« July 2009 | Main | September 2009 »

20 posts from August 2009

August 31, 2009

Scrimmage No. 3 & Special Teams Scrimmage Recaps

In 10 days your Panthers board a plane for Tuscaloosa for the Sept. 12 opener at Alabama. While most of Trenardturner the college football teams prepare to open their seasons this weekend, FIU has an extra week to get ready for the Tide and their coach, who has a bubble named after him at the Dolphins training facility in Davie.

If the past two scrimmages (last Friday's team scrimmage No. 3 of camp and Thursday's special teams scrimmage) are any indication, the Panthers might have some running reinforcements behind Darriet Perry and once again, Goodbye is not the only kick returning threat for FIU. Those were some of the highlights, two days late, because yours truly had Marlins duty the last 2 days.

There weren't too many offensive fireworks in Friday's scrimmage, but running backs Trenard Turner (above left, thanks Roy Viera photo) and Kendall Berry (right, thanks RV photo) continued their solid running.

DP and Darian Mallary were held out of the scrimmage. No injuries, just a chance to see more of the otherKendallberry 3 backs. Turner had 5 carries for 22 yards and a touchdown. Berry ran 5 times for 25 yards and a TD.

The FIU defense was in control in the first 3 possessions with Cody Pellicer getting two sacks.

On the 4th series, Wayne Younger got the passing game going by hitting Elliott Dix for 29 yards and Greg Ellingson for 13 yards, but the play turned into a 28-yard gain after Chuck Grace hit GE with the crown of the helmet to tack on a 15-yd penalty to the D's 14-yd line. Two plays later, Berry ran in an 11-yd TD.

The O could not score again until MC placed the ball in the red zone to start a drive. In preceding series before the red zone work, the Willises (Whatchu' Talkin' Bout and Armond -- no relation) combined on a sack -- 1 of 5 sacks for the D. Kambriel (left, thanks RV photo) would get his second sack of the scrimmage later on.

Defensive back Emmanuel Souarin -- who is having a good camp while competing for that starting DB spot Kambrielwillis opposite Anthony Gaitor -- tackled Berry in the backfield for a 2-yard loss on a screen pass and Thatcher Starling tackled KB for a 3-yard loss on a run play.

The tackles for loss continued on the next series with Grace stopping a run play in the backfield. The D had 6 tackles for loss in the scrimmage. Among the other tackles for loss on the day were: Kreg Brown and Tourek Williams, Jarrell McGee, Pooh Bear Mars and Donnell Wilson and Joey Harris.

Dez Johnson, who if the season started today would start at DB oppo Gaitor, sacked third-string QB Chris Schirripa on his first play of the scrimmage.

In the first red zone series, Jarvis Wilson blew past the O-line and tackled Turner for a loss. Then Jonas Murrell (right, thanks RV photo) got into the backfield and batted down a pass. Turner scored his TD on the third play.

Not too many people have been able to catch Wayne Times in open space, but freshman D-lineman JoshJonasmurrell Forney corraled WT on a run.

On the second to last series, Aaron Davis forced a fumble out of Daunte Owens's hands and Big Ontario Smith recovered.

Before Davis would finish the scrimmage with an INT, Donnell Wilson batted a pass down from Junior Delpe and then Harris batted the next pass away. The ball went up like a jump ball in the NBA and Davis caught it for the pick.   

Special Teams scrimmage

Early on the ST scrimm, Ty Frierson looked like a returner from Madden with some of the moves he made on his first punt return.

Reggie Jones blocked a field goal and then it became the Junior Mertile (left, thanks RV photo) Show Part Deux.

Junior JM returned a kickoff nearly 45 yards. The next time out, JM caught a punt and appeared to be trapped along the sideline, but he ran back 5 yards and waited for a block from Wayne Times and went 75 yards for a touchdown.

The coaching winning and losing streaks continued in the special teams scrimmage.

Mertile, who made 1st team special teams coach Alex Mirabal look like a genius after AM bypassed T.Y. Hilton for Mertile to return the final kickoff in the previous ST scrimmage, improved to 4-0 all-time in ST scrimmages.

Jeff Popovich, who coached the special teams reserves, dropped to 0-4 all-time.

LogoPANTHER PAWSETransformers

Apaw You can check out the Miami Herald's Football Previews in this Thursday's paper (Sept. 3) or on-line on Thursday. The preview theme this year is movies and every team (FIU, Dolphins, Gators, Seminoles and Dade and Broward high schools) the MH covers has a movie associated with it. Your Panthers movie theme is "Transformers". You'll have to read why on Thursday and decide what is the best part of the "Transformers" article. For now, here on the right is the Hot-o-Bot that was the best part of the "Transformers" movie...............

Apaw Got a call from the good people at FIU today to tell me that the press release sent out last week about the t-shirts for "Blackout Game vs. Troy" was written incorrectly as far as....fans are encouraged to wear black to the game, but there will be no black t-shirts handed out at the Oct. 17 game vs. Troy.


Fiuwtches quijote: Wow Pete I see you used a black backdrop for your blackout quiz. Very clever, did you come up with that yourself?

PP: No, had help from the FIU Witches (left).

FIUFan: Could you call PG (I'm sure his number is in your speed-dial) and ask for a comment? As far as a the national pub, great! But I feel that was an unintended consequence of FIU's knee-jerk reaction to being put up against UNC. What's their plan going forward?

PP: PG has no comment, but there is a press conference on Tuesday afternoon with PG and IT to announce a decision on whether or not to play in the tournament. Check the MH on-line Tuesday after 1 p.m. for the news.

FIUFPL: Pete, Is FIU doing any official coordination with Sports Grill? If not, can you pass the info to FIU Athletics and seem if they can support the Sports Grill event by promoting it throughout the school?

PP: FIU has already gotten together with Sports Grill and they have agreed to host official FIU Watch Parties. Now it's up to you good people to show up there and make that place your FIU home for roadYari games.

FIUPantherFan: Pete, What's going on with Yarimar Rosa? Why is she not playing?

PP: The defending Sun Belt champion FIU volleyball team is off to a nice start taking 2 out of 3 at the Kentucky tourney last weekend and without 3-time All-American Yarimar Rosa, who has a strained hip abductor. YR is hoping to make her season debut in this weekend's tourney at Kansas.

KJHarris02: Do you have any info on the starting defensive line?

PP: No decisions have been made yet. Speaking with D-Line coach Cary Godette, some of the players that have stood out thus far in camp have been Tourek Williams, Armond Willis, Thatcher Starling and Jonas Murrell.



August 28, 2009

Panthers TV; Blackout Troy

Tygoodbye Will have the recaps from the two scrimmages from Thursday and Friday on thePmc next post, but for now here is where you can catch your Panthers on TV this weekend.

Tommorrow night (Saturday, August 29) T.Y. Hilton and Paul McCall will be guests on CBS 4 Sportszone at 7 p.m. on Channel 4.

FIU announced Friday that for the Oct. 17 home game against Troy it will be "Blackout Night" at FIU Stadium where your Panthers will wear special black uniforms for that game and fans entering the stadium will get black t-shirts.



FIUfantastic & FIUFPL: Pete, can you see if FIU has any official planned watch party for the first football game? Or whether it will be on TV?

PP: FIU Mayor Nelson Bradford has the Sports Grill at Bird Road (SW 40 Street) and SW 117 Ave. ready for you Panther fans on Sept. 12 for the FIU/Alabama game and all other FIU road games.

FIUFan: By the way, can you give us an update, or at least FIU's spin on this whole thing. Where do we stand now on playing UNC?

PP: Nothing new on the situation as of Friday night. The thought here is that there is more to this than the handling of the last minute schedule switcheroo. It was 24 hours of free pub for FIU on ESPN and all over cyberspace for something that if you think about it no one will remember come Nov. 10 and something that is not really bad publicity -- such as other recent college hoops programs that had to forfeit wins (Memphis) or that another's head coach was having a good time in a restaurant bathroom and tells his wife 6 years later (Louisville).

Other media that do not cover FIU or know nothing about FIU have said well, then FIU won't be invited to future tournaments. So what? If FIU becomes a solid basketball program under IT, the tournaments will come calling. FIU just needs to start winning consistently and everything will take care of itself. Winning solves everything.  

And there are several media outlets that think Ohio State will be better than North Carolina this season. Regardless, FIU does not have the horses to compete with either team this year. In the end, I think you'll see FIU vs. UNC in the season opener.

Apaw Doug Lesmerises from the Cleveland Plain Dealer e-mailed this to me....Here is one unhappy camper that might not get to play against an Isiah Thomas coached team. This is Ohio State's Evan Turner who went to the same high school as IT: I want to play FIU  


What do you think of FIU blackout night? **Note that is not the FIU Blackout Jersey in the poll question. That's Saints QB Drew Brees' jersey, but it's the closest photo I could find to a black and gold jersey.


August 27, 2009

10 Things To Know After 2 Weeks of Camp

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 thatDperry 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.

Watimes 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 Jjtimes 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 isDustin 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), Pmc 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 Must 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.



August 25, 2009

FIU Hoops Opener: Ohio State or Some Other Team ??

Usa Somewhere on this map, your Panthers will open their 2009-2010 basketball season.

But don't book that plane ticket to Columbus, Ohio; Chapel Hill, NC or some other place in the U.S. just yet, because the location of your Panthers basketball season opener under new coach Isiah Thomas is up in the air due to a last minute scheduling switch.

Since April 15 at IT's press conference to introduce him as FIU hoops coach, we have known that FIU would open at Ohio State in the 2K Sports Classic this November, but Tuesday afternoon, tournament organizers made a switch of opponents on the Panthers by replacing the Buckeyes with defending nationalHelm champion North Carolina.

FIU doesn't want to switch, but it already signed a contract back in November that its first opponent in the tourney would be either OSU or UNC. It had always been OSU since last November until today.

Tournament organizers sent an e-mail today to FIU telling the Panthers of the switch.

In an e-mail sent to FIU assistant coach Anthony Anderson from David Boudwin of the Gazelle Group on Tuesday, Boudwin writes: “I left a few message this afternoon and wanted to let you guys that we needed to switch your first round opponent to North Carolina.  Due to some scheduling conflicts we needed to Osu switch your game against OSU.  You will be playing North Carolina on the same day Mon Unc November 9th at 7 pm, which will be an ESPNU game.”

In response to Boudwin’s e-mail, FIU’s position according to AD Pete Garcia is: “Having determined that FIU would play Ohio State in the first round of the tournament and confirmed by the e-mail sent Tuesday, there is nothing in the agreement, nor was it ever the intent of the parties to permit a unilateral switch of games after they have been agreed to.”

