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21 posts from September 2009

September 30, 2009

O-Line Tweaks

   There might be some more mixing and matching along the FIU offensive line this Saturday against ULM.

   The offensive line play improved somewhat in last week's game against Toledo. After a little tweaking,


the Panthers line helped the running game rush for 148 yards. 

   Freshman Dave Istanich started at right tackle and alternated with senior Joe Alajajian.

   "David did a nice job and has earned himself some playing time," MC said. "Then Joe got in there and did a nice job as well. Kind of like with a wide receiver or a quarterback, if a guy gets hot you want to leave him in there. They were blocking well. The offensive line was jelling. Overall, they were blocking well."


   Although right guard Cedric Mack was elevated to co-starter with Luis Abril on the depth chart, he did not play Saturday.

   Instead it was another junior college transfer that stood out against Toledo.

   "[Mack] has to get better," MC said. "The bottom line is we need offensive linemen to step up. If he steps up enough, he will play. Just like the last game when [Kevin] Van Kirk stepped up, Van Kirk played. It will always be based on reality, that’s why we don’t delve into all the nonsense. Van Kirk has been playing well. Cedric Mack obviously was a well-publicized player coming in, but he needs to get in shape and he needs to be better for him to play. Van Kirk did a real good job. He’s going to see a lot of action this week."

   Van Kirk, a junior, transferred to FIU from Santa Rosa College after being an All-Broward County

Van kirk

lineman at Plantation American Heritage High (MH photo, left).

   In case you missed it in yesterday's paper, safety Ash Parker is out for the season for the second consecutive year with the same knee tear. AP is a redshirt junior so he does have one more season of eligibility.

   Kreg Brown is slated to start in his place, but you might see plenty of rotation back there depending on whose play stands out.

   Tight end Eric Kirchenberg is out 3 to 4 weeks with an abdominal/groin strain. Good thing there is depth at the position with DLP, Jonathan Faucher and Colt Anderson.

   Receiver Marquis Rolle is out a couple of weeks with bone bruise on his knee.


The FIU/ULM game is blacked out, but been told Sports Grill is working on getting the game on anyhow. As soon I get an answer about the game's availability I will post it on here for you.


What is the most important key to Saturday's FIU/ULM game. The thought here is the Panthers have to score early to spring the upset against the much improved Warhawks, because FIU cannot keep trying to come back in the second half. That's too much to keep asking of the D. Here are some other choices. Pick one and tell us why.


September 28, 2009

On To Conference Play

From reading some of the comments about Saturday's loss, hopefully by now you've gotten it all out of your system. Whether you did it by hitting the gym, hitting your favorite adult beverage, hitting both, hitting


something or just by yelling into your computer on here....you good people have every right to be upset about Saturday's performance by your Panthers. As MC said afterward: "About the only thing we did well was play hard".

Once again, the FIU offense got off to a slow start for the third consecutive game and thus putting pressure on the D to contain the opposing offense -- in which Toledo has a pretty good one. Only problem with that scenario was that the FIU D we saw in the first 2 games against No. 3 Alabama and Rutgers wasn't the same one that played Toledo.

Unlike games against Bama and Rutgers, the D missed too many tackles with plenty of guys trying to deliver the big hit instead of just wrapping up the Rocket and bringing him down. Once again, there was a lack of a pass rush, which does not bode well against any O, especially one as potent as Toledo. And there were plenty of w-i-d-e open Toledo receivers, which could be attributed to poor coverage and/or the lack of pass rush.

Offensively, there were just too many mistakes: fumbles, dropped passes, inaccurate passes and lack of execution in the red zone -- need 6 down there and not 3. FIU seemed to be able to run the ball better


than pass against the Rockets. Kudos to the O-line and Darriet Perry and Darian Mallary, who scored his first college TD (right, thanks Sam Lewis photo). The Panthers need to run in order to keep Ds honest with the spread passing offense.

So now it's on to Sun Belt Conference play with FIU's SBC opener at Louisiana-Monroe on Saturday and a chance to start turning the season around. Although with the improved Sun Belt, every game from here on out will be a battle.

Some of you may have read the first part of the preceding paragraph and said "yeah, right", but here's the thought from Saturday's loss: most of what FIU did wrong is correctable. It's not like Toledo and the rest of


the schedule are the 1972 Dolphins (left). Well, the Gators look like the 2008 Gators.

Now it's a matter of whether or not the players and coaches can regroup and fix what went wrong against Toledo.

Yes, Toledo has a good team, but yet with all the poor play by FIU, it still lost by only 10. Yes, I know it was a 17-point deficit until the late TD.

However, if you were to tell me team X:  missed tackles, didn't have any pass rush, had leaky pass coverage, fumbled twice deep in team Y's territory, dropped passes, misfired on passes and squandered red zone chances and you ask me to predict a score on the outcome of team X's game, then I would probably say something like: 52-10.

Although this Panthers team is far from being a finished product there is enough talent to clean things up and get back on track this season.

Surely there will be plenty of tackle technique drills in practice this week. There might be a change in pass rush scheme (my 2 cents is a lack of size is prohibiting FIU from getting to the QB, because the speed is there) and there may be a shake up in playing time on D.

On the O, they will probably go back to the basics in practice learning to wrap up the ball when running with it and following the ball into their hands when its thrown at you, and PMC will focus on being sharper with his passes. When it comes to the red zone we may see next time different personnel or different plays called, because the Panthers have to take advantage of t-minus 20 yards when they are in that situation.

There is no doubt the FIU you saw on Saturday was nowhere near the team you saw most of last season and there is no excuse for that type of performance. Last week, I wrote that we could get a better idea of your Panthers this season after the Toledo game. Not sure we accomplished that since FIU had too many self-inflicted mistakes.

Maybe, we'll have a better idea after the game against a tough Warhawks team on the road. I would like to see FIU play a complete game in all 3 facets of the game (win or lose) to have a better idea. We've seen a half of offense in all 3 games. We've seen the D in just 2 games and the special teams have been hot and cold.

Most of you were already crowning this team as Sun Belt champions before the season began probably


based on last year's improvement, but this team is still a work in progress and how that progress continues this season will be determined by how your Panthers bounce back from Saturday's performance.




Congratulations to Yarimar Rosa, (thanks Alex J. Hernandez photo) who in her first week back from a hand injury won the Sun Belt Volleyball Player of the Week award today. 

WIN A GPP BLOG WEEK 3 STANDINGS (FIU/ULM scores due by 3:29 p.m. Eastern GPP Time on Saturday)


FIUrulez (27); Fomenter (45); Crazy Cane (62); MIA/NY Josh (71)


FIU0406 (32); FIUPantherFan (44)

FIU Fanatic (46), Joel (46)

alt7787 (50); TheChampionUnderdog (51); NYCFIUFan (52); esteban688 (65)


Puma (26); LonePanther (38)

Golden Panther 90 (39), Quijote (39)

Baltimore Panther (43), Clawing Cancer (43), Gooch7 (43)

CarolinaGoldenPanther (44); CJ (46); Sunblazer Panther (47); SouthPaw (48); OC FIU Panther (49); FIU LOVE (53); theINTERNATIONAL (57); FIUcanesFan (63), gold (63); Hay (67)


Max (66); Tri-Panther (70); FIUer (78)

GPP: 2-1 (32)

September 26, 2009

Game 3: FIU vs. Toledo LIVE BLOG

The home opener is just about to kickoff in less than 30 minutes. Nothing like the comforts of home, sleep in your own bed, getting to stadium via familiar roads and the heat and humidity of Miami. Your Panthers hope to take advantage of the friendly confines of FIU Stadium and make it two in a row over the Rockets.

Let's see how they do....

* The live coverage will display below. Press the play button to launch. It may take up to a minute to load.

September 25, 2009

FIU/Toledo Preview: These Are Not Your Father's Rockets

After two weeks on the road, finally the home opener for your Panthers at the friendly confines of FIU




Like we've mentioned before on the GPP, FIU is not taking on your father's Toledo Rockets. These new Rockets bring a very potent offense that until Ohio State shut them down last week, the Toledo offense was No. 1 in the nation in total O.

So in this game your Panthers might need to score like Vinny Chase in Entourage.

There are expected to be some changes along the line if the depth chart is any indication. Dave Istanich is penciled in as the starter at right tackle and Cedric Mack has been elevated to a co-starter at left guard with Luis Abril.

The Panthers hope the changes translate into a more efficient offense than what we've seen the first 2


weeks of the season where Paul McCall has had little time to throw and the FIU run game has had little daylight.

Friday was a day off for yours truly so I took my nephew to the Miami Seaquarium for his birthday. Before you guys think I'm back in New York from last week, don't worry there is a point to this anecdote.

