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20 posts from October 2008

October 29, 2008

Midseason + 1 Musings: DBs & STs

LAKELAND -- Time to wrap up our midseason look at your Golden Panthers as another big Sun Belt game is just 2 daysUl  away for FIU against Louisiana. Yes, that's right Louisiana. The Ragin' Cajuns like FIU has undergone a name change for the better.

The Cajuns no longer want to be referred to as Louisiana-Lafayette and just want to be known as the University of Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns or UL, as you can tell by their new logo on the right here.

Writing to you from Lakeland on this Wednesday night. Finished covering the state high school golf tournament up here. Think I've watched enough golf for a while now the last 48 hours. Enjoy playing it, but watching it in 40-degree temps up here is another story, especially when I forgot my jacket back in Miami.

On to the midseason look at the Golden Panthers' secondary and special teams....

DEFENSIVE BACKSApaw Apaw_2 Apaw_3 Apaw_4

Before this season started, we told you the FIU secondary could be the strength of this year's D and so far the unit has not done anything to disprove that.

Mm The returns of Robert Mitchell, Marshall McDuffie (22, left) and Jeremiah Weatherspoon all have given the Golden Panthers a boost.

The continued development of Anthony Gaitor (right), who the thought here is will be playing on Sundays eventually, has also helped elevate the play of the DBs.

Dez Johnson has been a pleasant surprise for the Golden Panthers as well. Ag

However, probably the biggest test awaits the FIU secondary this Saturday with UL QB Michael Desormeaux, who is the 12th leading rusher in the nation and leads the Sun Belt in total offense.

MD's and RB Tyrell Fenroy's runs can sucker in a secondary and destroy them with play-action passes. If the FIU secondary shuts down MD on Saturday, we'll add another Panther Paw to what has been earned above, right.

SPECIAL TEAMSApaw_5 Apaw_6 Apaw_7

The FIU special teams have actually been for the most part pretty good thus far.

Of course, we all know about that AOL kick/punt returner. But we've also seen pretty good punt/kick coverage by the Golden Panthers. No surprise there with the amount of time FIU and ST coach Apollo Wright put into STs in practice.

Cm There have also been 3 blocked kicks by FIU -- one being scooped up by Blue25 for a TD.

Carlos Munera (left) has nailed 14 punts inside the 20 and has connected on a 61-yard punt. While Dustin Rivest has not had many FG shots (2-4), he has hit all 20 PATs and is averaging nearly 60 yards on kickoffs.

We learned through your voting that you believe Paul McCall is the most improved FIU offensive player. More than 60 percent (60.2%) voted for PM, with Greg Ellingson getting 18 percent of the vote to finish second.Bb_3

Below you can vote for FIU's most improved defensive player.

We'll start talking Cajun on the next blog and I don't mean sounding like Bobby Boucher.

Logo GOLDEN PANTHER PAWSE

In case you missed it, the FIU volleyball team is ranked No. 18 in the nation in the latest RPI rankings. The Golden Panther ladies are 20-4 on the season and ruling the Sun Belt with a 10-1 conference record. They host the Sun Belt Tournament beginning November 20. So let's give you good people some homework and add a volleyball question while we're at it....

October 27, 2008

Midseason + 1 Musings: DL & LBs

Five days until the next Golden Panthers game at ULL. We're halfway through our midseason look at FIU. Let's shift on over to defense, which for most of this season has been the Golden Panthers strength.

Been told by MH IT the posting comments system on the GPP has been fixed so go ahead and let the comments rip. On to the D.

DEFENSIVE LINEApaw Apaw_2 Apaw_3

The FIU D front seven has done a pretty good job thus far, but there is one major component missing from the D-line as well as the LBs: a consistent pass rush.

Yes, we have mentioned this before on the GPP this season, but too many times QBs are sitting back Qnew_2 there making themselves a sandwich while waiting for a receiver to get open. Spoke to MC about this and he thinks the FIU pass rushers are getting closer each game, but also some of the pass rushers need another off-season in the weight room.

It's not a good sign when you have a defensive back along with a defensive lineman leading the team in sacks. DB Robert Mitchell and DE Quentin Newman (left) each have 2 sacks to lead the Golden Panthers.

Newman has been among the more pleasant surprises this season on the D-Line leading FIU with 7.5 tackles for loss. Jarvis Penerton, Daniel Chacreton and Armond Willis have also made some plays. Once veterans like Jonas Murrell and Reggie Jones, who hurt his foot last week in practice, get going we might see more of a push toward the QB.

We've seen that freshmen Jonathan Jackson (right) and Kambriel Willis have the moves, but have yetJj_2  to gain the size to allow them to terrorize the QB. Fellow frosh James Jones has probably had the better season of the trio thus far. Jones seems to have more size right now. In limited duty, frosh walk-on Jonathan Nieves has had an impact. FIU has missed Cody Pellicer this season. A redshirt and a 3rd season in Rod Moore's offseason program will pay dividends for CP and FIU.

LINEBACKERSApaw_5 Apaw_6 Apaw_4

Talk of FIU LBs starts again with El Oso. Once again, EO is leading the Golden Panthers in tackles with 59. Along with safety Jeremiah Weatherspoon, EO may be the most punishing FIU tackler.

Michael Dominguez is having another solid season with 38 tackles and a team-leading 2 fumble Claw recoveries. Tyler Clawson (left) has also had a good season not only at LB, but on special teams as well.

Little Canada has made plays for the second consecutive season, but thought we'd see more of him after his dominating performance at Arkansas State last season.

Two LBs I think are going to have solid careers at FIU before they are done are sophomore Jarvis Wilson (below, right) and freshman Franklin Brown, who also sees double duty in the secondary at times. JW is a machine on special teams and with a little more size can be a pass rushing force on D. FB is just a football player, if you know what I mean when I say that. He has a nose for the football and the ballcarrier.Wilson_2

Here's one name to keep in mind for spring ball: Winston Fraser. The D is missing him this season with a hand injury just like Pellicer. WF 1 of the Booker T. 4 at FIU will make a huge splash next season when he's healthy.

On the road to Lakeland on Tuesday morning for a state golf tournament I have to cover, but will wrap up our midseason look at your Golden Panthers in Lakeland with the secondary and special teams. Be back in Miami on Thursday for FIU's practice and to catch a flight to Lafayette on Friday morning.

From here on out, all 5 remaining games will be huge for FIU if it plans on making its 1st bowl game. Four of those five are home games (might as well consider Dolphin Stadium against Florida Atlantic a home game) What are your thoughts on the Golden Panthers last road game of the season on Saturday:

October 25, 2008

Midseason + 1 Musings: WRs, TEs & OL

As we wrap up our look at the FIU offense halfway through the season + 1 game, we'll find the strengthBf_3  of the offense, a couple of the most improved offensive players and a need for more beef.

By the way, is everyone having trouble posting comments on the GPP? I've tried to answer your questions in the comments section, but the system does not allow me to. I have contacted MH IT to get this straightened out.

If you are having trouble posting comments, drop me a quick e-mail at ppelegrin@miamiherald.com to let me know. Thanks.

Back to the Golden Panthers offense.

RECEIVERS & TIGHT ENDSApaw Apaw_3 Apaw_4 Apaw_5

Through the first 7 games of the season, the talk or sign-off and with good reason has been T.Y. Goodbye (below, left). I can't recall a freshmen making a bigger first impression in FIU's 6-year history. El Monstruo may come close, but he played most of his snaps on special teams his first season at FIU.