PG thinks this all has to do with television ratings, even though the FIU/OSU game was going to be on ESPNU anyway.

"If that's it, just be honest with us," Garcia said. "We're not going to be bullied. Would they be doing this to North Carolina or Duke? How could there be a scheduling conflict if it’s the first game of the season.”

PG confirmed that if the Ohio State opener does not happen, other teams have already contacted FIU to play in the Panthers season opener home or away. Stay tuned.



UltimateFIUFan: Pete, I had heard Tim Hardaway could not get the asst. coach job at FIU due to him not completing his bachelors degree. Is this true? What is the roster of players and coaches of the mens hoops team? How is Kambriel Willis doing?

PP: You need a degree to work at FIU. TH is taking classes for that degree. Hoops roster will be released in the coming months. KW is having a good camp and should be a force on the D-Line this season.

Gooch7: Pete and FIU Fans, what do predict the attendance for the Toledo game will be (wild guess)?

PP: In bandwagon capital U.S.A - Miami, that will depend on how well the Panthers do in the first two games.


What are your thoughts on FIU hoops season opener?

August 23, 2009

Scrimmage No. 2: O-Line A-OK, More Oooh & The Name is Schirripa

The majority of you good people voted in our last poll question that what you wanted to see the mostDmallaryruns in Saturday's scrimmage was the progress of the O-Line.

Well, the FIU O-Line has got your progress right here.

Those concerns you had about the O-line and running game should be eased a little bit now after Saturday's scrimmage. Granted, it was just a scrimmage, but the O-Line got the push they did not get in the first scrimmage and opened holes for Darriet Perry, Darian Mallary (right, thanks Sam Lewis photo) and Trenard Turner.

Or as linebacker Scott Bryant would say after the scrimmage: "the offense came out with an attitude and some swagger".

After starting the scrimmage with 3 pass plays, the Panthers went to ground on the second series with DP picking up where he left off last season. DP picked up 28 yards on 4 carries before Paul McCall hit Greg Ellingson with a 50-yard touchdown pass.

It wasn't all offense on Saturday, it just seemed that way with the manner FIU was able to move the ball on the ground. Before the running game got going again, the D made back-to-back stops: forcing Wayne Younger to hurry an incomplete 4th down pass to end one series and then Jonas Murrell recovered a fumble to end the following series.

Wcarroll Quarterback Wesley Carroll (left, thanks Roy Viera photo) started his first series in the red zone, when MC had the ball placed at the 20. Nothing doing on WC's first series, but Dustin Rivest and Jack Griffin each hit 37-yard field goals to end the series. (MC had both kickers kick the same field goals and extra points each time).

In WC's second series, you got a glimpse of why No. 13 was the SEC Freshman QB of the Year at Mississippi State. On 1st down, WC couldn't find anyone open, so he calmly rolled out, eluded rushers and bought enough time to hit Larry McCoy for 24 yards.

WC couldn't avoid Aaron Davis two plays later as AD recorded one of 5 FIU sacks. The 4 other sacks were by Jarvis Wilson, 2 by Deiondrick Roberts on consecutive plays and by Tourek Williams, who gets better by the day.

When Mallary got into the game the run game took off again. Oooh ripped off a 24-yard run that drew some "ooohs" from the crowd.

In the same series, WY connected with T.Y. Goodbye for 21 yards -- it was No. 4's only catch of the day as MC said he wanted to see how the offense would respond without No. 4 for long stretches.....The offense's answer: 3 passing TDs and 150 yards rushing.

Walk-on DB George Palmer had some good pass D soon after and then Emmanuel Souarin interceptedTurner WY and ES showed some good moves returning the pick. It seems like every high school player from the 305 has some moves in the open field.

Trenard Turner (right, thanks Roy Viera photo) healthy from knee surgery, then got his shot and had some tough, physical inside runs for 57 yards on 13 carries. TT's best run was on his first carry where he gained 12 yards and broke a couple of tackles.

Walk-on QB Chris Schirripa had his best day of camp. MC said Schirripa moved ahead of Junior Delpe for the No. 3 QB job with his performance.

And with the nifty quarterbacking day, some of the media along the sideline that did not know how to exactly pronounce Schirripa -- learned. Some of those people on Saturday initially pronounced Schirripa as "chalupa". Those unsure quickly learned how to say Schirripa after his 2 TDs. Schirripa was now as easy to pronounce to those people like if they were pronouncing Smith. 

On his third pass of the day, Schirripa found Rocky Vann for a 24-yard TD and finished the scrimmage with a 23-yard TD to McCoy.

On CS's longest drive of the scrimmage, Oooh got it going with a 15-yard run. After the Tourek sack, CS had completions of 10 and 11 yards to McCoy and Colt Anderson, respectively.

Mccoy CS even scrambled for 10 yards on another play making a move on one defender. With his athleticism, CS reminds a little of former FIU QB Josh Padrick. He even has a similar throwing motion.

Before the drive ended, Palmer dropped an INT from CS that would have gone for 6. Rivest kicked a 36-yd FG to end the drive. Griffin missed wide right from the same distance.

Toward the end of the scrimmage, Oooh broke off a 20-yard run and might have gone the distance if not for a receiver stepping on his foot. To finish the scrimmage, McCoy (left, thanks Sam Lewis photo) juggled the ball three times before securing it in the back of the end zone for the third FIU TD of the day.

Some leading numbers from the scrimmage: Schirripa was 6 of 9 for 60 yds, 2 TDs; Oooh had 7 carries for 65 yards; McCoy led the WRs with 4 catches, 62 yds, TD; Vann had 2 catches, 29 yds, TD; Ellingson 1 catch, 50 yds, TD.


Apaw Add another committment for FIU hoops for 2010, when shooting guard Richaud (not Richard) Pack from Birmingham, Michigan said he wants to become a Panther. Pack played for the AAU national championship team from Michigan last season and will be a senior in high school this fall.

Interesting tidbit about Pack is that he is 6-3, just 16 years old, wants to study medicine and carries a 4.2Doogie GPA and averaged 23 points a game last season. Another Doogie Howser, but with basketball skills. (And for the record, NO, Pack is not Sidd Finch, in case all this sounds too good to be true). 

You gain one, you lose one. Pitcher Miguel Mejia signed a free agent deal with a major league team and will not throw a pitch as a Panther. If you remember last season, Mejia was ineligible in his freshman season.


Coach Cog: Good Morning Pete, reading up on your blogs, what's going on with #52 Warthen Sr. DE. LiL cuz working hard and looking good with the few reps he gets in practice.

PP: Artis is competing with just about everyone else on the D-Line for playing time. The depth chart on the D-Line is up for grabs in camp.

FIUPantherFan: Pete, I've been looking for an updated Basketball Roster. WKU recently lost a couple of recruits. Are all our recruits at FIU for the upcoming season?

PP: School starts Monday. Kayvon Lytch and Eric Frederick did not qualify. Antoine Watson is on the bubble. Everyone else made it.

SouthPaw: Hey, Pete, I haven't heard much, if anything, on Reggie Jones. Is he injured? If not, how's he doing? I was expecting he'd be a major factor on our DL this year. Also, are the coaches planning on giving Jonathan Jackson a redshirt this year? Also, what about Kasey Smith? He and Andre Pound apparently looked really good on scout team last year, but I haven't heard anything on him so far this year. Is he in the mix?

PP: Reggie is out there at practice. He just has not stood out yet. JJ with his injured feet might be headed for a redshirt, but it's way too early to start handing out the red on August 24. Who knows maybe JJ will be Dazzlerss ready for the second half of the season. Kasey is coming off knee and shoulder surgery. MC said last week that Kasey is about 4 to 6 weeks away.

Before we get to our poll question, let's finish this post with some beautiful smiles.........................



What was most encouraging about Saturday's scrimmage:

August 20, 2009

Junior Goodbye

Your Panthers went through a 30-play special teams scrimmage on Thursday morning and what an endingJunior to the scrimmage.

That's the scrimmage ending in the photo on the right (thanks, Roy Viera photo). Keep reading to find out how the special teams scrimmage ended.

The players were divided into 2 special teams: the White team and the Green team. On the final play of the scrimmage, the White needed to return a kickoff past their own 20-yard line in order to win the scrimmage and avoid overtime with the Green. If the Green stopped the kickoff return inside the 20-yard line, then they would have gone to OT.

Before the final kickoff by Jack Griffin, the players on the White started chanting "T.Y., T.Y., T.Y." toward  their coach Alex Mirabal. You see Goodbye had not returned a kick yet during the scrimmage, instead the coaches wanted to get a look at other returners.

The White team players figured that T.Y. would be a cinch to return the kickoff past their own 20-yard line and win the game. Meanwhile, players on the Green team were yelling to Griffin: "Don't kick it to T.Y., Don't kick it to T.Y."

Pmcdance So led by quarterbacks Paul McCall (left, thanks Roy Viera photo) and Wesley Carroll, players on the White started dancing and doing the T.Y. touchdown celebration on the sidelines trying to get Mirabal to insert T.Y.

If I could dance, this is the part where I would make a comment about PMC's dancing moves, but I'm just as bad, probably worse. So let's get back to this blog post.

 From watching 1 of T.Y.'s 12 touchdowns from last season.....you know what the T.Y. celebration looks like -- Using his arms, T.Y. makes a T, then a Y with his body and then waves goodbye.

At first, it looked like Goodbye was going to get the last kickoff return of the morning as he started warming up on the sidelines. but NO. Receivers coach Frank Ponce, who was an assistant coach to Mirabal on the White team, made a suggestion to try No. 2 at kick returning.

Junior Mertile was called to return the kickoff. Griffin kicked it to the 5, Mertile broke three tackles, burst through the middle of the kickoff coverage and took to the sidelines with his 4.3 speed. The last man with a chance to tackle Mertile was Griffin, but No. 2 gave a hard stiff arm to the freshman kicker and was home free toward the end zone for 6 and a 95-yard kickoff return.

The White team sideline erupted and rushed toward the end zone to greet Mertile.Dustin

By the way, was told by a former Columbus High person that Coach Mirabal is now 3-0 in FIU special teams scrimmages and defensive backs coach Jeff Popovich, who coached the Green team, fell to 0-3 in ST scrimmages. Not making this up, Pop, that's what the record books say.

