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18 posts from March 2009

March 31, 2009

Final Week of Spring Ball; LIVE BLOG 4 FRIDAY'S SPRING GAME

JUPITER -- We're down to 4 spring practices including Friday's Blue/Gold Spring Game -- which we willLive have a LIVE GPP BLOG on giving you play-by-play as your Panthers offense and defense match up.

Good suggestion, blkpanther. Want to keep the 44 GPP states and 30 GPP countries abreast of the Panthers.

Spring game starts at 6 p.m. Friday and I anticipate to start the LIVE BLOGGING AT 5:45 p.m. for some pre-game talk.

In Jupiter tonight with the Marlins and Mets. J.T. Wilcox went to cover FIU practice, but Tuesday's workout got washed out by rain and lightning. Will be back at FIU Stadium on Wednesday.

As we head into the final week of spring practice, here are some spring observations that you can watch Gat for in Friday's spring game if you are in Miami and if you're in cyberspace, then you can check on when we're LIVE BLOGGING on Friday. (I'm contractually obligated by Gatorade to always type LIVE BLOGGING in CAPS each time I do so, that's what my agent says).

We still have August to go, but Wayne Younger (below right, thanks Alex J. Hernandez photo) appears to have moved ahead of Colt Anderson for the backup spot this spring. Not saying WY has cemented the No. 2 job, but WY seems to be more comfortable running the O and is throwing the ball with more authority than he has in the past.Wy

WY led 1 of the 2 TD drives in last Saturday's scrimmage. WY had some good passes in the drive that ended with Darriet Perry taking it in for 6 from 22 yards out.

DP has been solid. John Ellis has looked good running the ball, something he hasn't really had a chance to do in his first 3 years at FIU. JE is a load to bring down at about 245 pounds -- that's a big back. That's why his teammates call him "The Bus".

Walk-on Jonathan Ramirez has been elusive running the ball, but along with rushing duties he might get a look in the defensive backfield.

Jason "Ty" Frierson made some good grabs on Saturday with JTF having the only TD catch on a 68-yarder from Wesley Carroll. And it was a legitimate 68-yarder where JTF went about 48 yards and WC hit him in stride down the middle of the field busting a Cover 2. JTF sprinted in the final 20 yards for the score.

Defensively, Aaron Davis continued his solid spring and so did Scott Bryant and Winston Fraser.

Dezj The FIU defense pretty much controlled the offense on Saturday. Outside of the 2 TD drives, the O didn't really move the ball much.

The FIU secondary got 3 INTs on Saturday with safety Derrick Clark getting the first one and seemed to have a wall of blockers for what could have been about a 79-yard return for 6, but after 30 yards Carroll forced DC out of bounds.

Dez Johnson (left, AJH photo), who has had a good spring playing pass D, tipped the second INT and Anthony Gaitor snatched it.

Kreg Brown made a diving grab for the 3rd INT of the day. O'Darris D'Haiti made a nice stuff on a screen pass.

Logo  PANTHER PAWSE

blkpanther: Pete, What is K.Willis (right AJH photo) weight right now?

PP: KW is at 215 right now. That would be almost 15 pounds that he's packed on since Kw his freshman year.

FIU Fanatic: Question Pete....why hasn't a Spring Prospectus file..and/or Spring Roster file...hasn't been released by FIU Athletics website like in years' past?

PP: Been told the spring media guide should be on line either Wednesday or Thursday.

SouthPaw: Can you give us an update on any remaining scholarships for this season?

PP: There should be 1 scholie left.

OC Panther: Hey Pete, Whats it going to take to get the baseball team ranked this season? We used to get on there pretty regularly... are we off the radar now?

PP: FIU needs to get on a long winning streak or keep winning every series like they have so far this season. Unfortunately, a team's recent history also figures somewhat in the voting and FIU baseball has not had much success in the last 8 years.

FIUFPL: PETE, CAN YOU MAKE THIS AN ACTUAL ARTICLE IN THE HERALD PLEASE.

Warthen PP: Since I'm not a columnist they won't run the previous blog as an article in the MH.

Claw 4 Lyfe: Artis Warthen (right AJH photo) looked quick noticed him on both ends, should be big contributor this fall if healthy, your take.

PP: Artis has done a good job this spring and should be a good contributor this fall.

Ultimate FIU Fan: Is it true that FIU hoops plays UNC next season (can anyone say ROAD TRIP!)? Freddy Asprilla just announced in his Facebook page that he injured his ankle bad.

PP: FIU hoops is expected to play at Chapel Hill next season. FA is hurt, but checking to see how bad.

 

 

 

 

 

March 29, 2009

See Them In May and Maybe In December

Rest We've had a lot of back and forth between GPP readers of late so let's put this whole FIU/UM thing to rest once and for all.

Last April, I wrote on the GPP and in the Miami Herald game story after the first FIU/UM baseball game last season at University Park Stadium, that UM was going to cancel all the series in the revenue sports with FIU.

After the teams played in basketball last December in Coral Gables, I again mentioned in the MH game story that this was the last game between the schools, because UM was going to cancel all the series in the revenue sports with FIU.

And after both those stories came out, the folks in Coral Gables called to voice their displeasure saying IByrne  Biel didn't know what I was talking about.......Fast forward to last Sunday.

Now, I'm no Nicholas Cage in: (you pick the movie, "Next" or "Knowing" both have similar plots where NC can see the future and both flicks also have a lovely co-star: Jessica Biel [near left] or Rose Byrne), but I guess I knew something about this happening 11 months ago.

In last Sunday's paper, Barry Jackson had in his column someone from UM finally talking about the state of the crosstown series......Thank you Barry, Kirby and the folks from Coral Gables for validating what I wrote 11 months ago and again 3 months ago.

In case you missed it , UM AD Kirby Hocutt told Jackson: "'There's history there,'' referring to the 2006 brawl in UM's 35-0 victory. (Miami won 23-9, without incident, in 2007.) ''This particular time, it's not in Miami's best interests'' to play FIU. 'Will it change in five years? Ten years? I don't want to speculate.''

Ds C'mon, Kirby, you or the people pushing to cancel the crosstown series could have come up with a better excuse, than citing the 2006 brawl. 

For example, a better and more believable excuse than "there's history there" could have been: UM will not play FIU until they rename Dolphin Stadium to Hurricane Stadium or something like that.

Plus, you went on Joe Rose's radio show on Wednesday and said there is no bad blood between FIU and UM. So which is it? "there's history there" or no bad blood?

The brawl is a poor excuse, because the teams played with no problems in 2007 in what ended up being a two-touchdown game. Hell, even the 2 head coaches (right) embraced at midfield after the game and players from both sides were exchanging hugs and handshakes afterward.Coaches

If UM doesn't want to play FIU, then that's OK. That's the choice of the folks in Coral Gables.

About the only way the 2 teams meet from now on will be each May in an NCAA baseball regional or possibly in a bowl game with the Hurricanes rebuilding and the Panthers building. They could meet in the St. Petersburg Bowl and draw a much better crowd than the 25,000 that showed last year to see Memphis and South Florida.

Let's set aside the "There's history there". Here's why UM will not play FIU anymore:

Because there's an actual athletic threat brewing at FIU.

Comp Before the green and orange go pounding their keyboards, here's what I mean:

I'm not saying the Panthers are ready to start beating the Hurricanes on a regular basis this year or next, but give FIU another couple of years of recruiting and developing. UM will be recruiting and developing too, but here's why the series would start to even out.

Within the past 3 years, FIU hired an AD (Pete Garcia) that knows what he's doing and has made winning a priority at FIU, where before PG, I'm not sure winning was No. 1 on the to-do list under rotating FIU ADs.