T.Y. -- who gets good natured ribbing chants of "Goodbye, Goodbye" from his teammates whenever they see him being interviewed -- has done it all in the first half of the season. The only concern thus far is Gety he needs more size to make it through the rigors of D-I football.

It may be a close call as to who has better hands: T.Y. or Greg Ellingson (left, lifting T.Y.)? GE has really come on thus far and made some terrific catches. Although not as fast as T.Y. (then again who is?), GE has become a dependable receiver for PM.

Freshman Junior Mertile (below, right) may not have the yards, but he's tied with T.Y. for the team lead in catches (17) and has the breakaway speed to take one all the way.

Jeremy Dickens and Marquis Rolle have made some catches, but the Golden Panthers need more out of them in the final 5 games.Jr_2

Along with GE, tight end Eric Kirchenberg might be one of the most improved players on O. EK has shown some good hands this season and run some nice routes. He's also been a steady blocker in the run game and on punt ST.

If not for the early season dropsies, this group of pass catchers would have received 5 paws, but their 4 paws is the most handed out thus far.

OFFENSIVE LINEApaw_6 Apaw_7

The play of the O-line thus far has been inconsistent. To be fair, there have been injuries and not having Mount Mack also hurts.

While there have been games such as Toledo, North Texas and Middle Tennessee when PM has been kept clean and the run game has gotten some openings, but then you also have last week's showing against Troy where the Trojans D-line overmatched the FIU O-line.

Yes, the Golden Panthers need to get more beef upfront and another season with all the regulars healthy will only help. Plus, you can bet MC is bringing in reinforcements through recruiting.

But for FIU to challenge for the Sun Belt title this season and/or try and land an SBC tie-in bowl invite, the O-line will need to have more Toledo/NT/MT showings.

We'll move on over to the defensive front 7 on the next post.

Logo GOLDEN PANTHER PAWSE

Apaw_8 Got plenty of time to get your scores in for the FIU/ULL game next Saturday. Deadline is 4:59 p.m. GPP Time next Saturday, Nov. 1.

Apaw_9 Will have a LIVE GPP Blog from Lafayette, Louisiana next Saturday beginning at 4:45 p.m. Miami time. Game time is 5 p.m.

We all know the obvious answer to FIU's offensive MVP in the first half of the season, but here's a more intriguing question up for debate and vote and why not since it's an election year:

October 23, 2008

Midseason + 1 Musings: QBs and RBs

Still another 8 days until the Golden Panthers next game, so what better time to look back at the first half of the season (6 games) + 1 game.

Seven games into the season, the Golden Panthers are 3-4 and in contention for the Sun Belt Gppaw_4 title with a 2-1 record (not likely you seriously envisioned that back in August).

Just for kicks, we'll judge each position's performance thus far by the number of Panther Paws handed out -- sort of like the GPP's helmet stickers -- 5 Paws to 1 Paw with 5 being the most Paws a position can get.

**(FIU coaches and FIU marketing gurus: feel free to use the Panther Paw/helmet sticker idea as you like. No royalties required for the GPP).

We'll start out with the quarterbacks and running backs and then go through the rest of the team in the next three blogs.

QUARTERBACKSGppaw_7Gppaw_8 Gppaw_9 

After a slow start to the starting quarterback situation, it looks like FIU has settled whatever questions or worries it had at QB to start the season. Paul McCall (left) has done a nice job taking over the offense and guiding the Golden Panthers in what is no longer a new spread offense since these guys have been with this type of O since spring ball.

Pmthrow Like QBs are required in the spread, we've seen that PM can move when he has to and is not afraid to take on tacklers. However, he may want to be a bit more wary, the other day in practice he took on 300-pound DT Andre Pound (appropriate last name for a DT) and it looked like AP got the best of that matchup.

Since the INT against South Florida, PM has been on a roll throwing 8 TDs vs. 2 INTs and has shown the arm to throw the deep ball, which with the receivers FIU has can be a very easy way of getting 6 quickly.

Wayne Younger has seen limited play thus far, but provides FIU a dependable backup, who can make plays with his feet. Seeing WY throw in practice, it seems his arm has gotten stronger since breaking his collarbone last year.

It's looking like a redshirt season for Colt Anderson and that may not be a bad idea. CA has all the athletic ability to be the future No. 1 QB on this team. Maybe a year learning La Pierna's spread will benefit him and FIU down the road. Darold Hughes might have the strongest arm of all the FIU QBs as he's shown running the scout team O.

RUNNING BACKSGppaw_10 Gppaw_11

FIU has yet to unearth that workhorse running back that can take 20-25 carries a game and get the Golden Panthers 125-150 yards on the ground. Eventually that will come.

Until then, Julian Reams (below, right), A'mod Ned and Daunte Owens have done a decent job when they've had the room to run.

JR showed he might be that back with his performance vs. Toledo. AN had some breakaway runs last Jr season, but we've yet to see them this season. DO had a good debut against Troy last week, but like MC said this week in practice, let's see it consistently. We might see more of DO the rest of this season.

Darriet Perry is looking like a redshirt despite working with the 2nd team in practice most of this season. DP owns a bunch of high school rushing records so it will be interesting to see what he can do after an FIU off-season conditioning program.

It hurt the Golden Panthers to lose Trenard Turner to a knee injury for the season. TT seemed to coming on last season.

We'll take a look at the receivers, tight ends and the O-line on the next post.

October 22, 2008

No Place Like Home

Logo Most of the new FIU non-conference football schedule is out and it's all BCS and Central Florida. Of the 20 OOC Ucf_2 games FIU plays between 2010-2014, 12 have been scheduled and all the matchups are an equal number of home-and-home games.

Am PG said that FIU will only schedule home-and-home games from now on to give the Golden Panthers an average of 6 homers per year and in some seasons it could be 8 home games, if we count the Florida Atlantic game as a home game since its either at FIU or at Dolphin Stadium.

FIU is in talks with teams from the SEC, Pac-10 and other ACC and Big East teams to fill out the Ul_3 remaining 8 games. Again with the deal being that the Golden Panthers will play an equal number of times at that team's stadium and an equal Duke number of times at FIU Stadium.

Here's the sked, let's hear what you think:

2010 - at Texas A&M; at UCF (2 games left to fill).

2011 - home vs. UCF; at Louisville; home vs. Duke (1 game to fill).

2012 - at Duke; home vs. Louisville (2 games to fill).

2013 - home vs. Texas A&M; home vs. UCF (those are the 1st 2 games of the season); at Louisville (1 game to fill).

2014 - at UCF (season opener); home vs. Louisville (2 games to fill).

When FIU agrees to new OOC games, they will be posted on here.

Vote on the new OOC sked and tells us in the comments section which college football team, not listed, would you most like to see come play at FIU Stadium.

FIU/Ontario Blue Jays Baseball LIVE Blog

Fiubase_2

Yeah, the World Series starts in about 3 hours, but join us here on the GPP until then to talk about your 2009 Golden Panthers baseball team as they take on the Ontario Blue Jays at University Park Stadium.Tt_3

We'll get our first look at the No. 15 recruiting class in the nation compiled by TT. One of his pitchers from that class, Scott Rembisz (Florida JUCO Pitcher of the Year), starts tonight for FIU.

Starting lineups: FIU - Pablo Bermudez-CF, Greg Wadell-LF, Ryan Mollica-2b, Tyler Townsend-DH, Steven Stropp-DH, Tim Jobe-1b, Garrett Wittels-SS, Ty Main-RF, Raiko Alfonso-3b, Doug Joyce-DH, Casey Hanrahan-C, Scott Rembisz-P (Not a typo, since it's an exhibition game, FIU is using 2 extra DHs).