Other highlights of the ST scrimmage featured punter Carlos Munera continue his booming punts and he even ran down on one punt and made a tackle early in the return. At 6-2, 232, Munera is like a linebacker out there and can deliver punishment when need be.

Pretty close competition with the field goals on Thursday. Senior Dustin Rivest (right, thanks Roy Viera photo) nailed 3 of 3 from 27, 37 and 47 yards away. Dustin seems to have gotten a little more boom in his leg after the offseason strength and conditioning program.

Madden Griffin was 2 of 3 from the same distances, missing the 47-yarder wide left. Griffin did have the distance to spare on the 47-yarder, but yanked it left. 

There weren't any other big-time returns besides No. 2's TD, but Wayne Times showed some moves when he got the chance to return kicks.

WT runs like a video game football player. If he starts scoring TDs this season with those moves, we might have to start calling him Madden.



Saturday's your last chance to see your Panthers before the season opener at Alabama. FIU will have an open scrimmage with practice beginning at 8:30 a.m. and the scrimmage expected to begin at 10 a.m. Yes, the practice is open as well as the Open scrimmage.

Apaw Outstanding job by the FIU alumni in putting together the Panther Preview on Thursday night for a tour of the new fieldhouse and a meet and greet with MC, T.Y. Goodbye, Anthony Gaitor and Paul McCall. Almost the entire Stadium Club was filled to hear MC and the Panthers get ready for the season. Even ran into some of our GPP friends such as: FIUBlue82, gpantera, FIU Fanatic, Roman, fijigabe


Gazi: Pete, why are they posting UF and FSU articles on the FIU Miami Herald page?

PP: Someone apparently got the schools mixed up. Already let them know.

FIUer: I thought the Saturday scrimmage was at 10?

PP: That is the time it is expected to start. The team will warmup and go through individual drills and 7-on-7's before then.

dan ryan: does the sat.8/22 scrimmage start at 8:30 or as advertised 10:00? also any info on whose leading in the competition for the #3 quarterback. thanks, Pete

PP: Scrimmage is at 10. It's too early to tell right now about the No. 3 QB spot. Both Chris Schirripa and Junior Delpe have had their moments in practice, but neither one has really separated himself from the other.

FIU0406: Well since we are on the subject, there's an article int he FIU sports section that is titled "ANOTHER PREFERRED WALK-ON " that is not an active link.

PP: That was a college football rail posting I had before camp began on walk-on defensve lineman Andrew Mattox -- a 6A All-State player and the Volusia County Defensive Player of the Year. The short story was on Mattox joining FIU. I also wrote about it here on the GPP and put a link to Mattox's YouTube video of him lifting.

Before you go to the scrimmage on Saturday morning, tell us what you'll be looking for.....

August 18, 2009

1st Scrimmage of Camp

Oso If you're a fan of a fast, aggressive defense then this is the blog post for you. If you're a fan of offense, you'll have to wait a little bit and read through a lot of the FIU D's big day before getting to the O's scrimmage moments on Tuesday morning.

The FIU linebackers are going to be pretty special with the quickness and power they possess and showed on Tuesday. Of course, the D-Line helped out quite a bit by dominating the offensive line.

The D limited the O to 2 first downs in the first 7 possessions of the scrimmage, recorded 5 sacks and a Pooh Bear INT.

Three LBs got the defensive festivities going by recording tackles for loss. Winston Fraser, El Oso Scotty Bryant (above left, thanks Roy Viera photo) and Big Ontario Smith bullrushed into the offensive backfield. BOS or Little Canada -- whichever you prefer -- then recorded the first sack of the day.

After two 3-and-outs in the first two series, the O got their first 1st down when Paul McCall connected Dudleylap with Dudley LaPorte (right, thanks Roy Viera photo) for a 23-yard gain. But whatever momentum was gained, then was lost when WF and Jeremiah Weatherspoon got into the backfield to record another loss for the O.

El Oso almost ended the possession with an INT, but was just out of the reach of his fingertips and the O had to punt.

Wayne Younger entered in the next series and connected with cousin Jacob for 15 yards and the second 1st down. Two plays later, WY hit Larry McCoy with a 16-yard pass. But in between and after we saw Tyler Clawson get 2 TOL (tackles for loss). Derrick Jones made a stop of McCoy at the line of scrimmage and Tourek Williams and Chris Edwards brought down Darian Mallary for a loss of 6.

Next series, D. Jones took down Trenard Turner for a 2-yard loss on a screen. Cody Pellicer got a sack. Others who would follow with sacks were: freshman Terrance Taylor, Aaron Davis and Kambriel Mcgee "Whatchu Talkin' Bout" Willis.

Wesley Carroll played 2 series and made a nifty play, rolling out and hitting Ty Frierson for 14 yards on the run and a 1st down. WC's first series ended when the D stopped Jonathan Ramirez on a 4th and 1.

WC's second series ended on a punt, but not before Jarrell McGee (left in white jersey, thanks Roy Viera photo) introduced himself to LaPorte with a hit that dislodged what would have been a completion from WC. That is not the play in the photo on the left.

The scrimmage later shifted to red zone work where the O first came close to scoring 6 when walk-on QB Chris Schirripa connected with Wayne Times twice. The first pass for 20 yards and then the second pass for 21 yards. On the second pass, Times -- ala Darriet Perry although not for the 13 yards DP did it against the Hooters last season -- carried 3 defenders to the 2-yard line. Pretty strong kid, No. 5.

Kendall Berry would then punch it in twice from 1 yard out.

Coming out of the end zone, the running game got going. First, KB made nice moves through the D for aOwens 41-yard run. KB is a pretty shifty dude running with the ball. Then Daunte Owens (right, thanks Roy Viera photo) hit the sideline and scampered 93 yards down to the D's 6-yard line. However, there the FIU D held their ground holding the O to a field goal attempt.

In the FG department, both Dustin Rivest and Jack Griffin kicked the same distances: 22, 42, 36 and 40 yards.

DR was 2 for 4 missing from 40 yards and 36 yards. JG was 1 for 4 missing from 36 and 40 and on the 42-yarder Tourek Williams reached up and blocked the kick. Nothing is definitely settled in the kicking competition.

By the way, Williams es un animal, not only in the way he plays, but his size as well for being a Tourek freshman. Take a look at the photo on the left of Tourek Williams (No. 97), taken by Roy Viera.

Longest pass play of the day went from walk-on QB Junior Delpe to McCoy for 27 yards. Dez Johnson played some solid pass D on a deep pass near the end of the scrimmage.

You are invited to the next scrimmage....If you can guess who wears No. 4 for FIU, then you get in for free to the next scrimmage on Saturday morning at 8:30 a.m. at FIU Stadium.



Talking to a Baltimore Ravens scout that was at today's scrimmage about Antwan Barnes and he says El Monstruo is 100% healthy and that as long as he stays that way the Ravens have big plans for him on D this season.


Watching the Dolphins preseason game last night against the Jaguars and noticed that the newJax Sbjag Jacksonville white road jersey looks pretty similar to the white road jersey of Miami's college football team that was unveiled last season. The only difference I see is that the Jags color is black, while FIU's is midnight blue. Do you see the similarities too?


FIU Fanatic: Is Jonathan Jackson injured as well?...What about James Jones?

PP: Jackson has both feet injured and there is no timetable for his return. MC said last week that Jones is about 2 weeks away from returning to practice.

KJHarris02: PETE: is there going to be someone Videoing the FIU Alumni Panther Preview Day??? or any pictures??

PP: The Herald video won't be there, but FIU might shoot some video and/or pictures.

August 15, 2009

Defensive Line Awakening; The Bus Gets Rolling

Saturday morning's practice started with some rushing during team drills, but your Panthers defense didn't allow for much running room from the running backs -- with a few exceptions.

With no starting positions locked down on any part of the D-Line, the D came out flying, swarming. Armond Willis and Winston Fraser combined on a quick stop in the backfield. Deiondrick Roberts also had a tackle for loss. 

Andre Pound, showing no effects from the shoulder injury from last season, became a regular in theEllis offensive backfield too. As did Thatcher Starling, who recorded another tackle for loss.

MC's assessment of the D-Line after the first week of camp: "We’re starting to get more physical. We have miles to go, but we’re starting to see flashes of what we can be as a defensive line. Thatcher showed that today. There have been some flashes by Kambriel Willis. There have been some flashes by Andre Pound. I saw Justin West do a couple of things. You are starting to see some production from guys that have been dormant for a long time. What does that mean? It means that there is something in them that we need to get out as coaches, they need to get out of themselves as players and we’re going to keep pressing the issue.”

The FIU running game did have some moments Saturday. Darriet Perry broke off two good runs for first downs. And the offensive line made a nice opening for Jonathan Ramirez to gain nearly 15 yards.

However, the back that stood out Saturday was John Ellis (above, right, thanks Roy Viera photo) or as his teammates called him in the spring "The Bus" for the tough running and the ensuing trouble in bringing down the 250-pound back.

Saturday, JE pounded the inside and like in the spring, did not go down too easy. On one run, he bounced off a couple of defenders.

If JE can keep this up through the 2009 season, could you imagine what a backfield of DP, Darian Mallary and John Ellis could do for a team already with a talented, fast corps of receivers and a QB that has been sharp passing and is throwing with some more mustard on his passes. This FIU O has the Sunrise potential to make some scoreboards work overtime.

Ty Sunset No. 7 was his all-conference self, busting up a screen pass to JE. Peter Riley played some good pass D.

Freshman receiver Rocky Vann showed that he is not afraid to make a catch in traffic, but RV was immediately brought down and had to settle for 7 yards.

Some things just don't get old....On Saturday morning the sun rose in the east....on his first kickoff return Saturday morning, No. 4 went for 6....and despite the rain, the sun did set in the west on Saturday night.

Wayne Younger and Greg Ellingson connected on a nifty pass play.

After dropping what would have been a 50-yard TD from Paul McCall earlier in Saturday's practice, Junior Mertile went across his body to make a catch. Later on JM made a tough catch on the sideline for 20 yards from PMC.


Apaw El Monstruo was back in action after recovering from his injury. Antwan Barnes gotEm into some of the Baltimore Ravens first preseason game against the Washington Redskins. AB had two assists on tackles. Chandler Williams returned a couple kickoffs and punts for the Atlanta Falcons in their preseason opener against the Detroit Lions. CW had a 24-yard kickoff return and a 19-yard punt return. And for you Dolfans, former Miami and current Ravens backup QB John Beck broke his collarbone and is out for the season in Baltimore. Guess, who the Ravens signed to take Beck's spot: Cleo Lemon. Ravens offensive coordinator Cam Cameron keeps working his magic in Baltimore.


blaz23: Pete, I am trying to find out how are #13 and #90 doing? Both of those guys are from my hometown.

