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Spring Tour: D-Line; MC Q&A LIVE BLOG on TUESDAY 11 AM-12 NOON

LAKELAND -- If there is one area on defense where FIU could improve upon from last season it's in the pass rush and pressure on the quarterback begins with the defensive line's play.

FIU had 18 sacks last season led by Quentin Newman's 4 sacks and Robert Mitchell's 3 sacks. Overall, the FIU D-line had 10 of the 18 sacks, but FIU's defense should be able to get into the 20's and maybe 30's with bigger players this season and more talent on the way.Mc  

Before we get into this spring's D-line, still here in Lakeland with the junior WNBA finals going on, but spoke with MC this morning and he says he's good to do a LIVE Q&A BLOG taking your questions this coming Tuesday, March 3 -- the day before spring football practice begins.

The LIVE Q&A BLOG will begin at 11 a.m. and run until 12 noon on Tuesday right here on the GPP. So stop what you're doing at work on Tuesday between 11 a.m. and 12 and join us here on the GPP.

If you're in Miami, your boss will understand, because 1 out of every 2 college graduates in South Florida is an FIU graduate anyway so tell him or her to join us on here too. Back to the D-line.

As you know, spring practice is a time for reserves and younger players to shine, but more than ever that will be the case for the D-line, because of several injuries.

That Expected to miss all or most of spring ball are the following D-linemen: Jonathan Jackson (foot), James Jones (knee -- likely the entire 2009 season --redshirt), Reggie Jones (foot) and Andre Pound (shoulder).

Thatcher Starling (left) joins the remaining linemen: Ricky Booker, Armond Willis, Kambriel Willis, Jonas Murrell, Cody Pellicer, Deiondrick Roberts, Kasey Smith, Justin West, Donnell Wilson, Curtis Bryant and Jonathan Nieves.

This spring could be key for DL like Booker, Wilson and Bryant to get the coaches attention heading into fall practice.

Kambriel and Pellicer will get to show off whatever gains they've made in the weight room after coming to FIU a little undersized.

Ksmith A couple of DL to keep an eye on this spring are Smith (left) and Pound (below, right), if Pound AP is ready to return from shoulder surgery. Both Smith and Pound were redshirted last season, even though Smith played in one game (opener at Kansas).

Smith and Pound were dominant at times working with the scout defense last season. Each has the ability to crack the playing rotation. Doesn't Pound have a great last name for a defensive lineman?


We'll take a look at the linebackers in our next spring tour.


PLP Consulting: Pete, Any additional news on possible transfers? The other day I heard that George Baker of USF, a former A.B.Carroll standout, is transferring to FIU along with Quavon Taylor.

PP: Baker might be headed toward FIU, but nothing concrete yet. Taylor is doing some work at a JUCO and then is expected to join the Panthers, but would have to sit out the 2009 season and be ready to play in 2010. If Baker makes his way to Miami, then he too would have to sit in 2009 and play in 2010.

ridgepanther: any news on coach for defense?

PP: Nothing yet on new defensive line coach.

Joel: On a sidenote, is there ANY place that is selling FIU football jerseys (the authentic ones, or at Jer least replicas of the authentic ones) besides the bookstore?

PP: Not yet, but the jerseys will eventually make their way to Sports Authority and other stores and be less than $200. That price is a bit too much for a football jersey, even if it's autographed by the entire 2009 Sun Belt champions FIU team.

Ok, the end of that previous statement was to get you riled up. But you never know.

FIU_GPanther: how bout blue bottoms and white tops??? id like to see that combination.....with gold helmets. :)

PP: Blue pants and white tops is one of FIU's choices for road uniforms (thanks Sam Lewis photo). Let's drop the gold helmets Whiteblue already. We've beaten that topic to death here on the GPP. Let's all move on, get a cup of coffee and get on with our lives.

jm: pete, will you be giving us reports after each spring practice?

PP: That's the plan on the GPP and there will be some feature stories written in the print MH that will also appear on the FIU webpage of the MH on-line.

CJ: pete not sure if you went over this, but of the current list of seniors that just graduated do any of them have a chance to sign undrafted FA contracts this upcoming year (who, if any, in your opinion) and if there is that chance is FIU holding a Pro-day workout? what about next years prospects?

