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MC Q&A Part 2

Mcr Back to your Q&A with FIU coach Mario Cristobal as we got plenty of questions to get to as we continue our countdown to the 2009 Panthers football season. Just 63 days until FIU opens camp (Aug. 10) and 96 days until the Panthers open the season (Sept. 12) at Alabama. Let's get back to your questions....

FI-UM Fan: Which players do you expect to be leaders this year on your defense?

MC: Scotty Bryant has done it before and we expect him to do it again. We expect Jeremiah and Anthony Gaitor and Ash Parker to step up. Guys like Armond Willis, Cody Pellicer to step up. Expect Aaron Davis and Winston Fraser, two young guys, I expect an impact from them. All these guys have a chance to make plays and be a leader. We got some freshmen coming in that we expect to come in and challenge. How much can they lead? We’re going to find out in camp. Chuck Grace we expect big things out of, closing out the year strong with an interception, having a great off-season and aJonas great spring campaign. It’s going to be interesting with some of the events at the end ofFore spring ball like George Palmer going out and playing corner and doing a great job. Here’s a guy that shows up here at 6 a.m. every morning and works out like a maniac. Another one that we expect big things from him and he has to prove it and he has committed himself to it is Jonas Murrell (far right). Jonas has already lost 30 pounds this off-season, He’s down under 320 working his way to 300 pounds. He was up to the 350-pound range. He’s been running and dieting. He lets me know constantly that he’s using the George Foreman grill instead of running over to McDonalds. I’m really proud of the way he has come along and the fact he’s taken ownership in his body. He knows it’s going to result in better performances. There is a guy that can be a legitimate force up front.

FIUPIKE: How much faster & stronger will this team be against Bama, versus last season against KU & Iowa?

MC: I think we will be stronger. I think Alabama is a stronger team than both Kansas and Iowa. I think it will be one of the more physical games that we play all year long. We’ve watched film on them already and they deserve what they did last year playing for the SEC Championship. Now our strength and Strong conditioning program in the second year you are starting to see the benefits, some of the results of being in Coach Rod Moore’s program where now bodies are thicker in the right places and leaner in the right places. Where your squat and power clean numbers are getting to legitimate Division I levels. Where guys can not only withstand the rigors of football, but deliver shots and make tackles, plays and fight through double teams like you expect them to. We expect to get in there and get nice and physical and mix it up with them and have a great showing by our guys.

CJ: What do you think is the biggest hurdle to winning the Sun Belt Conference?

MC: In 2 years of coaching in the Sun Belt what I have noticed is that the two teams that have won it, Troy and FAU, have been teams that have gotten better as the season went on. Troy suffered an injury at quarterback and still found a way to get better as the season went on. They made some adjustments and have some great players. Both teams showed constant improvement and I think that’s the biggest challenge. Being to able to get through a tough schedule with no bye weeks, going 11 weeks straight, being able to improve and overcome any injuries you may have. The key to every single game in the Sun Belt is about the people in our locker room and not necessarily the people in the other locker room.

TheChampionUnderdog: Any plans of using Wayne Times in a Wildcat type formation this year?Wtimes

MC: Without disclosing too much, let’s just say there are a lot of plans for Wayne Times. The combination of Wayne Times (right), Darian Mallary, DP, Junior Mertile, T.Y. Hilton. There are some players that have good skill sets that allow them to do a couple of things with the football in their hands and we’re going to get them on the football field. We expect big things from Dudley LaPorte to help us implement a phase of our offense that we haven’t shown yet at FIU in the two tight end sets with Eric Kirchenberg and Jonathan Faucher and John Ellis. We’re excited about the diversity that we can show this coming fall.

alt7787: How has the economy affected you and FIU Football? Do you think the economy is better?

MC: It affects everybody. We never ever sacrifice performance. We always make sure our players are well fed. That we travel comfortably. That we have academic support. We certainly are in need of funding and certainly encourage all those out there that are willing to support FIU football to come on out and do so. Especially now, when we are on the cusp of something great.

BaltimorePanther: How do you feel about the games against Rutgers and UF?

MC: Extremely excited about it. Our recruits were very drawn to that, to get on the big stage and playFire against those teams. I think both teams are physical and fast. Florida is particularly fast like world-class track fast. I expect a tough, physical game and I expect our guys coming out of that tunnel breathing fire and getting ready to rock and roll. We’re going to be extremely prepared and we’re going to go in there and fight for that game.





Should be a big day for Tyler Townsend tommorrow (Tuesday) when the MLB Draft opens up. Might also see Ryan Mollica, Tom Ebert and Scott Rembisz also get selected.

Pizza Face & OC Panther: Hey Pete can you get a list of all the recruits that are signed as well as players that are returning. So that we could have a better idea how the BB team is looking for next year

PP: From what Isiah has signed so far we have: Stephon Weaver, Marvin Roberts, Antoine Watson, Phil Gary and Kavon Lytch for this coming season. (Brandon Moore is for the 2010-11 season, Eric Frederick is a commit and has not signed yet).

Returning players expected back for next season: Cedric Essola, Nikola Gacesa, J.C. Otero, Tremayne Russell and Nick Taylor, although last I heard Taylor was not on scholie. He walked-on to the team. As for Freddy Asprilla, check the FIU lineup in Ohio State. So that's 9 scholies being used from the list above, so there could be another 2 or 3 slots.


You read at the beginning of this post some of the players MC expects to lead the D this season. Now we all know what players like Scotty Bryant, Jeremiah Weatherspoon, Ash Parker and Anthony Gaitor can do. So thinking about the other defensive players, in your opinion, which one of the following will have the biggest impact on the FIU D this season.


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