At the seaquarium, we saw the dolphins and Lolita the Killer Whale follow through on the instructions given by their trainers as they swam, jumped and moved effortlessly around the water to perform a great show.

This week in practice one emphasis for the FIU offense was to follow through whether it was the linemen being told to follow through on their blocks all the way until the ball carrier is past you or whether it was the receivers, who were told to follow through up field after you catch the ball.

The thought here is that Saturday's game will come down to offensive execution and not the former Tampa


Bay Bucs coach John McKay's offensive execution. McKay, who coached the Bucs in their inaugural season in which they did not win a game, was asked about his offense's execution after a particular game and his response was: "I'm in favor of it."

That is not what I'm talking about when it comes to the FIU O. Instead, enter a Toledo D that has given up 52, 38, and 38 points in three games this season. If FIU can make like the dolphins (and not Ted Ginn -- sorry but any No. 1 receiver catches the 2 TDs that Ginn dropped on Monday night -- OK no more mini-rant that talk is for Armando's blog anyway), If FIU can make like the seaquarium dolphins and follow through on offense and defense, then we could be looking at the first win of 2009.

Which won't come easy, because Toledo does bring in a very potent offense and a new spread scheme that FIU did not see from the Rockets last season. Remember, this ain't your father's Rockets. Still, I think the FIU O reverts to the one we saw at the end of last season, which averaged 37 points a game, and the FIU D continues its solid work while yielding some yardage, because Toledo can fling it and has a very mobile QB.


GPP thinks: FIU 34, Toledo 28


Reminders: FIU/Toledo LIVE GPP BLOG begins Saturday at 6:45 p.m. (It's a 7 p.m. game so there is a chance I may have to leave you guys at the end of the 3rd quarter to start writing for deadline. But the blog will remain open.)

Also, 6:59 p.m. GPP Eastern time is the deadline to get scores in for the Win A GPP Blog and Sun Belt Football Media Guide contest.


September 23, 2009

Straight From The Quarterback/Electrical Engineer's Mouth


Two days until the home opener and you wanted to know how your Panthers quarterback is doing. Well, let Paul McCall, FIU quarterback/electrical engineer grad student, himself  tell you as he said during Wednesday morning's press conference at the FIU fieldhouse....

"I’m feeling good. I’m ready to go for Saturday. It’s just a bruise from what the athletic training staff tells me so we’re just bracing it up for prevention. Nonetheless, my arm and my mind are what keep me in games so I’m really worried about that and long as that is going to be able to go for Saturday we should be all right on offense."

On the hit at Rutgers: 

"It was just awkward getting hit like that. I’ve taken much harder hits from a lot bigger guys. It’s just the way I got hit, I kind of tweaked it a little, but nonetheless it’s just a bruise. It feels real good now. It’s strong, it’s stable and it’s going to be ready to go for Saturday."

PMC has made all the throws in practice this week and taken all the first team reps. While Wayne Younger, who is working through a non-throwing shoulder bruise, has taken all the 2nd team snaps.

There could be some offensive line changes in store for Saturday. The depth chart was released today and


keeping in mind that depth charts are fluid, it has Dave Istanich listed as the starting right tackle with Joe Alajajian backing him up.

Asked MC about Istanich's performance against Rutgers and here's what the FIU coach had to say:

"For a guy that is a true freshman, playing right tackle in a setting like that against a big-time opponent, he did a heck of a job. We expect him to be a great player for us. He battled. He was sharp mentally. No complaints there."

The other change along the O-line on the depth chart is at left guard where Cedric Mack (right) is now listed as a co-starter with Luis Abril. The official left guard starter listing is: Cedric Mack or Luis Abril.

There also could be other changes along the line that are not on the depth chart.

"You’ll see some absolutely," MC said. "We’re going to play guys who want to battle to the point of passing out. That’s what it takes to be a great offensive lineman. We’ve got several young guys that have placed themselves in position to compete for playing time and you have guys like Andy Leavine, who have done well and improved his



Safety Jeremiah Weatherspoon (left) has been with the first team D all week and is moving just fine after his hamstring injury against Alabama. JW traveled to Rutgers last week, put on the uniform and warmed up on the Rutgers Stadium field, but did not feel 100 percent. He is ready to go this week.

MC says Ash Parker is questionable this week after only doing light reps in practice.

As far as tight end Dudley LaPorte, MC says he will know more about his status later in the week.



September 22, 2009

A Little Perspective on Preseason Expectations

Yesterday was the last day of summer and the beginning of the rest of the season for your Panthers. I know some of you were thinking about reaching for the hemlock or tying cinder blocks to your ankles and jumping into the Atlantic after Saturday's loss to Rutgers, but come back into the GPP put down the hemlock, take off the cinder blocks, relax on the couch and let's see if we can help you.


Before the season began many of you had FIU cruising through the Sun Belt, taking down Rutgers and Toledo for what you thought would amount to a 8 or 9-win season and start knocking on the Big East door.

Hey, it's great to have big expectations, but a little perspective here. FIU still has several holes to fill to call itself a complete team. You may have been tempted to think from last year's four-win improvement that another 4-win improvement was coming this season for a 9-3 record.

However, FIU still is not solid along the lines of scrimmage and is sorely lacking depth and this is where the Panthers are today at 0-2.

It's year 3 under MC and progress has been steadily made (see: quarterbacks, running backs, receivers, linebackers, defensive backs and punter), but it hasn't quite reached the offensive and defensive lines just yet. Before the season and in camp, several people couldn't believe I was only predicting 6 wins for FIU and I said the reason for it was the uncertainty along the lines and a lack of depth throughout most of the team. Bama and Rutgers showed the FIU lines are a work in progress and the Tide also took advantage of the lack of FIU depth in the fourth quarter.

Now uncertainty doesn't mean that the lines can't get better. There is plenty of potential on both lines, but some of it hasn't fully developed in the weight room or the light bulb just hasn't come on yet.


And let's be honest here, MC wasn't exactly left with a full deck of cards to work with. He inherited lost scholarships and some players that were not Division I caliber. In the next signing class (2010), FIU will finally have its full allotment of 25 scholarships.


Unfortunately it can't be a quick fix for FIU. It's not like MC can do like Jimmy Johnson did with the Cowboys in 1989 and send Herschel Walker to Minnesota for 13 players, including eight high draft picks that netted Emmitt Smith, Alvin Harper, Darren Woodson among the picks.

So here's where we are: FIU did not have the size on the lines to match Alabama and Rutgers, yet thanks to its D, Carlos Munera and some moderate success in the passing game, the Panthers were able to be competitive. (Yes, while many think the Rutgers game was not competitive, it actually was thanks to the FIU D -- only 1 TD allowed -- and Munera).

Remember last season's first two games: Kansas 40, FIU 10 (30-10 Jayhawks at halftime) and Iowa 42, FIU 0 -- those were not competitive games from the start.

While Toledo is a much improved team from last year (this is not your father's Toledo that took a whuppin' from FIU last year), the home opener against the Rockets could give us a better idea of your Panthers this season.

However, FIU MUST NOT take Toledo lightly, because of its 35-16 win last year at the Glass Bowl. FIU


is not at the stage where it can just walk into a stadium, score 30 points, get the W and start the plane or in this case head back to the dorms. Remember the ULM game last season.

The Rockets bring a high-powered offense with a senior QB, a bruising running back, talented receivers and a 300-pound-plus O-line. Toledo can score and be scored on as the 52, 38 and 38 points they have given up in its 3 games show.

But again the FIU D-line must show it can get by those 300-pounders and get QB pressure which there has been very little of this season. Or open up the holes for the talented, fast linebackers to get in there and disrupt the Rockets offense.

And of course, the big one -- the FIU O-line needs to get its act together and give Paul McCall some time to throw and open some holes for the running game. Will there be changes along the O-line? We'll find out later in the week, but it would not surprise to see some new O-linemen getting playing time on Saturday.

Will have injury updates and Dudley LaPorte status updates for you later today.



WIN A GPP BLOG WEEK 2 STANDINGS (Toledo/FIU scores due by 6:59 p.m. Eastern GPP Time on Saturday)


Joel (15); FIU0406 (19); FIUrulez (20); FIUPantherFan (24); FIU Fanatic (26)

alt7787 (28), NYCFIUFan (28)

Fomenter (34); TheChampionUnderdog (37); Crazy Cane (40)

esteban688 (44), MIA/NY Josh (44)


Puma (12)

Clawing Cancer (19), Gazi (19)

LonePanther (20); OC FIU PANTHER (21)

FIUJM (22), FIU LOVE (22), SunblazerPanther (22)

Baltimore Panther (23)

Golden Panther 90 (24), Quijote (24)

Carolina Golden Panther (25), gold (25)

SouthPaw (27)

CJ (29), Gooch7 (29)

ArrozConPollo (30)

theINTERNATIONAL (32), chrisfiu (32)

panther viscosity (34)

FIUcanesFan (36), Hay (36)


Tri-panther (45); Max (53); FIUer (56)

* If your name is not listed above then either you did not give a score for the Alabama game or did not give a score for the Rutgers game.