PP: First of all, great line with the MC Hammer pants. Started laughing out loud in the Lakeland mediaHammer room. And TheChampionUnderdog had a good one too with the Project Runway reference. Glad to see there are several FIU fans that also watch cable TV's fashion shows.

I think of the recent grads, Robert Mitchell probably has the best chance to catch on as a free agent somewhere. RM knows how to play football. Carlos Munera has a strong enough leg to maybe get a look and maybe Jarvis Penerton.

FIU has a Pro Day every year. At the last Pro Day, heard that scouts really liked Jeremiah Weatherspoon and Anthony Gaitor. Among next year's prospects, JW might have the best shot with his size. Big years this season out of Reggie Jones and Jonas Murrell could get them a look somewhere. Ula Matavao has the potential as well.

FIUJM: Pete, of our OL recruits that we just signed; in your opinion who has the best shot to earn some playing time? I know it's very difficult to play in O-line as a freshmen, but you never know.

PP: From what I've heard speaking to high school coaches and others involved with these players, Rupert Bryan (left) and Dave Istanich have a chance to play their first seasons and so does Austin Tottle. FIU returns   Rupert a veteran O-line, but injuries can hit at any moment. How could anyone forget Bryan's blocking on the highlight video and how he caught from behind an opposing defensive back about 60 yards downfield. DI and AT enter FIU at 300+ pounds so there's a good start right there. Now they have to show something on the field.

SouthPaw: Hey Pete, is it true that Wendy Napoleon will be back on the squad this Spring? Do the coaches plan to use Kambriel at LB any this year?

PP: Napoleon looks like he's going to give it another shot. Before getting hurt, he was mentioned in the same class as the Killer B's of Barnes, Bostic and Bouie back when Wendy joined FIU. Kambriel might be experimented at LB, but from what I've heard coaches like him on the D-line.


The people and Project Runway have spoken: don't mess with FIU's home unis and keep it blue on Heidi blue. 59% of you like B&B, while 41% prefer blue tops and white pants. I voted for the latter. Maybe FIU can use the blue top/white pants combo for special home games sort of like the Dolphins do when they wear their aqua tops/white pants for their home games...just a thought, because Project Runway's Heidi Klum and I both like the blue & white.


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When is SR getting canned?. Enough about injuries and excuses. Only two other coaches have longer tenure than him in the Sunbelt, but both have won and one of them is getting fired at the end of the season. Every player in the squad is his. We lack local talent (let's not start with the kids from Columbus who don't even dress). All his assistants are from outside Miami. I'm tired of all these overaged players from foreign countries who before getting signed are promoted as "SUPERSTARS" and by the end of their FIU careers we're glad they're gone.

What's stopping PG from making a change ?. When he came in, he let go Danny Price because according to him FIU was "entering a new phase in sports" where losing was unnacceptable. What's happened Mr. Garcia ?.

Great article on the paper Roman, I was not at the game but looking at the score board the only guy who performed well was Aspirilla, but what shows SR talent is that Galindo only had 7 attempts, he should be getting 15 to 20 a game, then Souto had more attempts than any other player, he is the point pass first and shoot as second option. On paper is sounds that it was get the rebound or the inbound pass and go one on one. play ground style, I saw the team play once this year againt Georgetown, and I didn't see any set plays on half court, not fast breaks, and very little follow up on the big guys to get offensive rebounds, those are fundamentals. Does of you who get to see more games please correct me and let me know that at some point this year our guys played like a TEAM.
If not stop making excuses for SR and lets demmand that PG doesn't renew his contract and get a more qualified coach, it is time to get a good basketball coach at FIU.

