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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?





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is YR single and ready to mingle? (sorry parents)... shes pretty good

She is more than pretty good she is HOT!!! In person shes one fit chica!

She's hot, hot, hot.....and smart too....

I can't wait until football season!!....and basketball season.....and baseball season....heck....for volleyball season with Yari in it.......

Go FIU!!

Even though we're younger in that department, I really think the running game might see the most improvements.

Great answer to out of the cage's question

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

I love the fact that he respects North Texas pretty much the same way he respects Alabama. Treat everyone the same...that is with the utmost respect. If you go into a game thinking otherwise, you'll get a USA 2, SPAIN 0 result. I like this attitude.

pictures of almost any women's college volleyball team always seem to come out good. go figure.

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?

I agree, the running game will be better, that is, if Darriet Perry can stay healthy. Darriet can carry it. He's the best running back we've ever had.

I look for the biggest improvements to come from the defensive line. I think Kambriel Willis, James Jones, Jonathan Jackson, Reggie Jones, Thatcher Starling, and Cody Pellicer will make major contributions this year.

i put the Dline to be the most improved. i know we are young in some areas there but we are starting to see depth.. i think they are goin to suprise some people

Pete, Thanks for having questions answered. Coach Cristobal is right, our LB's are going to shine on defense this year. That position is loaded with talent.

I subscribe to Sporting News Magazine and those guys are ridiculous covering college football. Their preseason rankings have FIU football at #115.

Pete, when fall practice begin...do you think they'll be open to public? Thanks.

Go FIU!!!

I believe we really lacked in the running game and in somewhat in the kicking game last year. Given that, DP has shown a lot of potential. I expect the RB's to really step it up this year, specially since everyone is going to be busy looking at all our athletes at the WR positions.

I liked our defense last year. I thought they were pretty fast, well coached and hard hitting. It really showed in the USF game. To hear MC say that the biggest improvement will come from the defensive side of the football is actually pretty remarkable.

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? I know some teams find a way to make those public...is there a way our numbers/stats (if they were tabulated) could be put in here?


I think that in regards to most improved for this season. I would like to see our kicking game make a big leap. Last season we lost games in which a good kicking game would have turned them in to W's.
I ran into to something crazy in regards to this upcoming season. An espn writer is ranking FIU as having the toughest nonconference schedule in the nation. I think that is a both scary and rewarding at the same time. Here is a link to the article. http://insider.espn.go.com/espn/blog/index?entryID=4294864&name=feldman_bruce&action=upsell&appRedirect=http%3a%2f%2finsider.espn.go.com%2fespn%2fblog%2findex%3fentryID%3d4294864%26name%3dfeldman_bruce
I wonder what they will rank our SOS this season as considering last season we were ranked in the 100s by most polls.

I like having a difficult non conference schedule. I understand it was scheduled before Mario's time, but I don't want to see Mario & Co scheduling easier games. However, with Texas A&M, UCF and Maryland scheduled in 2010 and UCF, Louisville and Duke in 2011, its certainly starting to look like it.

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

quijote...those schools are willing to play home and home with FIU and that is one of the main reasons for it.

Thanks for the explanation Roman.

However, I personally would sacrifice an AWAY and that's means we get the incredible educational an experience opportunity of playing at the Swamp and Bama instead of home and home against the likes of Toledo and Duke. Wouldn't you agree?


Auditioning for Conference USA.

I'd rather see home-and-home series with Duke and Louisville. Although not the powerhouses that are bama and Florida, they're certainly worthy opponents and still bring media exposure and are likely to increase attendance at home games, something which we're unlikely to see with Bama and Florida given the demands on those teams' schedule and the fact that their away games are mainly scheduled against major SEC rivals.

quijote... the name of thhe game is win and get fans in the stands.. if you sign to play an away game thats 1 less game to get fans in the stands... by signing.. not lesser competition.. but lets face it 2 of the 4 teams we are goin to play this year are on a collision course for the NC title game. by scheduling more teams like a rutgers, louisville, etc. we are scheduling teams that are beatable and also get the chance to beat them at home

Well, we are having home and home with Rutgers, Texas A&M, Louisville, UCF, and Duke...as per an official release early on this year.. While Duke is not the strongest program, they play in the ACC...also the Big 12 (Texas A&M)and Big East (Louisville and Rutgers), besides a CUSA state foe )UCF,) are part of the schedule.