FIU hired a football coach (Mario Cristobal) that brought discipline, knows how to recruit and relate to high school and college players and in just his second season tied the program-high for wins and had the Panthers in bowl contention until late November.

FIU hired the nation's top college baseball recruiter (Turtle Thomas) as its baseball head coach and he has the Panthers off to their best start (17-5) since 2002 and brought in the No. 15 recruiting class in the nation.Ttjm

When the former FIU ADs, and head coaches in football and baseball were in place, UM never felt any heat from FIU. So sure, let's play the Panthers every season -- the Hurricanes would say.

Here's an anecdote to illustrate the previous point: When the FIU baseball coaching job was open in 2007, the last person UM coach Jim Morris wanted to see take the FIU job was Turtle Thomas.

Forget about the past when they worked together, Oliver Stone is not making a movie about that and unless you are TT or JM, you don't know squat about that situation. Only those 2 guys know.

Os Here's why JM did not want TT 9 miles away coaching Division I baseball: Thomas, before FIU, had produced 19 consecutive top 10 recruiting classes at his previous stops and at FIU -- a program that has not been to an NCAA regional since 2002, TT got the No. 15 recruiting class in the nation in his first full recruiting season in 2008.

So when the FIU job was open, JM quickly recommended to FIU AD Pete Garcia to hire 1 of his 2 assistants: J.D. Arteaga or Gino DiMare -- a combined 17 years of college baseball coaching experience. At that point, TT had 31 years of college baseball coaching experience.

JD knows baseball and I'm sure JD will make a fine college baseball head coach one day, but he wasn't ready to be a head coach in 2007.

And DiMare is no longer on the UM staff,  or as Morris said, Gino wanted to spend more time with hisSvg family -- that line sounds familiar?.....

So what you have is FIU getting better football and baseball players than they ever have before and from an area (South Florida) that is a hotbed for both football and baseball talent.

You also have MC and TT recruiting the heck out of the state of Florida and all around the nation -- FIU  right-hander Tom Ebert -- he of the 1.80 ERA and 95 MPH heat -- is from Iowa by way of North Dakota. New FIU TE Dudley LaPorte, the No. 1-rated JUCO TE, is from Connecticut by way of California.

How did that quote from above go again? : "This particular time, it's not in Miami's best interests to play FIU."

UM's best interests, they have said, is to play more elite teams from around the nation and FIU is not in that category. Fair enough, after all FIU is in year 3 of Division I football and baseball had been mismanaged for some time before TT's arrival.

Yet, there is Charleston Southern and FAMU on the football schedule & St. Thomas and Barry on the baseball schedule. Not exactly top 25 competition and 3 of those 4 teams are in-state.

In the scenario of FIU beating UM, here in South Florida -- Bandwagon Capital USA -- it would not surprise to start seeing -- not the die-hard UM fans -- but the bandwagon UM fans start to take an interest in FIU and possibly even start rooting for them. It's only natural, everybody loves a winner.

Of course, there will be some who will click on the X in the right corner of their screen upon reading this Ja post or send their greetings in the comments section saying this guy might have had a little too much while writing this.

But about 11 months ago you read here how UM was going to cancel all the series with FIU and some then also clicked on the X in the right corner of their screen.

I'm not Nic Cage, but like our old GPP friend Joaquin Andujar reminded us before FIU defeated UM (right) in Coral Gables last year -- in the last baseball game the 2 teams would play: "Youneverknow".Fium 

The crosstown series matter has been put to rest on the GPP. Now you vote and decide.

March 27, 2009

Scrimmage Saturday; Baseball Stadium's New Look

Got some highlights from the last couple of days of spring practice since your Panthers returned from spring break, but first a couple of notes for you:

Apaw  The second scrimmage of the spring takes place this Saturday at 3 p.m. at FIU Stadium.

Apaw Say goodbye to the "thundercats" logo and the old colors at University Park Stadium (photo, right).Stadium   Thanks to FIU mayor and stadium painting artist Nelson Bradford and Newport Construction, the stadium looks like new. Go to a game this weekend to see it. The new FIU logo will be on the front of the stadium soon.

Apaw Parking could be tough for next Friday's 6 p.m. FIU Spring Game, because of the Youth Fair, so FIU Athletics sent me the following e-mail to help you good people out with parking:

Due to the Youth Fair, parking will be limited at Tamiami Park for fans attending the FIU Football Spring Game on Friday, April 3rd.  FIU Athletics and Stadium Management encourage fans to park on campus upon arrival.  Fans are encouraged to park in lot 7, the CSC lot or in the Panther Parking Garage.  Game time is 6:00pm and FIU Stadium will open its doors at 4:30pm..  Fans must enter through gate 8 and 10 for admission and will be directed to the south side for seating. 

Apaw On to the highlights from the past two days of practice....

You know who is really developing into a solid receiver and put on some serious weight from last season is Junior Mertile (left, thanks Alex J. Hernandez photo). Standing on the sideline, like I normally do for practices, you get a good appreciation for JM's hands and his speed.

Mert JM hooked up with Wesley Carroll on a long pass and the duo could have had two more long completions, if not for nice D by Peter Riley. On the other pass, WC threw a bit too long.

Aaron Davis keeps tearing it up, getting into the backfield to make tackles and getting a couple more sacks the last few days.

Senior WR Reggie Thompson made a couple of juggling catches in traffic and broke one of them for a long gain.

Anthony Gaitor made a slick interception during 7-on-7s. So what's new there? 

Greg Ellingson (right, AJH photo) made a diving catch in the end zone on a 55-yard bomb from Wayne Younger. GE laid Ellingson out full body extension to get past the DB and land in the end zone.

GE was also part of another nifty play where he caught with his fingertips a beautiful touch pass from WC. Another example of the sound fundamentals WC has with the way he just placed the pass out of the DB's reach where only GE could catch it.

Riley also got a tricky INT in traffic during team drills. In an area, where someone is going to get popped, because there were 4 players involved in the play, PR went in there and snatched the ball.

John Ellis, who Paul McCall calls "the secret weapon", knows how to play football. JE made a one-handed catch with his left hand over the middle and managed to pick up another 8 to 10 yards on the play. This dude is a load to bring down and would not surprise to see him get some more touches this Oso season.

El Oso (left, AJH photo) read the QB's eyes on a play, picked off the pass and outran the offense for a touchdown while MC signaled TD with his arms up in the air. On the way back to the defensive huddle, El Oso got a high-5 from the FIU coach.

Jonathan Faucher should also have a big season. He made a couple more nice catches the past two days.

Logo  PANTHER PAWSE

FIU-Fiji-Drew: What are the statuses of the current FIU alums playing at the professional level? (Carlos Arroyo, Raja Bell, Antwan Barnes, Mike Lowell, etc.)

PP: Arroyo is playing professionally in Israel. Bell got traded earlier this season from the Phoenix Suns to the Charlotte Bobcats. Barnes is recovering from an injury and is expected to be ready for Ravens training camp in July. Lowell is playing 3B for the Red Sox.

FIU Beijinger: Hey Pete, You forgot Beijing, China on your readership scorecard! Go Panthers!

PP: Not anymore. We got you down. Thanks for your readership.

Globe GPP WORLDWIDE READERSHIP SCORECARD:

The GPP is now read in: 44 STATES: ALA, ARI, ARK, CA, COL, CT, DEL, FLA, GA, HI, IDAHO, IL, IND, IOWA, KAN, KY, LA, MASS, MD, MICH, MIN, MISS, MISSOURI, MON, NEB, NEV, NJ, NM, NY, NC, OH, OK, ORE, PA, RI, SC, TEN, TEX, UTAH, VA, VER, WASH, WEST VA., WISC.