i cut class to watch the second half.. when i walked in we were down 12... then he puts a lineup w/ freddy, soto, dominguez, i think #4 who plays what i can assume was power foward some1 else... the heavy defensive lineup (or what should be considered their # 1 defensive line up from what i saw) were hustling, blocking shots rebounding, defending... which in turn lead to points on the other end.. but leave it to SR to mes w/ momentum. after we fought back from as many as 15 down to get it w/in 6... pulls #4 (dont konw his name) freddy, and soto... to put in hicks galindo, and some other guy (im assuming more of a scorers lineup) ya.. went back down to down 8 lack of rebounding hustle.. etc. and how the hell if your down by 5 again w/ less than 2 mins do you let the AWAY team get not 1 not 2 but 3 OFFENSIVE REBOUNDS!!!!!! and to top it off he needs to tell his kids up.. your down buy a few... clock hits 1:00 hell even 1:15 mins left..... you FOUL ... but not our boy SR he waits till 40 secs. left.. after the millionth Offensive board on that one possession... (obvious exageration) freddy is good, Soto can score.. but i mean where is the hunger... and the crowd.. im as guilty as the next but unless we start winning a few games back to back FIU will never have a home crowd

had to rant... BTW pete glad you like the HAMMER TIME reference

CJ, Feel your pain. I was there and it was "unwatchable". I look back and I remember these headlines:

Galindo - Superstar Kansas transfer to FIU
Hicks and Ndiaye - Best Big Tandem in the Sunbelt
Josue Soto - FIU steals a future NBAer from FSU
Asprilla - Best freshman ever at FIU will dominate Sunbelt

We were overpromised and undersold. Oout with the old, in with the new.

had to vent out

As usual Pete, thank for the great information you provide us FIU fans. Looking forward for some updates here in this blog, and the MC blog on Tuesday...

Asprilla is gonna be very, very good....Galindo is good, not Kansas type player. Hicks is decent, and Soto is average for the Sun Belt, not anything like the accolades intimated, in my opinion.

Pete, a writer in St. Pete is saying Quavon is not "a lock" for FIU, and that he "mentioned Miami as a possibility". He also states that Quavon is still at USF.....

Can you find out if this is correct and/or give us an update in his situation with FIU? The writer also states that, while he hasn't talked to Baker yet, there's nothing that indicates to him that Baker might be transferring out.


I think that this will be Sergio's last season. I think he still has 2 years left on his contract but hopefully there's enough funds left over to buy out the contract and get this over with.

double panther im not saying the kids arnt talented i just am pissed about how they are being coached. that and the playing time for people that dont have the hunger.. the best line in a sports movie that refers to defense comes from remember the titans coach yolsts "Defense is desire" if you do not have desire then you should not be playing.. if you want to put up numbers nice... but if i were a coach unless you are willing to put it all out on the line on the Defensive end (Defending, Stealing, Blocking, Rebounding, Scraping) you wouldnt see the Darn floor. (all comes back to coaching) if i see a guy thats not willing to fight for a rebound or is watching the ball hit the ground.. that kid wouldnt play the rest of the game.. he does it again.. he wont play for the following game. FIU's best offense came when they were playing the best defense during last nights game... get the picture?

I think if the Golden Panthers don't get to the Semi's in the Sunbelt then there is a good reason to look for the new leader. But if they pull off the Miracle of all Miracles and get to at least the Semi's then SR should get at least one more year.

I have to agree with CJ about never having a big crowed in Basketball games. People like to see their team win or at least give it a fighting chance.

I'm just excited for spring football! Best of luck to the Men's team tomorrow night. As long as we beat FAU I'm happy!

Well the loss to MTSU was very disappointing. It will take a "Weltlich Miracle" to win the SBC. For those in the GPP nation not familiar with this phrase, Coach Weltlich was FIU's coach in '95 (yea, I'm OLD!) and had an 11-18 squad sweep the TACC (Atlantic Sun Conference now) and get an automatic bid to our only NCAA men's bid.

When comparing these two teams ('95 vs. '09) the current team is IMMENSELY more talented, however that '95 squad was scrappy and NEVER gave up. Our tallest player on that ’95 team was 6’6. Additionally the TACC (Atlantic Sun) was no where near as competitive as the SBC. So it will take a miracle! Good luck Wed!

As for baseball, it's early and I was impressed in the first two games even though the opponent was NOT impressive (Jacksonville was 27-29 the year before). However since then we've gone 1-2 against Jacksonville and lowly Brown (20-24 last year). We're 3-2 vs. two opponents that were a combined 47-53 last year! Let’s hope TT nips this at the bud. You want to be a top team? You've got to smoke these LESSER opponents!