GPP 2-0 (16)

September 20, 2009

The Quarterbacks

Contrary to the rumor floating out on the worldwide web, Paul McCall does NOT have a knee tear and will start on Saturday against Toledo.

PMC did have a knee brace put on him during the Rutgers game for a sprained knee.

Wayne Younger has a bruise on his NON-throwing shoulder.

Here is what MC texted me about 20 minutes ago about the quarterbacks:

"Wayne Younger has a shoulder bruise and is fine. McCall has a sprained knee and is feeling better and will start Saturday. He is tough and he will be fine."

September 19, 2009

Game 2: FIU vs. Rutgers LIVE BLOG

PISCATAWAY, N.J. -- Good afternoon from the birthplace of college football -- Rutgers -- as your Panthers try to deliver their first win against a BCS team in the 7-year history of FIU football.

Great football weather up here: 50's and not a cloud in the powder blue sky. We're less than 30 minutes from kickoff here at renovated Rutgers Stadium. So let's go live blogging....

FIU vs. Rutgers Preview/Prediction

PISCATAWAY, N.J. -- Welcome to the FIU Golden Panthers Prowl. In case, you missed it in the



last post, FIU has a pretty good new running back in Jeremiah Harden for 2010. Read more about it in the previous post. OC FIU PANTHER read about Harden.

You remember that we ended the last post telling you that Rutgers's most famous alum is James Gandolfini, a.k.a. Tony Soprano (left). Well upon entering the New Jersey Turnpike on Friday afternoon I was greeted by a funeral procession taking up the entire middle lane of the NJ Pike. Did somebody get whacked?


Enough Soprano talk and death. We are here at the birthplace of college football -- Rutgers University -- where the first college football game in America was played in 1869 when Rutgers defeated Princeton 6-4 in the first game of a two-game season. Princeton won the second game of the 1869 season, 8-0. The Rutgers team captain back then was William Leggett. FIU's offensive coordinator today is William Legg -- this doesn't really add to the story of the birthplace of college football, just thought it was an interesting coincidence.

The Scarlet Knights enter their 140th season of college football while your Panthers begin year No. 8.

You'll have a better understanding when you read the MH on Saturday or as soon they post the story tonight, but you could say that Rutgers is the re-birth place of FIU football. It was here back in 2001-2003 that MC and defensive coordinator Phil Galiano cut their teeth in college football coaching and in helping


RU head coach Greg Schiano bring to life a moribund Rutgers program.

As you can see by the progress of the past two years and the influx of talented recruits committing this week to FIU, that MC and co. seem to be doing just fine and are applying some of what they learned at RU.

Is Saturday the day that FIU football is re-born again at Rutgers with the Panthers first win against a BCS school? Well, let's see....Your game preview and prediction are coming a little late on Friday night/Saturday morning (3 a.m. EST GPP time) due to spending some time in New York City on Friday night.

So for Saturday, there will be no No. 17 for the Panthers. Dudley LaPorte has still not been cleared by the NCAA and the status of safety Ash Parker is still up in the air. Cedric Mack is here and he should help the O-line.

However, the biggest concern here for your Panthers is the size and aggressiveness of the Rutgers


offensive and defensive lines. Hey, let's throw out that funky math of 1.21 jiggawatts that some of you brought up on the last post about Cincy > Rutgers + FIU = Alabama (for 3 quarters) and Howard < everyone else. This is football people where the results do not carry over from one week to the other and you don't measure team A (Cincy) with team D (Bama) just because 2 teams that played against them are playing each other.

Rutgers right now is better than FIU and is ahead of FIU when it comes to size and depth -- and those are the 2 things that do not let me pick FIU in this game. Also, watch out for Rutgers QB Tom Savage. He is a good one and could give FIU's secondary some trouble.

Some of you are under the impression that just because Rutgers got annihilated by Cincy that FIU will do the same. Cincy is much better than Rutgers and FIU. Your Panthers are not at the stage where they can just walk into a stadium, dial up 30 points and start up the plane with a W going back to Miami. Maybe, in a few more years with more talent and depth that will be the case, but not now.

Could see FIU having more success on the ground against Rutgers than vs. Bama last week and could


see FIU getting more pressure on the passer, because RU is not as big or as talented as the Tide. But just can't see FIU doing enough this year vs. Rutgers.

In 2010, in the home opener at FIU Stadium, the Panthers take down the Scarlet Knights. Would it be a shock to see FIU go home happy Saturday night with a win? Absolutely not, FIU has the talent to beat Rutgers. I just don't think it will happen this season. Hope I'm wrong, because it makes my job easier and it will kill my aspiration of getting rich in Las Vegas when I'm 95 years old.

GPP thinks: Rutgers 28, FIU 17




LIVE GPP BLOG of the FIU/Rutgers game begins at 4:45 p.m. on Saturday afternoon or in about 14 hours.


FIU0406: Pete, Do you know when the Rick Sanchez Special about MC and PG going to air?

PP: You can ask Rick Sanchez yourself. He will be doing his CNN show LIVE from FIU on October 13, that's a Tuesday. The likely site of the show will be the Graham Center. No date has been set for the FIU report on CNN.

Lone Panther: Pete, what's with the sudden flux of players committing to the international? Is it due to the performance against Alabama? The great new facilities? Does MC know something that we don't know?

PP: Yes the performance against Bama had something to do with it. Heard FIU received a bunch of calls from players wanting to play down here after watching the FIU/Tide game. The facilities have also helped a lot in recruiting. Plus, who doesn't want to play football in the warm, beautiful weather at FIU. And yes, MC knows a lot about recruiting that we don't know.

Gold: Pete, Try and make it out to the Alumni Tailgate in Scarlet Square. It would be great to meet ya.

PP: Will try.


September 17, 2009

New Running Back & Other Updates

Less than 48 hours before kickoff at Rutgers on Saturday and your Panthers have a new runningJh back....for 2010.

Former Syracuse and St. Thomas Aquinas running back Jeremiah Harden has transferred to FIU and will sit out this season, per NCAA transfer rules, and join the Panthers offense in 2010 when he will be a redshirt sophomore.

Harden did not get much of a chance last year with the Orange, but he led the high school/college powerhouse St. Thomas Aquinas to a state championship in 2007. That season Harden rushed for 1,316 yards and 18 touchdowns and also caught 2 TDs.

Harden (right with STA at state title game) also led the Raiders the year before in rushing, which also was FIU QB Wesley Carroll's last season at St. Thomas.

Harden, who started practice with the Panthers this week joins Carroll (left) as probably the best scout team Wesley quarterback/running back combo in America this season.

In 2006, Harden ran for 1,225 yards and 19 touchdowns and also caught 2 more TDs.

Harden is 5-9, 195 pounds and could easily get over 200 with one year in the FIU weight room. His addition just made the FIU backfield that much better and deeper joining Darriet Perry, Darian Mallary, Trenard Turner, Kendall Berry plus whoever signs on the dotted line next February.

As of Thursday, Jeremiah Weatherspoon "is a go" and will play according to MC. Ash Parker is probable for Saturday's game. And there is nothing new with Dudley LaPorte's status.

C-Mack got rid of the orange non-contact jersey today in practice and was wearing the offense's blue practice jersey -- a good sign.


Apaw GPP LIVE BLOG for FIU/Rutgers will begin at 4:45 p.m. on Saturday afternoon. We should be able to go until the end of the game, because this week we have a friendlier deadline with the 5 p.m. game. Unlike last week's 7 p.m. game, which had endless TV timeouts and I had to start writing at the end of the 3rd quarter.

Apaw Your deadline for FIU/Rutgers scores for the Win A GPP Blog contest is at 4:59 p.m. Eastern GPP time on Saturday.

Apaw Check out Channel 4's Sportswrap Show on Sunday night after the 11 p.m. news to see an interview with FIU QB Paul McCall.

Apaw The Herald has your FIU apps for your iphone: http://www.miamiherald.com/college/panthers/


TheChampionUnderdog: Pete, do you think Mcgee would start opposite gaitor? is it possible he could fill inDeza for parker at safety if hes not ready to go?