30 COUNTRIES: Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Croatia, Czech Republic, Dominican Republic, France, Honduras, Hong Kong, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Lebanon, Mexico, Netherlands, Netherlands Antilles, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, Serbia, Spain, Thailand, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, U.S.A., Venezuela, Vietnam.

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


 

March 26, 2009

FIU Signs Top JUCO TE In The Nation

Dudley Dudley LaPorte, the top JUCO tight end in the nation according to Scout.com, has signed with FIU and will join the Panthers in August for fall practice and suit up for FIU on Sept. 12 against Alabama.

LaPorte, who arrives to FIU as a junior and will have 2 years of eligibility unless the NFL snaps him up after his junior season, played last season at Santa Barbara CC and is the second 4-star recruit to become a Panther this season joining Pooh Bear Mars. At Santa Barbara, LaPorte led all tight ends in the nation with 30 receptions, 500 yards and 4 TDs.

At 6-5, 250 pounds and running a 4.4 40-yard dash, LaPorte should make an immediate impact for the Panthers whether its down the seam, underneath or in run blocking along with 6-4, 265-pound TE Eric Kirchenberg.

This coming season opposing defenses will have to account for T.Y. Hilton, Edgard Theliar, Greg Ellingson, Junior Mertile, Wayne Times and LaPorte, plus Darriet Perry and Darian Mallary. The FIU O is more than just Goodbye. Hey, CrazyPanther, you need to get off-line and get out to a few practices or games.

Apaw

Huge turnout for our last poll question about FIU baseball's 15-4 start -- best since 2002. I guess everybody loves a winner -- one big reason why UM won't play FIU anymore, but we'll get into that later.Mj

On our last poll question we picked up another reader from another part of the world: Amman, Jordan where this GPP reader is not sure yet on how far FIU baseball goes this season, but will have a better idea after the UL and WK series in the next 2 weeks.

Here's our updated scorecard.

GlobeGPP WORLDWIDE READERSHIP SCORECARD:

The GPP is now read in: 44 STATES: ALA, ARI, ARK, CA, COL, CT, DEL, FLA, GA, HI, IDAHO, IL, IND, IOWA, KAN, KY, LA, MASS, MD, MICH, MIN, MISS, MISSOURI, MON, NEB, NEV, NJ, NM, NY, NC, OH, OK, ORE, PA, RI, SC, TEN, TEX, UTAH, VA, VER, WASH, WEST VA., WISC.

29 COUNTRIES: Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Croatia, Czech Republic, Dominican Republic, France, Honduras, Hong Kong, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Lebanon, Mexico, Netherlands, Netherlands Antilles, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, Serbia, Spain, Thailand, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, U.S.A., Venezuela, Vietnam.

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

So how dangerous does Dudley make the FIU offense now?
 

March 23, 2009

Spring Defense....So Far

Been tough to get a good read on the FIU D this spring, especially the pass rush since so many linemen are missing, because of injury. But here's what we've seen since spring ball began.Wfras

Along the D-line, Thatcher Starling got off to a good start with a few sacks early on, but tweaked his knee and is being brought along slowly. Hopefully come fall camp: Jonathan Jackson, James Jones, Reggie Jones, Jonas Murrell, Andre Pound and Starling are all 100 percent and get a good month of practice in before making the trip to Alabama.

Where the most QB pressure and playmaking has come from has been the LBs with Aaron Davis and Winston Fraser (right) leading the charge.

Both Davis and Fraser have not look like second year players, although officially Davis is a sophomore and Fraser is a redshirt freshman. Welcome back Wendy Napoleon has been terrific after missing 2 years due to injury. El Oso and Jarvis Wilson have also had solid springs. Wilson, who played really well on special teams last season, is getting more comfortable at LB.

So has Franklin Brown who went between the secondary and LB last season. So far this spring, FB has been at LB and that's where he's likely to stay.

Esouar The secondary seems to be where the most improvement has occurred this spring.

Chuck Grace and Emmanuel Souarin (left) have made plays and so have seniors like Dez Johnson, Brandon Ellison and Peter Riley. Of course, so have Anthony Gaitor and Jeremiah Weatherspoon.

FIU resumes spring practice on Tuesday at 3:15 p.m. at FIU Stadium and let's see who comes back from spring break and gets their name on the GPP practice report.

Other practices this week are scheduled for Thursday, Friday and Saturday. All practices are open to you and are at 3:15, including Saturday, because of the FIU Coaches Clinic going on Sat. morning.

LogoPANTHER PAWSE

Apaw  Good sweep by the Panthers baseball team this weekend, although that D needs to tighten up if FIU has plans to play deep into May and June. Tough 4-game stretch this week with a much improved Bethune Cookman pitching staff and then the Ragin' Cajuns rolling into town.

Louisiana has been the perennial Sun Belt power for some time now and we should get a better idea of Upstad how far FIU has come this season with the 3-game weekend series at the stadium starting on Friday night at 7 p.m. BTW, the painting of University Park Stadium begins Tuesday says Newport Construction head honcho and FIU mayor Nelson Bradford. And the colors in the previous sentence will be the colors of the stadium and no more Thundercats logo on the front wall. 

GPP Q&A

Gold: Pete, So I dont think I ever read your prediction for the upcoming season. Thoughts? BTW, will be in Rutgers for our huge upset!

PP: Right now on March 23, I'm looking at a 6-6 season and bowling is a possibility. Could change that come August, depending how the freshmen and the returning injured Panthers look. For the record, last season I had FIU at 4-8 and they did me one better and finished 5-7. See you in New Jersey.

Em alt7787: Pete, is the walk-on RB wearing El Monstruo's number? 

PP: No, Jonathan Ramirez is wearing 26. Last year, walk-on kicker David Skahn wore 42, but he's not back and no one is wearing 42.

Liza, Enrique, Jill, Miguel, Alex: I appreciate you giving the GPP page hits and keeping us among the most read blogs on the MH site, but Mr. or Miss, decide on 1 screen name.

Anytime anyone posts a comment on the GPP, you reveal enough information to the blog tracking program to know that you are the same person with multiple screen names and what exact part of the Bc world up to the street address, you are posting a comment from.

To answer your question about Miami FC playing at FIU Stadium. Speaking to people very close to the situation, been told that FIU would love to have Miami FC play soccer at FIU, but Miami FC does not have enough money for the rent payment at FIU Stadium so FIU would rather rent out the stadium to other parties that have the $$ to play there.

CJ & blkpanther: id prefer more FIU Cowgirls to FIU Cowbells.

Cowgirls PP

: Here you go guys and while we're at it let's bring back the FIU Witches (in purple & pink tops) too, since they've been away Chrm for a while.



Apaw

Believe it or not, we're one-third of the way through the FIU baseball season and your Panthers stand at 15-4 and 4-2 in third place in the Sun Belt with an early season huge 3-game series on deck vs. Louisiana this Friday and Western Kentucky on Friday, April 3.

The thoughts here are FIU has gotten tremendous starting pitching and we've seen some good fundamentals, especially at the plate where most hitters are using the whole field and not pulling everything. Also have to be encouraged by the spike in stolen bases by FIU. The Panthers need to settle on their middle relief to get the ball to closer Jorge Marban and need to be more consistent with the fielding.

So what are your thoughts thus far on Turtle's boys in season 2.....

 

March 21, 2009

Spring Offense....So Far

Spring break is just about over and your Panthers return to the FIU Stadium gridiron on Tuesday.

Drink In case, you're still applying the sun tan lotion, not done with that drink with the little umbrella in it or haven't come off the 18th hole yet....here's a two-part recap of what we've seen so far in spring ball. We'll look at the D on the next blog, but here's a look at the offense.

