Two weeks of camp are in the books and now there are 16 days until the season opener at Alabama on Sept. 12.
Your Panthers are having a special teams scrimmage on Thursday and team scrimmage No. 3 on Friday afternoon. Both scrimmages are closed to the public, but we'll have the recaps on here for your reading pleasure.
In two weeks of camp, we've observed some things about the FIU offense, defense and special teams that are different from last season. Of course, I'm not an NFL scout, nor do I play one on TV, so take these observations for what they're worth and it being just 2 weeks into camp.
Here are 10 things noticed so far in your Panthers camp.....
1) The running game may not be as big a concern as originally thought. Darriet Perry (right, thanks Roy Viera photo) looks ready to assume the workhorse duties as the featured back. Darian Mallary may not be a back you can play in long stretches, but if he gets any kind of blocking, he's gone. Trenard Turner really surprised in the last scrimmage with his toughness running the ball, especially coming off knee surgery. We didn't see too much of John Ellis in the last scrimmage, but he could help down the road if he gets some carries.
2) The offensive line bounced back in the second scrimmage after the D-Line took it to them in the first one. The experience of having played on the same line for 2 years and for some of the O-Linemen, 3 years now should help. However, the jury is still out on how consistent this line can be. Need to see more of last Saturday's plowing of holes for the RBs, because the running game and the passing game will only be as good as the offensive line's blocking.
3) Junior Mertile will have a big season and the freshmen receivers have a chance to be real special. Are they "Goodbye" Special? That's a little too much to ask of any frosh. But opponents double and triple covering No. 4 this season, should not be a problem for the FIU offense, especially with the emergence of No. 2 and don't forget Greg Ellingson. As for the freshmen WRs, Jimmie Walker would be proud, because it could be "Goodbye Times" this season. From the first couple of weeks, Wayne Times -- No. 5 (left, thanks Sam Lewis photo) could come close to being this year's version of No. 4. And opponents can't sleep on Rockey Vann, Jairus Williams and Larry McCoy.
4) There are some players that are starting to distinguish themselves along the defensive line. Armond Willis and Tourek Williams might be having some of the better camps among the D-Linemen. AW is in the best shape of his FIU career and it's showing on the field. Tourek, a freshman, is built like a senior and this former high school tight end is also very athletic as his field goal block earlier in camp showed. Thatcher Starling, Andre Pound, Jonas Murrell and Kambriel Willis have also done well. What the D-Line needs is consistent pass rusher to emerge ala El Monstruo.
5) Not sure what kind of leg workouts, the FIU kickers did in the off-season, but Carlos Munera and Dustin Rivest (right, thanks RV photo) seem to have more pop in their kicks this camp. We all knew about Munera's leg, but his punts seem to have more hang time and are consistently farther than last season. Whether it was the arrival of Jack Griffin or another season in the weight room, either way Rivest is more consistent and has more leg on his FGs this month. Griffin has the leg, but he's got to straighten out the accuracy on his some of his FGs.
6) The starting cornerback spot opposite Anthony Gaitor is still waiting for some DB to claim it. Dez Johnson is penciled in as the starter, but like the rest of the corners has had his ups and downs in camp. Derreck Jones and Emmanuel Souarin have shown some sparks, but not enough like the rest of the players competing for the spot.
7) Again going back to the strength and conditioning program (Rod Moore, Dave Feeley and Ryan Horton), like the kickers with their legs, the quarterbacks have a little extra mustard on their passes. Paul McCall (left, thanks RV photo) and Wayne Younger have thrown more crisp passes. Wesley Carroll as well.
8) The tight end position will be very valuable to the offense this season. We're not just talking Dudley LaPorte here. Yes, getting him on board helps. But Eric Kirchenberg has made some tough catches. Jonathan Faucher is developing nicely and Colt Anderson is going to be just fine at TE. You see CA's natural athletic abilities come out when he's running routes and catching the ball too. He sure doesn't look like a quarterback who took up tight end.
9) You know what Scott Bryant can do and he's just 99 tackles from the all-time FIU record held by Keyonvis Bouie. However, look for Winston Fraser, Aaron Davis and Toronto Smith to really breakthrough this season. Along with SB, these three are developing a knack for being at the right place at the right time. The rest of the LBs will be good too, but these three will emerge this season.
10) Among the walk-ons, McCoy and receiver Jacob Younger could be the biggest contributors when given the chance. You've read plenty about McCoy exploits during the first couple of weeks of practice and during the summer 7-on-7s. Younger, Wayne's cousin, has made some nice catches in camp and at 6-2 has good size. Ariel Martinez, at 6-2, 225, working at both WR and TE, also has shown promise.
Two days into our last poll question and so far more than 50 percent of you say play North Carolina in the FIU hoops opener. A couple of interesting happenings from yesterday's FIU hoops opener media field day. Heard the exposure of FIU vs. OSU/UNC whether you think it's good or bad, doesn't matter, but the FIU recruiting trail got a boost from your Panthers being on the worldwide leader all day and all over the internet. Should have some more FIU hoops recruiting/new commits news soon here on the GPP.
Also, was interviewed by 3 different ESPN radio talk shows yesterday and to no surprise the hosts bashed FIU and IT in all of them in their line of questions asked of me. One host even asked me if the FIU hoops program is a joke.
FIUFloridaPower&Light: Pete, are you basically saying its a matter of time before we get another Basketball legend as a coach?
PP: Don't know if it's just a matter of time, but IT did say TH was high on his list when it came to assistant coaches.
blkpanther: Hey Pete, How is Frank Brown recovering?
PP: He's still in the orange non-contact jersey and in shorts. Groins are not an easy injury to come back from. Last I asked, there is no timetable for his return. He had a similar injury last season.