Ontario - Brodie Ross-RF, Tyler Hibbert-LF, Mike Reeves-DH, Tyler Patzalek-C, John Solazzo-3b, Jose Torralba-SS, Tyler Wheeler-1b, Jeff Kosta-2b, Darnell Duckett-CF, Kyle Willard-P

Let's play ball....

October 20, 2008

1 Out Of 2 At Troy

Fb Plenty of Blue and Gold in Troy last weekend. Your Golden Panthers volleyball and Vb football teams played the Trojans in both sports last Saturday. FIU went back to Miami 1-1.

Of course, with a little tidier game on the gridiron the Golden Panthers go home 2-0. Had plenty of time to reflect on last Saturday's football battle for 1st in the Sun Belt with a 2-hour layover in Atlanta's Hartsfield Airport on Sunday morning.

Coincidentally, while waiting for a Fort Lauderdale-bound Delta flight, I ran into the FIU volleyball Fiuvb team in the Atlanta airport. The FIU ladies were waiting for a Delta flight as well at the gate next to mine, until they heard on the airport P.A. system that their gate was being changed.

FIU volleyball kept rolling last Saturday afternoon with a win at Troy. The Golden Panthers have won 5 straight, 7 of their last 8 matches and are 17-4 overall and 7-1 in the Sun Belt. Volleyball just might be FIU's most successful program in the last 4 years. FIU hosts the Sun Belt Volleyball Tournament beginning November 20 at FIU Arena.

Back to the gridiron, your Golden Panthers let a golden opportunity slip away on Saturday. Troy scored 33 points, but if they had been playing hoops, FIU made like Steve Nash on Saturday, because they Nash had 10 assists to help Troy score 20 points. (The Trojans don't have any 3-point shooters).

By now, you good people know what I'm talking about: roughing the kicker penalty = 6 points; 3rd quarter fumble at FIU 16 = 7; punt hitting JJ on the back = 7.

At the stage that FIU is at right now, the Golden Panthers can't get away with those mistakes. Thus, you have Troy 33, FIU 23. Without those 3 mistakes, we could very well be talking about a 23-19 FIU win right now, because Troy did nothing offensively in the second half.

After being pushed around by the Trojans in the 1st half, the FIU D stiffened up in the 2nd half. Quentin Newman had a nice game with a sack and 3 tackles for loss.

Although, the FIU D got better as the game wore on, there are still too many missed tackles. The D needs to do a better job of wrapping up. The D did keep Troy 0 for 11 on 3rd down conversions.

Of course, there was more than just those 3 plays that highlighted Saturday's game.

Troy showed the FIU O & D lines that they need to get bigger. The Trojans manhandled both. The pass Wts rush FIU was able to deliver in its 3 wins was non-existent. FIU could not rattle backup QB Levi Brown with pressure, because of Troy's O-line. The thought here is if Levi gets hammered early on a few times we might have seen a less effective Troy O in the 1st half.

Troy's D-line pressured PM all night and sacked him 7 times. Another off-season in the weight room should help both FIU lines.

We got a glimpse of the talent of Daunte Owens (left), who played because Julian Reams is nursing a calf injury. DO ripped off a 35-yard run in his first carry and had a nice 19-yard catch and run on a screen.

Do MC said JR should be back for ULL on Nov. 1, but we may see DO get some more touches. DO is the fastest of FIU's 3 backs that are playing now. If you attended the open scrimmages and the spring game earlier this season, DO's work Saturday was not much of a surprise.

I know Goodbye (116 receiving yards on Sat.) made a spectacular 1-handed catch Saturday that was called back because of a penalty....but does Greg Ellingson (below, right) have the stickiest hands on this team or what? GE made some terrific grabs vs. Troy. May have to start calling him Velcro.

Even though he was taking some shots, PM hung in there and put up 266 yardsGe_2   passing and 2 TDs. One thing I did notice, PM needs to tuck that ball when he takes off to run. Too easy to knock the ball out of his hand when its hanging there with 1 hand.

Troy had just 43 more total yards than FIU and outside of WR Jerrel Jernigan and their lines, the Trojans did not impress and I don't consider them a juggernaut.

Could easily envision whoever the SBC champ is this season having 2 losses. Troy still has to play ULL and Arkansas State (2 of the top 4 teams in the SBC). Right now, your Golden Panthers would be in the conversation of the top 4 teams in the SBC, go figure.

Of course, FIU also has to play ULL and ASU and if the Golden Panthers are going to contend for the SBC or even an SBC bowl-tie-in game they'll need to clean some things up. Did you even think I would have written the previous statement just 2 months ago?

Logo GOLDEN PANTHER PAWSE

Apaw_2 Don't forget we'll get our first look at the 2009 FIU baseball team with a LIVE GPP Bb_2 baseball blog this Wednesday beginning around 5:45 p.m. from the Golden Panthers exhibition game vs. Team Ontario, who just played 2 games vs. Troy last weekend. The FIU game is at 6 p.m. at University Park Stadium and admission is free.

WIN A GPP BLOG or (2008 FIU media guide) Leaderboard (through 7 games):

7-0 (points differential)

Baltimorepanther (140); Ultimate FIU Fan (151).

6-1

NYCFIUFan (125); CJ (131); FIUChris (140); FIUPantherFan (144); Gold (147).

5-2

FIUVoice (118); outofthecage88 (126); FIUJM (131); Clawing Cancer (132); Fomenter (133), Puma (133); esteban688 (137); FIU Love (138); Gazi (139); The OC Panther (141); FIU 0406 (144); TheChampionUnderdog (145); TNGoldenPanther (150); FIU Fanatic (155); FIUBlueandGold (163); FIUfantastic (185).

4-3

FIUrulez (155); fiufan751 (157); gpantera (167); Max (169); U24/7 (172); SouthPaw (177); MIA/NY Josh (180); Quijote (186); CrazyCane (239).

GPP 6-1, 152.

**If your name is not listed above, then I did not receive a score from you for the Troy game.

Apaw_4 We'll have a mid-season look at your Golden Panthers on the GPP in the next 2 weeks before FIU's next game at Louisiana-Lafayette on Nov. 1. Back in late August before the season opener at Kansas, we asked what your predicted record for FIU would be. Yours truly had the Golden Panthers at 4-8 this season. You good people voted 5-7 (26.6%) and 4-8 (24.5%) as your top 2 choices.

So what's your predicted finish now for FIU after what you've seen from the Golden Panthers so far this season and how far will FIU go this season:

October 18, 2008

FIU/Troy LIVE Blog

Fiutroy_2 TROY, ALABAMA -- Your Golden Panthers go for a program record 4th straight win tonight against Troy.

It won't be easy since the Trojans have won 2 of the last 3 Sun Belt titles and have the look of a team ready for title No. 3.

Nice evening here in Troy. Temps in the low 60's with clear skies. FIU is wearing its white tops and white pants. The smell of Alabama BarBQ is in the air and seeping into the Movie Gallery Stadium press box.

Got FIU student radio play-by-play man Andrew Julian sitting next to me in the press box and a wacky reason why AJ is in the press box. In place of the FIU/Troy game tonight, the FIU student radio station is broadcasting a 3-hour hip-hop show.

Are you kidding me?....FIU has won 3 in a row and going for a program record 4 straight and a share of the Sun Belt Conference lead and WRGP 88.1 is giving fans down in Miami -- Ludacris for 3 hours? What a joke....That's ludicrous !!

Let's get to the kickoff....

Tackling Troy

TROY, ALABAMA -- Football weather has arrived in Troy and just in time for Saturday's big Sun Belt 1st place tussle between your Golden Panthers and Troy.