Paul McCall has picked up where he left off last season. The senior seems to have added some extra mustard to his passes. According to MC, another off-season in the weight room has helped PM's MPH on the his throws.

There hasn't been much separation between Wayne Younger and Colt Anderson in competition for the backup job.

Both WY and CA have had their moments this spring, but one has not outshone the other yet. Still got plenty of time for this position to play out before September.

Although, he has to sit out this season, because of NCAA transfer rules, Wesley Carroll has been as Wcarroll good as advertised. No. 13 has solid mechanics throwing the ball and is mobile. One moment that stood out was when the D brought consecutive blitzes and WC calmly rolled out, surveyed his options and hit Jason Frierson and Jeremy Dickens for completions.

Darriet Perry has been limited in his touches thus far -- got to keep DP upright, especially with the injury uncertainty behind him. When he has carried the ball, DP has done well. On one run he cut back and got a nice 20+yard run.

By now, you know RB/WR walk-on Jonathan Ramirez (left in a MH all-county photo) is no longer a secret with his video game moves. Could envision him Jram playing a Wes Welker-type role in this O.

You know what T.Y. and GE can do. Frierson (below, right, thanks Alex J. Hernandez photo) might be having one of the stronger springs among the WRs. If you recall, Frierson came on at the end of last season and might play a bigger role this season.

Among the TEs, Jonathan Faucher has looked good with some acrobatic catches. JF also looks bigger after the off-season.

The starting offensive line has been together this spring with no injuries (find some  Frierson wood around you and knock on it). We've seen some holes opened in the running game and the protection has been all right for the most part during team drills.

Will be interesting to see come fall if any of the heralded freshmen (Rupert Bryan, Giancarlo Revilla and Dave Istanich) linemen can crack the starting lineup. Also will be interesting to see how Chris Cawthon bounces back from injury. He was playing pretty well before going down against North Texas last season.

Logo  PANTHER PAWSE

Apaw

FIU baseball has been rolling right along. Scott Rembisz continued his mound mastery on Friday night and lowered his ERA to 1.80 in the win over Fairleigh Dickinson. Writing this blog during a rain delay in game 2 of Saturday's doubleheader where the Panthers won game 1 15-7 and have an 8-0 lead in the 2nd inning. Don't worry Turtle, my attention is on the diamond during this blog.

How about that new 5th inning tradition your Panthers have come up with: the Cha Cha Slide? Here's a tryout photo (thanks, AJH photo) for "Dancing with the Stars"....Chacha

GPP Q&A

IAMFIU: Pete, Any idea if and where we can grab some replica FIU baseball caps. I checked NewEra.com and Lids.com, but haven't seen anything.

PP: Drop by an FIU baseball game and you can buy FIU baseball caps at the souvenir stand on the right side of the stadium as you enter it. There the lovely FIU Diamond Dolls have a bunch of FIU baseball gear to sell.

quijote: Pete, how the hell did FIU manage to become a regional host for the NCAA tournament? I mean, what exactly does that mean that we're hosting?

PP: Any NCAA Division I school can put in a bid to be a regional host for the NCAA tourney. FIU put its bid in a few years ago and the NCAA decided to come to Miami. What hosting means is that the FIU media relations staff and other FIU employees have been working non-stop for the past week and we and the rest of the world get to see the FIU logo on the Heat's court for two days. (Click photo from unidentified FIU fan on the right for a better view)

Apaw  Big turnout on our last poll question regarding the new FIU baseball uniform gold tops. Voters fromFiuaarena the United Kingdom chimed in as did the Land of 1,000 Lakes in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Poll is still open and we have a close call so far with 41.4% of you liking the gold tops, 37.1% the blue tops and 21.6% the Roy Hobbs "Natural" unis.

Next question and last fashion question for a while:


March 18, 2009

FIU Makeovers

No, it's not one of the many makeovers shows on cable TV, these are just some upgrades to tell youWr about around FIU sports this week.

The FIU baseball team broke out its new gold tops in last night's 10-6 win over North Florida. The tops have that similar side swoosh thing (anyone in the sports uniform business could provide a better word for swoosh thing than me) that the football uniforms have. The word "Panthers" is in navy blue script across the chest of the new uni. Here's shortstop Junior Arrojo Jr rounding third base last night (thanks Alex J. Hernandez photo).

University Park Stadium is about to get a long-deserved paint job next Monday or Tuesday. Newport Construction headed by the mayor of FIU and project manager, Nelson Bradford Lopez, VP Jose "Pepe" Gomez and VP of operations, Jose More will oversee the painting.

The stadium's facade will now be dark blue along with gold. The old FIU "thundercats" logo will be gone. Eventually, the new FIU logo will be where the "tc" logo was.

Got the photo below e-mailed to me from an FIU fan, who was at the AmericanAirlines Arena. This is the FIU logo on the Heat's court for the upcoming NCAA hoops regional which begins Friday. The regional in Fiuhoops downtown Miami is being hosted by FIU.

Logo PANTHER PAWSE

Apaw
The largest majority of votes that we've had in a poll question came out in our last question about what has been more impressive about FIU baseball this season. The poll is still open and you can still vote, but so far 94% of you good people have voted for the stellar starting pitching. Only 6% (probably the hitters families, LOL) voted for the offensive firepower FIU has put on this season. My vote was definitely for the pitching: if you can't get people out, you can't win.

We have a fashion question below the mini Q&A.

FIURage: Pete who is this QB Carlos Gonzales? Is he a walk on?

PP: Yes, a 5-10, 200-pound walk-on from McCarthy High in Cooper City.

You be the FIU baseball fashion consultant....



March 17, 2009

Pitching, Pitching, Pitching

Poli FIU lefty Corey Polizzano was named Sun Belt Pitcher of the Week on Monday after striking out 11 in Sunday's win over Arkansas-Little Rock.

CP follows right-hander Tom Ebert, who took the Pitcher of the Week honor last week after his 2-hit shutout masterpiece against Troy, which followed Scott Rembisz's eight-inning scoreless performance vs. Troy last Friday.

You have 6 chances to see that pitching in action this week with a 2-game series against North Florida beginning Tuesday at 6 p.m. and again on Wednesday. Then Fairleigh Dickinson comes to town for a 4-game series beginning Friday at 7 p.m.

FIU took 2 of 3 vs. the Trojans and has NOT lost a series this season. What a difference getting solid starting pitching makes. Check out these numbers from the Panthers top 3 starters:

Rembisz: 3-0, 1.93 ERA, 28 IP, 25 Ks, 2 BB, (.206 opponents batting average)

Ebert: 2-1, 0.84 ERA, 21 IP, 27 Ks, 4 BB, (.137 opps BA)

Polizzano: 1-1, 2.65 ERA, 17 IP, 18 Ks, 4 BB (.210 opps BA)Wg

It's only mid-March, but FIU has shown to have the pitching thus far to play in the NCAA postseason for the first time since 2002. Maybe that's why Wally Gator didn't want to play anymore.

LogoPANTHER PAWSE

Apaw

Nice job by the FIU marketing/website folks in launching the new website at fiusports.com. Check out the new and improved version.

GPP Q&A

alt7787: Hey Pete, Hows Chris Volstad looking? I heard he had to leave a game a few days ago afterVol being hit by a pitch.

PP: Volstad is doing very well. He threw 5 shutout innings against the Mets yesterday and only needed 54 pitches to do so. He's got a welt on his right leg, but has not affected his performance on the mound.

Alonzo: Hey Pete, I think someone mentioned on the comments section of the last blog that we finally got a D-line coach? Any truth? Also, doesn't having a week off kind of interrupt the practice momentum?

