Just 8 days from the season opener and there are still several starting positions and depth chart issues to resolve.
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.
BACKUP RUNNING BACK
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."
SLOT RECEIVER No. 2
We all know who is slot receiver No. 1 -- he wears No. 4. When FIU goes 4-wide or if T.Y. needs a breather
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."
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
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."
STARTING DEFENSIVE BACK SPOT OPPOSITE ANTHONY GAITOR
(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 career
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."
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 of
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.