PP: Toronto Smith (No. 13) or Little Canada or Big Ontario has looked good coming off his foot injury. He's as fast as ever and is stronger. He should do big things this season at what is probably FIU's most talented position on defense. Deiondrick Roberts (No. 90) is in a battle with 10 to 12 other defensive linemen for playing time. DR had a good day today making some noise in the backfield. Like MC has said, there is plenty of playing time waiting to be earned on the D-Line.

KJHarris02: I like the Media Day video, but would of like to see more of the field house/weight room....Pete can we get more footage of the field house and weight room/locker rooms???

PP: I'll pass the message on to Justin Francis Ford Coppola.

August 14, 2009

Friday's Practice: More D; 7-Up & 7-Down

The first day in full pads brought more of the same from Thursday -- the defense gaining the upper hand.

Agaitor With several NFL scouts in attendance, your Panthers D delivered a consistent pass rush during team drills. Although it was mostly the day of the D on Friday, there were some offensive highlights.

Quarterback Paul McCall connected with No. 4 on a sharp pass over the middle. On the play, it appeared T.Y. might get crushed going over the middle, but the ball got there on time, T.Y. caught it and the two defensive backs on the play collided with each other while No. 4 was on his way for 6.

Tyler Clawson had a sack on a blitz and Jarvis Wilson recorded a couple of tackles for loss.

No. 7 (left, thanks Roy Viera photo) delivered the kryptonite to No. 4 again and let him and PMC know about it. But the Gatorade got Gaitor.

Getting ready to field a punt, Gaitor was accidentally knocked to the ground by the water girl and the portable Gatorade bottles she was carrying. No truth to the rumor that the water girl was offered a scholarship onDix the spot.

No. 4 caught another long pass from PMC.Shakenbake

Elliott Dix (right, thanks Roy Viera photo) caught a screen and did a little shake-n-bake that took 2 or 3 defenders out of their shoes and got ED 15 yards on the play.

Jacob Younger had a nice catch over the middle.

A visitor standing on the sideline wondered what cannon the footballs were being shot out of during the special  teams portion of practice. I pointed him to the cannon wearing No. 34 in blue. Carlos Munera continued his good punting nailing a couple of 60 yarders.

And what is becoming a daily occurrence....here's your daily Darian Mallary moment:

Cannon Toward the end of practice, DM took a handoff and ran left toward a host of defenders. It appeared DM was going to be taken down for about a 7-yard loss. But no.

DM spun to his right and outran the D to pick up 11 yards and a first down.

Saturday's your final chance to see your Panthers before practices are closed for the rest of camp. It's a 2-a-day on Saturday with practices at 8 a.m. and 3:45 p.m. 


Apaw Got a text from Justin Francis Ford Coppola and he says he finished the FIU videos and they should be uploaded on the MH website tonight when he gets in the office. Here is the link: FIU Media Day Herald Video

Apaw Here's your video invite from the FIU football boss to get you ready for the 2009 season and tour a very impressive football facility: MC's Party at the Fieldhouse


FIUFloridaPower&Light: The main concern has always been the O-line. We haven't been able to effectively run the ball over the years. And the next concern was the red zone offense, which was not that great last year either. Pete, I assume there will be some level of natural improvement due to experience, but do any of the new players look like they will cause a giant leap in those two areas mentioned above.

PP: Having the entire starting O-Line back will help. Some of these guys have played 36 games togetherDperry and are noticeably bigger and stronger. It has been just 2 days in pads so I wouldn't read too much into what's happened in the last 48 hours. Now if this is the case, the next time you good people can see your Panthers in the Aug. 22 scrimmage, then I would say there might be a concern.

In the red zone, a full season from DP (right) should help the running game. We saw what he could do in the only 2 games he played in last season. Plus, you add a healthy Daunte Owens, what Darian Mallary is capable of, contributions from a big John Ellis and versatility in Trenard Turner and Kendall Berry.

Also, you have to factor in the new receiving and tight end weapons in the red zone. There are some elusive, quick guys in the WR corps and Dudley LaPorte is a creature. Would say monster, but FIU already has had El Monstruo.

August 13, 2009

Thursday's Practice: Big D and Little Big D

Your Panthers wore shoulder pads in Thursday morning's practice and on first impression the FIU DDmallary seems to be ahead of the O during team drills on Thursday.

There is certainly more speed on the FIU D this season, but a couple of the veteran defenders were the first ones to deliver the hits on Thursday.

Linebackers Scott Bryant and Toronto Smith stuffed a running play during team drills. Armond Willis and redshirt freshman Andre Pound followed it with a sack.

Before the defense could beat their chests, Little Big D -- freshman Darian Mallary (right, thanks Roy Viera photo) weaved through the defense for a 77-yard run until being knocked out of bounds inside the D's 10-yard line. The quickness that DM has shown running inside and outside in the first week of camp has been impressive. And on Thursday, when there was tackle football being practiced, no one got a hand on DM until 77 yards later.

The defense got back on track with Tyler Clawson intercepting walk-on Chris Schirripa.

Freshman Tourek Williams, whom MC has described before as "an absolute beast" showed why bursting through the O-line to make a stop in the backfield on a running play. It was one of several tackles for loss for the FIU D on Thursday. The D showed the quickness similar to what the Killer B's FIU D had when they finished No. 1 in the nation in tackles for loss in 2005.

The D had 2 INTs (Clawson and Markeith Russell) on Thursday but could have had a lot more and some of them would have been Pick 6s. Chuck Grace had a clear path to the end zone on one pass, but could not corral the INT. Same with Kenny Dillard. Jeremiah Weatherspoon couldn't secure an INT in the Munera middle of the field.

Marquis Rolle continued his good work, catching a high and outside fastball from Paul McCall. Turtle might want to see if PMC would like to come out of the bullpen next spring. Rolle also caught and held on to a pass after a big hit from Dez Johnson.

Aaron Davis was active in the offensive backfield making stops on a couple of runs.

In case anyone was wondering, there is absolutely nothing wrong with punter Carlos Munera's leg (left, thanks Roy Viera photo). CM booted 50 and 60-yard punts today during special teams work.

No. 4

Linebacker Winston Fraser had a picnic in the offensive backfield making running back sandwiches onJwilliams three different plays Thursday.

Along the D-Line, Jarvis Wilson had a sack and Thatcher Starling blasted through the O-Line and batted down a pass.

Freshman Jairus Williams (right, thanks Roy Viera photo), who had his ups and downs catching the ball earlier this week, is getting better and better with each passing practice. JW ran a nice route and stretched out to catch a PMC pass for 25 yards near the end of practice.

The Panthers will go to full gear on Friday after practicing with only shoulder pads on Thursday. You are down to 3 chances to see your Panthers until Aug. 22's scrimmage. Friday's practice is at 8:30 a.m. Saturday is a two-a-day at 8 a.m. and 3:45 p.m.


Apaw Spoke to Justin Francis Ford Coppola today and told him the natives are gettingTownspeople restless about the videos from media day and of the fieldhouse tour. He says he should have both videos on-line at some point on Friday. Unfortunately, JFFC has plenty of other videos to do besides FIU. He's going around high school football in Dade and Broward and over to Coral Gables and filming those teams as well.


LonePanther: Pete, What or who has impressed you the most during the practices you've been seeing?

PP: In the first four days, the young receivers have shown that they have the abilities to follow in No. 4's footsteps. Junior Mertile has also looked good. He is going to have a big year. If Darian Mallary gets any kind of opening, he will be FIU's No. 2 back. On defense, Winston Fraser (left) and Aaron Davis are going to Wf have an impact this season. Toronto Smith is 100 percent healthy and he's shown it. Markeith Russell and Kenny Dillard have that 305 football instinct. Kambriel Willis is the same size as El Monstruo, just not the same height, but KW will be very good.

FIUFloridaPower&Light: Pete can you get some interviews with the Freshmen to see what they think of College Football, FIU so far?

PP: Sure. Will get those on here.



August 12, 2009

Wednesday's Practice: No. 4 & The Times Is Now

Pads The shorts and shirts get some pads on top of them Thursday. For the first time in camp, your Panthers will put on the pads in Thursday's practice and hit each other.

Wednesday, they couldn't touch No. 4 and from early looks at Wayne Times these past 3 days it looks like the Times could be in 2009. Yes, I know English teachers will mark this blog with a red marker for the incorrect grammar in the title of this post and in the previous sentence. The sun will still come up tommorrow.

It was media day Wednesday at FIU practice and the Herald video department shot some footage from practice and then shot a tour of the fieldhouse. The fieldhouse has really taken shape since we last toured it here on the GPP. You'll see when the MH video is posted. That place is going to be a huge recruiting tool for MC.

I've been told by MH video director Francis Ford Coppola that those videos should be up on miamiherald.com's sports webpage either later tonight or Thursday. And although we didn't get the FIU Witches to host the preview, we did get a very photogenic host to conduct the player interviews. As of this post, still waiting for her to send me a photo.

In Wednesday's practice there was Goodbye (right, thanks Sam Lewis photo) being Goodbye. No. 4 hauled in a long pass from walk-onTy QB Chris Schirripa and finished off practice with TD catches on passes from Wayne Younger and Paul McCall.

Freshman Jairus Williams opened practice grabbing a long pass from Younger.

On his first catch of the day, Times got all 5-11 of himself up in the air and snatched the football.

TNGoldenPanther brought up a good point about the long passes and big yards after the catch. Yes, it could be alarming and we'll know more when the pads come on starting Thursday.

However, the first 3 days several of these long passes are coming during 7-on-7s with no pass rush and sometimes it has been against the 2nd or 3rd team secondary. This is not to say the 1st team secondary has not been beaten, because it has.

Also factor in that FIU's most talented and deep position is receiver and the secondary, outside of Anthony Gaitor, does not have any other proven cornerbacks right now. There is talent and potential among the other FIU DBs, but that still has to be proven further along in camp and eventually on game days. That's one reason I ranked the cornerback position opposite Gaitor so high in the preview when it came to position battles. Don't expect opponents to test Gaitor as much this season, especially if another proven corner does not emerge on the other side.

That position along with the offensive and defensive lines and finding a dependable backup running back will play a big part in how successful this season turns out.

Dez Johnson, one of those corners competing for that starting spot, made a nice stop for no gain in team drills.