PP: Cary Godette is the DL coach. He was at Rutgers and before that with Jimmy Johnson on the Dolphins staff. If this was regular season preparations, then yes, a week off for spring break would probably interrupt practice momentum. But we're in spring ball here and the entire team is not around due to injuries and freshmen who have not arrived at FIU yet. Spring ball is a chance for backups and walk-ons to make their marks heading into fall camp.

FIU Fanatic: Question Pete: Two pitchers on the roster have not pitched....Bryam Garcia, and Miguel Mejia...both of them with good accolades and JUCO experience, with Mejia being a two-time 1st team All Conference, and Conference MVP last season....Are they injured?....grades?...sitting out?

PP: Mejia qualified at FIU and is taking classes, but not all of his academic paperwork got to FIU on time so he has to sit out this season. Been told that MM is as talented as Rembisz and Ebert. Checking on Garcia.

CrazyPanther: Pete, your in "the know" what happened to Sid in the morning on 790 the Ticket?

PP: Not in the know about sports talk radio. Don't really listen to it.


March 14, 2009

Greetings From Somewhere in Florida

FORT MYERS -- The FIU/FAU Marlins tour continues for another couple of days before it's back to FIUPc baseball on Tuesday for their home game against North Florida and then FIU football when it resumes after next week's spring break.

The reason this has been dubbed the FIU/FAU Marlins tour is because both myself and Sun Sentinel FAU writer Ted Hutton are covering the Marlins these 5 days while the regular Marlins writers are at the World Baseball Classic. Was with the Marlins today in Fort Myers against the Twins at Hammond Stadium, which is one of if not the nicest spring training parks. Former FIU left-hander and current Marlins reliever Willie Collazo was here, but did not get in the game -- a 9-5 Marlins win.

Not much on the FIU news front with football on spring break and the baseball team in Arkansas. But here are some FIU items you might have missed:

As of this blog post,Ebert the FIU baseball team crushed Arkansas-Little Rock 24-5 in the first game of a Saturday night doubleheader. Dustin Rivest or Jack Griffin kicked a field goal in the ninth inning for the final FIU score.

FIU would like to at least take 2 of 3 in the series and continue their steady start to the season. FIU aces Scott Rembisz and Tom Ebert (right, thanks Victoria Lynch photo) are throwing tonight with Rembisz already securing a win.

UALR is supposed to have one of the better pitching staffs in the Sun Belt, but apparently not in game 1.

FIU returns home for a six-game homestand beginning Tuesday for 2 games with North Florida and 4 games against Fairleigh Dickinson (Angie Dickinson's sister) next weekend.Adk This is Angie on the right 

In case, you missed it in Wednesday's Herald, here's a story about T.Y. Hilton's visit to a childhood friend at Miami Children's Hospital....

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Five years ago, Reynaldo Pringle sustained a broken head and left knee, and had the right side of his body partially paralyzed when he was struck by a truck that ran a red light in his South Miami neighborhood.

Nearly two weeks ago, Pringle, now 20, walked for the first time since the accident.

On Wednesday morning at Miami Children's Hospital, Pringle got to meet one of his favorite football players, FIU freshman All-American T.Y. Hilton.

Pringle had not seen Hilton since they played against each other in Pop Warner more than eight years ago, but had followed Hilton's football exploits since then.

He had an unusual first question for Hilton.

“This really brings my spirits up,” Pringle said to Hilton. “You're good. Tell me, why is
Miami
scared to play you guys?”

Hilton smiled and offered encouragement to Pringle, and gave him an FIU cap, shirt and photo of Hilton's first college touchdown at K
ansas
. (Reynaldo and T.Y. photo, left taken by Susan Frantz of fiusports.com)

Tymch “It means a lot to me that I could come here and talk to him to help him fight through this,” Hilton said. “I hope that I could give him an extra push to take that extra step.”

Pringle is part of the Project Victory program at the hospital, which helps special-education students with the opportunity to learn job skills in a work-setting environment.

-- PETE PELEGRIN AND J.T. WILCOX

FIUsports.com plans to launch its new website on Monday with expanded video, bigger photos, including a store to buy FIU game photos, more FIU stories and interactive features for fans.

 

Will be driving across the state to Jupiter on Sunday morning for the Mets vs. Marlins game in Jupiter.

 

The tour ends Monday and will be back in Miami on Tuesday for the FIU game vs. North Florida.

 

Logo  PANTHER PAWSE

 

Apaw

Don't really care if some of you want to keep arguing about who has the better cafeteria food between schools or how many years you have to be at a school to be able to cheer for them -- when the hell did the GPP turn into a bad cell phone commercial? Pos (photo, right) 

 

Other schools fans come on here, because they're interested in FIU, although they may not clearly state it in their posts.

 

If you can't keep it clean, then the Panther Claw will come out for your post. Thank you. Now back to your regularly scheduled FIU sports blogging.

 

GPP Q&A

 

Fomenter: Question regarding Wayne Times. Is he slated to come in and help out at corner?

 

PP: There are no plans for WT (left) to play corner. WT will play receiver and might be seen at QB in a WildPanther formation. No DB for WT.

 

Wt UltimateFIUFan: Pete, anything on changes with mens or womens hoops? Let us know. How many scholarship does SR have next year? Should be a minimum of two (Galindo & Hicks).

 

PP: No changes expected for FIU hoops. SR could have 3 with AG, RH and Badu N'Diaye graduated.

 

FIUFPL: Pete, Any word on how losing MLS has affected timeframe for stadium construction, if at all? Also, you mentioned some post back that some USF players may be transferring to FIU. Any news on this?

 

PP: Nothing definitive, but looking like the 2011-2013 time frame, could have been a little quicker with MLS. Nothing new on USF players.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

March 11, 2009

3/10 Spring Practice: Mack Truck OL, Ground Chuck and More Lightning

The first practice after Sunday's scrimmage produced some more highlights. Among them some Mack trucks, a powerful safety and a walk-on that keeps on striking.

Mack During the early team drills, the FIU O-line had some moments when they paved the way for several RBs. Darriet Perry, Brandon Paquette and walk-on Jonathan Ramirez all found gaping holes made by what looked like Mack trucks (this reference would work even better when Ced Mack joins the party) blocking on a few plays that allowed them to break some long runs.

The FIU D was again fast and aggressive.

Aaron Davis got another sack and had some more stops in the backfield. Franklin Brown playing LB had some nice pass D. Jarvis Wilson continued his strong spring with a tackle in the backfield of Ramirez.

Chuck Grace (right) also had a big day getting a sack and all 5-9, 185 pounds of Chuck took down a 247-pound bus in John Ellis. Chuckgrace

The passing game got going later in practice with Wayne Younger connecting with Jeremy Dickens on a long pass play. Dickens would later grab another pass in traffic and go for what would have been 6.

Goodbye made a nifty catch going behind his body during 7-on-7s. Ho, hum so what's new there?

More future Panthers visited practice with Northwestern's Kenny Dillard and Wayne Times (left) in attendance Tuesday. WT was flinging it after practice and   Times showed a pretty good arm.....WildPanther, anyone?

Tuesday's practice finished with another big run from No. 26 "Lightning" Ramirez, who made a nice move at the line of scrimmage and broke free outside for a long gainer. During the run, a spectator on the sideline started yelling "Veinte seis!, veinte seis!, veinte seis!" (that's 26, 26, 26 in Spanish) while others on the sideline started cracking up.

Logo PANTHER PAWSE

Apaw 
Great job by former FIU assistant coach Rod Delmonico (right, thanks Richard Lewis photo) and his Dutch boys taking down the D.R. in the WBC. So what if RD was here for a short time. He was instrumental in landing some of the talent headed this way next season. Rd

BTW, speaking of FIU baseball had a great arroz con pollo the other day at the stadium, courtesy of Sandra Perdomo. Look for her arroz con pollo stand at FIU Az Stadium this fall beginning with the first home game against Toledo.