A rainy, cold day on Friday in Troy with temps around the low 60's. Down in Miami, that would qualify as cold. Might have been a turnover-fest if this kind of weather holds for Saturday's game, but a check of the forecast has FIU and Troy playing in perfect high 50's, low 60's clear weather conditions on Saturday.Lee_2   

Driving to the hotel from the airport on Friday morning had me thinking I was in the middle of Hazzard County (Yes, I know that's in Georgia) with all the country scenery around Alabama. The nice, long drive also had me thinking about the game.

You can read my thoughts on what FIU has to do to win this game in the previous blog. Still can't bring myself to picking FIU in this one. The way I see it (borrowing that phrase from the Starbucks green tea cup sitting to my left) Troy is like the New England Patriots of the Sun Belt -- just a good overall team year in, year out. But no, not, this season's Pats with Matt Cassel flubbing it Pats_2 for Tom Brady.

The Trojans are more like the Pats in that they have enough playmakers to rise to the occasion despite missing their starting QB. And granted Troy injured QB Jamie Hampton is no Brady. But having watched Troy in a couple of games this season, must say they have the talent on both sides of the ball and in special teams to overcome the Golden Panthers.

Of course, if FIU and QB Paul McCall go out and pull a N.Y. Giants/Eli Manning "Super" impression, then as they say in these neck of the woods "Y'all, can come on back here and tell me so".Eli

GPP THINKS: Troy 27, FIU 20

Logo GOLDEN PANTHER PAWSE

Apaw LIVE GPP BLOG begins Saturday around 6:45 p.m. Miami time. We're one hour back here in Bama.

Apaw_2The FIU volleyball ladies keep on rolling defeating South Alabama on Friday night and take on Troy at 1 p.m. on Saturday. Planning to head on down to Troy early Saturday to check out the Golden Panthers v-ballers.

October 16, 2008

How FIU Can Make It Sweet Home Alabama

Fiuhelmet Less than 48 hours to kickoff for the most important game to date in your 6-year-oldTroy  FIU football program's history. Both the Golden Panthers and Troy sit atop the Sun Belt standings and only one team will be there come Sunday, along with the winner of the ULL/Arkansas State game this Saturday.

Of the last 3 games this season for FIU, this one will be the toughest -- it doesn't matter how many players are on the injured list for Troy. Injury lists are never accurate anyway, just ask Bill Belichick. The only Trojan out for sure is starting QB Jamie Hampton, who tore his knee vs. Florida Atlantic.

Regardless, the Golden Panthers will be hard pressed for a victory in Troy. The Trojans have a slew of talented players all around and that includes their backup QBs, of which one has not been named a Mgs_2 starter yet.

However, since they actually play these games on the field and not in cyberspace, FIU can leave Movie Gallery Stadium (left) in Troy with a happy ending and not have to wait for the sequel vs. Troy next year at FIU Stadium.

Here's what FIU has to do to turn Troy, Alabama into a sweet home.Ls_2

Gppaw A must on O is to start fast and score a touchdown or two early. The Golden Panthers cannot wait until the second quarter or second half to get the O going. Although, Movie Gallery Stadium only holds 30,000 it is a hostile environment when the home team has momentum and all the Alabamites get into it.

Gppaw_2 To get the O going, FIU needs an RB and not PM (left) to lead the running game. PM showed last week against Middle Tennessee that he can run when he has to, but FIU does not need PM to act like Tim Tebow-South to lead its O on the ground. FIU controls the clock, moves Pm_2 the chains and gets production from its run game, then watch PM and the FIU receivers have a field day.

Gppaw_3 Having seen a few Troy games this season, must say this is a very physical team. FIU O players be ready to hang onto the ball. The Trojans like to go for the strip and cause fumbles. Watch out for Troy LBs Boris Lee and Bear Woods -- No. 1 & 2 in tackles and Lee has 2 INTs. Even Troy has its own Oso in Woods. Guess, the first name Tiger was taken by some golfer.

Gppaw_4 FIU D has to stop the relentless Troy run game lead by DuJuan Harris and 224-pound bruiser Maurice Greer. And of course watch out for Troy's T.Y. in WR Jerrel Jernigan, who can line up at RB and QB. With whichever backup QB Troy uses, you can expect them to bring the run first and then hit FIU with play-action passes.

Gppaw_5 Special teams could decide this one if its close. Troy K Sam Glusman is 9 for 9 in FGs and 3 for 3 from 40 to 49 yards. FIU will need some kind of spark here from either a block, a TO or a T.Y.

Still not sure about the score or outcome on this one. So I will think about it on the plane ride to Montgomery, Ala. on Friday morning and post a predicted score and thoughts on the GPP tommorrow from Bama.

Logo GOLDEN PANTHER PAWSE

Gppaw_6 Don't forget we got a couple of LIVE GPP Blogs lined up in the next 6 days. Saturday, we'll be LIVE on the GPP around 6:45 p.m. Miami time from Movie Gallery Stadium as your Golden Panthers go for an unprecedented 4th straight win.

Next Wednesday, the GPP will be LIVE from University Park Stadium for a LIVE FIU baseball blog when your Golden Panthers take on Team Ontario in an exhibition game. Game time is 6 p.m. and admission is free to the game. We'll be on-line around 5:45 p.m.

Gppaw_7 Last chance to get in scores for FIU/Troy for the WIN A GPP BLOG is at 6:59 p.m. GPP Time on Saturday.

Let's get your thoughts on what is the most important thing FIU must do to beat Troy:

October 15, 2008

Not Half Bad

Ty It's no secret and no surprise that very few Golden Panthers were on any preseason honors lists.

What a difference 3 wins and sitting atop the Sun Belt Conference makes at the halfway mark of the season.

On Wednesday, Phil Steele Publications released its 2008 Mid-Season All-Sun Belt Team and 8 of your Golden Panthers were among the honorees.

No shocker to see T.Y. Hilton (left) on the 1st team. In fact, Goodbye was named to 3 positions on the 1st team: receiver, kick returner and punt returner.

Joining T.Y. on the 1st team were: DE Quentin Newman (right), DB Robert Mitchell and P Carlos Munera.

Kind of a surprise to see LB Scott Bryant on the 2nd team along with DB Anthony Gaitor (Both shouldQn_2   have been 1st teamers). OL Joe Alajajian also made 2nd team.

Center Brad Serini made the 3rd team.

Of course, all this is just mid-season and we still have 6 games to go, but after just 2 FIUers (El Oso and Ash Parker) were All-Sun Belt honorable mention last season this is certainly an improvement.

Logo GOLDEN PANTHER PAWSE

Gppaw As you may have seen on-line at the MH, FC Barcelona and FIU signed a 3-year deal with a 2-year option for a proposed MLS Miami expansion team to play at FIU Stadium. Nice coup for FIU. With FC Barcelona's backing, the MLS should be headed this way.

Gppaw_2 We'll be blogging LIVE from Troy this Saturday starting around 6:45 p.m. Miami time. Also, the FIUTt  baseball team plays an exhibition against Team Ontario next Wednesday at 6 p.m. at University Park Stadium and I'll have a LIVE GPP Blog from the game to talk a little FIU baseball.

Gppaw_3 FIU football's radio broadcasts switch to WIOD 610 AM starting with this Saturday's game vs. Troy. Same announcers, different station for the remainder of the season due to WINZ 940 being the new home of the Miami Heat. You can also still catch FIU football in Espanol on 670 AM and 1550 AM with Jerry Castle and Joe Fields.

Gppaw_4 Congrats to FIU D-Coordinator Phil Galiano who arrived midway through practice Wednesday after Girl his wife delivered a newborn daughter this morning.

