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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)

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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)


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Good article im hoping the Oline shapes up for a good first home game this year.

I've got to hand it to you Pete, while everyone was jumping off the walls after the Alabama game and on suicide watch midway through the 4th quarter in the Rutgers game, you've been the only consistent voice of moderation on these boards.

Great point in comparing last year's 0-2 start vs. this year's.

Thanks Pete.

I'll get down from the ledge for a few minutes... but, only a few...

There are several of us that viewed this season along the way it has done so far. Actually, if you asked me prior to this season, I had FIU 0-2 as well, but I thought we played Alabama a lot tougher than I expected. Rutgers, while disappointing we couldn't generate much offense early on, was an expected result by me...although surely I hoped we could go in there and 'steal' one...especially since they had a real bad outing against Cincy.

I really hope we beat Toledo, as it is a game I had pegged a "W" before the season, but it appears evident Toledo is an improved team over last season, as they had beat Colorado (granted, they are not good this year), and played Purdue fairly well, scoring over 30 against them in their loss to the Boilermakers.

This game against the Rockets..and the two subsequent SBC games on the road...will give us an early indication of where we are as compared to pre-season expectations. I still think we win anywhere from 5 to 7 games, thus "averaging" to a 6-6 record as well. That means a 5-3 Sun Belt record, and 1-3 OOC. I hope we get at least that many wins.

Alright, I'm in first! I'm gonna say FIU wins this one, but I'm going to alter my initial prediction.

FIU wins 35-14

Pete, I think some of us DO need some cold water thrown on us, but I still have high expectations for this team this year, and the Rutgers game was a disappointment, no matter how you cut it up.

The offensive line DOES have depth this year for the first time ever, so I don't think that's an excuse. The problem is I didn't see us take any advantage of it the past two games. Where was Cedrick Mack, Chris Cawthon, Stephen Bailey, Kenneth White, or Rubert Bryant the past two games? How about Devon Dickerson or Curtis Bryant? Luis Abril, one of our starting guards the last two games barely played last year and wasn't even mentioned in any of your spring practice reports. The OL has to step up and play like the juniors and seniors that they are. They've had time to grow (both in the weight room and mentally), so to me, that game against Rutgers was a major disappointment for the O-line.

The D-line, on the other hand, seems to at least be making some progress, despite being younger and more green than the O-line. On the D-line though, I don't feel like we've been fighting with all of our bullets yet either. Justin West, like Abril, was another guy who barely played last year, and wasn't mentioned as standing out in any of the spring or fall practices, and yet has started two games for us. Where is Reggie Jones? Where is James Jones? When is Jonathan Jackson going to be ready to go? Andre Pound and Kasey Smith haven't seen the field much either, and neither has Jonathan Nieves, a guy who played in nearly every game for us last year.

In the secondary, Jeremiah Weatherspoon and Ash Parker have seen limited playing time due to injuries and that's cost us. Where has Derrick Clark been? Our two best tight ends, DLP and Eric Kirchenberg haven't seen the field yet either. FIU needs to hire a full-time person just to make sure our junior college transfers have all their paperwork in and ready to play from day one. If that's just following up with the NCAA every day, then so be it. We can't blame this all on the NCAA, we have to be all over it.

As for the freshmen, the coaches need to find ways to get Larry McCoy, Rockey Vann, Jairus Williams, and Kenny Dillard on the field soon too.

OK, I'm done. I still think an 8-4 record is possible, but things need to start coming together fast on the O-line. We have to have a running game, or even 6-6 will be difficult.

Sorry fellas, but that Rutgers loss is still sinking in for me...

I'm with you chrisfiu, to top it off...Dolphins loss. Only thing worse than our O-line is Ted Ginn.

Go FIU!!!

i'm falling on the leaderboard i need to make a good prediction this week!

I'm conflicted about predicting a score for the Toledo game. I'm a Buckeye from birth, so I watched the OSU-Toledo game last Saturday and OSU dominated the game. But, anyone that's paid attention to Toledo this year, knows that they're no slouches. While they lost a high scoring game to a BAD Purdue team, they beat Colorado at home 54-38. Colorado is not a good team, but they're probably more talented than FIU.

Toledo's QB was leading FBS in yards and points (averaging 430+ yards in the first two games) before a very good OSU defense shut him down. While I know we have a decent defense, I know we can't shut down Toledo's offense like OSU did. But, I think Coach Cristobal can learn a lot from that game and come up with a good game plan. It will be tough to win if our defense gives up 30+ points. But, if we can keep them under say 28, we win.

That being said, I think we take this one, barely. FIU 29 (5 FG), Toledo 24.

FIU 38

Toledo 33

TY will take two to the house

Hey Ted Ginn is Miami Dolphins, so stop riding him. Ted Ginn and his family have given us everything they've got. so cut him some slack.

I've got to stop picking games with my heart and start picking them with my head... that being said, I'm going with my heart once more!

FIU: 30

Toledo: 24

SouthPaw, Jonathan Nieves quit the team and Derrick Clark is suspended for the season (I believe). While I do agree with some of your points the fact is that many of these guys are not ready to take on the roles needed to play in D1 program. You say that we don't have all or bullets but what does it matter if those bullets are rubber?