Ty Frierson had a good run on a handoff and then the Times came again.

Rolle Times took a handoff from PMC and turned the left corner and eluded the touch (because there is no tackling now) of 6 FIU defenders knifing through for nearly 35 yards before someone got a hand on him. Could No. 5 turn into this year's version of No. 4?

Marquis Rolle (left) has had a pretty good first few days. MR got behind the secondary along the sideline and caught a 60-yard TD from PMC in stride.

Peter Riley, another DB challenging for the starting job opposite Gaitor, had a second consecutive day of good pass D.

Greg Ellingson ran a nifty route and caught a 25-yard sideline pass from WY. GE finished his day with a tough sliding catch in traffic across the middle.

JUCO defensive back transfer Quentin Wyche intercepted his second pass in as many days. QW, a junior who looks like a smaller version of Scott Bryant with the hair flowing out of the helmet, has experience and could beDmal a sleeper among the DBs to earn some playing time.

When Darian Mallary (right) gets some open space -- and he doesn't need much -- he can make a lot of people miss and be gone for 6. DM did that Wednesday breaking through for a long run.

No. 7

Freshman walk-on Larry McCoy showed his jets on a quick sideline pattern turning around after the catch and speeding past the defender as practice neared its end on Wednesday.

Let's see what the first day in pads brings on Thursday.


You have 4 more chances to catch your Panthers in action this week before practices are closed to the public next week. The remaining open practices this week are: Thursday and Friday at 8:30 a.m. and Saturday is the first two-a-day with practices at 8 a.m. and 3:45 p.m. Your only other time to watch practice will be on Aug. 22 when the team scrimmagesAlum on a Saturday morning at 10.


The media got a tour of the fieldhouse today. You can take your first tour of the fieldhouse on Thursday, August 20 at 6 p.m. with your tour guide MC at the Alumni Panther Preview. The event is free and open to the public.


CJ: good to see that the D-backs are active and also good to see willis getting in the mix for Dline... btw who were the intereceptions against? 

PP: Each QB has thrown INTs.

Max: Great stuff Pete, are you at every practice this week? 

PP: Yes I am.

August 11, 2009

Tuesday's Practice: Pinpoint Paul; JUCO DBs INTs

On Wednesday, it will mark 30 days from the season opener at Alabama on Sept. 12.

Still plenty of work and position battles to sort out for your Panthers before then, but on Tuesday your starting quarterback had a good day and some new JUCO defensive backs made a push for someAg playing time.

One of the first plays of Tuesday's practice saw No. 4 meetKryp his kryptonite.

No. 4 went for a long pass, but No. 7 (far right, thanks Roy Viera photo) was like velcro on No. 4 and never gave No. 4 a chance to catch the pass. No flags, no pass interference.

Of course, No. 7 let No. 4 know about it all the way back to the line of scrimmage.

Darian Mallary continued his good work with another solid run during team drills.

Your FIU starting quarterback had a big day. Paul McCall (below, left, thanks RV photo) hit Junior Mertile with a long pass. Then PMC hit freshman Jairus Williams with a 65-yard bomba for a TD.

Williams also made a nice sideline catch on a Wayne Younger pass and kept one foot in bounds.

PMC then got the tight ends involved finding Jonathan Faucher for 30 yards and then Eric Kirchenberg for Pmc a 20-yard completion.

JUCO All-American Jarrell McGee picked off his first pass of camp. See, I told you there was a Jarrell on the roster, only he showed up one year later and his last name is not Lamb.

Emmanuel Souarin and Antwoine Bell were draped all over Junior on a deep pass and denied Mertile. No flags would have been thrown -- good clean defensive coverage.

There was a Younger to Younger connection on a sideline pass. Wayne found his cousin, receiver Jacob Younger. And for you Family Guy fans, there is no Gumbel to Gumbel (below, right) connection on the FIU team.

Yesterday, Rupert Bryan was working with the 1st team O-Line, Stephen Bailey worked with the 1st team O-Line on Tuesday as Joe Alajajian sat out with cramps.

There were several Panthers cramping on Tuesday. And for FIUPIKE, one of them was Jeremiah and heG2g is not hurt.

FIU play-by-play radio dude Jeremy Marks-Peltz had a chance to redeem himself Tuesday after dropping a Wayne Younger pass on Monday. However, JMP did not attempt to catch a Junior Delpe sideline pass on Tuesday. Good thing, JMP has no eligibility left.

On the defensive line, Kambriel "Whatcha Talkin' bout" Willis had a good day. KW and Joey Harris teamed on a sack. (There is no hitting going on right now, so it was the equivalent of a flag football sack -- touching the QB, but still the sack would have happened in tackle football).

KW then with Markeith Russell snuffed out a screen pass that went for 0 yards.

Tyler Clawson batted down a pass. Winston Fraser played good pass D, but couldn't hold on to an INT. Peter Riley played good pass D as well.

Times Wayne Times (left, thanks RV photo) caught a short pass from Wesley Carroll over the middle and turned it into a 75-yard TD.

The second JUCO transfer INT came from junior Quentin Wyche (a Daytona State transfer). Sophomore DB George Palmer picked off a pass too.

Freshman Derrick Jones had a clear path to the end zone for 6, but dropped the INT.

And Greg Ellingson made a tough sideline catch look routine when he went up for a pass and came down with the ball and one foot in bounds for a 1st down.

It's media day on Wednesday at FIU and the Herald will be sending their video department to put togetherChrm an FIU football preview video and include a video tour of fieldhouse.

I asked if the FIU Witches (right) could anchor the video, because they are certainly more photogenic than the guy in the black t-shirt below on the left. (Thanks to AP for photo).

However, I haven't heard back from the MH -- probably not a good sign. Either Me way, check back here at some point Wednesday.

August 10, 2009

Opening Day of Camp

Your Panthers 2009 season is underway. Well, not the regular season, but practice for the 2009 season began Monday morning in nice hot and humid conditions at FIU Stadium.

Ty The first day of camp saw some of the new FIU offensive weapons take center stage, some pass D from some freshmen, the first injury of camp, roster news, a DB wearing socks on his hands and a White93 -- which could be this year's version of Blue25.

To start the morning, Goodbye (left, thanks Roy Viera photo) made a couple of catches across his body -- so what's new? From now on, if we have to tell you about Goodbye making great catches -- we'll just post on here simply: No. 4. And you'll know what I mean.

Marquis Rolle made a tough catch along the sideline on a deep pass as did Rocky Vann (right, thanks RV photo).

Wayne Times made like No. 4 and went up and across his body to grab a pass.Rocky

Not to say the DBs didn't make plays. Freshmen Terrance Taylor and Jonathan Cyprien had a couple of pass breakups and Anthony Gaitor was his usual all-conference self. So you know what I mean when I write: No. 7.

Speaking of No. 7, former FIU No. 7 and Sun Belt Defensive Player of the Year, Keyonvis Bouie (below, left, thanks Alex J. Hernandez photo) watched practice along with former FIU DBs Greg Moss and Kevin Timothee. Good to see the former Panthers back at FIU Stadium.

New FIU President Mark Rosenberg also took in the first practice on Monday.

Kb Tight end Jonathan Faucher made a leaping grab over the middle. JF might give some pointers to FIU radio play-by-play man Jeremy Marks-Peltz, who had a pass hit him on a bad spot -- his hands -- and dropped it.

Don't worry, not ragging on JMP -- he knows I was going to write this. Not sure if Spanish radio play-by-play man Jerry Del Castillo would have made the catch, but Spanish radio analyst Pepe Campos probably would have caught the Wayne Younger pass.

OK, enough of the radio football scouting report.

In the offensive backfield, receiver-turned-running back Kendall Berry had some nice runs and made some shifty moves to break free from the D. Freshman Darrian Mallary also brokethrough and had a nice run.

Chuck Grace had the first interception of 7-on-7s. CG has also now taken No. 21 as Mallary is wearing CG's old No. 26.

Like Grace, walk-on defensive back Antwoine Bell had sticky fingers too, but the kind that will get you a flag. Defensive backs coach Jeff Popovich got Bell to stop grabbing his receiver on pass coverage by having Bell put socks on his hands to make grabbing a lot harder.

Another walk-on Solomon Smith, a former quarterback at Miramar Everglades High, is at receiver andDudley made a highlight 1-handed catch down the sideline on a deep pass.

Scott Bryant and walk-on defensive back George Palmer also made plays on pass D.

Then the Dudley LaPorte (right and below, left) Show started with DLP hooking up with Wesley Carroll on a 70-yd TD. DLP also caught long passes from Paul McCall and Wayne Younger that with DLP's size and speed would have likely gone for 6 on each one.

FWIW on Aug. 10, Rupert Bryan lined up at first team tackle for a few snaps.

The long-awaited debut of Cedric Mack happened Monday morning. CM is a big dude and once he gets in shape can really help the FIU O-Line.

Dlp Before we got the chance to start a White93 blog, we found out who was the big defensive lineman that jumped up in the air, intercepted a pass and ran it back for a TD. White93 = walk-on Andrew Mattox, who also happens to be a Class 6A All-State DL and the Volusia County Defensive Player of the Year.

Mattox is wearing Ricky Booker's No. 93. MC said after practice that RB is not part of the camp roster and did not give any further details.

Greg Ellingson missed practice as he waited to be cleared (NOT on academic issues) and is expected back at practice on Tuesday. 

Edgard Theliar is having trouble getting cleared from his JUCO and won't play this season. MC says ET should arrive at FIU in January.

MC said James Jones (knee and shoulder surgery) should be ready to practice in 2 weeks. Kasey Smith (knee) is going to be out another 4 to 6 weeks.

The first injury of camp occurred when Franklin Brown tweaked his groin on Monday morning. Will know more about that Tuesday and will have more for you on Tuesday.


alt7787: Speaking of El Monstrou, how is he? Some say he has been a disappointment. Also, hows Chandler Williams? Harry Douglas is out for the season in ATL so maybe that gives Chandler a shot to make the team as a low end receiver?

PP: El Monstruo is recovered from his injury last season and from what I've read from those who cover the Ravens, his role is expected to be expanded this season. CW's job opening just got a little tougher when the Falcons signed free agent NFL veteran Robert Ferguson and holdout Roddy White is set to agree on a new deal. We'll see.

GOLD: Pete, Any word on the renovation of the arena?