Gppaw_5Well, we bring out a poll question regarding an FIU tradition and what do you know we get 125 votes in less than a day. Some strong feelings toward "Ole! Ole! Ole!"

We'll turn our attention back to Troy after this, but FIUFPL had a good point: I did not make it a clear cut question so we'll ask it again and while we're at it tell us your thoughts on FIU signing a stadium deal with MLS Miami. . . .

October 14, 2008

A Little Gamesmanship

For the second consecutive day, Troy did not announce who its starting quarterback would be on Qb_2 Saturday against FIU.

No shocker or mystery there since this meeting with the Golden Panthers suddenlySh  means something with both teams atop the Sun Belt. Troy coaches already know who will be the starting QB between Tanner Jones and Levi Brown. They're just keeping everyone else -- most importantly -- FIU in the dark.

One of those 2 QBs will replace starter Jamie Hampton, who tore his knee against Florida Atlantic and is lost for the season.

However, do not be surprised to see receiver Jerrel Jernigan -- Troy's bigger version of T.Y. Hilton -- Jj_2 line up under center for a few snaps on Saturday.

JJ like T.Y. has blazing speed, but as a sophomore is a little thicker than Goodbye and can do everything T.Y. can do such as run, receive, kick return and even play a little QB -- although we haven't seen that from T.Y. since his high school days at Miami Springs.

Logo GOLDEN PANTHER PAWSE

Gppaw Looks like overnight the GPP suddenly turned into a meeting of the FIU Pep/Spirit Club. Lots of ideas from FIU Nation regarding stadium traditions and chants, etc. I think someone said it best in one of the comments from the previous blog: give it time and traditions will develop.

Keep dropping your ideas on the GPP, because the FIU athletic department and marketing dept. religiously read the GPP (need proof see: T.Y. Goodbye). Whatever stadium traditions and chants you guys develop is cool. So what if Roary is MIA, as long as the Golden Dazzlers are at every FIU sporting event then the world can keep on spinning.Newdazz2

Gppaw_2 The GPP WORLDWIDE READERSHIP keeps reaching other parts of our planet Earth. With our last poll question regarding your impression of FIU at (3-3, 2-0 1st SBC) halfway through the season we got 2 new countries joining the Prowl.

A couple of GPP readers in Lima, Peru and Woerden, Netherlands both agree that FIU's season thus far is "Great....Didn't think FIU would be tied for 1st in Sun Belt".

Take out your pencils and your scorecards and let's update our readership:

The GPP is read in: 34 STATES: ALA, ARI, CA, COL, FLA, GA, HI, 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.

18 COUNTRIES: Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, Brazil, Czech Republic, Honduras, Hungary, Italy, Netherlands, Netherlands Antilles, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, Serbia, Spain, Thailand, United Kingdom, U.S.A., Venezuela.

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

Here's the question you good people have been asking to be polled....enjoy:

October 13, 2008

Better Times On SW 8 St....But Still Got Work To Do

Panth Your Golden Panthers are growing up right before your eyes and rather quickly, too. 3-3, 2-0 tied for 1st place in the Sun Belt and a huge test against the perennial class of the SBC at Troy this Saturday.

Impressive win against Middle Tennessee and the Sun Belt's top passer, Joe Craddock, on Saturday. FIU held Craddock, who averages 268 yards per game to just 25 yards and got JC an early trip to the showers for his ineffectiveness.

Another stellar performance from the FIU D swarming the MT backfield with tackles for loss, playing tight pass D -- Anthony Gaitor (right) 2 INTs & SBC Defensive Player of the Week -- and containing backup QB Gaitor_2 Dwight Dasher, who killed them last year.

This is a well-coached unit by D-coordinator Phil Galiano. Like AG said in the postgame interview, he was sitting on the 2nd INT that went for a TD, because they had seen that formation all week on film and when MT lined up in it, Galiano yelled it out and AG went pick 6.

What was clearly evident vs. MT, was the Florida speed FIU has and the Blue Raiders did not have. FIU was much faster on both sides of the ball. These young Golden Panthers now just need to add some size in the weight room and there will be a complete Division I football team playing on SW 8 Street.

Although the stats do not completely reflect it, Paul McCall (left) may have had his best game making decisions. PM knew exactly when to tuck the ball and run and when to throw it. PM also showed some Pm nimble feet ducking a couple of sacks and leading the team with 53 yards rushing. Nice aggresive running, especially with the somersault in PM's 9-yd TD run.

Good to see Junior Mertile (below, right) make an impact. While T.Y. Goodbye has definitely been the most productive freshman thus far, you may not know this, but shhhh! quietly JM leads the team with 14 receptions.

Greg Ellingson and Jeremy Dickens had some nice grabs Saturday and provided some timely downfield  Jr_2 blocks. For the 3rd straight game FIU showed it hasShh the ability to score plenty of points in Bill Legg's O. BTW, pretty sharp play-calling from the La Pierna. BL had MT off-balance. MT was looking for the short stuff all through the 3rd and early 4th quarter before PM hit T.Y. with that 63-yard TD. The FIU O-line did a fine job for the 4th consecutive game.

What has been a little troubling about the O has been the slow starts. As the Sun Belt sked toughens up, especially with the next 3 games against the other 3 teams tied with FIU for 1st, the Golden Panthers O needs to get into games faster and not wait until the second quarter. Also, can't have PM leading the team in rushing. FIU needs more of the RBs performance vs. Toledo.

The D has been lights out for most of the season, still, more sacks would not hurt. There have been several times when the opposing QB is sitting back there going through his reads. With bigger and better O-lines in Troy, ULL and Ark. State awaiting FIU, the pass rush has to finish and not just put pressure here and there. 

Fiuinaug Overall, the Golden Panthers were pretty much on point against the Blue Raiders. All 3 facets of the team produced and the result a 3rd straight win equaling the program record and equaling the best start in FIU history (2002 team, which featured FIU football pioneers like S John Haritan, left, started 3-3).

The FIU fans also helped out the Golden Panthers. Good to meet, Quijote and gpantera, who dropped by the front row of the open-air press box to talk FIU football. At the start of the game, it looked like it would be an average turnout in the student section, but when I looked over there midway through the 1st quarter, the area was just about full and good thing for those metal stands, because when they get stomped FIU Stadium gets loud.

Logo GOLDEN PANTHER PAWSE

Gppaw_2 Saturday's game vs. Troy is on ESPN regional, but you can also catch it at FIU Arena where the university is hosting a watch party at 7 p.m.

OR you can join me in Troy on the GPP with our LIVE blog from Movie Gallery Stadium in Troy, Alabama. I will be on-line around 6:45 p.m. Miami time on Saturday.

Gppaw_3 This just does not get old.....Congrats, once again to Yarimar Rosa for her 4th SBC Volleyball Player of the Week Award. It's the 9th in her career (a Sun Belt record) and YR is looking later this Yr_2 season to earn her 3rd All-American honor in 3 years at FIU.

Gppaw_4 Got a chance to finally see the Panther intro video (was busy during USF game to notice) that is played on the Jumbotron before the Golden Panthers take the field and must say that is one impressive intro piece with AC/DC's "Thunderstruck" playing in the background and the live-looking Panther jumping from building to building and stomping through the opponents helmet on the FIU Stadium field. Kudos to Ed Filomia, who put the video together.

Gppaw_5 Reminder the GPP Q & A's are now in the comments section.

WIN A GPP BLOG Leaderboard (through 6 games; scores for FIU/Troy must be in by 6:59 p.m. GPP Time on Saturday)

6-0 (points differential)

FIUChris (111); CJ (118); Baltimorepanther(125); Ultimate FIU Fan (134).