PP: McGee might be about a week behind, because of missing that week when he was not cleared. McGee has the talent to play right now, but I think he is more suited for safety. Dez Johnson (right) has done a pretty good job starting opposite Gaitor.

pikedanny: Pete, Are these kinds of clearinghouse issues common at other Universities or is this a case of FIU picking up kids who were "on the bubble" as far as their grades go? I know some teams shy away from some kids because of their grades. Is this what is happening here? We took a risk on these guys being eligible and now it's coming back to haunt us or am I just thinking too far into this?

PP: FIU is not the first university to deal with these clearinghouse issues. Each of these clearing issues have been different cases. With McGee it took a week, with C-Mack it took a lot longer, with DLP who knows? All three of these guys had the grades and were academically eligible. Sometimes, for example Yari and this is not the case with any of the 3 mentioned above, some of the classes they took in junior college do not match the classes they need to get into whatever university they are transferring to. When we have more info on DLP, we'll pass it on.

SunblazerPanther: Pete: Any update on Rosa's injury and playing status for this weekend?

PP: Saw Yarimar yesterday and she said that she is waiting for the stitches to come out of her fingers. She said when those come out that it should not be too long for her to get back on the court. The only problem is that she does not know when the stitches will come out.

Max: Pete, what's the deal with the basketball schedule? Wasn't it supposed to come out a LONG time ago already?

PP: They are still negotiating some out of conference games and it should be out by the end of the month.

Will be blogging to you from the Garden State and near the University of Tony Soprano (Rutgers) tommorrow on Friday with a preview and prediction of Saturday's game.Sop





September 15, 2009

Healing Up, Holding Up

Several of your Panthers are on the mend, others are ready to play Saturday against Rutgers and a very important offensive player is still awaiting word. Here are your player updates after Tuesday's practice:

Jw    FIU safeties Jeremiah Weatherspoon (left, thanks Alex J. Hernandez photo) and Ash Parker are probable to play on Saturday at Rutgers, according to coach Mario Cristobal.

   Weatherspoon left the second quarter of the Alabama game with a strained hamstring, but returned to practice on Tuesday.

   Parker, who hurt his left knee against Alabama, did not practice Tuesday. Parker had surgery last season on his left knee after tearing it in the season opener at Kansas.


   Cristobal said the Panthers will have tight end Eric Kirchenberg back on Saturday. The senior missed the opener last week with a knee injury.

   However, it is still unknown if starting tight end Dudley LaPorte will be available to play against the Scarlet Knights.

   LaPorte, a junior college transfer, was not cleared by the NCAA last Friday the day before FIU’s game against the Crimson Tide.

   LaPorte did take snaps with the first team Tuesday, but Cristobal said: “We’re still awaiting word from the NCAA.”

   It will be a day to day wait with DLP as we all know the process Cedric Mack (right) went through.


   MC said C-Mack has a chance to play on Saturday. Mount Mack, who is down to 330 pounds from 360, wore pads in practice Tuesday, but was limited.

   When C-Mack finally gets in a game it would be at left guard. Andy Leavine is at left tackle after beatingCmack out Ula Matavao for the starting spot last week at Alabama.

   MC did say Ula is fighting to work his way back into the starting lineup.


   Defensive back Jarrell McGee, a junior college All-American last season, was cleared by the NCAA and returned to practice Tuesday. McGee will play against Rutgers.

   Other players expected to be at full strength for Saturday are linebackers Kenny Dillard (ankle), Markeith Russell (hamstring) and Aaron Davis (knee).


Aaapaw Saturday's game: FIU at Rutgers at 5 p.m. is on SNY, Channel 639 on DirecTV and there are no blackouts anywhere and there will be another watch party at Sports Grill.


Here's a tough poll question for you. Of the players mentioned above, who are still not 100 percent sure to go on Saturday against Rutgers, which one is the most important for the Panthers to have back:



September 14, 2009

Monday Morning Bloggers: FIU vs. Alabama

Many of you good people came close to the actual score of Saturday's season opener against No. 4 Alabama, but there probably weren't too many that could have predicted the way your Panthers stood toe to toe with the mighty Tide for nearly three full quarters.

There were some encouraging signs and there were some things that FIU needs to work on as they movePmc on in this 2009 season. Here's a look back at Game 1:

1st Quarter

On its first offensive series, FIU did not panic after a fumbled snap for a 9-yard loss and Darriet Perry getting tackled for a 2-yard loss. On 3rd and 21 from their own 3, the Panthers remained calm and Paul McCall (above, right) hit Greg Ellingson for 46 yards. Despite going against probably the best D he will see all season, PMC kept his poise back there the entire game. The series ended with a punt, but it could have been a lot worse from deep in FIU territory.

The FIU D struggled early on to stop the Bama run, but did not break on 2 series and made the Tide settle for field goals. Peter Riley's pass D on the first series had Bama settling for 3. The Tide was just 3 of 10 on third down for the game Saturday.

Please insert your superlatives for No. 4 here. First time Goodbye touches the ball in the 2008 season -- punt return for TD vs. Kansas. First time Goodbye touches the ball in the 2009 season -- kickoff return for TD vs. Bama.

2nd Quarter

Ge We saw the depth of the FIU receiving corps in this quarter: Ty Frierson for 16; More of GE with his TD catch to put FIU ahead 14-13 and Marquis Rolle going across the middle for 16. Good to see MR get involved, with his size he could be a serious weapon for this offense. With opposing D's focused on No. 4, GE could have a monster season. Ellingson (left) has got size, velcro hands and while he is not as fast as No. 4 and Junior Mertile, he's not a plodder either.

The funniest moment of the game came when Bama's punter intentionally punted into the Tide's sideline to not give Goodbye any chance to return the kick. You know how in baseball they have the "Ted Williams Shift" for left-handed power hitters, well, guess you could call that punt the "Goodbye Shank"Goodbye. By the way, true baseball story: In his first baseball at-bat in little league, T.Y. hit a double....could he be the next "PrimeTime"?  Ted

Bama came right back for 6 of their own, helped by a 35-yard pass play on the first play of the series. It didn't help that FIU could not muster much of a pass rush on Greg McElroy. The Tide QB had all day to throw on several occasions. It might have been just a size difference, because FIU certainly has speed on D as Toronto Smith's 15-yard sack of McElroy showed later in the quarter.

Darian Mallary can run with the big boys. Oooh might be small in stature, but he has some strong legs as he showed in his first college carry for 7 yards that moved the pile. But overall, FIU had trouble running the ball, not enough push upfront.

3rd Quarter

The Tide ramped up their D here and kept the FIU O from taking the lead. What I noticed was that Bama took away the short crossing routes that were so effective for the Panthers in the first half. Couple that with Bama bringing more pressure on PMC and there was no chance to throw anything deep. Bama had 3.5 of its 5 sacks in this quarter. FIU had 4 series of 3-and-out in the 3rd.

The FIU D tightened up in this quarter keeping the Panthers in it down just 20-14 and punter Carlos Munera was a huge help in the field position battle nailing punts of 48, 48, and 54 yards in the quarter.

FIU's punt return coverage had trouble with Javier Arenas in this quarter with Arenas returning punts 29 and 46 yards into FIU territory. Arenas, like T.Y. is one of the best in the country at returning kicks, so FIU is not the first team he's done that to. In the Tide's other kick return, Damion Square got just 5 yards.

4th Quarter

This is when the Tide's size, strength and depth took over. Even with probably their best rusher, Roy Upchurch, out of the game Bama still had 3 other backs get more than 50 yards each and average from 5.6 to 11.5 yards a carry. Trent Richardson and Terry Grant ripped off long TD runs. It didn't help that Jeremiah Weatherspoon and Ash Parker were out of the game with injuries. The Tide had 153 yards rushing in the 4th.

FIU kept battling on O with 9 and 10 play drives, but just could not get that one or two big plays to get into the end zone. Colt Anderson looked like a natural at tight end hauling in that 23-yard reception from Wayne Younger.

Rate your Panthers performance from Saturday in our poll question below the Pawse


Aaapaw Might need to go bandwagon shopping. During the GPP's LIVE BLOG of the FIU/Alabama game on Saturday, we had a GPP-record 1,725 hits. Plenty of interest in FIU when the Panthers had the No. 4 team in the nation down 14-13 and stayed close 20-14 for nearly 3 quarters. Heard they had same nice problem at the Sports Grills.

