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.
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.
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.
A couple of DL to keep an eye on this spring are Smith (left) and Pound (below, right), if 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.
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 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 media 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 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 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.