5-1

FIUVoice (105); Clawing Cancer (108); FIUJM (113); FIUBlue82 (116); NYCFIUFan (117); Puma (120); Gazi (121); FIU Love (122); esteban688 (124); FIU0406 (126), The OC Panther (126); Gold (127); FIUPantherFan (128), TheChampionUnderdog (128); FIUBlueandGold (135); TNGoldenPanther (136); alt7787 (141).

4-2

outofthecage88 (110); Fomenter (129); FIU Fanatic (143); gpantera (148); Max (150); FIUfantastic (163).

3-3

FIUrulez (143); fiufan751 (153); Quijote (156); U24/7 (161); SouthPaw (166); MIA/NY Josh (174); CrazyCane (209).

GPP 5-1 (143).

Gppaw_6 The GPP doesn't hand out mid-season awards, but will have a mid-season review + 1 game of the Golden Panthers next week during FIU's bye week. For now, this question will tie you over:

October 11, 2008

FIU/Middle Tennessee LIVE BLOG

Fiumt_2 Welcome to the 1st LIVE GPP blog at the new FIU Stadium and 2nd overall. Looking at less than 10 minutes before the Blue (Raiders) and the Gold (Panthers) kick it off.

FIU is in its home midnight blue tops and jerseys. MT is wearing all white with blue and silver trim. Cloudy skies, but no rain at FIU Stadium.

Let's go blogging....

October 10, 2008

Come Sunday....Blue Raiders Or Blue Panthers?

The only time FIU beat Middle Tennessee in the 3 games played between the two teams was in a 35-31 Mt Fiuhelmet offensive shootout to close the 2005 season. Former FIU DB Kent Henderson batted down a last-play Hail Mary in the end zone to preserve the Golden Panthers win at old FIU Stadium. That's former FIU DB Cory Fleming (left) picking off a pass in the 2005 game vs. Flem MT.

The teams play the 4th game of the series Saturday night and it should not be a points-fest like the only time FIU/MT played in Miami.

We should have a better idea of how much your Golden Panthers have improved by Sunday after they tussle with the Blue Raiders -- which BTW, you can follow the game on a LIVE GPP blog on Saturday beginning at 6:45 p.m. If you're at FIU Stadium, post a comment with your Blackberries or whatever berry you use. Or just yell at me in the first row of the open-air press box by the east end zone.

Yes, FIU has gotten better this season compared to last, no doubt. But let's put all the cards out on the table: Toledo and North Texas are not world-beaters, but the 2 wins give FIU much-needed confidence heading into Saturday.Tytd_3

The back-to-back wins against Toledo and North Texas were what the doctor ordered, especially after a 1-11 season last year. It also showed the Golden Panthers what they are capable of when all 3 facets of the team are clicking.

The wins also give FIU some momentum going against MT, which a win Sat. would give FIU a share of the Sun Belt lead after 2 games (yes, I know it's just 2 games, but you good people would have had me committed had I written "give FIU a share of the Sun Belt lead" just a year ago).

An FIU win this Sat. leads to a showdown at Troy for first place next week and equals the best start in program history at 3-3 -- the 2002 FIU inaugural team started 3-3.

A win would also equal a program-best 3-game winning streak -- done once before to close the 2005 Ab_2 season. A 2005 team El Monstruo was an instrumental part of. And what would a trip down FIU Memory Lane be without a mention of EM (left, blocking an MT punt in 2005).

But FIU cannot put the cart in front of the horse. FIU has to deal with a dangerous Middle Tennessee team that has won the last 2 games against FIU and allowed just 6 points in each of those games (7-6 and 47-6 wins).

There are several things about the Blue Raiders that could possibly leave FIU blue.

After having seen MT in a couple of games this season, I think the MT D may be the best D FIU has faced since Iowa. The Blue Raiders caused problems for Maryland, Kentucky and Florida Atlantic, however Troy and Arkansas State -- 2 of the other top SBC teams -- were able to score 31. So it's not like FIU is going against the 85' Super Bowl Shufflin' Bears, but still it will be the biggest challenge for the FIU O since Iowa.

Nned What makes the MT D so tough is its big D-Line and strong secondary led by safety Jeremy Kellem. The FIU O-Line has to give PM time and some space for the FIU RBs, like A'mod Ned (left, as a freshman in 2005 scoring a TD vs. MT)

On offense, MT has QB Joe Craddock back, who missed last year's game vs. FIU with an injury. MT backup QB Dwight Dasher carved up FIU last season and JC can do the same.

The Blue Raiders have a pretty good passing game, which can help out their running game -- which is not a strength. FIU needs to get pressure on JC to disrupt the pass, like Jonas Murrell (right, as a freshman in 2005 sacking MT QB Clint Marks).Jonas

Got a feeling this one is going to be a defensive slugfest between two physical defenses. We may see the kickers decide it in a somewhat low-scoring game.

GPP thinks: FIU 22, Middle Tennessee 20

Logo GOLDEN PANTHER PAWSE

**FIU/MT scores for the WIN A GPP BLOG are due by 6:59 p.m. GPP Time on Saturday.

October 08, 2008

Off The Court With: Yarimar Rosa

The FIU volleyball team (13-4) is off to the best start in school history and one reason has been the play Yrosa of two-time All-American Yarimar Rosa, who with 2 Sun Belt Player of the Week Awards this season now holds the Sun Belt's all-time record for Player of the Week awards with 8. The Golden Panthers try to improve their 13-4 record this weekend with home SBC matches against Denver (Fri. 7 p.m.) and North Texas (Sun., 1 p.m.).

During a recent FIU volleyball practice that YR sat out of because of shin splints, the GPP learned in a Spanish interview with the Puerto Rico native about the Treasure of the Sea, that there is a form of trash-talking in volleyball and what Rosa's favorite rosa is. . . .

GPP: You are the 1st two-time All-American at FIU what does that mean to you?

YR: I was surprised to have won it two years in a row. I was surprised to have won it the second time, because it is a difficult honor to achieve. When you’re a freshman you don’t really expect it. But to win it as a sophomore was tougher, because I had to maintain my level of play. I’m proud of my teammates, because they helped me achieved this. It’s something I’m very proud of and I’m proud to have accomplished this at FIU and to represent Puerto Rico here in the United States.Yr_4

                                                                                                                                                       

GPP: What is something the casual sports fan does not realize about volleyball?

                                                                                                                                                       

YR: I think people don’t realize how many times a player intends to hit the ball. For example, the difference in the amount of points I get and another player gets. Since I’m in a position to receive most of the kill opportunities, I have more of an opportunity to get more kills than another player. Some times people say “Yari, you got a lot of kills and another player did not”. But what people fail to realize is that maybe I got 50 chances and the other girl got 20 chances so I had more chances to get more points.

                                                                                                                                                         

GPP: Where does your name Yarimar come from?

                                                                                                                                                       

TcCoral_2 YR: Yarimar means “treasure of the sea”. My mother loves everything about the sea. My sister is called Coral Del Mar. I’m the younger one. So I’m the treasure and my sister is the coral reef.

                                                                                                                                                       

GPP: So is your mother’s name? Boat Del Mar?

                                                                                                                                                       

YR: (Laughs) No, no. It’s Ivonne.

                                                                                                                                                         

GPP: In a lot of the men’s sports there's trash-talking going on. Is there trash-talking in volleyball?