WIN A GPP BLOG WEEK 1 STANDINGS (FIU/Rutgers scores due by 4:59 p.m. Eastern GPP Time on Saturday)


Clawing Cancer (2)

Puma (3), Quijote (3)

ArrozConPollo (5), CarolinaGoldenPanther (5), ChiaPanther (5), David Florez (5), FIUChris (5), Gazi (5), Gold (5), Lone Panther (5)

FIUPantherFan (6), FIU0406 (6)

Baltimore Panther (7), SunblazerPanther (7)

alt7787 (8), Golden Panther 90 (8), OC FIU PANTHER (8), ridgepanther (8)

CJ (9), FIU Fanatic (9), Gooch7 (9), panther viscosity (9), SouthPaw (9)

FIUJM (10), FIU LOVE (10), FIUrulez (10)

NYCFIUFan (11)

chrisfiu (12), Joel (12)

blkpanther (13), oooahhh (13)

hay (15), Fomenter (16), Crazy Cane (19) esteban688 (20), FIUcanesFan (22), TheChampionUnderdog (23), MIA/NY Josh (24)


FIUPIKE (27), FIUer (30), Tri-Panther (30), Max (37)

GPP: 1-0 (9)


BaltimorePanther: Pete can you please give us an update on the injuries?

PP: The team was off Monday, but should have some updates after Tuesday's practice.

FIUFPL: How was the hit after the fair cath on TY not a foul? I know there was some other crap that I can't remember right now...but I hope Pete caught all that. Also was like to know about Bama fan/staff reaction after the game. Pete you have any of that? Pete, any news on the Bama effort to save FIU Cheerleaders.

1) Does the Bama game change your view on the prediction of this year's record?

2) What do you think are FIU's chances against Rutgers now?

3) Is it just me or is Greg Ellingson extremely underrated? He makes tough catches EVERY GAME. He will be in the NFL for sure.

4) Is Dudley LaPorte likely to play against Rutgers?

PP: The hit on Goodbye could have gone either way, because it appeared one of the Bama players was blocked into No. 4. However, how the Tide did not get any roughing the QB calls was not right. PMC was nailed several times long after he had thrown the ball. This is what happens when you have one of the two teams conference referee crews working the game. I've never liked that the home team gets their conference crew in out of conference games. An SEC crew will always give the benefit of the doubt to the SEC team. College football should use different conference ref crews in OOC games. Send a Big Ten crew to call FIU/Bama.

The Bama staff and fan reaction was of surprise that a 7-year old football program was able to stay with their Tide. A lot of them said they would not be surprised to see FIU win the Sun Belt and go bowling this year. They also became believers in No. 4 after they thought their coach was paying lip service to Goodbye earlier in the week. Haven't heard anything new on Bama's cheerleading efforts.

No, the Bama game does not change my 6-6 prediction for FIU this season, because the Sun Belt looks tougher than I thought it would be. Louisiana, North Texas and even ULM are not going to be pushovers and Toledo will give FIU a very good game and it would not shock to see the Rockets even the series. Funny what a coaching change has done for Toledo.

I think FIU has a good shot against Rutgers, but I won't give you my score until Friday.

If GE keeps doing what he's doing, he will eventually get a shot in the NFL. He has size, hands and can run.

We'll find out about DLP this week. The NCAA is a tricky bunch, hopefully it does not take as long as C-Mack's case did.

Aaapaw Hand out a grade on FIU's performance against Alabama. The grade here is a "B" considering the Panthers did not have the size nor the depth that the Tide had, yet managed to have the lead and keep it within 6 points for nearly 3 quarters....Your turn:

September 12, 2009

Game 1: FIU vs. Alabama LIVE BLOG

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- No more waiting for the kickoff to the 2009 FIU football season. Welcome toFiuala Bryant-Denny Stadium. Your Panthers will be playing in front of their second largest crowd ever after opening the season at Penn State in front of 107,678 in 2007.

There is a sea of crimson of 92,138 Bamans here to greet your Panthers. A couple of pre-game notes for you, tight end Dudley LaPorte did not make the trip, because he is awaiting full clearance from the NCAA. The NCAA informed FIU on Friday that DL was not completely cleared to play.

CNN's Rick Sanchez (former Channel 7 news guy) is here doing a special report on FIU football that will air in the near future on his CNN midday show. As soon as I know the date, will let you know.

We're about 20 minutes from kickoff. Let's go live blogging.... 

September 11, 2009

The Little Old Lady From Alabama & Your FIU/Alabama Game Preview

TUSCALOOSA, Alabama -- Just about 24 hours until the 2009 season kicks off here in Tuscaloosa forBama Fiuhelmet your Panthers.

It has been a dreary, rainy, cool day here in the home of the Tide. Nothing but a water mist falling from the sky all day Friday. Weather like this in Saturday's game could make it interesting when it comes to turnovers. We'll get to the game preview in a second, but to show you how football crazy this place is....

As I'm getting my rental car from the Birmingham airport, the nice old lady working the Hertz counter is telling me about the sights to see in Birmingham before she takes my credit card. The lady, who could remind anyone of their grandmother and probably doesn't have a mean bone in her body -- sees that on the credit card it says Miami Herald below my name.

Granny She asks what I'm doing in Birmingham and I tell her about Saturday's game between FIU and Alabama. When I mention the game, she starts rattling off her scouting report on the game with info about both schools. (In this neck of the woods, Nick Saban is not the only one who knows about FIU's No. 4).

As the little old lady hands me the car keys, she wishes me the best for my stay in Bama and leaves me with this: "Nothing against FIU or the city of Miami, but I hope the Tide kills FIU tommorrow".

And who said grandmas can't get pumped for football. Certainly here in Alabama.

What I've noticed so far about this area of Alabama, as opposed to Troy, is that everything is on a hill. Had lunch at a restaurant at the top of the hill. My hotel is at the top of a hill. Espresso at Starbucks is at the bottom of a hill.

FIU has a big hill to climb on Saturday if it plans to upset Alabama and have the city of Miami throw a victory parade on Monday and give the key to the city to MC.

More so now, that the team will not leave Miami until 8 p.m. tonight, because of plane trouble. FIU has had to change airlines too, because the original airline has no other planes available. As if dealing with the No. 4 team in the nation wasn't enough. 

I think more than any game this season, Saturday's game will come down to the offensive and defensiveMannings lines. Bama has huge, quick and deep lines. The jury is still out on FIU's lines.

As we saw in the game against the Hokies, the Bama O-Line can open holes for Mark Ingram and Roy Upchurch to pound the ball on the ground. Upchurch is one tough back to bring down. Did you see the guns on that guy vs. Virginia Tech?

Forget for a second about Tide freshman QB Greg McElroy, who is making just his 2nd start, Ingram and Upchurch are the keys offensively in this game for Bama. If they chew up yardage on the ground and wear out the FIU D, then McElroy might end up looking like the third coming of the Manning brothers (above, right).

Offensively, FIU has to find a way to play keep away from Bama. Darriet Perry, Darian Mallary, Trenard Turner and co. need to have a solid day running the ball and the O-line has to give Paul McCall time. If not it could be a long night similar to the Arkansas game in 2007.

Definitely would help FIU to get some kind of score or big return on special teams from Goodbye or whoever can contribute on ST.

But if Bama has its way along the lines, it won't matter if T.Y. returns 3 kicks for touchdowns. If FIU can't keep up in the battle of the lines this game could be put away by halftime.

GPP thinks: Alabama 48, FIU 13


Aaapaw 1st GPP LIVE BLOG begins at 6:45 p.m. on Saturday night for the FIU/Alabama game. We will be using the new Cover It Live program that works like instant message.

Aaapaw Last chance to get in your scores for FIU/Alabama for the Win a GPP Blog contest is 6:59 p.m. Eastern GPP Time on Saturday.

Aaapaw In case, you missed it in Friday's MH, apparently FIU and UM are talking again about renewing the baseball series and playing a men's basketball game in the 2010-2011 season in the Orange Bowl Ump Classic at the Bank Atlantic Hockey Center in Sunrise. The schools were going to play in this year's OBC, but FIU could not move a Sun Belt game against North Texas on Dec. 14 so the Hooters took FIU's place. As far as baseball, the Hurricanes placed a call to FIU looking for a 2 for 1 deal with 2 games in Coral Gables, but FIU might not agree to that, because they want an equal number of home games in the deal. Stay tuned.

Aaapaw Craig, the owner of Sports Grill at the Hammocks, called me back today and said he won't be able to get the FIU/Alabama game. Craig did say he spoke with the owners of the other 3 Sports Grills and they are all showing the game. The 3 SGs showing the FIU game with NO blackouts are 1) Bird Road and SW 117 Ave.....2) 10005 Sunset Drive.....3) 9300 SW 152 Street.


Puma: Pete, how about an update on how the soccer team. How come they don't schedule tougher teams Cog like some of the ACC powerhouses like Maryland, Wake Forest, UNC, and Virginia? Also, what is the rationale behind the turf at FIU? How much cheaper is the maintenance because in S. Fla. it's just wrong not to play on grass. When will the Rockies go on a losing streak? Doesn't Coghlan deserve Rookie of the Year?