PP: The plans for the renovation which should take 2 years will include a brand new artistic entrance to the Bank. The plan for the entrance will also include for you to go up a ramp to then go down to your seats, sort of like you do in an NBA arena. There is a new floor expected to be put in there along with new seating and courtside seats. Plus, the renovation of the FIU locker rooms for both the Panthers men and women's teams and possibly a players lounge. Other details are still in the works.

KJHarris02: hey Pete, you going to post any photos of the practices?

PP: There are about 20 photos posted at miamiherald.com on the FIU page. One photo has an incorrect caption: The No. 17 QB is Junior Delpe and not Dudley LaPorte. DLP will wear 17 on game days.


August 09, 2009

Camp Preview: Defensive Backs & Top 5 Position Battles To Watch

No more previews after this one. From here on out the action on the FIU Stadium field will give you an idea as to who will play where and how much playing time those players will see. Beginning with Monday's first practice at 9 a.m. at FIU Stadium.

The Panthers defensive backs could give the linebackers a run for their money as to which unit is theAgaitor strength of the FIU D. However, the uncertainty at the corner position opposite Anthony Gaitor (right) gives us pause in ranking this unit with the LBs.

As we all know, AG has established himself as one of the top defensive backs not only in the Sun Belt, but nationally as well with his inclusion into the top DB Award watch list.

AG set the FIU record with 5 picks last season, but it might be tough for that number to go up with opposing QBs aware of No. 7 and might not throw as often his way.

The other starting corner position is up for grabs. Who wants it?

Well, here are your candidates (in no particular order): Dez Johnson (left), Jarrell McGee, Derrick Jones, O' Darris D' Haiti, George Palmer, Emmanuel Souarin and Peter Riley.

Dez In the current depth chart, Johnson is listed as the starter, and this is NOT a knock on Dez, but how much does a depth chart for a position that is up for grabs really mean on Aug. 9 with the season opener on Sept. 12?  Johnson, a senior, has the experience.

McGee (JUCO All-American) and Jones (All-County) could be considered favorites for the job coming in with their accolades, but they still have to prove it on the field in Division I football.

OD has been steady while at FIU. Palmer had a solid spring prompting MC to say: "He's a workaholic, a good athlete, real tough. He has a natural feel for playing the game."

Souarin redshirted last season, but was also an All-County selection at Norland and a pretty good athlete playing QB, RB, WR and DB in high school. Riley had a good summer in workouts and is a senior.

Of course, all these guys if they don't start, could also figure into playing time backing up Jw this corner spot and/or backing up Gaitor.

At safety, there is experience and there is hurt. Jeremiah Weatherspoon (right) and Ash Parker are veterans back there that can also drill you. 

Chuck Grace came on at the end of last season and could challenge for serious playing time. 

FIU has some solid depth at safety with Terrance Taylor, Jonathan Cyprien, Derrick Clark, Kreg Brown, Cain Elliott, and walk-ons Antwoine Bell (Miami High) and Solomon Smith (a former QB at Miramar Everglades High).

*Thanks to Alex J. Hernandez for FIU photos

Top 5 Position Battles to Watch in Camp

1) Defensive Line -- Four dependable and productive players have to emerge to help FIU have a successful season in 2009. If you don't get much pressure on the opposing QB and don't open it up for your talented LBs to make plays then the Panthers D will be on the field for long stretches of time and that's not good when you have what could be a potent offense waiting on the sidelines. Jonas Murrell (left) will Jonas be a key cog on the D-Line.

2) Backup Running Back -- Darriet Perry can carry a load, but you don't want to put the entire running game on the sophomore's shoulders. A solid No. 2 back has to emerge this month in camp. About the No. 2 back right now, MC says: "Daunte Owens has flashed, but aside from that there isn't a proven back. There is some excitement about what we can be, but there is a lot to prove."

As far the depth chart at No. 2, MC says: "That's why all those names [backup RBs] are on magnets [on the metallic depth board in the fieldhouse] so we can switch them every day. We're going to create situations for those guys to make plays. We're going to create situations where they are running behind the first and second team lines to make the playing field competing for that job as level as possible."

3) Defensive Back Spot Opposite Gaitor -- You got the info above on this post. If FIU struggles to create a pass rush this DB spot will be tested quite often.

4) Linebackers -- You figure Scott Bryant has one spot nailed down, but stranger things have happenedFrier so don't go figuring just yet. FIU has 9 very talented LBs and if these guys can get some space from the D-Line, we could be seeing 3 mini-Monstruos out there disrupting opposing offenses. Yes, I know El Monstruo played a lot of D-Line, but he was and is an LB at heart.

5) Slot Receiver -- No. 4 is on one side, but with the talent in the FIU receiving corps, La Pierna could go double slot. And why not, look at these guys to cover: Ty Frierson (right), Wayne Times, Rocky Vann and Larry McCoy. It's OK if opponents want to focus on double covering Goodbye, Paul McCall has got plenty of other options.


Apaw Will have your daily camp updates here beginning after Monday's 9 a.m. practice.

SouthPaw: Pete, your review of the DL didn't mention Ricky Booker. Is he still on the team?

PP: Yes, he is.

Apaw So who starts opposite Gaitor?

August 08, 2009

Camp Preview: Linebackers

That basketball school known as FIU, has also got an emerging football team so let's continue our camp preview less than 48 hours from the opening of Panthers camp.

If the receivers are the strength of the FIU offense, then you could make an argument that the linebackers Toronto are the FIU D's leaders.

Nine players and only 3 starting spots, but with the kind of talent at this position it's a good bet we'll see a lot of these guys on the field this season.

At the Will, we find Big Ontario Smith (left, sacking Arkansas State QB Corey Leonard, thanks Alex J. Hernandez photo), Franklin Brown (right, thanks AJH photo) and Kenny Dillard. All three are playmakers as Arkansas State can attest when it comes to BOS and FB.

In the last 2 games against the Red Wolves, BOS has 4 sacks and 14 tackles. FB recorded the game-ending INT against ASU last season after the Hilton Heave. BOS is completely healthy from the foot injury he had last season and showed it during the summer. FB also had a terrific summer and should benefit from having a season of college football under his belt.Brown

KD was the Defensive Player of the Year last season in Miami-Dade County while at Northwestern High. Yes, I know we're not in high school anymore, Dorothy, but high school ball in the 305 is just about as good as it gets and KD played at the highest level (6A) and for one of the best if not the best high school team down here.

Middle linebacker features Aaron Davis, Pooh Bear Mars and Tyler Clawson. AD has really become a vocal leader out there among the LBs and his play has backed it up. At 6-1 and almost 250, AD has the size the dominate the middle.

You all know about PBM and what he can do by watching the highlight film that has been on this blog before. And recently, you read about his weight room exploits here (515 squat) for a 5-10, 220-pound LB. PBM should have an impact right from the start at FIU. TC, a senior, brings plenty of experience to the young LB pups. TC finished 6th on the team in tackles last season and started every game.

Sb Over at the Sam, Scott Bryant (left, thanks AJH photo) returns for his senior season and tries to lead the team in tackles for the third straight season. It's going to be a little tougher for SB to take the team's tackle title considering the improved talent at LB.

With him at the Sam, SB will have to fend off redshirt freshman Winston Fraser, who is 100 percent ready after his hand injury last season. Remember, WF was the state championship game MVP for Booker T. and yes, again, we're not in high school anymore, but BTW plays the same caliber of football as NW down here.

Freshman Markeith Russell is also on the strong side LB. According to strength coach Rod Moore, MR had one of the best summers in the weight room along with Wayne Times.

We'll wrap up the camp preview on Sunday with the defensive backs and the Top 5 position battles to watch during camp.


Apaw In case you missed it in Saturday's MH: FIU will have an open scrimmage on August 22 (a Saturday) at 10 a.m. that will also be select-a-seat day at FIU Stadium along with having tours of the new fieldhouse.

The FIU Alumni will have their Panther Preview two days before the scrimmage on August 20 at 6 p.m. where you can participate in a Q&A session with MC and tour the fieldhouse. **If I'm missing any details on this, then post them on here FIU Alumni??


CarolinaGoldenPanther: Btw, Pete, any news on the finalized times for all of this years games? I was looking at the four letter's website today and it seems that half of this years gametimes still aren't finalized, including the Rutgers game. What is the ETA for these to be finalized?

PP: Four FIU home games, with the exception of the Louisiana game on Oct. 31 (12 noon), are at 7 p.m. The road games times should be done by the end of August. The reason they are still TBA is because of the away team's TV schedule and whether or not it is on TV in that team's TV market. The opener at Alabama is at 7 p.m.

Quijote: Pete, HELP! Kind of off topic, but hoping you can help. US Soccer named its rotation for their upcoming qualifier at Mexico. The AP release and US Soccer release state that the US Soccer team will be gathering in Miami on Sunday before heading to Stadium Azteca. Any word on them showing up at FIU stadium on Sunday for practice?!

PP: U.S. Soccer is in Miami for a couple of days, but they are not practicing at FIU Stadium.


Who is your breakthrough linebacker this season?


August 07, 2009

FIU Hoops Gets No. 8 Player In The Nation (Updated)

Dominique Ferguson, the No. 8 player in the nation for 2010 (ESPN), has committed to FIU today.Df

Ferguson is a 6-8, 210-pound power forward from Indiana that was being recruited by Kentucky, Duke, Indiana, UCLA and Arizona.

Ferguson is also ranked as the No. 9 player in the nation by scout.com and the No. 5 forward for 2010.

After talking with DF, here's a story running in Saturday's MH:

   Dominique Ferguson, the No. 8 player in the nation according to ESPN, is being recruited by traditional college basketball powers Duke, Florida, Kentucky, Indiana and UCLA.


   However, none of those schools have an NBA Hall of Famer as their head coach so Ferguson is taking his basketball talent to FIU to play for Golden Panthers coach Isiah Thomas.


   Ferguson, a five-star 6-8, 210-pound power forward from Lawrence (Ind.) North High, verbally committed to FIU on Friday morning while taking an unofficial visit to the school.


   “When I heard Coach Thomas got the job at FIU in April my eyes opened up,” Ferguson, 18, said. “The main thing in my decision to come to FIU is Coach Thomas's past success in the NBA as a player and coach. He knows what it takes to get to the next level and that's what I eventually want to do.”


   Scout.com ranks Ferguson the No. 9 player overall and No. 5 forward in the nation.


   Last season at Lawrence, Ferguson averaged 15 points and nine rebounds while playing several positions.


   "I don't really have a position,” Ferguson said. “I can play anywhere on the court. I guess you can say I'm a little bit like [Lakers forward] Lamar Odom, who plays anywhere on the court.”


