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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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