PP: First game of the season and already you hand me a mid-term exam here. LOL. Will look into the soccer sked for you. FIU Stadium is used daily during football season with the Panthers practicing daily on it, plus FIU home games and high school football games on Friday and sometimes on Saturdays when FIU is on the road. The grass would be chewed up by October if the stadium had the natural stuff.

The Rockies don't look like they are going on any losing streak anytime soon. That LoDo magic from 2007 is back for Colorado. Right now, Chris Coghlan (right) is in a 3-way battle with Phillies lefty J.A. Happ and Braves right-hander Tommy Hanson for the National League Rookie of the Year. With Happ being pulled from the rotation, because of injury and Hanson pitching for Atlanta, which is out of the race, Coghlan should be the NL ROY.

FIUer: Pete - why is the Bama game airing on 1080AM and not 790?

Cheer PP: When the Marlins games conflict, then FIU will be aired on 1080. Same thing during hockey season when the hockey Panthers have Saturday games.

FIUPantherFan: Hey Pete, let's give the Bama fans some love. They are trying to set up a fundraiser to help the FIU Cheerleaders...

PP: Read the game notes from FIU/Alabama in Sunday's paper, I will include this in my game notebook that runs along with the game story.

blkpanther: Pete are the volleyball lines on the floor permanent?

PP: From what I was told last night when I was at the volleyball match, no. You have to tip your cap to FIU on the new color of the court -- that new light wood color of the court looks very NBA-ish and the new midnight blue painting of the inside of the arena is a sharp color. The block FIU logo is also an improvement over the Panther that took up most of center court.

Aaapaw Most of you have already made your predictions for Week 1 of the GPP contest, but let's get your pulse on the spread of Saturday's game. At last check, FIU was a 33.5 underdog to Bama. Beat Las Vegas here.....what's the result of the game?


September 10, 2009

Where You Can Watch FIU vs. Alabama; Pics of New FIU Court & Arena

Tv Here's where you can watch your Panthers and the Tide.

As Gooch7 wrote in the last post, the Sports Grill at Bird Road and SW 117 Ave. will be showing the FIU/Alabama game as will the Sunset Drive location.

FIU Mayor Nelson Bradford Lopez, whose friends own the Sports Grill (Bird Road), called to tell me that they will show the game and no blackout to worry about.

I know the owner (Craig) of the Sports Grill on SW 147 Ave. and SW 104 Street and he tells me that they do not have the FIU game as of today, but I told him all you FIU fans won't fit into the other 2 Sports Grill locations, so Craig is doing what he can to get the game in his location. Craig is supposed to call me back later today to let me know if he got the game. Will update this post if the game is shown at this SG Mayor location.

Mayor Bradford, (left) who is involved in the renovation of U.S. Century Bank Arena, shot some photos of the work being done on and in the Bank.

Here on the right is the new court (click on image to enlarge) that will makes its debut in tonight's FIU volleyball match.....Courtshot

And here on the left, you can see the yellow walls inside the arena have been painted to the new dark blue FIU color.

Noyellow There is nothing to show yet regarding the entrance to the arena. When there is the Mayor will send along some photos.


Aaapaw Last chance to get FIU/Alabama scores in for the Win A GPP Blog contest is at 6:59 p.m. Eastern GPP Time. The 1st GPP LIVE BLOG of the 2009 season with our new format from Cover It Live, will begin at 6:45 p.m. right here on Saturday night.

Aaapaw We haven't had to update our worldwide readership scorecard in a while, but we do nowGabon as we have an FIU fan in Gabon, Africa that thinks the Panthers will be 7-5 this season.

If you're keeping score at home and I know you are, here's the new GPP scorecard:



38 COUNTRIES: Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Costa Rica, Croatia, Czech Republic, Dominican Republic, France, Gabon, Germany, Guatemala, Honduras, Hong Kong, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Lebanon, Mexico, Netherlands, Netherlands Antilles, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Panama, Peru, Scotland, Serbia, Spain, Sweden, Thailand, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, U.S.A., Venezuela, Vietnam.

1 DISTRICT: Washington, D.C. and 1 TERRITORY: Puerto Rico.

September 09, 2009

FIU/Alabama.....TV or Not TV

You can watch your Panthers against the Tide in Miami, but it will cost you or your favorite adult beverage establishment.

Here's the deal: the game is blacked out on all ESPN affiliates in Florida and Alabama, even ESPN The Ocho.

But you can get the game by paying for it on either DirectTV or Dish Network. The reason this is being done is because the rights to this game are owned by the Crimson Tide Sports Network and they want to maximize the broadca$$$$$$$$t.

September 08, 2009

Preseason LIVE BLOG

We're going to give this coveritlive blog a test run here this afternoon to see if it goes a lot smoother than our LIVE BLOGS from seasons past.

Of course, all will depend on the wireless connection at the visiting stadiums this season. We know that FIU Stadium has a solid wireless system so it should not be an issue for home games.

So send in whatever comments or questions you have regarding FIU football. We'll roll through this LIVE BLOG for the next hour going from 3 p.m. until 4 p.m.

Follow the instructions on the window on how to send comments or re-read the tutorial on www.coveritlive.com

September 07, 2009

Nick Saban On Your FIU Panthers

The first game week of the season is upon us and FIU's first opponent's coach had his weekly press conference today with the Alabama writers. Below are questions from the Alabama writers and what Nick Saban Saban had to say about your Panthers....

Saban (left): "I think FIU is a young team and has a lot of players coming back. They made a significant amount of improvement from year one to year two. They actually have a lot of speed, a lot of team speed. They are a wide-open throw the ball vertical passing game. The quarterback is back and he had a good year last year. Their receiver No. 4 (T.Y.) Hilton (below, right, thanks Alex J. Hernandez photo) is as good a player as anybody in the country. I think he was way up there in all-purpose yards or led the country in all-purpose yards last year. They haven’t had a game and there are some differences in depth chart from last spring to last year to where it is right now. I think they might have had some guys out last year that are going to come back and play, especially defensively. This is one of those games that we need to focus on what we need to do to improve as a team. It’s going to be very important that we make a significant improvement from week one to week two."


Coach, given it’s location in South Florida where there’s so much talent, is FIU the type of program where you can see maybe building what others in the past have if the resources wereHilton there and they were able to keep some of that talent at home?

NS: "Well, they have. I think 90 percent of their team is from the state of Florida; maybe more than that, I did not count it all up. They have good players. They have a lot better players than what you think they have. They have lots of team speed and they have made significant progress -- as I mentioned from year one to year two -- and they are going to have a better team this year in my opinion. So, this is going to be a completely different challenge for us. They have a lot of great skill guys, a lot of speed on the field. They are wide open, spread out all over the place, guys getting the ball that can run with it in space. It will be a challenge for us defensively and they’ve got really good team speed on defense. I do think this is a program that can be successful."

Coach, heading into this week’s practice and the game on Saturday, how confident are you that this team, this program, has the ability to stay on an even keel and not have any kind of letdown from when you go from an opening game against Virginia Tech to an FIU?

NS: "I don’t have confidence in anything, OK? I just know what we need to do to go about it so they don’t have a letdown. And we’ll certainly do our best from a technical standpoint. Because it really isn’t about who we’re playing. You know, if you’ve got the right kind of attitude on your team, it’s about who you are and how you want to play. And I’ve talked about this over and over and over again.

"If you’re playing against someone who’s really good, that means that that person determines how you play. And if you’re playing somebody that – and I’m not saying this about FIU, I’m just saying – the other guy is not quite as talented, so that means you played poorly. Well, that doesn’t speak very well to the kind of competitor you are and the kind of player you are. I think the great players (don’t care who they play). I don’t think Kobe Bryant (right in photo) cares who he plays against. I don’t think LeBron James (left in photo) cares who is Nba guarding him. He’s trying to be the best player he can be and that’s what we want our team to do, that’s what we want our individual players to do. What do I have to do to be the best player I can be and how can I do that and how can I do it on a consistent basis? It shouldn’t be determined by the opponent, whether it’s Virginia Tech or whoever it might be. That shouldn’t matter. Just like the scoreboard shouldn’t matter. So what you’re asking me is, if we’re 14 points ahead, am I confident that we’ll keep playing? And if we’re 14 points behind, am I confident we’ll keep playing? That’s how we should be conditioned because that shouldn’t matter.

"If I want to be a great player, I should be playing my best on every play. Six seconds, every play like it has a history and a life of its own in a game, to execute, do my job, do it with effort, do it with toughness, do it with discipline, execute the technique and all those things necessary to be successful on that play. That’s what good football teams do and if we’re going to be a good football team, that’s what we need to do.