   Ferguson joins a couple of other highly-touted recruits to commit to FIU in the last month.


   Chris Coleman, the No. 5 center for 2011, bypassed Connecticut and West Virginia for FIU. Phil Taylor, the No. 37 guard for 2010, turned down Southern Cal and North Carolina State, to join FIU.


   For this coming season, Thomas signed the nation's leading junior college scorer in Marvin Roberts and his JUCO teammate Antoine Watson, who was No. 4 in the nation in scoring.


   Ferguson said he has played against Coleman and Taylor before and is eager to join his future teammates when he signs a letter of intent with FIU in November.


   "Playing with [Coleman and Taylor] at FIU is going to be a great opportunity to turn the program into a consistent winner and shock the world,” Ferguson said.


   Ferguson tore his right knee when he was in eighth grade and plans on studying physical therapy at FIU before eventually trying for the NBA.


   “My injury put me out for a while,” Ferguson said. “I realized how hard it is getting back and that basketball is not the only thing in life. I want to learn physical therapy to help others. I want to get my degree and then make it to the next level no matter how long it takes and Coach Thomas is the person that can help me get there.”






August 06, 2009

Camp Preview: Defensive Line

Let's move on over to the defensive side of the ball now that we've finished previewing the FIU offense.

Starting here with the defensive line, we'll then take a look at the linebackers on Friday, defensive backs on Saturday and we'll round up our camp preview Sunday with the top 5 position battles to follow during  Kam the 5 weeks of camp.

Heading into camp, the FIU defensive line is like a big jigsaw puzzle. There are plenty of pieces and during the next month the Panthers and new defensive line coach Cary Godette have to find a way to make all these pieces fit in the right place.

Talking to MC about the D-Line, he says there is no order right now in a depth chart, everyone has to battle in August for playing time.

On one end of the line we find Kambriel Willis (left, thanks Alex J. Hernandez photo), Jarvis Wilson, Cody Pellicer, Artis Warthen and James Jones. Last season KW showed some flashes of the speed rushing menace he was at Booker T. High, but was undersized. After another off-season in the weight room and up to 220 pounds, KW could be making offensiveGc linemen say "Whatcha talkin' bout Willis?" this season. Sorry, couldn't resist the Different Strokes punchline.

Wilson could be an intriguing rusher with his speed. During one summer workout, offensive lineman Andy Leavine was explaining to JW the moves former FIU pass rushing hombre El Monstruo Antwan Barnes would make to blow by offensive lineman before EM took his talent to the NFL with the Baltimore Ravens. If JW catches on to just half of what EM did, it will be a big help to the FIU D.

Pellicer had some production during his freshman season two years. Now a redshirt sophomore, CP looks bigger and stronger to handle the big uglies on the other side of the ball. MC said Warthen has looked good in the offseason and James Jones is just about ready to return from the knee tear he sustained against Kansas in the season opener last season. Jonathan Jackson has not completely healed from surgery on both feet and could possibly end up taking a redshirt season this year.

Jonas At tackle we find one of the stars of the offseason strength and conditioning program in Jonas Murrell (left, thanks Sam Lewis photo) who is down from 358 to 314 and maybe less since the 314 was from 2 weeks ago. JM can provide a big boost to the FIU D opening up some holes for the linebackers and causing havoc in the backfield like he did in the 2005 season, in this photo left, sacking Middle Tennessee QB Clint Marks.

Reggie Jones could be another impact player on the line. Need proof, look at what he did last season in his only game at North Texas before breaking his foot. Kasey Smith and Josh Forney, two younger guys, could also find themselves in the mix for playing time -- as we're likely to see a steady rotation along the line.

At the nose, Andre Pound, Donnell Wilson, Justin West are competing for a starting spot. One player, who could be a nice surprise is walk-on Andrew Mattox (right) -- a 1st team All-State player and theAmattox Volusia County Defensive Player of the Year from Spruce Creek High (Cody Pellicer's high school).

Mattox had 70 tackles last season with 38 tackles for loss and 5 forced fumbles. He is 6-2, 250 pounds and has a video on YouTube cleaning and jerking 330 pounds. Here it is: Mattox Power

On the other end of the line, you have the other Willis, Armond Willis -- no relation to Kambriel, along with Thatcher Starling, Joey Harris, who made the move from tight end and had a solid offseason getting up to 260 pounds. MC said JH has looked great in the offseason. Freshman Tourek Williams has made a strong first impression according to MC, who says TW is "an absolute beast".


Max: Any news on a big home game for the basketball team this season?

PP: Not yet. The schedule is not expected to be done until later this summer.

Tri-Panther: Do you know if Mack will play this season at all? I highly doubt it since dropping 40 pounds is no easy task.

PP: It will be tough. He has to get in football shape in order to see playing time.

Jsuarez88: Pete, can Cmack redshirt this season? And for the last post, Doesn't Larvez run a low 4.5?Speedy Didn't Mallary reportedly run a 4.3? not a 4.55? I'm interested in knowing Times' actual 40 time too.

PP: Counting this season as a junior, CMack has 2 years left to play college ball. No more redshirt.

The times I was given for the 2009 class were for the top 5 fastest players. Pooh Bear came into FIU at 230 needing to drop a few pounds so he did not run the 40 in 4.5. Mallary might have run a 4.3 at Gulliver, but FIU's stop watch had him at 4.55. Some times high school times are a little quicker ;) so that high school coaches could possibly help in the college recruiting of their players. Times came in at 4.6. But don't worry, if these guys Sixpanthers can score, who cares what they run in the 40......6 is the number FIU is looking for from these players. They don't hand out the Sun Belt Championship Trophy for 40-yard dash times.

SouthPaw: Pete, I noticed that Wendy Napoleon isn't on the spring roster. Is he still cleared to play health-wise?

PP: He was cleared in the spring, but will not play in the fall, because he doesn't want to risk anything with the neck injury he had. You don't want to mess with any kind of neck injury. Former FIU safety John Haritan -- who still holds the FIU single-game record with 21 tackles and is 3rd all-time in tackles at FIU -- did not play his final season either, because of not wanting to risk his neck injury.

pikedanny: Pete, Two quick questions: 1 - Is the Season Opener on TV? 2 - Is Sports Grill going to be ready for the Blue and Gold Invasion that day if the game is on TV?

PP: The season opener against Alabama is on pay-per-view, according to the SEC website. The new Sports Grill (Bird Road and SW 117 Ave. next to Publix) opens in the next couple of weeks and is hosting FIU watch parties so pay them a visit.

Apaw The FIU coaching staff and the D-line will figure who plays where and when this month, but you tell us who will have the best season among the D-linemen in our 2 poll questions below.


August 04, 2009

Camp Preview: Offensive Line and Kickers

With its array of playmakers, the FIU offense has a chance to be pretty good this season, but like is the case in all levels of football, the offense will only be as good as its offensive line.

For this coming season, at least on paper, FIU's offensive line starts off on the right foot with all 5 starters Cernius returning and all 5 starters being upperclassmen.

The last time FIU had that scenario (5 returning OL starters and all being upperclassmen) the Panthers O-line led by center Victor Cernius (left) -- the only FIU player to play in every game during a 4-year FIU career -- went on to set a program record allowing just 9 sacks in the 2004 season. FIU was just 3-7 in 2004, but that Panthers team (then Division I-AA) did knock off No. 5 (Div. I-AA) Stephen F. Austin 31-24 in Texas.

The FIU line that allowed 9 sacks in 2004 featured five juniors in: Cernius, Tim Dierks, Patrick Mullen, John Shanahan and Ed Wenger.

The 2009 projected starting O-line for FIU features 4 seniors (Ula Matavao, Andy Leavine, Mario Caraballo, Joe Alajajian) and 1 junior (Brad Serini).

Three-fifths of the current FIU o-line played in all 12 games last season, while Leavine and Caraballo played in 8 games due to injuries. Entering camp, all 5 starters are healthy and staying so will go a longAla way toward building that cohesiveness needed in an OL throughout the season.

Leavine and Alajajian made some noticeable gains in the offseason setting team highs in the weight room with Leavine cleaning 365 pounds and squatting 500. Alajajian (right, thanks Alex J. Hernandez photo) might be the strongest player on the team with his 500 pound bench press and 575 squat. Serini (below, left, thanks AJH photo) dropped from being 305 pounds to 280 pounds so that he could be quicker off the ball.

Among the other offensive linemen that could really help out this season are Chris Cawthon, who was having a solid freshman season last year until tearing his knee at North Texas. Cawthon has been rehabbing this summer and according to MC is "getting close" to returning to form.

Serini Stephen Bailey, who redshirted last season to put on some pounds, enters his redshirt freshman season this year with 25 pounds of muscle added on going from 255 to 280. He could figure into the OL play.

MC expects all the freshmen OL to "be in the mix" for playing time. Dave Istanich, Giancarlo Revilla, Austin Tottle, Derek Wimberly and Rupert Bryan. However, if I was a betting man and I'm not -- unless you count a lottery ticket every once in a while -- I would say Bryan could be the first freshman to see the field. Physically, he looks ready, but it will all depend on how quickly he gets La Pierna's offense.

MC also had good things to say about Curtis Bryant -- "he's going to be good" and Luis Pena, who has "been working hard".

Kenny White is not ready to return from his knee injury last season and MC says Cedric Mack at 350, has to drop to 310.


There are no free agent acquisitions in the college game, but if there were FIU got a very helpful one when punter Carlos Munera (right, thanks Sam Lewis photo) was granted an extra season of eligibility by the NCAA.

Some might think of a punter being an afterthought on a football team, but if you have a good one like theMunera Panthers do, the punter can be a pretty effective weapon helping out with hidden yardage -- such as pining a team deep in their own territory. Munera averaged 41.1 yards per punt last season.

With Munera returning, freshman Jack Griffin and senior Dustin Rivest just have to concern themselves with the placekicking duties. Regardless of how talented a leg you have, you can only either kick or punt effectively and not both. It would have been tough for either JG or DR to both punt and kick if that were the case this season.

Griffin arrives at FIU as the No. 3 rated kicker in Florida and No. 14 in the nation. Now he has to prove those rankings were correct. Griffin and Rivest, who set an FIU single-game record with 5 field goals against Arkansas State last season, will duel this month for the kicking job.



My mistake leaving off Marquis Rolle from the receivers preview. I had him written on my notepad, but the name never made it on to the laptop keyboard. Of course, MR deserves to be mentioned among the FIU receivers, especially after some of the catches he made during 7-on-7s this summer.