                                                                                                                                                       

YR: It’s not so much as talking trash, because the officials will stop that. But there are definitely trash looks and trash attitudes. And you easily recognize it and that gets you fired up and raises the level of intensity in each game. Because when you get one of those looks, you say “No, don’t bring that here”. I like it when the opponents do that, because I see it as a challenge.

                                                                                                                                                      

GPP: In other sports, a lot of the opposing fans get into it with the visiting team's players. Do volleyballGator  fans heckle opposing players? What’s the weirdest thing an opposing fan has said to you?

                                                                                                                                                         

YR: We were in Fairmont a few weeks ago. All the fans were screaming at us and one fan was saying “Yarimar, how do you say Gatorade in Puerto Rico?” Or when I made an error on the court the fans will say “Yarimar, what happened? We know you’re perfect?” And since it’s a small court you can hear everything. But you have to laugh at it and keep playing.

                                                                                                                                                         

GPP: If they make a movie about your life, who would play the lead role of Yarimar Rosa?

                                                                                                                                                      

Cd_3 YR: I enjoy Cameron Diaz’s work. I would like for her to play the role of me in a movie.

                                                                                                                                                       

GPP: Puerto Rico has had many great athletes, but who is the best athlete ever to come out of the island?

                            

YR: I would say Pecky Soto, who is a male volleyball player. He holds the national record in kills per game in Puerto Rico. He’s a great player and the most important thing is he’s very humble. That’s admirable, because a lot of people when they attain success they forget where they came from and that’s important.

                                                                                                                                                      

GPP: You’ve been in Miami now for 3 years. What was the first thing you noticed about Miami that let you know you’re no longer in Puerto Rico?

                                                                                                                                                       

YR: Puerto Rico is a lot smaller and everyone knows everyone else. Wherever you go you get to meet Pr new people and that’s something you miss about Puerto Rico. Here Miami is so big that you can go somewhere and not meet anyone. You don’t have the familiarity in Miami that you have in Puerto Rico. That familiarity that you have in Puerto Rico is unique.

                                                                                                                                                         

GPP: You’re a business major. If money was not an issue and what business would you start?

                                                                                                                                                      

YR: I would start a foundation that would go around the world and help people that have suffered such as the people who were hit by the tsunami. It would be a beautiful opportunity to help out those people Rose if I had the resources.

                                                                                                                                                       

GPP: Your last name translates to rose in English. What’s your favorite rose?

                                                                                                                                                         

YR: I would say white, because it’s elegant and it’s different.

                                                                                                                            

Logo GOLDEN PANTHER PAWSE

                                                                                                                                  

Thought we could use a little break from the "my school's cafeteria is bigger than your school's cafeteria".

                                                                                                                                    

The FIU volleyball team has been probably the most successful program at FIU in the last 4 years and YR is probably headed for a 3rd straight All-American honor.

                                                                                                                                                                        

A little soccer news today: MLS to FIU

                                                                                                                                                         

Panther Pass is up and running and will broadcast Saturday's game vs. Middle Tennessee for you out-of-towners. We will also have a LIVE GPP Blog on Saturday night.

                                                                                                                                                      

Will be back on here with football Thursday, busy day today. Check out the MH on Thursday to find out why.

                                                                                                                                                         

A different kind of futbol poll question:

October 07, 2008

From North To Middle

Before we get to the challenge of Middle Tennessee that awaits your Golden Panthers on Saturday, let's wrap up the 42-10 win over North Texas.Ty_2

The tone of that game was set from the opening FIU drive. Yes, I know the Golden Panthers were stopped on 4th down at the NT 10, but we saw that FIU was more than capable of moving the ball downfield 70 yards on the Mean Green. From there it was all downhill for the FIU O.

Something we had not seen from FIU most of this season was the deep passing game, but Paul McCall and the WRs showed that FIU can hit the home run. The 65-yard TD to T.Y. Hilton was precise as PM dropped the ball just in front of Good-Bye who caught it in stride and never looked back.

The TD pass in the corner of the end zone to Greg Ellingson was a nifty one too. And once FIU showed it could hit the deep pass, the running lanes opened.

Speaking of running, Daunte Owens had a nice debut averaging 5 yards a carry and gaining 25 total. The O-line kept PM clean with the exception of one sack.

The D-line benefited from the return of Reggie Jones (1 sack), who made like Reggie Bush on his INT return hurdling an NT player. Quentin Newman and Jonathan Betancourt had nice games. The Golden Rb Panthers put more pressure on the QB in this game than in any of the first 4 and they'll need more of that against MT.

The FIU D again was suffocating against NT. You could tell from watching the game how much faster FIU was compared to NT. El Oso was his usual stellar self and Matt Garris, now healthy, had a solid game.

The secondary did not allow anything deep, but like someone mentioned on the live blog sometimes they went for the kill shot instead of wrapping up and it cost them yardage. In this game it didn't matter, but in what should be a dogfight with the Blue Raiders this Saturday those extra 10-15 yards given up could be back breakers, especially when it appears they have the opposing O stopped.

Special teams -- which you can read a story about in Tuesday's MH that's why this Monday blog is a little late -- have been outstanding all season and that continued vs. NT. O' Darris D' Haiti and Blue25 teamed up on the punt block/TD return.

Punter Carlos Munera has had a quiet solid season placing several punts inside the 10. The dude does have a heck of a leg.Ups

The only thing FIU did not accomplish was the shutout -- which had not happened since FIU shut out Butler 42-0 in the inaugural season. MC went nuts and got an unsportsmanlike penalty when NT kicked a FG to ruin the shutout. Afterward, MC said he will do up-downs in Tuesday's practice as punishment for getting flagged.

Logo GOLDEN PANTHERS PAWSE

More shakeups in the WIN A GPP BLOG leaderboard after another FIU win (reminder: FIU/Middle Tennessee scores have to be in by 6:59 p.m. GPP Time on Saturday):

5-0 (pts. differential)

FIU Chris (93); Baltimorepanther (106); CJ (111); Ultimate FIU Fan (125).

4-1

Clawing Cancer (94), FIUVoice (94); outofthecage88 (96); FIU Love (100); FIUJM (102); FIUBlue82 (105), Gold (105); TheChampionUnderdog (106); NYCFIUFan (110); Puma (111); Fomenter (112), FIU0406 (112); FIUPantherFan (113); Gazi (114); The OC Panther (115); esteban688 (117); FIU Fanatic (121); FIUBlueandGold (127); TNGoldenPanther (129); alt7787 (134).

3-2

Max (128); fiufan751 (132), FIUrulez (132); U24/7 (133); gpantera (136), Quijote (136); FIUfantastic (158), MIA/NY Josh (158); CrazyCane (166).

2-3

SouthPaw (158).

GPP 4-1, 133.

**

If your screen name is not listed above, then I did not receive a score from you.

Plenty of positives from Saturday's win against the Mean Green, but which one stood out for you:

October 04, 2008

FIU/North Texas LIVE Blog

DENTON, TEXAS -- About 15 minutes from kickoff between FIU and North Texas, hopefully they play this Fiunt_2 game in 4 quarters and not 7 overtimes like the last time these 2 teams played here in Texas.

FIU is in its road white tops and pants and looking for its first 2-game winning streak since finishing the 2005 season by winning 3 in a row.

They got a track around the football field here at Fouts Field similar to old FIU Stadium. Also there are renderings of NT's new on-campus stadium on the floors of the stadium. The smell of Texas Bar-BQ engulfs Fouts Field and we got clear blue skies with low 70 temps. Let's get this live blog going....

October 03, 2008

Deep In The Heart Of Irving, Texas

IRVING, TEXAS -- Yes, I know the game Saturday between FIU and North Texas is in Denton, Texas on the campus of the Mean Green, but yours truly is staying in Irving where the view outside the hotel Tex room is of Texas Stadium, home of the Dallas Cowboys and the NFL's version of the FIU Golden Dazzlers.