SR has got to be seeing for himself that he CAN'T COACH. I hope he is bigger man and can accept being an associate head coach because I'd like to keep him on the staff as a recruiter, but we need a true X's and O's head coach

It was always going to take a "Weltlich Miracle" (I like that!) for FIU to get into the tournament, whether or not they beat Middle Tennessee or whether or not they beat FAU tonight. FIU could be a 20-win team this season and they'd still have to win the tourney to get into the dance. FIU won't be winning any at-large bids anytime soon, UFF.

I seriously question the perspective of some of you on this blog. Those who look at every regular-season game as if it'll be indicative of how FIU will do in the conference tourney are crazy. In a normal year, it probably would, but when you have the injuries this team has, the reality is no one (probably not even Rouco himself) knows what's going to happen come tourney time.

What I do know (and this is to Rouco's credit) is that this team is good enough to win the conference tourney. They just have to play like they're capable of. Easier said than done, no doubt, but if the '95 team did it, why can't this team? It's not like Weltlich was a real winner, either, and he pulled it off with far less talent. I can't see why Rouco couldn't do it, either... though some of these comments on hustling and poor coaching decisions are troubling, to put it mildly.

DoublePanther, where did you get that list? Last I checked, no one was saying that Galindo was going to be a superstar when he transferred. No one was saying Soto would be an NBA'er. What I heard (and I was around the program then) was that both would be more talented players than what FIU had on the roster then. Galindo certainly has been, and though I haven't seen Soto play, it's been a while since FIU's had a PG who could score like he apparently can.

I'll give you Hicks and N'Diaye being oversold. The jury's still out on Asprilla, but I wouldn't be surprised if he leaves FIU as one of the program's best players ever. If he's healthy for the full season, he's probably SBC Freshman of the Year.

CJ... FIU will get crowds when they give people a reason to really get excited. Get in the dance. Fill the home sked with teams people know and actually beat them. The Michigan game back in the day was a sell-out. Reality is, not many will come out to see FIU beat a SBC school. Not in South Florida.


You and I were both around for the 95 season. The only other difference between the two teams was a coach that was proven winner and had taken two other teams to the big dance (Texas and Miss)


I disagree with you. Wetlich was a proven winner. He had taken two other teams to the big dance. Also he has been the only coach to come to FIU with proven head coaching expirience. I remember I was on the search and screen comm. when he go the job and the number of big name coaches that called on his behalf (Coach K and Bobby Knight) to name a couple was huge. He also went on to South Alabama. Can you name me any other HEAD coach who has left FIU and got another HEAD coaching job?

Still, I remember those days as well.....He couldn't recruit, wouldn't at the end of his tenure..and didn't like it Miami and FIU, so that is a moot point since he wanted to leave, and did so. Actually, his team had won only 8 games going into the (a lot...I mean...a lot easier than Sun Belt) TAAC championships, where we won 3 in a row, the second on a desperation turnaround 3 pointer by Matt Tchir...Remember? He sure knew his X's and O's though....but, let's just say he wasn't the best PR man and friendly guy you could ever meet...

So what if he had taken two other teams to the dance? So what if he got another head coaching job after leaving? He sucked at FIU. Period. He didn't win for the GP's, and that's all I care about.

Fanatic's certainly right about the TAAC... the Belt's not the toughest conference in the world, but they're Triple-A compared to the Single-A the TAAC was in '95. If he couldn't recruit decent enough players to win in that conference, he certainly wasn't worth keeping around for the long haul. Even if he had wanted to stay. Even if people like Knight and Krzyzewski endorsed him. Even if he's an X's and O's god.

By the way, glad to see FIU destroying the Hooters tonight... a 27-point butt-whipping will certainly help the team's confidence going into what looks to be Lafayette. 12-19 to finish the year is, I think, a good record considering all the people hurt this season. If we're going to be fully healthy and playing our best ball, now's the time for it. If we end up #9, though, we probably face WKU in the 2nd round even if we beat Lafayette. That's going to be a tall order. I'm hoping we fall to 10th or 11th. But hell, I think this team can do it regardless.

Keep the faith, folks. Season's not over yet.