Apaw You have 7 chances to see your Panthers practice before all camp practices are closed to the public. The first 7 practices are open to you beginning with the first one next Monday, August 10 at 9 a.m. The rest of the first week schedule goes: Tuesday through Friday with 8:30 a.m. starts and Saturday is two-a-day with practices at 8:00 a.m. and 3:45 p.m. All practices are at FIU Stadium.

Apaw Chris Cawthon cracked the starting offensive line as a freshman last season and did a good job in the first 5 games of the season before getting injured. Cawthon could possibly regain the starting job this month. Freshmen don't normally see much playing time on an OL, but which one of the 2009 frosh OL class will see the field first?

August 03, 2009

Camp Preview: Receivers and Tight Ends

Time to take a look at the strength of the FIU offense as we move to 6 days away from the start of camp.

Yes, that No. 4 is pretty good and unlike last season he will not sneak up on anyone, but that's just fineTygoodbye with your Panthers, because there are plenty of other FIU receivers that can say Goodbye to opposing defenses.

There is no doubt opposing defenses will key on T.Y. Hilton (right, thanks Alex J. Hernandez photo) this season and like the Panthers themselves, No. 4 will not be a surprise to any team this season. This, however, will make FIU's other receivers better and will likely cause an uptick in their numbers.

Not comparing here -- so don't start pounding the keyboard -- but with opposing defenses knowing what T.Y. can do and how it will benefit FIU's other receivers could be a little bit like what happened to the other Patriots receivers when Randy Moss arrived there. All of the sudden receivers such as Wes Welker, Donte Stallworth and Jabar Gaffney put up the best numbers of their careers with opposing defenses so focused on stopping Moss. Again, so no one calls the men in the white coats to come get me, I'm not comparing T.Y. to Moss -- just the scenario that can happen to the offense when opposing defenses have to find a way to stop a top notch receiver and how other receivers will benefit. Of course, Moss we can't compare T.Y. to Moss, because everybody knows No. 4 is better anyway........kidding, no need for a straitjacket.

As one reader was wondering, what will FIU do if Goodbye is double and triple-teamed?....Well, there are plenty of other options offensive coordinator Bill Legg can dial up.

Greg Ellingson (right, AJH photo) can beat you with his size and strength along the sidelines or over the middle. Junior Mertile is just as fast as Goodbye and is noticeably stronger thanks to the offseason strength and conditioning program.

Ty Frierson showed late last season that he could wreak havoc underneath. Wayne Times can beat you with his elusiveness. Rocky Vann runs a 4.4 and has good hands. Edgard Theliar is 6-3 and a physical receiver. Not too many defensive backs or safeties will outjump 6-5 receiver Jairus Williams for anythingGe in the air and Larry McCoy, who had a solid summer in team workouts, is described by MC as "a playmaker, explosive".

And we can't forget the senior receivers such as Jeremy Dickens and Elliott Dix, who have both shown before that they can be productive.

And we haven't even gotten to the tight ends yet. Senior Eric Kirchenberg made some nice grabs during summer 7-on-7s and is healthy going into this season.

While most of you are very eager to see what new tight end/big dude Dudley LaPorte (6-4, 240, 4.6 40-yard) can do, keep an eye on sophomore tight end Jonathan Faucher, who could surprise this season.

Faucher played special teams and backed up Kirchenberg last season and could be pressed for playing time again this season with EK and DL at TE, but JF can catch the ball.

John Ellis, who figures into FIU's running game plans, is also an option as an h-back. But with the way JE ran during the spring, it would be interesting to see him get some carries and see if the wheels on the bus go round and round.

Although the pass catchers are the strength of the FIU offense going into this season, again, the success when the Panthers have the ball will depend largely on establishing a solid running game to keep opposing defenses honest. If not, it won't matter even if you have T.Y. and Moss lining up side by side.



Here are the top 5 times in the 40 from the FIU defense this past summer: Anthony Gaitor (4.43) (right, thanks Sam Lewis photo); George Palmer (4.45) and Jeremiah Weatherspoon (4.45); Kreg Brown (4.46) and Dez Johnson (4.46). Top 5 times in the 40 from the 2009 signing class: Rocky Vann (4.4); Derrick Jones (4.5); Jarrell McGee (4.52); Darian Mallary (4.55); Terrance Gaitor Taylor (4.58).


Looks like the FIU Football PSAT was a little tough. We only had 4 people get 10 or more of the 20 questions correct. Here are those people: RFeng (17 out of 20); Sam Lewis (14 of 20); FIU Fanatic (13 of 20) and Roman (12 of 20). Thanks to all for playing. You can check out all 20 correct answers here: FIU Football PSAT Answers


FIUJM: Pete, I hope you enjoyed your vacation. During spring Jonathan Ramirez played RB, is he on team?

PP: Yes he is, but he might end up doing a little of everything: RB, special teams and DB.

CharlieGP: what time exactly will the practice start?

PP: Looking like an 8:30 a.m. start.

CJ: have fun on the vacation?

PP: Great time in Sarasota. Highly recommend Siesta Key for beach getaway.


As of this post, Darian Mallary had a slight edge over Daunte Owens in your vote for who will step up as FIU's No. 2 back this season. Poll is still open, keep voting. Here is another question for you:

August 02, 2009

Camp Preview: Quarterbacks and Running Backs


One week from Monday, your Panthers begin preparations for the 2009 season with the opening of camp and by then all you good people can say goodbye to your long off-season without FIU football.

The first practice of the 2009 season takes place early Monday morning, August 10 over at FIU Stadium and is open to the public. Until then we'll take a look at your Panthers as they head into camp 7 days from now.

Let's go camping....


Unlike the first two seasons under MC, we know who will take the first snap under center or out of thePm shotgun when the season kicks off on Sept. 12 at Alabama. Paul McCall established himself last season by throwing an FIU-record 15 TDs and taking control of Bill Legg's spread offense. This season PM is like a kid on Christmas morning with all the new offensive weapons to go to as well as returning playmakers such as T.Y. Hilton, Greg Ellingson, Junior Mertile, etc.

A second season for PM and the rest of the offense under Legg will only benefit them, but like last season the schedule is brutal at the start with Alabama and Rutgers so don't be surprised if FIU doesn't get rolling on offense until the third game and home opener against Toledo. Although, a strong showing in New Jersey would not be a shock. With a potent offense at his disposal, PM has a real good shot of surpassing his FIU TD pass record and the FIU single-season record of 2,493 passing yards by former FIU QB Josh Padrick set in 2003.

Backup Wayne Younger has bulked up to 200 pounds and has shown more zip on his passes this summer. Although, WY did not play much last season with PM taking over the starting job, WY has a good grasp of the offense. WY was constantly instructing the new walk-on QBs and some of the receivers on certain parts of the offense during summer workouts. If WY is pressed into a game, FIU should be fine.

With Colt Anderson's move to tight end and Darold Hughes transferring to a lower division college, the third quarterback job will be up for grabs between freshman walk-ons Junior Delpe (North Miami) and Chris Schirripa (Cardinal Gibbons). Both were talented, athletic high school QBs here in South Florida and both have shown some flashes during summer workouts.

Wesley Carroll, who has to sit out this season due to NCAA transfer rules, will be the nation's best scout team QB in 2009.


Dperry This might be a huge area of concern for FIU, because of the lack of depth at the position. And if FIU struggles to establish a running game this season, it will hurt the effectiveness of the spread offense. A one-dimensional offense only works in Nintendo's Tecmo Bowl.

The FIU running game starts with Darriet Perry (left, thanks Sam Lewis photo) and the Panthers need DP to stay upright this season. We all saw what DP can do on the field in the final 2 games of the 2008 season. The 3 Florida Atlantic defenders that DP took for a 13-yard piggy-back ride in last year's Shula Bowl are still wondering how a freshman can carry 3 defenders.

DP is not a big back, but he is a strong back and can be that everydown workhorse back that FIU needs this season and that I'm sure MC is recruiting more of for the coming seasons. However, DP needs to stay healthy, because of the lack of experience behind him.

Going into training camp, MC has said that fullback/h-back John Ellis is the No. 2 back on the depth chart. JE has always shown sparks throughout his 4-year FIU career, but has never really gotten enough carries to produce consistently. With DP having limited contact during the spring, JE showed what heDowens could do running ball and had some where-has-this-been-hiding runs that had his teammates nicknaming him "The Bus". If JE can bring that production to the regular season backing up DP, it could be a tremendous addition to the FIU O.

While DP and JE are FIU's bruisers at RB, Daunte Owens (right) and Darian Mallary are the Panthers home-run threats (No, they are not playing for Turtle). DO and DM both run 4.4s and if they get a crease, there are not many defenses that are going to catch them. DO, who has had a history of injuries at FIU, gave us a glimpse of his potential last season against North Texas and Troy. DM led the county's Class 3A-1A in rushing last season, but this is a whole different level of football. Still, could envision DM eventually moving up the depth chart and playing a big role in the offense.

Two wild cards among the RBs are Kendall Berry and Trenard Turner. KB, who arrived at FIU as a receiver, is moving to the backfield where he played quite often in high school. KB is not as fast as some of the other backs but is very athletic and could help. TT, like JE, has shown potential both running and catching the ball. TT is coming off knee surgery and is 100 percent healthy and ready to go. If he can revert to his pre-injury form, TT could be a secret weapon for FIU.

Freshman Wayne Times is an intriguing player to watch for this season, because he could find himself playing both roles in the offensive backfield -- WildWayneCat or WildTimesCat or just the WildPanther. WT played some QB at Northwestern and has definitely run the ball too. We could see some interesting action on the field with WT before this season is complete. However, entering camp WT will be working with the receivers.



Thanks for dropping by the GPP, Rashod Smith -- FIU's all-time leading rusher with 2,195 career yards. Still remember your touchdown runs through the driving rains on Halloween night against Jacksonville. You and theRashod rest of the players on the early FIU football teams were true pioneers and helped establish a program that is about to take off.

Apaw Congratulations to RFeng for getting the highest score (17 out of 20) on our FIU Football PSAT from the previous post. RFeng can submit his guest blog to my e-mail and we'll post it on here. On Monday, I will post the answers to the 20 questions and the tiebreaker question on the previous post with the PSAT.

Apaw DP is the expected workhorse No. 1 back for the Panthers this season, but which of the other running backs will step up and become FIU's reliable No. 2 back and complement DP?

Team Stats

» View more stats



Powered by TypePad