GPP Q & A

KJHarris02: Pete, any chance we can get some photos of these practices and the players??

PP: Will try and get some on here.

CharlieGP: How did Thatcher Starling (below left) do?

PP: TS started strong with some sacks, but recently tweaked his knee so he's working his way back.

Andy: When are we going to see new pictures of the fieldhouse?

Star PP: Should have the first tour sometime after the spring game.

AsprillaFan: Pete: Any truth behind the rumor that PG is looking at possible replacements for SR?

PP: PG has not had any official comment on that, but the thought here is there will be no change there.

Alonzo: You keep commenting about the stregnth and weight gain of many of our Panthers this spring. Why is this such a focus lately? Did we bring in a new stregnth and conditioning coach this year, or are you merely focusing on the fact that last year's recruiting class has had some time to bulk up?

PP: Most of the team is still young (freshmen/sophomores) so they're still growing and adding muscle. FIU didn't have the type of strength and conditioning program under Rod Moore that it had in its first 5 seasons. Not going to list all the Sun Belt teams heights and weights here, but here is the Sun Belt link to check that out on: Sun Belt website

blkpanther: Pete, Whats up with Ricky Booker how is he progressing?

PP: RB is still finding his way. He seems to have all the tools to be an impact player on D, but still has not broke through. He'll need to improve soon, because each and every season more D-line talent is arriving at FIU.

FIUPantherFan: Pete, Is there a new D-Line Coach, if so, who is it? What's up with the DL, how are the big guys looking.

PP: Not yet by fall practice. The D-line has made some plays this spring, but it's kind of tough to tell with guys like Jonathan Jackson, Jonas Murrell, Reggie Jones, James Jones, Andre Pound and Thatcher Starling hurt right now and not participating in spring ball.

Apaw

Will be on the road with the Marlins the next 4 days, but will try and blog at some point. Armando Salguero will be covering your Panthers on Thursday and have a story in Friday's paper.

 

 

March 09, 2009

Sunday Scrimmage: Prowling D, The Bus and Lightning

Bettis How ironic that in the previous blog there was a mention to set your clocks ahead one hour Saturday night to get to Sunday's scrimmage at 10 and someone forgot to do so and woke up at 9:30 thinking it was 8:30. Got to FIU Stadium about 10:15, good thing they didn't start scrimmaging until about 10:30.

A couple of unexpected FIU running backs (The Bus and Lightning as their teammates called them) were definitely not running late in Sunday morning's scrimmage -- which were the highlights for the Light FIU offense after the defense controlled the early part of the scrimmage.

PROWLING DEFENSE

The FIU D came out flying Sunday morning with Dez Johnson intercepting Paul McCall in the first series.

Wf Winston Fraser (left), who bulked up 17 pounds in the off-season to 232, then popped the ball out of Goodbye's hands in the second possession. WF is going to have a huge impact on the FIU D this season. All healed up from a broken hand last season, WF has not missed a beat since last playing and leading Booker T. to the state title with other Panthers: JJ, Kambriel and Franklin Brown.

LB Wendy Napoleon (below right), seeing his first action in pads since his spinal cord injury against Alabama in 2006, picked off Colt Anderson -- who lined up as the No. 2 QB whatever that means on March 8 -- to close out the second series of play. WN might be the biggest body of the FIU LBs along with Aaron Davis. When WN goes up to defend those short passes over the middle he covers a lot of air space.Nap

Jarvis Wilson and Kreg Brown kept up the nice D on the next possession getting some tackles for loss in the backfield as did Davis, who had a terrific first week of spring.

The FIU O finally got a little movement in the 3rd series with CA hooking up with John "The Bus" Ellis on a 15-yard pass that Ellis went up high to snag out of the air. JE is an athlete and could surprise some defenses this season.

But the FIU O again stalled thanks to nice pass D by DB Brandon Ellison and DL Donnell Wilson. Wilson made a quick hit on a screen pass to prevent the play from going more than 4 yards. Jeremiah Weatherspoon and Anthony Gaitor were again solid on pass D.

FAST-BREAK OFFENSE

When the offense went to a more up-tempo pace of play it got rolling.

Wesley Carroll found Jason Frierson on a screen pass and JF made a nice move to pick up 15 more Ellis yards. The O scored their first TD with WC under center, but the biggest contributors were Ellis (right) and walk-on RB/WR Jonathan Ramirez (No. 26 blue jersey in your program, FIUJM. No. 26 white jersey is Chuck Grace). Ramirez (Lightning) played his high school ball at McCarthy in Pembroke Pines. At 6-0, 177 he could play both RB and WR. MC said after Sunday's scrimmage, "When you're a skill player here you better be prepared to play wherever we need you".

With Darriet Perry limited to one series (nothing wrong with him just got to keep him healthy), Ellis and Ramirez's running moved the ball. Ellis is a load to tackle and Ramirez has got some video game moves in the open field.

Ellis punched in the first TD with an 8-yard run through the FIU D.Lt

The offense scored again this time with Paul McCall under center, but again with JE and JR running the ball the majority of the time downfield.

At the 10-yard line of the D, PM found Goodbye with a screen pass and Goodbye made 3 moves through the FIU D and scored a TD and did his signature "TY Goodbye" TD celebration.

FIU practices Tuesday, Thursday and Friday of this week before taking next week off for spring break. Tuesday and Thursday they'll be out at FIU Stadium at 3:15 and Friday might be a 6:30 a.m. practice or 3:15 stay tuned.

March 07, 2009

Springing Along: Recaps Before Sunday Scrimmage

Your Panthers will tee it up for the first spring scrimmage Sunday morning beginning at 10 at FIU Clk Stadium. For some of you the scrimmage will start at 11 a.m. if you forget to move those clocks up an hour at some point Saturday night for the start of daylight savings time.

Before you make it out to the stadium to see them start hitting each other, this is what's been going on Ty at spring practice the last couple of days.

For the most part, the receivers appear to be ahead of the defensive backs thus far.

No shocker here: Goodbye (left, thanks Sam Lewis) and Greg Ellingson (right, SL pic) continue making acrobatic catches. Goodbye reached back across his body to snag a pass in Friday's drills. GE did the same Friday and Saturday. GE also faked a DB out of his shoes on a long pass play Friday, but the QB underthrew Ge GE on what would have been an easy 6.

Junior Mertile has also joined the fun. Another season of experience and another season in the weight room has the Hilton Heave receiver primed for a big season.

Other WRs to make some nice catches have been Jason Frierson, Marquis Rolle and Jeremy Dickens. One WR that has shown marked improvement has been Jacob Younger (left) -- Wayne Younger's cousin.

The wiry 6-2 JY stretched out his body on one sideline catch and then caught a bullet from his cousin   Jy over the middle on Friday.

All of this is not to say the DBs have not been making plays, because they have.

Emmanuel Souarin and Chuck Grace have stood out batting down balls and playing tight coverage. Petey Riley has also played some good pass D and so has Dez Johnson, who is currently lining up opposite Anthony Gaitor with the 1st team D -- whatever that means in March. AG, as his usual All-Sun Belt self, is back at it playing stellar D too.

New QB Wesley Carroll looks like he's been running the FIU offense for 10 years now the way he has practiced thus far. He threw a dart deep down the middle of the field between 2 DBs on Friday that tight end Jonathan Faucher made a leaping grab to haul in. On Saturday, WC eluded a sack with some nice mobility and connected with Dickens deep down field.Dperry WC has some solid mechanics throwing the ball.

Darriet Perry (right, thanks Alex J. Hernandez), who is expected to be limited in carries this spring, because he needs to stay healthy for  2009 with already a couple of RBs on the mend from injuries, made a nice cut back move and ran away from the defense in Saturday's practice.