I haven't heard or read anywhere we are going to play Maryland again, and let alone in 2010...unless they are the final OOC foe then. As far as I know, we have 3 OOC games set for 2010: Rutgers, @Texas A&M, and @UCF.



It's just my opinion but I feel the team learned more by beating Toledo than by getting blown out by Iowa. I am a USF alum as well, and I was up there when they transitioned to the Big East and they improved by mixing tough games with "winnable" games in their OOC.

Wouldn't beating Alabama and Florida in AWAY games be better than beating Toledo and Duke at home? ;)

Point taken...thanks for your feedback guys.

and this is not to say that we wouldnt mind playing the big boys... we just want them to come to miami.. make it fair.. hell if FAU can get texas to come to the rats mouth... (boca raton) hell im sure we can find some1 out there willing to hit up a home and home game.

"Number one cutting down senseless penalties" does that mean coach will not get called for his dumb penalties?

Scheduling home-and-home series are crucial. Forget the money games where we are guranteed to lose for a quick buck and sacrifice a home game. I want to see my team play 6 home games, not 5. I want us to schedule games with opponents who will agree to play us here. And now we have legitimate chances of going to bowl games with out of conference victories year in and year out.

Plus, home games against Duke will bring out crowds. Home games against UCF will bring out crowds. And they should be good games, good learning experiences. I'm excited for 2010 and beyond as much as I am excited for this upcoming season.

im with joel on this one guys.. i want to see games here on our campus stadium.. the only way to get fans in the stands is to have home games

FIU Fanatic brings up an interesting point about Maryland... that article makes no mention of Maryland as the last OOC opponent in 2010. Is that spot still open? Would it be possible for us to have 6 home games for the first time in our FBS history? I sure hope so...

You guys make it sound like we play all our games on the road, LOL...

We basically do... at least all of OOC games, and those are the games that we could be using to bring fans to the stadium. As much as I like the Sun Belt, what game is going to foster more interest, a home game against ULM or a home game against UCF? A home game against Middle Tennessee or a home game against Rutgers or another Big East team? A home game against North Texas or a home game against Duke or another ACC team?

We need OOC games at HOME to create headlines and attention, to stir local interest, to send a message. We need six games at home instead of five, just like most other respected programs.

Of PGs decisions the one to stop playing body-bag games is the best.

You cant grow game attendance when by the time we play our first home game we are 0-4 and been shellacked 56-7.

How can u get any average FIU student or Miami sports fan to be excited by that. T

hat doesnt create buzz thats a buzz killer, when u take that into consideration, we have done great in attendance.

FIUPIKE - it sure feels that way!

FIUPIKE - it sure feels that way!

it also feels like we have a bye every week or 2. ha.

I know its not Petes fault. Its the fault of the editors who put him on other projects but these long periods inbetween updates is killing this blog.

Just don't buy the argument that winning alone is the silver bullet that will signficantly boost our attendance. At least not in our case. To me, us playing in the Sun Belt hurts our attendance as much, if not more, than our lack of consistent winning. Do you really think even if we win 7 or 8 games that we'll come even close to selling out against a ULM or Middle Tennessee? I just don't see it in this town. But conversely even if we're a 4 or 5 win team I can see us coming close to selling out against a Pitt, WVU or even a UCF/USF. There's just so little interest in Sun Belt teams in this town, it's like swimming against a rip tide. A plan to leave the Sun Belt needs to be a high priority if this program is to succeed long term.

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