pound, Kasey Smith, and Donnell Wilson.
GPP: JN is a walk-on freshman from Braddock High in West Miami, who had a really good camp and earned playing time. Like MC has said many times before, this FIU coaching staff is not afraid to play young players that practice well and earn time. JN has a 1/2 sack on the season and blocked a FG attempt at Iowa. CB is still nursing a broken hand. KS saw action against Kansas and AP and DW have still not seen the field and could be redshirted to get bigger.
The GPP Worldwide Readership picked up another reader in the Caribbean. In our last poll question, a reader from Saint John, Antigua and Barbuda said Wayne Younger should be starting at QB for FIU. Thirty-nine percent of you disagreed and said Paul McCall and 30 percent of you said play them both.
Break out the GPP scorecard: The GPP is read in 33 STATES: ALA, ARI, CA, COL, FLA, GA, IDAHO, IL, IND, IOWA, KAN, KY, LA, MASS, MD, MICH, MIN, MISS, MO, NEB, NC, NJ, NY, OH, ORE, PA, RI, SC, TEN, TEX, VA, VER, WIS.
14 COUNTRIES: Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, Brazil, Honduras, Hungary, Italy, Netherlands Antilles, Nicaragua, Panama, Serbia, Spain, Thailand, United Kingdom, U.S.A.
1 DISTRICT: Washington, D.C. and 1 TERRITORY: Puerto Rico.
So what does the 1st win of the season mean for FIU?