"So I’m not confident of anything. I just know that’s the plan and that’s what we’re going to try and get implemented to the players. And we need to have that personality if we’re going to be able to improve andTy make the progress that we need to make.

"I also want to say in no uncertain terms you’re a typical fan, which you all can be. That’s fine. But I respect the people that we’re playing, I respect our opponents. I want our players to respect our opponents. And this guy, No. 4 (T.Y. Hilton), (right) is a better offensive player than anybody that we played against last week. You understand that? Whatever your perception is of what they ought to be, I don’t think it’s that. And I don’t want our players to think that, either. Now, as fans, you all can think that as much as you want. And you create that perception, which just creates more problems for me because the players read the paper, too.

"Now, is that a good one to end on or you want to ask something else?"


That's a good one to end on, Nick.

Aaapaw Log on and join us on our preseason LIVE BLOG tommorrow (Tuesday) at 3 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time as we'll go over the first FIU depth chart of the season and at the same time test out the new LIVE BLOG program we'll be using for games this season.

We'll go LIVE BLOGGING from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. or until the last possible question if we got a goodLive preseason blog going. I will play more than just 1 quarter in Tuesday's blog.

By dropping a comment, any comment during the LIVE BLOG, your name can be cleared for posting comments on LIVE BLOGS for the remainder of the season. The new program requires me to clear each screen name that wants to post comments.

Aaapaw The 3rd Annual Win A GPP Blog Predictions contest is open and will be taking your scores for FIU/Alabama until 6:59 p.m. Eastern GPP time on Saturday, Sept. 12. For contest rules, regulations and prizes information read the previous post on the GPP.


CarolinaGoldenPanther: Pete, any news on the "huge" recruits PG was talking about on the radio last week? Any idea when they'll announce these recruits?

PP: Nothing new. Word on these guys could come anytime between now and signing day in November. Knight is definitely on FIU's radar.

September 06, 2009

Season Predictions

The bye week on the opening weekend of college football gives us an extra week to think about what FIU'sFiuteam season will look like come December.

At the end of this post is one thought on how the Panthers will do this season in a game-by-game breakdown as of Sept. 6. Of course, these predictions could change on a weekly basis during the season depending on how your Panthers (right, thanks Sam Lewis photo) are playing. Take a look and then give us your take on the 2009 FIU football season.

Before we get to the season outlook, here's a couple of notes for you:

Aaapaw I looked into the "Cover It Live" blog program that FIUfantastic suggested and it looks like it could speed up the LIVE BLOGS we'll have for each game this season.

Live So therefore, I'm going to run a TEST LIVE BLOG or a preseason LIVE BLOG with the "Cover It Live" program this Tuesday afternoon (Sept. 8) from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. right here on the GPP. If you want to read up on how to post comments and how the program works then check out: www.coveritlive.com

Also, if you drop by and leave comments during Tuesday's LIVE BLOG, I can check the box that automatically clears you for the rest of the season to post comments on the Cover It Live blogs that we'll have. If not, then your comments may take a little time to show up on game days during the live blogs, because I'll be doing 3 things during the game: covering it, blogging it and jotting down play-by-play for my notes.

Aaapaw America's favorite on-line game show returns on Saturday....The 3rd Annual Win a GPP Blog Weekly Predictions contest starts with FIU's first game next Saturday at Alabama.

Here are the simple rules: 1) Predict the score for FIU's game that week (for example: FIU 31, Alabama 28). In order to be eligible to win prizes at the end of the season, you must predict every FIU game.

2) Your score needs to be into the GPP before kickoff of FIU's game that week. The official time is the GPP time. So if you think you got your score in at 6:59 p.m. and it's 7:02 p.m. on the GPP, then you are late and the score will not be counted and you are eliminated from the contest.

3) At the end of the season, whoever has the best record and lowest point differential is the winner. Point differential, which will be the tiebreaker of identical records, is the combined score by how much you missed the actual score. (for example: you pick FIU 31-28 and the actual score is FIU 34-27, then your point differential is 4, because you missed FIU's score by 3 + Alabama's score by 1 = 4.)

** First place winner gets to write his or her own GPP Blog at the end of the season. Second place winner gets a Sun Belt football yearbook.

Fiuhelmet 2009 FIU Season Outlook

Sept. 12 at Alabama -- (L)....Quite possibly in a couple of years, FIU can match up withAlabama the Tide, but right now Bama's run game and defense looks to be too much for the Panthers.

Ru Sept. 19 at Rutgers -- (L)....There are many that are underestimating the Scarlet Knights, even the people in their own conference. While the thought here is that FIU gives Rutgers a game, the Knights being home and having a little more talent should come out on top. The 2010 home opener at FIU will even the series at 1-1.

Fiuhelmet Sept. 26 TOLEDO -- (W)....FIU cannot come into this game overconfident from last season's result -- 2008 is over and done with. The Panthers speed, talent and home opener should take care of the Rockets.

Fiuhelmet Oct. 3 at ULM -- (W)....The sick feeling of losing to an inferior Warhawks team at home last season and getting a dent put into its 2008 bowl hopes should still linger for FIU. Road games are always tough, but the Panthers are expected to be the better team here.

Fiuhelmet Oct. 10 at Western Kentucky -- (W)....In a few years, the Hilltoppers are going to be a headache to the rest of the Sun Belt. Again the road won't make this as easy as many think it will be for FIU. As long as the Panthers are not looking ahead to Troy, they should win this one.

Troy Oct. 17 TROY -- (L)....Not sure FIU has all the horses yet to take down Troy. Don't take too much from the Trojans loss to Bowling Green in their opener. This is a conference game and both teams will be plenty hyped for. The veteran Trojans ride out of FIU with a 2-point win.

Asu Oct. 24 at Arkansas State -- (L)....They will close every WalMart in Jonesboro for this payback game. I'm sure many of the Red Wolves have had recurring nightmares of the Hilton Heave. ASU has 16 returning starters, plus the Sun Belt's Preseason Offensive and Defensive Players of the Year in QB Corey Leonard and DL Alex Carrington. ASU doesn't need a last minute play and wins by 9.

Fiuhelmet Oct. 31 LOUISIANA -- (W)....No Tyrell Fenroy, no Jason Cherry, no Michael Desormeaux. The Cajuns offense should not pose any tricks and FIU should get plenty of treats with its own offense in this noon Halloween game.

Mt Nov. 7 at Middle Tennessee -- (L)....Murfreesboro has never been kind to FIU and it can get real loud in Floyd Stadium. MT QB Dwight Dasher has always given the FIU D fits and it could be more of the same here. Heard other media people say that after last year's game at FIU Stadium, several MT players and coaches were wondering how they lost to FIU. Same attitude for MT and FIU walks out of MT with another win.

Fiuhelmet Nov. 14 NORTH TEXAS -- (W)....But it will be a lot closer than many people think. NT coach Todd Dodge was successful in prep football and will succeed in college with a solid recruiting area in Texas. His son, QB Riley Dodge will open some eyes around the conference this season. FIU pulls away in the 4th quarter here after a tight score for much of the game.

Uf Nov. 21 at Florida -- (L)....FIU will compete and win games in part, because of its South Florida recruited speed. The problem here is that the defending national champions have that same speed, plus size.

Fiuhelmet Dec. 5 FLORIDA ATLANTIC -- (W) {Don Shula Bowl}....The last time the Shula Bowl was played on the campus of FIU, the Panthers won 52-6. It won't be that kind of blowout this time, but remembering losing two, 4th quarter 14-point leads to your rival and getting knocked out of bowl contention is powerful fire for some revenge. FIU takes back the Shula Trophy and plays in another Bowl game besides the Shula Bowl.

Fiuhelmet Dec. 19 SOUTH FLORIDA (St. Petersburg Bowl) -- (W)....And you thought the Panthers and Bulls would not play in 2009 after FIU decided to play Rutgers instead during the regular season. Like Middle Tennessee, last season South Florida underestimated FIU and only won by 8. After two close games in the FIU/USF series, the Panthers pull out a win here on a Paul McCall 68-yard TD pass to Dudley LaPorte in the 4th quarter.


Aaapaw Vote on FIU's record in 2009 below in our poll question.


FIU Fanatic & JulesFIU07: Pete, any news with a couple of defensive backs and their status?: Jarell McGee is not mentioned in the battles for starting position...and someone mentioned in the other board that Terrance Taylor is not on the roster anymore. Any news on him?

PP: McGee is waiting for a grade to be posted from his JUCO, but he is eligible. He just can't practice until the grade is posted. Taylor is on the team and practicing. The FIU roster on the team's website is not 100 percent accurate right now.