And Wendy Napoleon back from a spinal injury showed what a big body LB can do in the middle jumping up high to snare a Younger pass over the middle for an INT.

Wh Some of the newest Panthers have been making it out to practice. Wednesday, Darian Mallary watched the FIU RBs work and Saturday, Terrance Taylor was checking FIU out.

Get out to the scrimmage Sunday, if not check back here later on Sunday for what's happening.

Logo  PANTHER PAWSE

Apaw

How about FIU baseball then and now getting off to a good start this weekend. The now part -- right-hander Scott Rembisz (right, SL pic) with 8 shutout innings and 7 Ks in a 5-0 win vs. Troy on Friday. Rembisz worked out of a bases loaded, no-out jam allowing no runs Rem in the 3rd inning and did it again in the 5th inning working out of a 2nd and 3rd and 1 out-jam. FIU has got some serious pitching this year -- these aren't your "he's bigger than me and he wanted the ball" Panthers.

Also, former FIU assistant coach Rod Delmonico, now the coach of the Netherlands national team, defeated the favored Dominicans in the World Baseball Classic on Saturday.

GPP Q & A

MONSTER DONG: Pete, How does Rolle look? I think he's finally poised to make a run at quality playin' time. What do you think?

PP: Rolle looks better through 3 practices. He has all the tools (size, hands) to be an elite receiver in college football and he definitely has the quality competition around him to push him. He would give FIU another huge weapon on offense.

JulesFIU07: Does Perry look like he has added on some bulk and gone over 200lbs?

PP: Like most of the Panthers, DP has gotten bigger. He is at 200 now.

 

 

 


 

March 05, 2009

Opening Spring Practice

Rm The first of 14 spring practices leading up to the Blue/Gold Spring Game on April 3 is in the books and this is what we saw on the first day your Panthers returned to FIU Stadium after an 87-day break.

Want to lose that gut? Pack on some pounds of muscle? Or do you ladies need help with those hips or thighs? Then FIU strength and conditioning coach Rod Moore is your guy.

The FIU off-season strength and conditioning program really works by taking a look at some of the  Cc creatures roaming around the FIU Stadium field on Wednesday afternoon.

To start sophomore LB Aaron Davis  (below, left) and redshirt freshman LB Winston Fraser might be some of the biggest and strongest LBs FIU has ever had after they bulked up to 245 and 232, respectively.

Some of you were concerned with Kambriel Willis's size last season. Well, come on out to practice Friday afternoon or Saturday morning and Adavis look at the man wearing No. 55.

The Hilton Heave duo also made some gains. Goodbye has packed on about 10-12 pounds. Junior Mertile looked bigger as well. Don't think they did it on purpose, but safety Jeremiah Weatherspoon and DB Brandon Ellison practiced on Wed. with their sleeves rolled up.

One guy who looks ready to blow past the Alabama O-line right now in March was new DE Thatcher Starling (below, right). The first look at the D-line on Wednesday showed big No. 99 getting by the FIU O-line and getting to Paul McCall during team drills.

Franklin Brown is looking like he will play mostly at linebacker this season toTs join an already dangerous core of the El Oso, Davis, Fraser, Tyler Clawson, Little Canada, Jarvis Wilson, Pooh Bear, Kenny Dillard and Markeith Russell.

And Wendy Napoleon re-joined the LB mix after a 2-year absence due to injury. WN also looked like he's made a second home in the weight room.

On offense, PM looked he added a few miles per hour to his fastball. Standing on the sidelines, the added zip on the FIU QB's passes was quite noticeable.

New QB Wesley Carroll (below, left) showed early signs of why he was an All-SEC freshman at Mississippi State with some of his throws.

Wcarroll Darriet Perry looked ready to take the first carry of the season. DP just looks like a football player and a No. 1 RB. One walk-on that caught the attention was receiver Jonathan Ramirez, who played his high school ball at McCarthy in Pembroke Pines. The freshman lined up in the backfield with the RBs and at WR, his natural position and made some plays.

Incoming freshman RB Darian Mallary watched the first practice and he looks ready to graduate from Gulliver and join the FIU backfield.

There were a lot of orange jerseys in the first practice, but MC later said that a lot of those guys will join spring practice after spring break on March 24.

It was a good sign to see guys coming off knee injuries like Ash Parker and Chris Cawthon moving around the field without any issues.

Logo PANTHER PAWSE

OCPanther: Pete, Can you get us an update on Antwan Barnes and his progress from the Ab injury?

PP: El Monstruo is recovering well and is expected to be 100% ready when the Ravens opening training camp in July.

ArrozConPollo: Hey Pete, I was wondering if u knew or could find out how many people actually signed up as fans for FCB Miami.

PP: From what I heard the numbers were between 2,000 to 3,000, which apparently was way below what MLS and co. were hoping for.

CJ: hey pete before i make my prediction is the shula bowl goin to be played in the cage or in DS?Dstroph

PP: The Shula Bowl always alternates home sites each season. This year it's at FIU Stadium and in 2010 it will be in Dolphin Stadium. And you can always change your prediction, there's no prize at stake with these schedule predictions in March.

pikedanny: Pete, I see that we only have 5 home games in 2009. Will we start having 6 home games starting in 2010?

PP: Right now, unless the 2010 schedule changes, FIU has 5 home games again in 2010 -- 4 Sun Belt games and home vs. Rutgers. The other 2010 non-conference games are at Texas A&M, at Central Florida and at Maryland.

Right now 2011, would be the first season FIU plays 6 home and 6 away games. Here is the link to a blog I wrote about this last year: No Place Like FIU Stadium

panthernation: Pete, I loved the MC live blog and the spring practice articles- keep the good news coming! Unlike crazycane- You Are The MAN!

PP: Thanks.

quijote: way too early to be predicting outcomes come on pete you know better than that.

PP: quijote, have a little fun in March. I won't hold you or any other GPP reader to your March predictions. Hell, we'll ask again in early September before the season starts. So everyone vote below....


2009 FIU Football Schedule

The 2009 FIU football schedule is out and it's one tough start to the season with 4 of the first 5 games on Fiuhelmet the road and then a home game against Troy. Here it is: (HOME GAMES ARE IN CAPS, times of games are still to be determined)

Sept. 12 at Alabama

Sept. 19 at Rutgers

Sept. 26 TOLEDO

Oct. 3 at Louisiana-Monroe

Oct. 10 at Middle Tennessee

Oct. 17 TROY

Oct. 24 at Western Kentucky

Oct. 31 LOUISIANA

Nov. 7 at Arkansas State

Nov. 14 NORTH TEXAS

Nov. 21 at Florida

Dec. 4 FLORIDA ATLANTIC (DON SHULA BOWL)

Dec. ?? - at (Enter corporate name here) Bowl

Apaw Give your best guess at the 2009 record right now on March 5....Will have your 1st day of spring practice report later on the GPP on Thursday and will get to your questions.

March 04, 2009

Another Freshman of the Year for FIU

Fa Freddy Asprilla meet T.Y. Hilton meet Yarimar Rosa.Tyasu  Yr  

FA and T.Y. won the Sun Belt Freshman of the Year in their respective sports this past season. YR (near, right) won it her freshman season 2 years ago. FA (left, thanks Alex J. Hernandez for photos) took it home despite not playing a full season because of back spasms. Shows how dominant the big guy can be even in limited playing time.

We all know already what T.Y. (above right) did last season earning the Freshman award, plus a nickname and a signature call "Goodbye" on touchdowns.

YR did even better garnering 3 All-Americans in her 3 years thus far at FIU.