The Golden Panthers try to win 2 games in a row on Saturday for the first time since closing out the 2005 season with 3 three straight wins. While most of GPP Nation is seeing a blowout or an easy win for FIU -- who BTW is favored for the first time in a game since joining Division I in 2005 -- I cannot predict such a cakewalk win for Gdazzlers_3 a team that has won 2 games in 2 years. Plus, this is a conference game and rarely are those blowouts, especially between two somewhat evenly-matched teams.

Here's why: North Texas began the season with four heavyweights -- in relation to the Mean Green -- Kansas State, Tulsa, LSU and Rice. This week North Texas is in a situation that FIU found itself in last week: a game against an opponent of equal caliber. So expect the Mean Green to put up a stronger showing against the Golden Panthers than in the season's first 4 games.

The Mean Green return their top RB, QB and WR from last season and have the potential to dent the scoreboard in Denton. RB Micah Mosely, who averaged 4.9 yards per carry last season in 94 attempts and scored 5 TDs, has not played since the season opener, but returns Saturday. In the season opener, MM ran for 56 yards on 10 carries against K-State.

QB Giovanni Vizza is the typical Sun Belt QB that can operate the spread as effectively running or passing. His top target Casey Fitzgerald is also back. However, 2nd leading receiver Sam Dibrell quit football earlier this week so that sets back NT's O somewhat.

Judging by the first 4, the NT D has been as generous as Santa Claus at X-mas. But again that was vs. non-conference BCS boys.

LIke many of you voted, FIU's biggest potential roadblock going into this game is overconfidence. If the Do Golden Panthers stay level-headed and produce in all 3 facets of the game like they did vs. Toledo they arrive in Miami on a 2-game winning streak.

The FIU O needs to continue its strong running from last week. Julian Reams is not 100 percent, but should give it a go. We could see Daunte Owens (left) in his most significant playing time of the season. DO is the fastest of the 3 FIU RBs and if he gets a crease from NT you can dial up 6 for FIU.

Andy Leavine is back on the O-line and that should help with Paul McCall's protection and give the FIU QB more time to throw. If the FIU D takes care of business and the FIU run game is effective, the Golden Panthers just need PM to convert 3rd downs and be efficient.

Las Vegas has this game as a high-scoring affair with the points around 60, but an encore performance from the FIU D will keep this one a lower scoring affair and a 2nd straight win for FIU.

GPP thinks: FIU 27, North Texas 22

Logo_2 GOLDEN PANTHER PAWSE

We'll get the LIVE GPP BLOG kicked off at about 6:45 p.m. Miami time tommorrow. Let's see how the experiment goes and we'll take it from there for future games.

Another worldwide reader joined the Prowl last night. This time from Prague, Czech Republic. That person likes the Lightning nickname for T.Y. and likes the new GPP interview Cz feature. Let's roll out the readership count:

The GPP is read in: 34 STATES: ALA, ARI, CA, COL, FLA, GA, HI, 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.

16 COUNTRIES: Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, Brazil, Czech Republic, Honduras, Hungary, Italy, Netherlands Antilles, Nicaragua, Panama, Serbia, Spain, Thailand, United Kingdom, U.S.A., Venezuela.

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

October 02, 2008

Off The Field With: Scott Bryant

Let's take a little break from the regular blog news-type postings to try something different. Would like to start up a new feature on the GPP where occasionally we'll take some time out to talk off the field/court/diamond with a Golden Panther. First up: linebacker Scott Bryant. Sb

GPP: When coach Cristobal took over at FIU he installed a dress code for when you guys travel. So who is the best dressed player on the team?

SB: It's a three-way tie between James Jones, Jarvis Wilson and Artis Warthen. They come with their gator shoes on. Real sharp dressers all three of them. I just put on my shirt and tie and get on the plane.

Shoes GPP: What was the game day atmosphere like for the first game at the new FIU Stadium?

SB: It was crazy. It was intense. It was surprising not to be able to hear football calls on the field and hear players say "What was the call?" We were like "It's so loud out here".

GPP: You went to Lakeland High, home of the Dreadnaughts. When you first heard of the mascot's name did you have to go on-line and find out what a Dreadnaught was?

SB: I had to go on-line and find out what exactly is a Dreadnaught. I thought about dreads. I thought about it being naughty. No, was wrong on both. A dreadnaught is a battleship.Battleship_00001_2

GPP: Since you arrived at FIU you have been real good doing interviews and public speaking. But I'm sure you've had a slip up at some point during an interview. What was it?

SB: Forgetting the question. I try to pull things out of my head to answer the question that sometimes I tend to think too hard and I forget the question. I'll stop and ask "What was the question again?"

GPP: If you were to try another sport at FIU what would it be?

SB: Baseball. I played outfield and first base in high school. I don't remember my average, but I was a pretty solid hitter.

GPP: Speaking of solid hitters, who is the greatest linebacker ever?

SB: Ray Lewis. He's a leader and he's non-stop about what he does. The intensity and hard work is just obvious. The team follows him and looks up to him and he's confident in what he does.

Sb_2 Bt GPP: Which famous person have people told you that you resemble?

SB: I get jumped about Booker T (near right), the wrestler from the WWE. He has dreads. People are always like "Booker T, Booker T".

GPP: There is a lot of wrestling interest on this current FIU team? You have Andy Leavine, who came up with the name "The Divine Leavine" for when he pursues a wrestling career. Michael Dominguez is a wrestling fan and when they were younger Coach Cristobal and his brother had two tag team names: The Flying Burrito Brothers and The Flying Plantain Brothers. Which one of those two names would you pick if you were coach's wrestling manager?

SB: I like the Burritos. It's just hot down here and that's what Burritos are.

GPP: Here is the million dollar question FIU fans on the GPP have wanted to know for a long time: Which nickname do you prefer Scott "Buzzsaw" Bryant or Scott "El Oso" Bryant?

SB: I'm going to go with "El Oso", because a bear is unstoppable and once he has you in contain you're Bear going down.

GPP: So what would your wrestling name be?

SB: The Outstanding Oso.

**On the next "Off The Court": FIU's two-time All-American Yarimar Rosa

Logo GOLDEN PANTHER PAWSE

**Reminder, the WIN A GPP BLOG scores for FIU/North Texas have to be in by 6:59 p.m. GPP Time on Saturday.

Still going to do the question/answer session of the Pawse in the comments section inside the post, but wanted to keep the Pawse here to separate other blog stuff from the main post.

The GPP Worldwide Readership keeps rolling with a new state and a new country joining the Prowl. In our last couple of polls, readers have chimed in from Honolulu, Hawaii and Venezuela. Someone in Venezuela did not like any of our choices for T.Y. Hilton nicknames. Over in the 50th state of union and 34th state of the GPP, someone thinks overconfidence could be the biggest hurdle FIU must overcomeHaw_2 against North Texas.

On to the scorecard: The GPP is read in 34 STATES: ALA, ARI, CA, COL, FLA, GA, HI, 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.

15 COUNTRIES: Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, Brazil, Honduras, Hungary, Italy, Netherlands Antilles, Nicaragua, Panama, Serbia, Spain, Thailand, United Kingdom, U.S.A., Venezuela.

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

So let's poll it up and see what you good people think and also vote on the new GPP feature.

Be blogging to you from Denton, Texas at some point Friday with the FIU/NT game preview and predicted score. And don't forget we'll try a LIVE GPP BLOG from Saturday's game.


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