LMessina:  Pete, What happened to Shawn Bright?

PP: He never had the grades to qualify. Not sure where he's at now, but it's not at FIU.

CJ: Pete, what is your take on the Suprise of the belt so far that Troy lost to BGST and NT beat Ball ST!

PP: I think Troy took Bowling Green lightly after starting the game up 14-0. But I would not read too much into Troy's loss, they are still going to be the team to beat in the Belt. North Texas is not as bad as they were last season and they are going to sneak up on some Sun Belt teams this season.

Gooch7: Pete: I hope that when you were talking about the No.2 WR you are including Greg Ellingson as a big time starter.

PP: Ellingson is a starter, but he is not a slot WR. The position mentioned in the previous post is the second slot WR. T.Y. is the No. 1 slot receiver and the No. 2 slot would enter the game when FIU goes 4-wide or if T.Y. needs a breather.

FIUFan: With no comments on the O-line, nor TE's; I assume these positions are locked down. Is this correct?

PP: Pretty much.

#1football fan: What happend to jonathan ramirez there is an article that he had suffered a head injury. Is he still playing?

PP: Ramirez is back practicing with the team, but Darriet Perry, Darian Mallary, Trenard Turner, Kendall Berry and Daunte Owens are all ahead of him. Ramirez might see action on special teams.

Aaapaw So what do you think FIU's record will be this season?

September 03, 2009

Updates on Position Battles

Just 8 days from the season opener and there are still several starting positions and depth chart issues to resolve.

Darian mallary By now if you have been reading this blog for the past month of camp, you know what positions we're talking about. So here are some updates on those position battles with an extra week of camp to go due to the first week bye.


The limelight has been on freshman Darian Mallary (left, thanks Sam Lewis) in the role to backup Darriet Perry and with good reason with Oooh having a solid first college camp showing speed and elusiveness. However, Trenard Turner and Kendall Berry have ran well too. It could be a few games before anything is settled here.
MC's take: "Darian Mallary is closing ground fast. He does some special things that have earned him playing time. Darriet Perry has had a real good camp so has Trenard Turner. Kendall has done some real good things. Daunte is returning from that knee. All those guys will play and the order of that will depend on the game plan."
We all know who is slot receiver No. 1 -- he wears No. 4. When FIU goes 4-wide or if T.Y. needs a breatherTyfrierson then apparently another Ty has the inside track. Coming off a solid end to the 2008 season, Ty Frierson (right) appears to be leading for this position. Wayne Times and Larry McCoy have shown their talents this summer, but Frierson has also had a pretty good camp.
MC's take: "One thing that is evident is we have to get Ty Frierson on the field any way that we can. That changes some things that we have to do in a good way. He's a guy that has stood out in camp and has earned himself playing time and you always want to put your best players on the field.
"Both Wayne Times and Larry McCoy have done really well. You can do some things offensively here. You can really get creative. They are all playing and they are all playing special teams as well which is important. We're looking at each guy getting 40 to 45 snaps a game on both special teams and offense."
Jonasmurrell There have been several players that have stood out at times during camp here, but none has consistently displayed Monstruo qualities. At some point this month in camp we've talked about Thatcher Starling, Jonas Murrell (left), the Willis non-brothers (Kambriel and Armond), Tourek Williams, Cody Pellicer, Andre Pound and Donnell Wilson. Jonas is in the best shape of his FIU career and is poised to have the impact he had in 2005 when he was in opponents backfields a lot. The Willises have shown some much needed pass rush and Tourek might be the most athletic of the linemen.
MC's take: "Right now the depth chart is by committee. There is not one dominant player yet. They are all playing much better football. We're getting solid play, better push up the field and at the line of scrimmage. We're starting to become better pass rushers. until one guy clearly separates himself from the rest we're going to continue rotating those guys and getting 10-11 guys in there to play."
We're down to one starting spot among the LBs as Winston Fraser (right) has joined Scotty Bryant on the first Winston team. The starting middle linebacker spot is still up for grabs between Big Ontario Smith, Aaron Davis and Tyler Clawson. The freshmen LBs have shown some sparks and could contribute this season. Franklin Brown is still out with a groin injury.
MC's take: "Scotty and Winston have solidified their positions. Toronto and Aaron have done so well. Tyler Clawson has had a phenomenal camp so they all have to play. Who's going to play first? One guy would be in one series, the next guy could be in the other series. Tyler can also play Will. Toronto plays Sam as well. The emergence of both Pooh Bear and Kenny Dillard make things real interesting as well as Chris Edwards, who has done a hell of a job and had a hell of a camp. We feel good about the guys that are going to be out there first and second."
Dez Dez Johnson (left, picking off a pass vs. ULM last season) has won the job after entering camp as the penciled in starter. You can use a pen now. Dez certainly has the experience and made plays in both the pass and run game this month in camp. Of course, as you know FIU plays in a conference with a lot of passing offenses so expect to see a lot of these DBs to get playing time. The starting safeties are also set.
MC's take: "Dez sure is. He has had a great camp and he's getting better. We feel good about him and Anthony Gaitor as our starting corners. Behind them Emmanuel Souarin, Derreck Jones, George Palmer all those guys have really pushed and have gotten better. So we have built some good depth while still promoting competition. They are all still trying to get a spot as a starter, but right now it's locked up by Anthony Gaitor and Dez Johnson."
"At safety, Ash Parker and Jeremiah Weatherspoon are our starters and we feel good about them. but Kreg Brown, Chuck Grace and Jonathan Cyprien have really played well. There is no hesitation of putting any of those guys in the game at any point in time."
Apparently, the veteran kicker has the edge on the freshman and gaining on kickoff duties as well. I've said it before on here that Dustin Rivest (right) appears to have a little more leg strength this season -- more time in the weight room,  more competition in camp. He's definitely had his best camp kicking this season in his 4 years at FIU. There is no doubt that Jack Griffin has a strong leg, now it's just a matter of being more accurate with it. JG is going to win a few games for FIU with last second field goals before his careerDustin with the Panthers is over. But for now it's looking like DR's job.
MC's take: "Dustin is still leading in field goals. Dustin is gaining a lot of ground on the kickoffs as well. Dustin has had a real good camp. I'm very pleased with his progress. He's put a lot of time into it. As you see he's always here after practice doing stuff. Jack Griffin has to keep getting better. Kickers always have an adjustment period and it's a little different than other positions. The snappers and holders are different and you are not kicking off a tee anymore. He certainly has a real strong leg. It's going to be a matter of consistency. The bottom line is there is soon going to be 100,000 people in the stands, possibly throwing stuff and saying some awful things to you and you have to be able to deal with that. Pressure either makes you better or breaks you and he has to respond to the pressure. Right now, the pressure is the competition with Dustin Rivest."
Apaw Vote below the Q&A on which one of the position battles above is the most important to resolve.
alt7787: I read your Marlins stories yesterday and today in the Herald Pete so I have to ask, do you think they make it to postseason play? If so better chance of winning division or wildcard? also were the marlins at all close to picking up Brad Penny?
PP: The Marlins will not make it to the postseason. You can only compete for so long with a team full of Target/Wal Mart players. Yes, the Marlins have some good players, but they are good for only stretches ofSmoltz the season. And the Marlins owners don't want to spend money on quality pitching and quality bats so you have a team that contends for a portion of the season, but can't close the deal. The Marlins were in the running for Penny, but Penny signed with the Giants, because he thought San Francisco would give him a better chance of reaching the playoffs. Same thing with John Smoltz (right), who spurned the Marlins for the Cardinals.
Max: Pete, will you be at Bama to cover the game?
PP: Yes and with a LIVE GPP Blog for your on-line reading enjoyment.
FIU Fan For Life: Pete, It seems to me that IT didn't want to play UNC and tried to force PG to change to OSU. I agree with you that this will blow over, however I believe FIU looked petty on this one.
PP: The thought here is FIU was going to play either team UNC or OSU, but the chance for some free pub came about and FIU took it. I don't believe the whole FIU didn't want to play UNC and rather OSU, because the Buckeyes are expected to have a better team than the Heels this year. In either scenario, FIU is overmatched in this game this season. But FIU was on ESPN and on the minds of the rest of the national media for about a week.
Ultimate FIU Fan: Pete, I'm staying in the team hotel you staying there? Drinks on me!
PP: Set 'em up bartender!
FIUfantastic: Pete, the guys at North Texas were using Cover it Live (http://www.coveritlive.com) to cover their amazing win over the 2008 undefeated Ball State team. Its a live chat that would be awesome if you used to talk to us during the away games if you are sent to any. It would be much nicer and faster than just posting to the blog. Just a thought
PP: I'll look into it and see if it's doable.

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