Since Freddy played soccer his whole life in Colombia until 3 years ago when he picked up a basketball for the first time, maybe they should play the soccer "G-O-O-O-A-A-A-A-L-L-L!!" call when he scores at the Bank next season.

FA also was named to the All-Sun Belt team as well as FIU girls hoopster Monika Bosilj.

So which FIU freshman baseball player is going to take the Freshman of the Year Award come May later this year? Should happen right? FIU has got this award down pat.

Apaw 
Guess you good people liked the idea of a LIVE Q & A BLOG with MC. The blog numbers came in for Tuesday's GPP and it was the highest rated GPP blog outside of our LIVE GAME BLOGS that we started last season. We'll try and get MC, who said he had fun answering your questions, on here again around July before fall practice starts for another LIVE Q & A BLOG.

Off now to the first spring practice, will try and have the first daily report later tonight, if FIU football and baseball stories allow time to blog, if not look for 1st spring practice blog on here tommorrow.

March 03, 2009

MC LIVE Q&A BLOG

Mc Welcome to our LIVE Q&A BLOG with FIU coach Mario Cristobal. We'll be running the live blog through the comments section. So ask your questions there and MC will respond there. We'll get started shortly and go until 12 noon....

March 02, 2009

Spring Tour: Defensive Backs; MC LIVE Q&A BLOG TUESDAY 11 AM

A final look at our spring football preview takes us to the defensive backfield -- which if the health is there,Jweather could be one of the strengths of the FIU defense.

Besides 5 solid pickups (Jonathan Cyprien, Derrick Jones, Cain Elliot, Terrance Taylor and Jarrell McGee) in the 2009 signing class, FIU returns All-Sun Belt defensive back Anthony Gaitor and safeties Jeremiah Weatherspoon (right, thanks Alex J. Hernandez photo) and Ash Parker.

FIU uses plenty of DBs playing against spread offenses in the Sun Belt and there should be plenty of competition for the other starting defensive back spot opposite Gaitor that Robert Mitchell occupied last season before graduating.

Fb The DBs in the running for that starting job: Franklin Brown (left, AJH photo), Kreg Brown, O'Darris D'Haiti, Brandon Ellison, Chuck Grace, Dez Johnson, Peter Riley and Emmanuel Souarin all get a head start on the incoming freshmen. Derrick Clark could be battling for playing time at safety and might be needed immediately if  Parker is not 100 percent recovered from his knee tear from last season at Kansas.

From what we saw last season, if I was a betting man -- besides the occasional Lotto ticket -- would have to say Franklin Brown and Grace would be the odds on favorites right now for that vacant starting DB spot. With Souarin being a sleeper candidate, because of his speed and athleticism. Of course, all this could change once they all hit the field.

Apaw  Reminder, you can ask your FIU football questions to head coach Mario Cristobal (right, thanks Mc Sam Lewis photo) on our LIVE Q&A GPP BLOG tommorrow (Tuesday, March 3) at 11 a.m. to 12 noon.

Logo PANTHER PAWSE 

Apaw  ALL FIU SPRING PRACTICES ARE OPEN TO THE PUBLIC: here's the schedule (all practices and spring game are at FIU Stadium)

Wed. 3/4 - 3:15 p.m.; Fri. 3/6 - 3:15; Sat. 3/7 - 10 a.m.; Sun. 3/8 - 10 a.m.; Tue. 3/10 - 3:15; Thurs. 3/12 - 3:15; Fri. 3/13 - 3:15; Tue. 3/24 - 3:15; Thurs. 3/26 - 3:15; Fri. 3/27 - 3:15; Sat. 3/28 - 3:15; Mon. 3/30 - 3:15; Tue. 3/31 - 3:15; Thurs. 4/2 - 3:15; Fri. 4/3 - Spring Game at 6 p.m.

Apaw Check out some solid FIU football and baseball video features at cbs4.com. Channel 4 is revving up their coverage of FIU. CBS4 producer/cameraman Luis Zabala created an FIU football workout Cbs feature where he filmed the Panthers during their off-season workouts. LZ also did a 5-minute video feature on the pre-game routine of FIU baseball the morning before their Sunday game against Jacksonville. Turtle is miked up for that video.

When you get to the cbs4 website, type in FIU football in the search box on the top right hand corner of the page. Do the same for FIU baseball.

GPP Q & A

Clawing Cancer: Pete, you going to cover the UL game for the Herald? Would be nice to get some updates or maybe a live blog or something. Just a thought. :)

PP: No, the MH is not sending me up to Cajun country. If the hoops team had a better record, I would have had a better case to ask to go cover. Would have had a live blog for sure during the game. Regardless, it's a busy Wednesday at FIU with opening of spring football, FIU baseball home vs. Central Florida and both hoops teams in SBC tourney play.

Open FIUBlueandGold: When is the first practice and is it open for the public to watch?

PP: 1st practice is Wednesday at 3:15 p.m. and they are all open. Will have daily blogs from practice, but the first blog will likely be posted on Thursday, because of football and baseball stories I need to write on Wednesday.

Coach D: I didn't see any mention on Artis Warthen Jr. a Sr.DE/LB returning defensive player, what's his status?

PP: Artis is back and he should be in the mix for playing time along the D-line.

Crazy Cane: WOW - While FIU was splitting games with crappy Brown University, UM was sweeping a Willie ranked University of Florida team on the road. Yeah, it sure looks like Turtle is getting FIU past UM in a hurry on the diamond.

PP: Guess we won't know about that until possibly a regional. FIU placed the call to UM again last fall to play and heard from a reliable source that Jim Morris went nuts when he heard it was FIU on the line. Guess, Willie Nelson had it right: "You were always on my mind".

March 01, 2009

Spring Tour: Linebackers

Winston Could be a pretty interesting spring for the linebacking corps, especially with the dynamic freshmen linebackers (Pooh Bear, Kenny Dillard and Markeith Russell) arriving in August.

Besides returning starters Scott Bryant and Tyler Clawson, this should be the spring where we see a fully healthy Winston Fraser (left).

Of all the LBs available this spring, Fraser might be the one that could start making a case for more playing time in the fall. Everything I've heard from high school coaches to the FIU coaches is that the kid is a beast.

Sophomore Aaron Davis (right) is another player to keep an eye on. In limited duty, lastMcad season Davis showed some flashes of the type of player he can be. Also look for Jarvis Wilson and hybrid DB/LB Franklin Brown to continue their steady play. Wendy Napoleon has been conditioning with the team in an attempt to come back. Whether he suits up in the spring remains to be seen.

One LB out for the spring is Little Canada - Toronto Smith (left). Saw LC at the opening series of the FIU baseball season and he was on crutches Lc recuperating from a torn tendon in his foot. LC said he would be ready for fall practice. The injury apparently has not slowed LC in the weight room, because he has gone from looking like Toronto to now Ontario.

Apaw

You can ask or learn more about the FIU LBs and all other Panthers football on our LIVE Q&A BLOG with coach Mario Cristobal this Tuesday, March 3 from 11 a.m. to 12 noon here on the GPP.  

ON TO CAJUN COUNTRY

The FIU hoops team travels to Louisiana to take on the Ragin' Cajuns on Wednesday in 1st round play of the Sun Belt tournament.

If the Panthers play every game like they came out against the Hooters on Saturday night, then they could rule the Sun Belt. Outside of maybe the Western Kentucky home game this season, I've never Alex seen the kind of energy and passion this season with which FIU played last night.

Yes, it does help to have the entire team healthy for the first time all season like FIU had against Florida Atlantic. UL took care of an undermanned FIU 90-73 earlier this season at the Cajundome. Let's see what game 2 shows.

Apaw We're 2 days away from the start of spring football so what's on your mind....


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