For the second consecutive game, FIU beat itself, but unfortunately in the standings the 2 opponents (Troy, UL) get credit for the wins. We'll get to the Ragin' Cajuns game review in a second, but first, apologies for going off cyberspace during halftime of Saturday's LIVE GPP blog.
Nicest people you'll ever meet in a press box are the UL folks, but the worst wireless service also resides in the UL press box. Wasn't even able to file my FIU notes or game story until after the game and that was from inside the Golden Panthers locker room where the wireless works perfectly.
Had plenty of time to reflect on last Saturday's game driving 2 hours through the bayou on Sunday morning from Lafayette to New Orleans. And had to keep the mind active, because forgot about the daylight savings time change and woke up at 3 a.m. thinking it was 4 to catch a 7 a.m. flight out of N.O. Didn't realize I was 2 hours early for the flight until I saw the clock inside Hertz. So you see your Golden Panthers weren't the only ones from Miami that were lost in Louisiana.
Saturday's game actually had a nice start with T.Y. taking the opening kickoff 90 yards for 6 ("1st time that happened in FIU history" -- think we'll be writing the previous phrase often when it comes to T.Y.). Tried to get the UL people to play "Goodbye" after the TD, but they told me to have some more Popeye's gourmet fried chicken and jambalaya (1st time trying either one -- good stuff on both).
FIU kept Tyrell Fenroy underwraps, but again the lack of QB pressure hurt the Golden Panthers and with a mobile QB like Michael Desormeaux you have to take him down when you get the chance. Saw too many times when FIU looked to have a sack and then MD escaped for a 6 or 7-yard run. Lots of missed tackles and on O, too many dropped passes.
Of course, those were just some of FIU's troubles on Sat. The Golden Panthers fell 4 penalties shy of the team record of 17 set against Maine in 2003. Then you have the 2 crucial turnovers in that can-we-hit-the-game-reset-button-2nd quarter.
Although this FIU team is much improved from 2007, the Golden Panthers are not good enough to overcome those self-inflicted mistakes. They are not (insert name of 2008 National Champ here) that can screw up some and still come back and win. FIU doesn't have all the playmakers yet on either side of the ball to mess around and snare a win at the end of the game.
Unlike some that have posted that FIU quit in the second quarter, I don't find that to be the case. The Golden Panthers were playing hard until the end of the game. They are just an inexperienced and not talented enough bunch to know what to do when things go like a snowball into hell like they did in the 2nd quarter.
As for all the penalties, there is no excuse for that. That's a matter of discipline and I think we can all agree that one thing the new coaching staff has brought is discipline. Except for this game in which discipline did not have a seat aboard the FIU plane.
Here's a breakdown of the 13 penalties: 3 false starts, 3 offsides, 3 personal fouls, 2 holding, 1 unsportsmanlike, 1 illegal block. All this needs to be cleaned up.
There are 4 games left (3 Sun Belt games, with Western Kentucky being in transition to the SBC that game does not count toward conference standings). All are at home, Dolphin Stadium is close enough to FIU.
Some FIU fans are antsy with the 2 straight losses, but remember this was a 1-23 team the last 2 years. We've seen FIU triple its win output from last year. It's understandable where you good people are coming from: win 3 games and it's time to get greedy. And in this case: greed is good.
However, you only need one hand to count the number of people who honestly believed FIU would be in contention for the SBC title this season.
On the remaining sked, first up, is a tough Arkansas State this Saturday. I thought in the preseason the Red Wolves would be among the favorites in the SBC and they have not disappointed. FIU showed signs of a breakout last year at ASU taking the game until the final kickoff.
The Golden Panthers need to find that identity they had in their 3-game win streak. The last 4 games are all winnable and a 7-5 finish is possible, but like the old saying: 1 at a time. This is only year 2 of re-building the Golden Panthers.
In the wacky Sun Belt anything can happen. Look at Louisiana-Monroe stunning Troy on Saturday and giving the Cajuns sole possession of 1st place in the Sun Belt. Heck, FIU was a total of 2 quarters (3rd qtr at Troy and 2nd qtr at UL) away from being in UL's position right now....The thought of FIU at 4-0 in SBC in November, but really 2-2. I think if I told you either of those records would be the case just 2 months ago all of FIU Nation would take that.
WIN A GPP BLOG or (2nd place -- 2008 FIU football media guide) Leaderboard (through 8 games):
8-0 (points differential)
CJ (153); FIUChris (164); Gold (168); Ultimate FIU Fan (184).
FIU Voice (140); Clawing Cancer (148); FIU Love (149), Puma (149); outofthecage88 (151); Fomenter (155); Gazi (161); esteban688 (162); NYCFIUFan (163); FIU 0406 (166); FIU Fanatic (181).
FIUJM (166); TheChampionUnderdog (177); FIUrulez (178); fiufan751 (179); TNGoldenPanther (183); MIA/NY Josh (190), U24/7 (190); SouthPaw (203); FIUBlueandGold (206); FIUfantastic (215); CrazyCane (251).
Max (200); gpantera (207); Quijote (242).
GPP: 7-1 (169).
Time to get the UL loss out of your system and let us know what you think of FIU two-thirds through this season: