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12 posts from July 2009

July 26, 2009

Take The FIU Football PSAT, Win a GPP Blog

Many of you good people are counting down the days until camp begins for your Panthers -- 15 days as Fiuhelmet of Sunday. Until then, here is an FIU football quiz to keep you busy for the next few days.

Blklogo Psat While yours truly is on vacation on a beach out of town for the next several days, here is the FIU Football PSAT (Pete Standard Achievement Test).

The following questions are a test of your FIU football knowledge. Although FIU football turns just 8 years old when it kicks off the season at Alabama on Sept. 12 there have been some memorable and some not so memorable moments in the past 8 years.

The following questions do not necessarily require you to know any specific statistics that can easily be found in the FIU football media guide or on the FIU sports website. What would be the fun in that? This is sort of like a summer FIU scavenger hunt.

All of the answers to the 20 questions and the tiebreaker question have been written in 1 of 3 places: The Miami Herald, The GPP and/or in the FIU football media guide. This is an open-book test so Chevy cheating is highly recommended and look on your neighbor's laptop screen if need be.

The reader with the most correct answers to the following PSAT will win the opportunity to write their own GPP Blog before FIU football begins camp on August 10.

The rules are simple: 1) Answer correctly as many of the following 20 questions -- the reader with the most correct answers will be the winner. 2) Should there be a tie after 20 questions, then whoever gets the most correct answers in the tiebreaker question will be the winner. 3) If there is a tie after that then we will go by whoever got their answers e-mailed to me the quickest -- going by the time on my e-mail.

If you want your entry to count toward this FIU Football PSAT contest, then you must E-MAIL your answers to ppelegrin@miamiherald.com. Answers in the comments section will not be counted.

Apaw Deadline to submit answers will be Thursday, July 30 at 12 noon Eastern Daylight Time.

No need to sharpen any No. 2 pencils here, so let's get going....


1) Which FIU player scored the first touchdown in Coach Mario Cristobal's first season?Who

Moses Hinton.

2) Which former FIU player received a scholarship offer to become a Panther after repeatedly hitting former FIU coach Don Strock's car with a football?

Adam Moss, who was kicking field goals at American Heritage and the balls were landing on the roof of Strock's car.

3) There are currently 5 FIU players or coaches with 4 NFL team nicknames in either their first or last names. Who are these 5 people and what 4 NFL teams are part of their first or last names?

Bill Legg (Buffalo Bills); Colt Anderson (Indianapolis Colts); Franklin Brown and Kreg Brown (Cleveland Browns); Pooh Bear Mars (Chicago Bears).

4) Which former FIU player was also Don Strock's nephew?

Dane Ireson.

5) Before making his head coaching debut against Penn State, why did Cristobal say he would wear a shirt and tie on the sidelines as a head coach?Tie

To show respect for the position of head coach and to represent FIU in a first class manner.

6) Bernard Clark was FIU's first defensive coordinator, but which former FIU assistant did Strock designate as defensive coordinator, even though he did not officially have the D-coordinator title?

Former FIU defensive line coach Jim Taubert.

7) Which FIU player had a touchdown called back against Florida Atlantic in last year's Don Shula Bowl?

Anthony Gaitor.

Movie 8) When a Sun Sports reporter came out to do a feature on FIU football and Cristobal, she watched the Panthers and MC sprinting on to the practice field and said it reminded her of a scene from what movie?


9) Under Strock, one FIU practice was interrupted when a pack of wild dogs sprinted across the FIU Stadium field and up into the former rented bleachers in the corner of the end zone. What other non-football interruption took place during an FIU practice under Strock?

FIU football practice came to a halt when former President George W. Bush's helicopter landed outside of old FIU Stadium and snipers took to the top rows of FIU Stadium as Bush got into a car to take him to the National Hurricane Center at FIU.

10) When Strock was hired as FIU's first coach, he said these 3 jersey numbers would never be worn byDogs any FIU player, because 3 NFL greats wore these 3 numbers.

This is a 2-part answer to this question: 1) What were the 3 jersey numbers and who were the NFL greats?

13 - Dan Marino; 19 - Johnny Unitas; 39 - Larry Csonka

2) Strock relented on 1 number after one of the NFL greats said the FIU player could wear his number and then the other 2 numbers were taken by FIU players under Cristobal. Who were the first 3 FIU players to wear each of the 3 jersey numbers being asked about in this question?

13 - Jamie Burke; 19 - Kendall Berry; 39 - Peter Riley

11) Who was the first FIU recruit to sign a national letter of intent and become the first Panther?

Former FIU QB David Tabor

12) Which current FIU player is the brother of former FIU receiver Chandler Williams?

Peter Riley

13) Name the 3 TY's currently on the FIU team?

T.Y. Hilton, Ty Frierson, Terrance "TY" Taylor

14) Which current FIU player already has a wrestling stage name picked out and what is that stage name?Wrestler

Andy Leavine and one day he could become "The Divine Leavine"

15) Which 2 people gave Antwan Barnes the nickname -- El Monstruo?

FIU Spanish broadcasters: Jerry Del Castillo and Pepe Campos also known as Jerry of the Castle and Joe Fields.

16) Who was the mistaken Blue 25 from last year's camp and who was the actual Blue 25 from last season?

Jerrell Lamb - mistaken Blue25 and Alonzo Phillips - actual Blue25

17) Which former FIU player became the first Panther to sign with an NFL team and what NFL team did he sign with?

Kevin Timothee (Tennessee Titans)

18) Name the four FIU players that returned interceptions for touchdowns against Florida Atlantic in 2005 to tie the NCAA record for most interceptions returned for TDs in a game?

Keyonvis Bouie, Marshall McDuffie, Lionell Singleton, Nick Turnbull

Panthers 19) What former NFL/college coach's actions ended up bringing quarterback Jamie Burke to FIU and what did that former coach do that resulted in Burke coming to FIU?

Steve Spurrier had recruited Burke to go play at Florida when he was the coach of the Gators. Burke came to FIU when Spurrier bolted for the Washington Redskins as head coach.

20) Against which opponent is the only game that FIU has ever won by making a field goal as the game clock hit 0:00 in the 4th quarter and who was the FIU kicker to hit the winning field goal?

Against Division I-AA No. 23 Western Kentucky in 2005, Adam Moss kicked the game-winning 36-yard field goal as time expired to lift FIU to a 38-35 win.


At each Don Shula Bowl, an MVP from each team: FIU and Florida Atlantic is voted on by the media. Name all the FIU MVPs and their respective years from the seven Don Shula Bowls that have beenShula played?

Make it 6, I will give you the first one:

2002 - Jerrid Lundstedt.....now you name the other 6 Panthers to get their names on a plaque on the Don Shula Bowl Trophy.

2003 - Adam Gorman; 2004 - Cory McKinney;  2005 - Ben West; 2006 - Chandler Williams; 2007 - A'mod Ned; 2008 - Paul McCall.

Hope this FIU PSAT did not kill too many brain cells. I will post the answers to all 20 questions and the tiebreaker answers when I get back in town later this week.

July 24, 2009

Friday's 7-on-7s

It was a day for the defense out at Friday morning's 7-on-7 workout. In the previous 7-on-7s we've visited, the Panthers offense had its share of highlights, but not so much Friday.

Ash Safety Ash Parker, coming back from a knee tear at Kansas last season, is moving pretty well and showed so when he sprinted toward the sideline to bat away a pass. Parker (left, thanks Sam Lewis photo) said he is 100 percent and the knee feels good.

Freshman defensive back Jonathan Cyprien continued his good work in the offseason, again getting into a pass over the middle of the field and knocking it out of a receiver's hands.

Emmanuel Souarin, who redshirted last season as a freshman, stayed with T.Y. Goodbye on a deep pass and broke up the long ball. And just to check if he had the proper coverage, Souarin asked fellow DB Anthony Gaitor if he took the right angle to the ball. Gaitor approved.

Linebacker Aaron Davis (right) is a vocal defender out on the field and he let the quarterback and receiver heAdavis was covering know so when he deflected a pass and almost intercepted it. If Davis would have hung on, it would have been 6.

It wasn't all D on Friday at FIU Stadium. T.Y. and walk-on quarterback Chris Schirripa connected on a deep pass inside the 10-yard-line. T.Y. also reached across his body to catch a short pass in traffic in the middle of the field.

Colt Anderson (below, left) regularly beat the defenders covering him and made some catches. On one play, CA made a one-handed catch, but as he fell to the ground could not hold on.

Canderson Ho-hum, what's new? Gaitor knocked a couple of passes down.

Peter Riley, who was having a tough morning in coverage, finished strong making plays on two passes near the end of the workout.

Freshman Derrick Jones made a diving interception and Little Canada slam dunked away a short pass over the middle.

Ty Frierson ended the workout catching a slant and making a couple of moves that helped him elude defenders for an extra 15 yards.


Apaw Will be going on vacation out of town next week for a few days, but check back here on Sunday for an FIU Football Quiz to keep you busy while the sun, sand and surf is being soaked up. The reader with the highest score on the quiz gets to write their own GPP blog before training camp opens on August 10.


Pizza Face & PLP Consulting: Has the Defense ran their 40's? Pete, What about the 40 times of the defensive guys? I think guys like Gaitor, D. Clark, and Weatherspoon, along with a few others, were 4.4 guys last year.

PP: They have and I should have most of the top times on here soon. PLP Consulting, you are correctAgaitor with Gaitor (right, thanks Alex J. Hernandez photo). Coach Moore says he is the fastest Panther on D after running a 4.43.

gold: When is the Sun Belt media day?

PP: Already happened last Monday and Tuesday, but it was all on-line so there was no trip to the Big Easy. Maybe there will be a trip to the Big Easy on Dec. 20 for FIU.

FIU Fanatic: Has LaPorte 40's (since he is not a freshman) been timed?

PP: The new Panthers get timed in the 40 next week.

FIUAL: Hey pete any news regarding a fanfest before the football season starts?

PP: It is in the works. Will most likely be when the team scrimmages in camp, possibly Thursday, August 20. When the date is set will have it here for you. The event will Dazzlers undoubtedly include the world famous FIU Golden Dazzlers.

KJHarris02: hey Pete, when you writing up about how the defense is doing...#86?? Would like an update thanks

PP: Will start previewing the team on here when I get back from the water at the end of next week. And No. 86 will be included.

CarolinaGoldenPanther: Pete, Another poster mentions above that we're going to have 45,000 in the seats in 2011. I thought they had temporarily put the stadium expansion plans on hold with the budget crisis and economic uncertainty? Can you give us an update?

Also, any news on 2010 football recruitment? ESPN recruiting shows three guys committed (Wade Isaac, Khambrel McGee, and Randy Williams). Are we hot on the trail of any major top 150 recruits (no disrespect to the three aforementioned recruits)?

PP: Currently, they are designing the north side of the stadium along with the student services center that will be attached to the north side. Construction on the north side is expected to begin in 2011 with completion of the lower bowl, plus the student services center expected in 2012. The upper deck that would make it a 45,000-seat stadium depends on attendance and the development of the football program.

Nothing new on the 2010 recruits. Still early. MC and company are "hot on the trail" of all top 150 recruits. It's just a matter of seeing which ones want to sign with FIU.


July 22, 2009

In The Gym With The Panthers: Freshmen

Continuing our off-season look at the weight room gains of your Panthers as we count down the daysMoore until camp opens on Aug. 10: 19 days.

Here's a first look at some of the freshmen that stood out for FIU strength coach Rod Moore (right, thanks Sam Lewis photo) in the offseason strength and conditioning program. These are preliminary numbers -- same as we had with the Panthers veterans. Following the freshman numbers, there are some 40 times from the veterans. The freshmen have yet to be timed in the 40.

Since the first post of weight room numbers here on the GPP, there have been several players come up to me after 7-on-7's saying they lifted more. As soon as I get those new numbers will have them on here. For now, enjoy the freshmen's weight room accomplishments.

Mars Pooh Bear Mars opened several eyes with his 515 squat in the first week of workouts. Coaches said they had to stop him there, even though Pooh Bear was ready to squat more. When you get to an open practice when camp rolls around take a look at the Bear's tree trunk legs. PBM cleaned 275 pounds and benched 300 pounds.

PBM arrived at FIU weighing 230 pounds, but is getting close to his playing weight of 220. Remember, PBM told us back when he signed that he got the nickname from his mother, who said that with PBM's shirt rolled up his belly looked like Winnie the Pooh when he was a kid. ThePooh belly is being trimmed in the FIU weight room.

Freshman walk-on defensive end Anthony Maltagliati (Miami Coral Reef High) was the second name that RM mentioned. AM cleaned 295, benched 250 and squatted 365.

Jonathan Cyprien, who physically looks a junior or senior and has played like one during 7-on-7s, squatted 415, cleaned 275 and benched 275.

You get a look at Rupert Bryan's (left) numbers and you wonder (in a good way) how did this offensive lineman, in high school at Glades Central, chase down a defensive back, who was returning a fumble 80 Rb yards? RB had a 250 clean, 365 bench and 405 squat. Although, he is just a freshman, having seen RB at the 7-on-7s must say he has the makings of being (with apologies to El Monstruo).... a monster physically during his career at FIU.

Dave Istanich, who at 6-6, 305, is the biggest freshman physically. But like all the other freshmen he has room to develop. Istanich had a 275 clean, 305 bench and 425 squat.

Linebacker Markeith Russell with his play and intelligence on the field reminds me of a young Scott Bryant. MR cleaned and benched 275 and squatted 425.

Although he is not a freshman, with his size and speed, junior tight end Dudley LaPorte (below, right) should have a big impact on the FIU offense. DL reported at 240 pounds, but coaches say he has the frame to add another 10 pounds and not lose any speed. DL has cleaned 300, benched 365 and squatted 450. WithDudley those physical tools and two good years at FIU you might see DL on Sundays in an NFL stadium near you.


Once again T.Y. Goodbye and Junior Mertile are the 2 fastest Panthers. According to coach Moore "both ran the same time, but T.Y. runs faster on the football field." The official times were T.Y. (4.34) and Jr. (4.35).

RM says if we go by high school numbers, expect Rocky Vann and Wayne Times to challenge T.Y. and Junior in the Panther 500 at the FIU Speedway. Both Rocky and Times each have run 4.3s before arriving at FIU.

The next 3 fastest Panthers ran high 4.4s: Daunte Owens, Elliott Dix and Marquis Rolle.

Ty Frierson and Greg Ellingson each ran a 4.5. Darriet Perry clocked in at 4.57.

Will have updated times soon along with freshmen 40 times.

Some offseason workout program thoughts from coach Moore:

"The difference between the strength and conditioning program in the summer of 2008 and the summer of 2009 is that a lot of the players were getting crushed last year, because the program is intense and demands a lot. This year they now know what to expect. They are still getting crushed, because the program is as intense and demanding as ever, but now they are competing and they are giving that extra effort. Competition is at an all-time high in the weight room and with the new freshmen it's all about competing with them."

"A lot of people were excited last year for the team being 5-7, but the kids and myself saw 5-7 as a disappointment. Losing to FAU and ULM made us more hungry in the weight room."


Apaw One thing not mentioned in the two posts on the weight room is that the new FIU weight room in the fieldhouse will have a mini astro turf field for the linemen to work on their footwork, etc. The field is similar to the field you see on ESPN's NFL Live show or on FOX Sunday NFL pregame show.


FIUJM: Was Cristobal coach that voted FIU to be in first place in conference or are they not allowed to vote for their own team?

PP: Coaches are not allowed to vote for their own teams in the Sun Belt preseason poll, so there is another SBC coach that thinks FIU will be conference champs this season.

FIUPantherFan: Pete, Have they identified the radio football announcers?

PP: They have: Jeremy Marks-Peltz (play-by-play) and Jorge Sedano (color).

TowersFIU: Pete, don't forget that Radiate FM will be carrying every football game on the radio (Rutgers Rodney might not, still have to figure out the money on that.) show the Student Media some respect, Pete!

PP: Not sure where the "no respect" came out of, but I've never disrespected the student media. In fact, I go on the student media sports talk show whenever you guys ask and even helped out Andrew during a baseball game last season.

Quijote: Just received word from a Dazzler that the FIU Cheer team is back! Pete can you confirm this?

PP: It happened a few weeks ago.

Cog: Hey Pete any word on how MC and Def. staff plan on using Sr. Artis Warthen at DE or LB this season, he's as healthy as he's been in 2yrs.Look forward to seeing more of him this year on the field.

Aartis PP: Artis (left, thanks Alex J. Hernandez photo) is looking to see playing time on the defensive line. MC has said it will be a battle in camp for all defensive linemen to earn playing time this season. MC says "Artis looks good".



The Sun Belt coaches voted FIU to finish 5th in the conference's preseason poll. What do you think about that?


July 20, 2009

T.Y., Gaitor, Serini All-Sun Belt; More from the 7-on-7s

T.Y. Hilton, Anthony Gaitor and Brad Serini were named to the preseason All-Sun Belt team this morning and FIU was picked to finish fifth in the conference. However, there was one coach who did pick the Panthers to win the Sun Belt Conference as FIU received one first place vote.

I thought Scott Bryant got snubbed for the preseason team. He's led the team in tackles the last 2 seasons and has been among the Sun Belt's leaders in the stat as well. You can vote at the end of the post on who you think got snubbed from FIU.

Here's a story on the FIU freshmen in today's MH: FIU freshmen  

MORE 7-on-7s

Back out to another one of your Panthers 7-on-7's last Friday morning at FIU Stadium. During the workout we saw several of the heralded freshman class make some plays as did the FIU veterans.

Rocky Don't fret those of you who were expecting to see some freshmen weight room numbers here. Waiting to get updates on the freshmen and will post them here shortly.

As far as Friday morning, early on freshman receiver Rocky Vann stood out making three good catches in both 1-on-1 drills and then in the 7-on-7s. RV does not move like an RV. The freshman has some jets. **Note: Don't have any Rocky Vann photos yet, so we'll go with a Rocky Balboa one for now.

Freshman receiver Jairus Williams had a solid day. On one play, JW used all 6-foot-5-inches of his frame to go up and catch a high throw. JW will be a handy red zone target for the Panthers. JW also made a fingertip grab on another pass.

Freshman walk-on receiver Larry McCoy (Miami Edison High) has opened eyes with his ability to get open and his sticky fingers that seem to snare everything thrown his way. Although, saying it will be a cliche, will say anyway that LM just "looks like a football player" or the Real McCoy.Mccoy

Tight end Eric Kirchenberg continues his good work: going up top to make a catch; making a move along the sideline to get an extra 7 yards, and making a sliding catch on another pass -- that made you think this guy has played center field somewhere before.

There is no doubt Junior Mertile has gotten stronger in his second season. Junior jumped up with a defensive back and took the ball out of the DB's hands. To which the rest of the team started yelling to the DB: "Hit the weight room!" as Junior ran down the field.

Wy Marquis Rolle made the catch of the morning on a deep pass from Wayne Younger. Jostling with a DB down the sideline, Rolle stuck out his left hand toward the sideline and made a one-handed catch while keeping one foot in bounds.

Speaking of which, Younger (left, thanks Alex J. Hernandez photo) seems to have more zip on his passes this season. His gains in the weight room have surely helped. WY is up to almost 200 pounds now on his 6-3 frame and that is without hanging out at a Cuban bakery all summer. WY also has developed a nice touch on the deep passes. He had 4 deep completions on Friday.

Call FOX, CNN and all the other news stations, there was breaking news Friday morning: T.Y. Hilton dropped a pass and his teammates let him have it.

News On what was a sure TD after T.Y. made a move on a DB, Younger hit T.Y. in stride near the opposing 20-yard line. There T.Y. bobbled the ball and dropped it. To which his teammates started razzing him with: "Keep running, just keep running". T.Y. got his push-ups in for the drop.

Of course, you knew T.Y. would redeem himself. On another deep pass from Younger, T.Y. shook the DB and made a diving catch at the 5-yard line and kept one foot inbounds.

On the defensive side: Chuck Grace broke up a pass intended for Goodbye and freshmen JonathanTurner Cyprien and Terrance Taylor deflected a couple of passes.

Near the end of Friday's workout, running back Trenard Turner showed he is fully recovered from his knee tear. Turner (right, thanks AJH photo) caught a short pass, made a move and outran the defense just like he did in 2007 with his 65-yard catch and run TD vs. the Hurricanes.


NYCFIUFan: Did I read it correctly, Colt is moving to tight end? I thought he would have a legitimate shot at the starting job in 2010, what is going here Pete?

PP: Colt has looked pretty good playing tight end. He's a natural athlete and has the height and hands to play the position. Both CA and the coaching staff feel that there is an opportunity for playing time at tight end.

For 2010, FIU has Wesley Carroll, Wayne Younger and walk-ons Junior Delpe and Chris Schirripa, plus whichever other QBs are recruited and signed by then. Darold Hughes has transferred to a lower division college.

dan ryan: Chris Schirripa preferred walk on from Cardinal Gibbons is working real hard and threw a Schirripa touchdown during 7 0n 7's.Freshman seems to have alot of fire. Can you tell us anything about him ?
Thanks, Pete.

PP: I saw Schirripa (right) play a few games when he was at Cardinal Gibbons. He has a pretty good arm, makes some good decisions, is a good athlete in the pocket and in the open field. He reminds me a little of starter Paul McCall.

FIUPIKE: Check out the updated rosters....looks we got that JUCO kid Chris DeArmas that was originally a USF signee.

PP: That is a mistake on the roster. De Armas is not coming to FIU.

KJHarris02: Hey Pete, any idea when we will know what games whether away or home are going to be televised and on radio. Also, are all games going to be on Panther Pass??? thanks

PP: As of today, FIU has 3 TV games, but 1 of them is on tape delay: vs. Alabama (CSS, shown on tape delay, Sept. 13); FIU at ULM (Sun Belt Network TV) and Florida Atlantic at FIU (Sun Belt Network TV). You can hear all FIU games on 790 The Ticket and there should be Panther Pass video for the home games. For the road games, usually the opposing teams have their own live web video on their team's Pooh website.

PLP Consulting: Pete, Great article on the incoming freshmen. Heard through the grapevine that Pooh Bear's incoming squat max was 515. Any truth to that? Also heard that they recently tested and quite a few guys benched over 400, with one guy benching 500 (Alajajian?).

PP: Thanks. I had Pooh Bear's 515 squat on the blog -- 2 posts ago. Will have updated weights from other players on here soon.


July 15, 2009

Munera Gets 5th Season; Visit to a 7-on-7

FIU punter Carlos Munera was granted a 5th season of college football by the NCAA on Wednesday Munera afternoon.

Munera had petitioned the NCAA for a medical redshirt after transferring to FIU before last season from West Hills College where he was a JUCO All-American punter.

Munera, who at 6-2, 232 pounds, took out a couple of opposing special teamers last year during punt returns, averaged 41.1 yards per punt and downed 20 punts inside the 20. His long was 61 yards.

Getting Munera (right, thanks Sam Lewis photo) for an extra season will now allow Jack Griffin and Dustin Rivest to concentrate on just kicking. Both would have punted and kicked this season if Munera was not available.


Was at one of your Panthers 7-on-7s on Tuesday afternoon working on an upcoming story about the FIU freshmen and thought to pass along some observations of the workout.

To start the entire team was not present due to classes, etc., but a good number of the team was there.

Before we get to the 7-on-7s, it was good to see how some of the players have taken charge and are leading the younger Panthers.

Oso With no FIU coaches present, because all throughout the NCAA, coaches are not allowed to be on the field with the players until August, certain players led the workout.

On the defensive side, you saw Scott Bryant (left, thanks Alex J. Hernandez photo) schooling the younger linebackers on the fine points of the position. SB set up some cones and went through some of the techniques of the position as Winston Fraser, Aaron Davis and Kenny Dillard paid attention to their elder (well, SB is a senior, so we can call him an elder).

Over with the tight ends, Eric Kirchenberg was doing the teaching as Jonathan Faucher, Chris Campbell and Colt Anderson, who is going to make the move from QB, listened intently.

Good news for Paul McCall and the FIU running game, the Panthers entire starting offensive line is back this season. Rare when you see all 5 linemen return for any team across the country.

The freshmen O-linemen look promising. Andy Leavine and Brad Serini were leading the O-line drills withIstanich seniors Joe Alajajian and Mario Caraballo as freshmen Dave Istanich (right), Rupert Bryan, Giancarlo Revilla and Austin Tottle followed along. On first impression, Istanich is a mountain and Bryan has the potential to be a monster. DI, who stands at 6-6 and 305 pounds, is probably not ready to play yet, but it would  not surprise to see him orMountain Bryan be the first freshmen linemen to get playing time this year.

With the QBs, PM and Wesley Carroll were giving pointers to a couple of walk-on QBs in Junior Delpe (North Miami High) and Chris Schirripa (Cardinal Gibbons High).

Anthony Gaitor, who it seems like just the other day was a freshman, was leading the DBs before they lined up against the receivers in 7-on-7s.

Among other notables: Josh Forney looks like the real deal as does Jonathan Cyprien, who already has the build of an upperclassman.

Some of the highlights from Tuesday's 7-on-7s:

Junior Mertile (thanks AJH photo), who caught the Hilton Heave last season, not only looks bigger and faster, but caught everything thrown his way, including a couple of acrobatic catches where he went across his body to Jr snare.

Kirchenberg also had a solid day catching passes. Anderson looked pretty comfortable at TE. You could tell he's a natural athlete with the way he ran his patterns and how effortlessly he caught the ball. He definitely has the height to play the position.

Not to anyone's surprise T.Y. Goodbye beat 2 defenders for a 45-yard TD and yes, you can tell Goodbye is no longer weighing 160 pounds and no, none of his speed has been sacrificed with the extra muscle on his frame. He's still running a 4.3.

Jairus Williams, all 6-5 of him, has the potential to be a nice red zone target. He had his ups and downs Tuesday making some catches, but dropping several of them. To which someone yelled, "You're going to be the strongest receiver here" because each time a receiver drops a pass they have to do push ups.

Each of the three QBs (PM, WY and WC) had their moments throwing. Delpe has good size at 6-3 and a strong arm. Schirripa had some accurate throws.

Gaitor and Cyprien had some pass breakups and Big Ontario Smith had an INT.

We're 26 days away from the start of camp and we'll have more updates from 7-on-7s before then. We'll get to the freshmen's weight room accomplishments on the next post.


Apaw Dropped by the fieldhouse after watching the workout and it is coming along nicely. It is just about completely painted. Was able to walk out onto the patio deck overlooking the FIU Stadium field and with the sun setting behind the west side of the stadium, the deck was covered in shade with a smooth easterly breeze blowing in -- definitely best seat in the house. Also, now with carpeting installed and the walls painted, the team auditorium is pretty impressive in size. Weight room and FIU locker room also had their floors put in and are taking shape. Will have some updated photos of the place soon.

blkpanther: Question, is Gaitor squatting 475 a typo? He squatting as much as the Linemen. Pete DoesGaitor   CMack have 2 years of eligibility left since he did not play last year? Was he on scholly last year?

PP: Double-checked with Coach Moore and he says that is NOT a typo. Moore says Gaitor (right, thanks AJH photo) is "pound for pound the strongest kid on the team".

CMack was getting his paperwork in order last season so he was not on any scholly. He has 2 years to play football at FIU.

Bryan R.: Pete, Maybe you can bring the NCAA 2010 stadium issue to your contacts in FIU athletics.

PP: FIU told EA about the new stadium with plenty of time, but EA just did not include it. Also, No. 4 and No. 6 for FIU were not included by EA in the game. Would say that No. 4 and No. 6 on the FIU team are some pretty important players.


July 13, 2009

In The Gym With The Panthers: Upperclassmen

Moore So you feel good after adding those extra 10 pounds on to your barbell this morning in the gym. Good for you. The following is not meant to make you feel bad about your workout routine it's just some of the highlights of the FIU football team's off-season strength and conditioning program.

Your Panthers have been adding some weight on their barbells as well and that's making them and strength coach Rod Moore (thanks Sam Lewis photo) feel good too. With Coach Moore's program, the Panthers have made noticeable gains across the board that should translate onto the field when camp and the season rolls around.

Senior offensive lineman Andy Leavine (below, right, thanks Alex J. Hernandez photo) was the first Panther that RM talked about. RM said: "Andy's put in the extra work in two ways. He is pushing himself more than ever and he's taken a leadership role in the weight room with some of the other players."Leavine

AL's power clean went from 315 pounds (summer 2008) to 350 (this summer). His bench press increased from 355 to 385 and squats increased from 425 to 500.

RM is also proud of T.Y. Goodbye's gains. TY, who entered FIU as a freshman last season at 160 pounds, is up to 175 and the goal is to get him to 180. RM said they have a plan to get TY to 180 and maintain that weight throughout the season.

TY's clean went from 205 in 2008 to 250 pounds this summer. He went from bench pressing 225 (08') to 275 (09') and the fastest Panther picked up his squats from 275 pounds to now 405.

One guy that RM said will surprise this season is Little Canada Toronto Smith. LC is 100% fully recovered from his foot injury from last season and shown it in the weight room.

LC upped his bench press from 295 (08') to 365 this summer. And his squat jumped from 475 to 515 pounds. With the work, LC has gone from weighing 204 to 222 pounds. Might be time to change that first Gaitor name to Ontario, because Toronto has gotten bigger.

RM says that "Anthony Gaitor is pound for pound the strongest kid on the team". Much like Goodbye, FIU would like to get Gaitor (left, thanks AJH photo) to 180 pounds and keep him there. He is at 175 now. Gaitor's numbers have gone up across the board: power clean (240 to 305), bench (245 to 315) and squats (405 to 475).

While being in his third season has definitely helped Gaitor and other FIU juniors, the Panthers probably benefitted a little from having several NFL players workout in the FIU gym. This summer Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Lawrence Timmons (below, right), Oakland Raiders offensive tackle Mario Henderson, Tennessee Titans linebacker Stephen Tulloch and Timmons Green Bay Packers defensive back Pat Lee have been regulars in the FIU weight room. Would not surprise if the list of NFLers in the FIU weight room increases in the future, especially once the team starts training in their state-of-the-art fieldhouse gym later this summer.

With a solid senior season, FIU safety Jeremiah Weatherspoon could follow former Panthers Antwan Barnes and Chandler Williams as the third FIU player drafted into the NFL. JW has also had a good summer bumping up his bench from 295 to 335 and squats from 385 to 425.

Ash Parker, who sustained a torn knee in last season's opener at Kansas, is just about 100%. RM says Ash's knee is "great" and his numbers in the gym attest to that: bench press (315 to 365) and in one of the ultimate tests for a knee, Ash increased his squats from 400 to 425.

Center Brad Serini has dropped some weight to be more mobile around the line of scrimmage. Brad went from weighing 300 pounds to 280 for this season. However, the weight on his gym work has increased. Brad's power clean went from 250 to 300; bench from 320 to 385 and squats from 440 to 500.

One player who both RM and MC were raving about was defensive lineman Jonas Murrell.

Jonas Jonas (No. 92, left with a sack vs. Middle Tennessee in 2005, thanks SL photo) weighed 358 pounds last summer and is now down to 314 pounds with the goal being to get to 300 pounds.

With MC repeatedly saying in his Q&A that the play of the FIU offensive and defensive lines will be critical to the success of this season, Jonas is leading the way.

Jonas upped his power clean from 275 to 325; bench from 355 to 400 and squats from 575 to 600 pounds.

Says RM: "Jonas has done such great work in the weight room and he's really taken to being educated about eating."

MC joked that he and the other FIU coaches text Jonas at around 10:30 every night with the message: "Put down that hamburger". He has. Jonas is tasting the unfried side of Kentucky Grilled Chicken.

If there is one player that FIU really needs to stay healthy all season it's running back Darriet Perry.Dp And DP is doing his part to be in the best shape possible.

DP (right, thanks AJH photo) has trimmed his body fat from 10% to 8% for this season and picked up his numbers in his sophomore season in the weight room. DP's bench went from 290 to 350 pounds and his tree trunk legs went from squatting 405 to 475 pounds. DP is currently at his playing weight of 204 pounds and that's where he is expected to stay.

Will have a look at the FIU freshmen's offseason workouts and also let you know who are the fastest Panthers with some of their 40 times in the next post as well as more thoughts from coach Moore.


The newest FIU basketball commit: point guard Phil Taylor is in town for an AAU basketball tournament at Fort Lauderdale Northeast High School. Spoke with PT and  added his comments on to the previous post "Another Point Guard Headed To FIU" so you can check it out there.

Apaw Got a text from FIU's PA man Roman that he read in a Heat blog that former FIU center Russell Hicks is playing for Miami's summer league team. Best of luck to RH.

SouthPaw: Pete, you snuck in a little nugget a few blogs back about a kid named Manny Juiz, a kicker who can kick with either leg, his longest being 72 yards with his left leg and 68 yards with his right. Are you trying to pull a Sid Finch on us here? Also, can you give us any update on Cedric Mack's eligibility Sidd_Finch_1986_Mets for this upcoming season?

PP: Manny "Sidd Finch" Juiz will be happy to know you referred to him as a kid. Manny has been overseeing the construction of FIU Stadium and the fieldhouse for Odebrecht. Manny has never kicked field goals and is not from Czech Republic. He is as Cuban as Cuban coffee.

CMack is ready to go eligibility-wise, but he may not be in football shape. We're going to start taking a look at the Panthers roster in our "Countdown to Camp" coming soon on the GPP.

July 12, 2009

Another Point Guard Headed To FIU

Pt Phil Taylor, a point guard from Wheeler High in Marietta, Georgia, has committed to play for FIU and new basketball coach Isiah Thomas.

Taylor, who is 5-9, 160 pounds, will be a senior this coming fall at Wheeler and would join the Panthers for the 2010-11 season.

Besides FIU, Taylor was being recruited by Clemson, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Florida State, Auburn, North Carolina State, Richmond and Xavier.

Taylor is in Fort Lauderdale until Thursday playing in an AAU tournament at Northeast High School. Last season for Wheeler, Taylor averaged: 21 points per game, 5 rebs, 7 asts and 3 steals.

Taylor says about his decision to commit to FIU: "Coach Thomas has made the situation feel like another family to me. It's going to be a great experience playing for him."

"Coach Thomas is going to groom me to be as good as he was. He's a Hall of Famer and who better to learn basketball from than the greatest point guard to play the game."

Taylor also added: "I know a lot of the top guys and I'm going to do my best to get them to come play with me at FIU."

Taylor would join power forward Brandon Moore as part of FIU's 2010-11 class.

For this coming season, FIU has signed point guard Phil Gary, shooting guards/small forwards Stephon Weaver and Antoine Watson and power forwards Marvin Roberts and Kavon Lytch.

Center Chris Coleman, who committed to FIU last week, is for the 2011-12 season.


Apaw Will have strength coach Rod Moore and his thoughts and numbers on the Panthers off-season conditioning program on the blog on Monday at some point. Got some non-FIU stuff to work on Monday, but will get to the Panthers pumping iron.

Gooch7: PETE: Is there a way of knowing what Bowl Game (Realistically) FIU can play if they finish the season 7-5? I know if they win the conference they play in the New Orleans Bowl but what other Bowls can they play at with that type of record?

PP: The Sun Belt has bowl tie-ins with the St. Petersburg Bowl, Papa Johns Bowl and Independence Bowl as the first alternate for each of those bowls. But FIU could wind up in any number of bowls depending on what those particular bowls are looking for. The Florida Atlantic Hooters ended up in the Motor City Bowl in Detroit last season and that bowl has no tie-ins with the Sun Belt. On July 13, 2009 your question is tough to answer. Here is a blog I wrote last season with some examples of bowls FIU could play in: FIU Bowl Possibilites from 2008

alt7787: I keep hearing conflicting reports about a Dan Uggla trade. Some say the Marlins have not tried to trade him and do not plan on doing so, while other reports say that there were "discussions". What do you know about a Dan Uggla trade?

PP: I've heard both, but Jeremy Hermida has been the player the Marlins have been shopping the most. With the way Chris Coghlan has developed the Marlins could trade Uggla. Coghlan is a second baseman playing out of position in left field. However, the Marlins like Uggla's power (16 HR, 50 RBI) and on-base ability (50 walks) which makes up for his average (.227) and lack of fielding range. He is making $5 million, which is too expensive for the penny-pinching Marlins ownership. I think trading Uggla depends on if the Marlins can get what they need (a middle of the order power bat or a reliable closer). The problem with making trades now is that 20 of the 30 teams are still in the playoff hunt so 2/3rds of the major leagues are looking to improve before the July 31 trade deadline. 

July 09, 2009

James McOwen -- Hitting Machine

Jmac Former FIU and current High Desert Mavericks outfielder James McOwen is streaking having now recorded a hit in 45 consecutive games and owns the longest hitting streak in minor league baseball history since 1954.

The all-time minor league record is a 69-game hitting streak by Joe Wilhoit, an outfielder for the Wichita Jobbers in 1919. Joe DiMaggio is second all-time in the minors with a 61-game hit streak in 1933 for the San Francisco Seals. Mr. Coffee had his major league record 56-game hit streak in 1941.

McOwen was a 6th round draft choice of the Seattle Mariners after his junior season at FIU. He has been playing minor league baseball since then and after a different approach at the plate this season he has been tearing the cover off the ball.

It's been an experience during the past 45 games for McOwen. You can check out a story on McOwen and his streak in Saturday's Miami Herald. Until then you can read on about what McOwen thinks of the past 45 games. Had a phone conversation with the player who owns the third highest career batting average (.372) at FIU.

I remember at FIU you were pretty much a low-key type of player. When did you first become aware of the streak and how have you been handling the streak?

JM: At 14 games, a reporter mentioned to me I had a hitting streak going. But for like the first 15 or 16 games nobody on the team really talked about it. I’ve always been a person that tries not to let too much get to me, especially with this game where you fail so much. I just try to play up to my potential. I really don’t care about jinxes and superstitions. My teammates were the ones that were saying how hot I was at the plate.

What has been the craziest thing about the streak so far?

JM: Craziest thing is that I have gotten a hit in my last at-bat like five or six times [seven after Tuesday's game]. A lot of the credit for me getting last chances late in games has to go to my teammates. My teammates have helped me out a lot. Like Monday night’s game they got me 5 at-bats. I went 0 for 2 against the starting pitcher, who was real tough on me, but my teammates hit well enough off of him to knock him out of the game. They brought in a reliever and I hit a home run off the reliever to keep the streak alive.

What has been the most nerve-wracking moment for you during the streak? Mlb_McOwen_200

JM: The most nerve wracking thing about the streak was being on ESPN. I was on the show 1st Take and even though it was just a phone interview it was live on TV. I got a little rattled. I got through it. I kind of stuttered a little bit in the beginning.

Has there been a moment that has hit you about what you are doing at the plate?

JM: Probably, breaking the California League hitting streak record. They stopped the game, gave me the ball and announced it to the entire stadium. That was pretty neat.

What's the dugout like during these games and in particular your at-bats?

JM: There is no pressure on the team or myself. My teammates are always joking around during games. There is nothing off limits when it comes to the streak. In a game that came close to ending the streak in Stockton, in my last at-bat some of the guys on my team joked with me before I went to the plate saying “Hey, is that the right bat?” or “That’s not the bat you want to use against this pitcher”. I went up to the plate and got a hit to keep the streak going. Nobody on my team has gotten superstitious over it, There are no rally caps or anything like that when I am up at the plate.

What have you done differently at the plate to go from being a career .260 hitter to hitting .353 this season?

JM: My hitting coach Tommy Cruz really got me going. Tommy doesn’t allow me any wasted movement in the batter’s box. Before the streak started he told me to widen my stance and keep my hands still, because you can mess stuff up with movement. The new stance also allows me to be on time to the ball.

What's the weirdest thing an opposing team has done or said to you to try and snap the streak?

JM: Heading to the batting cages before a game against Rancho Cucamonga, the opposing pitching coach was standing outside of the bullpen with his pitchers and said to me: “We got a bounty hunt for whoever ends your streak. That pitcher is going to get some extra money for stopping your streak." I laughed I thought it was funny.


Apaw   Got some FIU football on deck here on the GPP. Going to have strength coach Rod Moore visit here to talk about the Panthers off-season. Here's a preview: on his first day lifting as a Panther, freshman linebacker Pooh Bear Mars (right) squatted 515 pounds. Not bad for a freshman. Mars is 1 of 24 new Panthers in school already beginnning Pooh preparations for the 2009 season.Squat


SouthPaw: Pete, I read in a pre-season review of FIU football that Chris Cook is expected to come back next season. Can you validate that, and also give us an update on the status of Carlos Munera?

PP: Cook is not expected back. Munera is still waiting to hear from the NCAA if they will grant him a medical redshirt.

FIUJM: Pete, when fall practice begins...do you think they'll be open to public?

Pete, what have you heard about Freddy situation? Barry Jackson had a little section about it today, but like always he always gets one side of the story.

PP: MC has said before that there will be some practices open to the public. Which ones and what dates? Stay tuned. Will let you know when I know.

FA is not coming back. Barry didn't write the real reason why this whole soap opera started: FA's handler was trying to force one of his assistant coaches on to IT's staff and IT does not play that game. So when IT said no, then all of the sudden FA felt a loyalty toward SR and he didn't want to play for a new coach. But he would be playing for a new coach wherever he lands. Like I mentioned in previous posts, let's just bury this already and move forward. This novela is not worth anymore space in cyberspace.

FIU Fanatic: Pete, a question....would you be able to know/post statistics...perhaps from the Spring...or perhaps early Summer...as to the players lifting weights, jumping abilities, running the 40 yard dash, etc?

PP: Will be meeting with strength coach Rod Moore in the next couple of days to have some updates on the off-season conditioning program.

Dor quijote!: Why are we scheduled to play UCF & Louisville so often in the next 3, 4 years? I don't like that!!! Pete, any ideas?

That patio looks super pimp. What does it take for us to catch a game from there?

PP: Like Dorothy (left) once said: "There's no place like home". The reason there are series with UCF & Louisville is because they are home-and-home games for FIU. The Panthers will play 2 games away against each of those schools and 2 games at FIU Stadium vs. each of those schools. FIU is the only Sun Belt school that will play home-and-home series with BCS and other non-conference teams. For more on this: CLICK HERE *Note: the link for the blog in the previous sentence does not include Rutgers playing at FIU in next season's home opener.

The patio is expected to be used on game days for hosting recruits and donors.

OC Panther: Pete whats the highest ranked high school star UM has ever recruited?

PP: With no disrespect toward you OC Panther, this is an FIU blog. Who cares about the history over in Coral Gables. FIU is making history right now. Enjoy it.




July 08, 2009

Big Hoops Recruit To FIU

Coleman Chris Coleman, a 6-11, 250-pound center, committed on Wednesday night to play for FIU and new basketball coach Isiah Thomas.

Coleman, who is a sophomore at Mount Zion Academy in North Carolina, would join the Panthers in 2011 as a freshman.

Trying to get CC on the phone to hear his thoughts. Until then here is a scouting report on the big fella: Learn about Chris Coleman

July 07, 2009

Fieldhouse Tour -- Second Floor & Patio Overlooking FIU Stadium Field

We conclude our first look at the brand new FIU R. Kirk Landon Fieldhouse with a tour of the second floorFhdeckfieldswcorner of the building and possibly the best seats in the house come game day.

(Click on all photos to enlarge and get a better view) To get to the second floor of the fieldhouse, you can take the elevator or stairs. When we were there to take these photos the elevator was yet to be installed.

We're going to go up the stairs located on the southwest corner of FIU Stadium. This is right by the tunnel where your Panthers will be running out of on game days. As you go up these stairs you get an idea of what the view would be like from the patio deck. This first photo on the right is from just outside the patio deck on the SW corner of the stadium. As you can tell, the deck is just about on top of the FIU Stadium field. And there are soccer markings on the field for the upcoming Gold Cup on Friday, July 10 at FIU Stadium. (your welcome, Gold Cup for the free plug).

The first thing you can see on your way up the stairs to the second floor of the fieldhouse is some extra space left for future expansion of the second floor. Of course, if there is even more expansion needed Fhexpans they can always get to building the third and fourth floors. This photo on the left is the area just to the left of MC's office if you are looking at the west end zone from the east side of FIU Stadium. Or in other words, if you stand on the side of the jumbotron and look toward the opposite end zone, then MC's office would be the first room going from left to right on the 2nd floor of the FH.

Let's go into MC's office. The FIU head coach's office is the only office with a view of the field and the largest of the FIU coaches offices. Take a look again at the first photo above on the right and that is what MC sees from his office. Now here on the right is a look inside the yet painted or furnished office of the FIU football coach.Fhmcoffice This photo was taken from the middle of the office looking at the east side of the office so picture the west side of the office being the same size space. You might be able to get a better idea of the office the next time we're there to shoot some pics and the place is furnished.

Before we go to the 6 extra meeting rooms/game day suites, let's have a look at the 125-seat team meeting auditorium.

The auditorium -- which is located across the hall from MC's office on the west side of the 2nd floor -- will have tiered-seating similar to the auditoriums you used to sit in college or high school.

Fhauditgt To give you a sense of the depth of the auditorium, we asked FIU hopeful walk-on offensive lineman Ralph Garcia-Toledo to stand at the entrance of the room. The photo on the left with RGT standing is from the north entrance to the room. Then the photo on the right without o-lineman RGT is from the south entrance to the room.Fhaudit

What will really give you a sense of how big this room is, is looking at the column to the right of RGT in the photo on the left. The same column is on the photo on the right without RGT. As you can see there is plenty of room beyond the column on both sides.

Let's go on to the meeting rooms/game day suites.

We took a photo of a double meeting room to give you an idea of the size of the only double meeting room and at the same time an idea of the size of one meeting room. All 6 rooms overlook the FIU Stadium field and all 6 have access to the patio deck. You can see in the photo on the left a wooden beam above -- that is the divider between the 2 rooms.

Fhdoubmeet Here on the left is a look inside a double meeting room. This can also be used for a large party of fans on game day or for hosting a large number of recruits on game days.

And now for what may be the best seat in the house on game day. The best seat in the house would be on the patio deck in the shade with a beverage watching some football. Here are a couple of photos of the patio Fhpatio deck. When these pics were shot the deck was just done and no one was allowed to step on it so we had to take the pics from inside a Fhpatiodeck meeting room/suite and from the south side of the stadium.

Let's finish the tour with views of the mezzanine located on the second floor overlooking the lobby of the fieldhouse. This shot on the far right below the patio deck shot is from the lobby of the FH looking up at the area where the temporary FIU Hall of Fame will be located. The Fhmezz second photo (near right) of the mezzanine is taken from the second floor overlooking the lobby.Fhmezzabove

We'll be back in the fieldhouse in a couple of weeks to take some updated photos and have them here for you. Been told the FH is just about painted and is in the process of being furnished.

Haven't forgotten your questions from the previous post. Will get to them on the next post.

July 03, 2009

MC Q&A Part 5

Mc Wrapping up your questions and coach Mario Cristobal's answers as we draw nearer to the start of the 2009 FIU football season. First practice is scheduled for August 10, first question of this last Q&A is right now....

FIUFPL: Have the plans for stadium completion been moved back due to the loss of the MLS bid?


MC: Everything is on schedule for Phase 1 completion. Phase 2 will begin whenever the specs have been approved. That is a process that I cannot give full detail on right now. Nothing has stopped the progress of the stadium due to the MLS.


Nick F: In your mind, what would signify progress for the team this season? (Specifics)

Esteban: What defines this being a successful season?

MC: Number one cutting down senseless penalties. Number two be more efficient offensively, particularly in the red zone. Being better in our kicking game. We have a couple of dynamic players on special teams that we think can really change the game for us. Be more physical upfront on both sides of theRed ball I think is the most important thing for us to be a better football team. If we can do that and control the line of scrimmage that will make us a better football team. I think all those things combined, if done the right way, should show on the scoreboard and from game to game and from a record standpoint.

Gold: What is the missing piece that you feel FIU needs to overcome this year to help us win the SBC championship?

MC: It starts up front. It’s the area where we need the most, but particularly the defensive line. Our defensive line really needs to execute what they are being taught to execute. They need to play disciplined football, tough football and when called upon to make plays they need to make plays. Up front on the offensive line as well. I think both sides have to be extremely physical for us to take our next step in the conference. Our next step as a football team -- with the development of our skills kids coming along a little bit faster than usual -- has to be up front.

Oso BaltimorePanther: What unit will be the most improve next year?Lcanada

MC: Linebackers.  I think we have gotten bigger, stronger, faster through the weight room and through recruiting. It’s going to allow us to get downhill in the running game a little better and it’s going to allow us to be a little rangier in the passing game as well. Plus, another year with the system under our belt is going to make us more knowledgeable. We have more experience. I expect them to take a big jump.


BaltimorePanther: What do you think is the biggest challenge in the upcoming season?

MC: We’re not going to surprise anybody, anymore. I think walking into Toledo and North Texas last year and Middle Tennessee coming here I think there was still a sense that, that’s the FIU team that hadn’t been performing well and I think once we left those stadiums and our stadium it woke a lot of people up. And in closing out the year with a victory and playing some tight games also has put the word out there that FIU is on the rise. We like that. I think that’s part of the challenge, but only if you let it be, because that’s something that you can control. You can still prepare at the highest level. I think the biggest challenge is going to be up front.


JSuarez88: What kind of season do you expect out of Jeremiah Weatherspoon (below, right)? What are his chances to be the 3rd FIU player to be drafted?

MC: A big one. He’s working extremely hard. He’s always been in great shape and he’s getting leaner and more flexible on top of the weight room regiment that he puts himself through with Coach Rod MooreJw to stay healthy. Because if he stays healthy, in his second full year in our system he should be a very dominant force in that secondary. He can run, tackle and he’ll hit you. We expect big things from him.

[Being drafted] will depend on his season. If he has a good senior season, stays healthy and plays disciplined football I think he has a great shot. We’re fired up about him. We’re proud of him. He’s really done a good job in school and he’s got himself mentally and physically ready. He knows it’s time. It’s his senior year and he has to come up big.

FI-UM Fan: What did you learn about your offense during the spring?

MC: I learned that we can continue to evolve like we planned. Year one the fundamentals of coach Bill Legg’s offense were installed and by game three and going forward we certainly improved in one facet or another. As the season went on what we learned about ourselves is that our players have such a good understanding of it that it is not hard to introduce a new concept. We did that this spring with plenty of wrinkles that we think are going to help us. We have some personnel coming in and something that we discovered in the spring that is going to allow us to be more multiple and do some things that we probably we wouldn’t excel at last year, but we think we could be pretty good at this year in the running game. With a strong showing from Paul McCall and improvement from Wayne Younger you have to feel pretty comfortable going into fall camp with those guys.

Rb FIUPIKE: Where will Rupert Bryan (left) play OL or DL?

MC: Not sure yet. He’s real good. He’s an excellent football player. He can do both. We’re going to sense where we are in terms of injury as we head into fall practice and make a decision then. I can tell you one thing for sure: he will play.

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

MC: Troy is going to be excellent. FAU is going to be excellent. Louisiana, although they lost some players, we had a tough time against them last year. I don’t think there is a team that can be overlooked, because I know that one of the best players in the conference next year will be the quarterback from North Texas, Riley Dodge, one of the most coveted players in the country. I know that Monroe is bringing in a quarterback that we saw play in the Pensacola area that is a phenomenal football player. He’s going to make them better. We are not at that stage where we could start talking about this team or another team. I don’t ever want that locker room or those players to have that mentality. We need to think of everyone as the Super Bowl to make sure that we prepare to go out there and play lights out, extreme effort, finish football, every single Saturday.

CJ: What game do you think holds the key to the season?

MC: Every game.

outofthecage88: Is there any way for a team to be given a shot at a national title coming from the Sun Belt?

MC: I think so. One of the things that we always make sure recruits know is we always face theTrophy challenge of: “You guys are in the Sun Belt Conference and not a BCS conference” and typically it comes from schools that have never sniffed a BCS bowl game or a national championship. What we have seen in Utah and Boise State that that day is coming fast and near for two reasons. Number one it’s evident there is great football out there aside from the BCS conferences and number two if you take care of your schedule and what you are supposed to do you will earn yourself a shot. I think that is something that is becoming more and more clear. I think that’s why there is such a buzz about a possible playoff or realigning the BCS and how it works. I have no doubts that when we reach that level that we strive for everyday to be champions and to go out and win every football game that we play in I believe the opportunity will be there.

Chrisfiu: What are you expecting in the Bama and Florida games? In terms of "visualizing the win", are you hopeful that this team will put up a good fight?

MC: We do nothing, but visualize wins. We do nothing but prepare to win. We expect physical football. We expect fast football. We expect to play against the greatest athletes in the SEC. We expect to enter in there on an emotional high, physically prepared and ready to play some of the most exciting games in the history of FIU football.



In case you missed it in Thursday's MH, there was a good story on FIU football's youth clinic with FIU coaches and players. Here is the link to it: FIU football clinic

In one of the previous posts someone had asked MC what was FIU doing to get more people in the seats for football games, well, this story is a prime example: 200 football playing kids and their coaches got a taste of FIU football and practiced in FIU Stadium for a day.

Apaw  FIU 3-time All-American Yarimar Rosa (No. 6 photo, right) has led the Puerto Rican national team into the semifinals of the Pan American Cup currently ongoing over in the Coral Gables basketball building. YR and theYr PRs take on the Dominican Republic in a Friday night semifinal. The winner plays the winner of the U.S./Brazil match for the championship on Saturday evening. Here's a story on FIU's first soon-to-be 4-time All-American: Puerto Rico and FIU's finest

Apaw Time to put this thing to bed. The latest on the FA novela is that his camp is claiming that FIU sent a letter to FA's home in Colombia denying his release 1 month too late. Thus, passing the 15-day window that FA could have appealed to the NCAA for a release from FIU.

Got a public records release regarding any FIU shipping receipts to Colombia within the last 2 months. With the name of the recipient blacked out due to the Family Education Records Privacy Act and Florida State Student Records Law, the only shipment from FIU to Colombia in the last 2 months was delivered FedEx and signed for on May 22 -- one month before the date FA's camp is claiming that the letter arrived late. Go figure. Regardless, FA will likely take the JUCO route this season.

Apaw IT added another assistant coach to his staff with the hiring of William Eddie from Central Michigan.


MC says the linebackers will be the most improved unit on the FIU football team this season. What do you think?




July 01, 2009

More with Turtle

FIU baseball coach Turtle Thomas took some time out Tuesday to speak about the past few days and the Tt future of FIU baseball.

What was your thought process in declining even interviewing with Maryland and staying at FIU?

TTIt's nice to be wanted, but my heart is at FIU. We had the best turnaround in the program's history last season and I want to develop FIU baseball into one of the top college baseball teams in the state and in the nation. We are building something special at FIU.

I'm very, very happy that [FIU athletic director] Pete Garcia hired to me to be the leader of the baseball program at FIU. When you are the head coach of a program to me you have to stand the test of time. It's not like you win one year, you're a flash in the pan and you jump to whatever else. You have to really put your roots down, put your feet on the ground, roll up your sleeves and get to work.


What was it about Maryland that had you turn them down and remain coaching baseball at FIU?


TT: It was nothing about Maryland. It was our feelings and our love toward FIU and our program. A lot of players and families have made a commitment to FIU and you want to keep coaching these players. I like the players on our team. I like our assistant coaches and I like where our program is going. We want to make something out of this program. We want to make the FIU community and the Miami area proud and happy of the direction the FIU program is taking.


I think we are going to have a very solid ballclub this coming year. I know what this baseball program can be with the South Florida and Florida talent that is available to recruit to our program. We have a lot of good players in our program right now and we are continuing to get good players to our program through the recruiting process.

Other conferences and other schools are taking note that our program is winning and going in the right direction. FIU is on the way up. We certainly know that recruits in Florida and particularly in South Florida Team are taking note of that.


What do you think were the main reasons for the 14-win turnaround last season? As you know that was the greatest win improvement in the 37-year history of FIU baseball.


TT: Many of our players have developed a love, a caring and loyalty toward FIU. They’ve taken a lot of pride. You see them all the time wearing FIU baseball stuff around outside of the ballpark. You could see that we had really good team chemistry this past year. They were all pulling in the same direction. It’s exactly what you want to see from a coaching standpoint. We had good talent, but we had great team chemistry which led in the turnaround from the previous year. We hope this coming year and in the future years to continue that turnaround where we’re thought upon as certainly one of the better teams in the state and in the country. That’s our goal.


Did the positive direction that FIU sports is headed in play any kind of factor in your decision?


TT: FIU has made a total U-turn in a lot of sports, but especially in the big three [football, basketball andMc baseball]. It's the right time at FIU with what Mario is doing in football, with what Isiah is  It going to do in basketball and what every coach here at FIU is doing.  Everybody is pulling on the rope in the same direction and everybody is headed in the right direction, because they are all proud of what FIU is becoming and getting better by leaps and bounds every day that goes by. We all feel tremendous about our great university.

I'm sure there were several moments that stood out from last year's 34-win season, but which one first comes to mind when you think of the 2009 season? 


TT: When we beat [then Sun Belt No. 1] Western Kentucky 2 out of 3 games and our fans were chanting FIU, FIU and they were just pumped. It was an exciting series. All 3 games came down to the last batter of the game. It sends a tingling feeling up your spine and everything like that, because it’s just a lot of fun. That’s what it’s all about right there. The effort that you put in and the effort our players put in and to have that result it’s fist-pumping type of feeling.


Do you see FIU as a long-term job?


TT: I want to coach 18 more years. Absolutely, I see FIU as long-term. I said that at [the introductory] press conference and I still see that today.





Former FIU right-hander Josh Banks, who returned from the disabled list last week, picked up his first win of the season last night for the San Diego Padres against the Houston Astros. This on the heels of another FIU alum and Red Sox 3B Mike Lowell going on the DL,Bankss   because of a hip injury.




Joel: I know that Wikipedia isn't exactly a credible source, but on the FIU football wiki page UCG is listed as an opponent for the 2011 season. Any truth to this or just somebody messing around?


PP: No truth. The only match between the crosstown schools scheduled for this coming year is in volleyball at U.S. Century Bank Arena. Asked TT if there was any progress with the baseball series being renewed and he said "nope". Heard from a very reliable source over at the Coral Gables school that JM took a lot of heat from the boosters after FIU and TT ended the crosstown series Volley with a W in Coral Gables in 2008.


Ultimate FIU Fan: Pete, need an update on Freddy A.'s status for hoops. Finally, since the NCAA cancelled all Alabama victory's since '05, doesn't that mean that FIU's game in '05 becomes a victory for the WINLESS Golden Panthers of that year?


PP: Freddy is not coming back to FIU and FIU is not releasing him from his scholie. Last I heard, FA was stuck in Colombia, because his visa expired and could not get back in the U.S. And since he is not coming back to FIU, the university does not have the responsibility of helping him with a visa. So, it's up to Miami Dade College or whatever JUCO he decides on or FA's handler to get him back into the good, old USA. As far as the situation, feel bad for FA, because he's a good kid, but unfortunately he's not making his own decisions. If you read the Sports Illustrated story, writer Seth Davis didn't have the entire picture when he took shots at FIU, because nowhere did he mention FA's handler and his intentions -- that is the root of this whole situation. I'm not buying the whole wanted to play for SR deal that has become the main excuse, because former FIU players have told me that FA and SR were not always on the same page.


As far as the Alabama sanction, unfortunately it doesn't work that way with FIU getting a win. It is just counted as an Alabama loss. But technically, you could say FIU won by forfeit.


FIUFan: Hey Pete, Hardaway Jr. is going to Meechigan, does this mean that Timmy won't be one of IT's Asst's?


PP: Not necessarily. Junior gave a verbal commitment. Nothing is signed and we've all seen before that recruits have a tough time picking a Gatorade flavor. Not saying he won't stick at UM, but stranger things have happened. Timmy, Sr. is still in the running to join IT's staff. Except, that Sr. never finished his degree at UTEP and is going to take classes to get that degree (need a degree to work at a state university) so that he could eventually coach. IT has said that he would like to fill out his coaching staff by the end of July.


*Thanks to Alex J. Hernandez for the FIU photos















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