We need to remember where we were 3 years ago, MC is doing a great job, just give it some time!

here we go again:

FIU 20 Toledo 14

our o-line is pathetic!

Still disgusted with our performance on Saturday no matter the perspective provided above. That was a winnable game if 5 individuals had played beyond mediocrity. We will not win more games than last year with our o-line playing like that. But I will give our men the benefit of the doubt, assume they were humbled greatly by their performance and turn that kickbin the nuts into aggression.

FIU 42
Toledo 30

Proud FIU Golden Panther Here..

I'll be tailgating from 8am till kickoff at 7pm.I say FIU wins it by a touchdown. From the looks of it, it may be a tough game but I am also expecting a packed house at "THE CAGE".

There is no reason for that stadium NOT TO BE PACKED out for the game on Saturday.

Let's GO FIU!!

FIU 31
Toledo 24

With the Oline not playing 100% im not going to predict so many points.

FIU - 26
Toledo - 17

FIU 33
Toledo 30

The O-line is arguably the most vital part of this time. How can you guys pick FIU to win this game when Toledo may be in the backfield all night? Toledo's offense is scary good by the way. Sorry to say it, but I think we end up 0-3 to start the season:

Toledo 31
FIU 20

Toledo is favored to win by 3.

I still don't know who to pick for Saturday. Apparently our safeties are still out.

Well one of Toledo's safeties is out, too... looks like this one might be an exciting high-scoring game...

Not if our o-line gives Paulie 2 seconds to throw.

Well he needs to throw in two seconds! Especially if the Toledo does like Rutgers and plays TY & Co. 15 Yards off the line.. Go up under center take the ball quick pass, keep doing it until the play press coverage.

If they continue to play off the WR and take that much cushion and sit in zone he aint gonna have options and sit there in a collapsing pocket.

Our D is good. I dont see Toledo racking up over 20 points on us.

I really dont see the justification for anyone who put Toledo 20+ points in a W or L. How many points did Bama put on us for 3 quarters ? And how many Offensive points did Rutgers put up ? So why would you give Toledo more than 20 ? I can see how FIUs score can go up or down with the big unknown on our offense but our Defense has been preeeeety good considering.


I have to ask a couple questions before my prediction (i need the points)

1) What is the injury report?
2) Is LaPorte playing this week?
3) Do you think we will have a Full house for this game (18,000 crazy fans)?

I do think that our O-line is the laughing stock of the Sunbelt, and if Paul gets less then 1.2sec to throw the ball, it wont matter if Jerry Rice is playing receiver..

Go Golden Panthers!!

I hope the rumors are true about DL coming back this weekend.

The game notes are out, and Toledo is deceptively BIG on their Oline and surprisingly small on the D-line...Times and LaPorte are not listed on the 2 deep for us ?? I find this strange after Times came up with big grabs at Rutgers. Istanich is listed as the starting RT and Weatherspoon is listed as the starting SS. ***Take it with a grain of salt.

Despite giving up some big runs at BAMA in the 4th quarter and Gaitor getting beat long against Rutgers, and without a steady pass rush - our defense has played lights out against 2 well coached and well equipped BCS programs. This weekend will be a good indication of where this team is against a vastly improved MAC program that has shown it can only score against mediocre to poor teams thus far.

Thing is, we are not playing with a full deck again. Ideally, we want LaPorte, Mack, Parker, JSpoon and McCall all contributing at the same time. **Has anyone ever won a game of chess without their "queen" and say...both "bishops" - well maybe Bobby Fischer did...I never have. I think we'll see Istanich and Mack emerge on the line as starters come SBC time and that's where it will count.

I am confident that our defense can keep Toledo in check for most of the game, these guys will play with a ton of emotion at home, just like last year against USF and with a chip on their shoulder to prove they can put it together for 4 quarters.

If Paul is ok, I think we can roll in this one if the guys upfront can execute their blocks against an undersized Toledo front 4.

Get thru this game injury free with a win and with a full complement of players to take ULM down in our first conference game. It's SBC title or BUST !!!

Does anyone know if the game will be on ESPN360?

Last time I checked, none of the remaining games for the International will be aired on espn360. Of course, this is subject to change if we become a contender in the SBC.

Either way, here's the schedule for espn360 for this weekend.


FIU - 27

Toledo - 20

Book it.....I hope.


Honestly, there is a lot of hype around the campus if you live in the Residential Halls or walk around our Student Orientated Buildings.

Everyone is excited about Saturdays Game. I know there is a Blink 182 Concert and I've heard some FIU students say they are heading out to that. They aren't die-hard FIU fans so I honestly do not care about them.

Those that are worried about Toledo scoring points on. Just go back and watch the first two games we played against Alabama and Rutgers. Ok, we played sloppy against Rutgers, but we held our own. What do you expect from a College Football team that has been around for 9 years, less than a decade.


1. Get the ball to T.Y. early in the game
2. Gaitor and the Safties must play better in the backfield.
3. TACKLE AND WRAP UP (Huge problem last two games) We missed dozens of open field tackles.
4. McCall stays healthy
5. O-Line must...Must give McCall at least 5 seconds of Pass Protection.

Lastly, 18,000+ Fans.......PACK THE CAGE!!!

Once again...

FIU - 31
Toledo - 24

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