What you're missing after the five game start is that FIU's pitching has given them a chance to win each. Last year, they lost 2 of 3 to Jacksonville so winning two this year is an improvement. The pitching was okay in the loss to Brown - they just didn't get the timely hits. Case in point, they get the first two guys on in the 7th w/ Arrojo, Bermudez and Mollica coming up and get nothing. Once Mollica (.095) and Stropp (.118) get going, you will understand that FIU baseball is on the right track.


I usually agree with a lot of what you say, but if this team had played with the heart and intensity that it showed against FAU last night, then no one on this blog would be calling for Sergio's head. The fact is that it's more than being injured. When you are trailing by 5 points with 1:30 to go in the game and you allow 2 offensive rebounds that is unacceptable. When you start off 0 - 11 and 0 - 8 during your last two games, that is unacceptable. When you have BY FAR the tallest team on the floor and get out rebounded during key stretches of the game, that is unacceptable. When for the past 5 years, EVERYONE has pressed you and you STILL can not break the press, that is unacceptable. Those are things that Sergio's teams are known for, not just this injury plaugued year but for the last 5 YEARS. Last night there were players on the floor scrambling for balls, taking charges, playing tight defense and not turning the ball over. That DID NOT happen against MTSU or against WKU. Sergio better get his pre-game speech from last night ready for the tourney. Maybe it starts something like this...."If YOU want to save my job, please, please go out there and WIN." I hope they can pull it off, quite frankly because I'm tired of the losing for the past 5 years and I can't imagine that Pete Garcia feels any different.

PantherFan: I won't argue any of your points. I think they're fair ones. Lord knows, why FIU can't beat a press is beyond me. It's not that freakin' hard. Can't speak about the hustle, but FIU should be better at rebounding. They got the size for it, that's for sure.

But... everyone's known for some time that FIU better save their best ball for the SBC tourney. That's the only way they go dancing. The regular season just isn't that important, and the coaches and players know that better than any of us do. I'm not saying they slacked during the regular season... I don't know... I'm just saying that we should see what happens in the tourney. That's all. Now's what counts. Everything else before this is just warm-ups.

As for Rouco's job... I know this is heresy to say, but I wouldn't be that surprised if he's back for next year, at least, regardless of what happens. He does have 2 years left on the contract. I doubt the school has the money to buy him out considering the buyouts they gave to Strock and Price. FIU's not washing in money during the best of times, and this is far from the best of times economically. I know a lot of people want him gone, but I think even most of them know FIU won't have the cash to do it. If PG wants to do it.

Some can talk all they wish about "a new era" and "we don't accept losing", but FIU doesn't have the luxury right now to be buying out losing coaches' contracts left and right. If I was PG and I only had the money to buy out two coaches, it would've been Strock and Price over Rouco. Easily. Let's be honest, folks... if FIU makes their mark, it's likely to be in football and baseball first. Hoops is an afterthought in South Florida. Sad to say, but true.

I think people are being unfair with Rouco...For God sake the whole team was injured almost the whole season...Now that they are healthy lets see what happens...Give the man a chance, he had no control over the injuries...

I totally, totally, agree in this situation with Clawing Cancer. If...a BIG IF... it's true that Sergio has 2 more years in this contract, it would be almost financially irresponsible for Pete to fire him, when the University...and I hear as well...the Athletics Department are going into more budget cuts....It just wouldn't add up, guys. I am as sick of losing as all of you, but I believe the priorities are evident in the Athletics Department: Football and then....a lot behind....baseball. The resources are set up for the Athletic Department as a whole, but those two sports, with Football in particular, are to get a lion's share of the money that would have to be used to buy out a contract with 2 years remaining.

If the economy was great, and FIU Athletics...and FIU the university, period, had healthy annual budgetary increases, then...maybe canning Sergio was a good idea. However, IF true there are at least 2 more years remaining in his contract....I would say it would put PG in a bind financially to go ahead and fire him. I would imagine SR is making more than what Price was making, thus making the buyout that much more expensive.

And finally...and btw....Great spanking of the lowly ugly little birds last night!!! Wow.... how was the crowd?

Arroz... the games that i have seen where not lost because of injuries but because our team commits basic, simple mistakes that good coaching would prevent.

I didn't see any mention on Artis Warthen Jr. Sr. DE/LB as one of returning defensive player, whats his status

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