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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.

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 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."
 
DEFENSIVE LINE
 
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."
 
LINEBACKERS
 
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."
 
STARTING DEFENSIVE BACK SPOT OPPOSITE ANTHONY GAITOR
 
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."
 
KICKER
 
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."
 
Logo PANTHER PAWSE
 
Apaw Vote below the Q&A on which one of the position battles above is the most important to resolve.
 
Q&A
 
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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Nice insight into two deep battles. 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?

thanks....Go FIU!!

Pete,

What happened to Shawn Bright? I remember hearing that he had loads of potential last training camp with the idea that he and Darriet Perry would form a one-two punch eventually. Haven't heard anything about him in months.

Pete, what's the word on Terrance Taylor? Why isn't he in the active roster on the FIUSports.com website?

pete thanks for the coverage man... im goin crazy waiting for that bama game! also watched part of the S. Carolina vs NCST and Boise St. vs Oregon... man its great to have college football back ! will be interesting to see if Boise does continue their undefeated tear to see if the BCS give them a shot at a title... also what is your take on the Suprise of the belt so far that Troy lost to BGST and NT beat Ball ST!

Its finally SEVEN days away.. Cant wait to see our LB, and the more improved Offense.

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

Ellingson had an amazing season last year, and that kid does not drop a single pass!

GO FIU!

I'm a bit surprised about the Troy loss to Bowling Green. Next week they'll be handed their second loss by Florida, although it would be nice to see them stay in the game against the gators!

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

Also, it looks like everyone is voting that the D-line needs to be resovlved the quickest. I don't think this is necessarily true. D-line by committee (i.e. rotating fresh bodies in) can be a succesful strategy. I beleive that ucg has been doing this for years. I think the mike lb position is the key position which needs to be resolved. Generally that position is the QB of the defense (calls the defensive plays) and to still have three players in the running appears unsettling.

Unless Scotty or someone else is taking over the defensive leadership responsiblity, I'd really want to have the mlb position resolved.

p.s. if the D-line by committee works out, the defense could be one of the strongest in the Belt.

Our D has look awesome so far ... no worries there. O line blocking and opening the running game is the biggest issue. IF PMC has a solid O line he can play more options in the passing game.

Troy's loss could came back to haunt them if they end up in a tiebreaker with us once we go bowling. N.Texas' QB is pretty bad ass, according to many. I'm starting to think North Texas may be the Belt's sleeper this year. Doesn't matter because the Belt's "triple threat" will all be here at home this year. Stars are starting to align guys!!!

My point exactly Quijote! I'm thinking ahead about how this could end up in our favor come bowling time.

DAAAAAAAAMN that new FIU Ad that pops out at you is AWESOMMME!!!!!!!!!!!

that ad is pretty sick!!!

I was like...what you talking about FIU ad? Cool ad popping out at you when you get into the sports section of Miami Herald....Cool!!

Yeah, that is a really good looking ad.

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

Great coverage. The 2 deep is starting to take form. I have to say I'm pleasantly suprised by Dez Johnson winning the other CB job. I thought Emmanual Souarin or Derrick Clark would win the job, so its good to see them being pushed by a senior.

On the D-line, you didn't even mention two guys who I think are two of our better players there this year--Reggie Jones and James Jones. I think those two will be impactful this year. I hope both lines are in mid-season form next week in Tuscaloosa, we're going to need them.

Pete, looks like Sport's Grill is going to be pretty pack.

Pete, looks like Sport's Grill is going to be pretty pack.

http://www.facebook.com/inbox/?ref=mb#/event.php?eid=161825617432

I watched the Bama VS V-Tech game, exactly what FIU wanted to happen. Long, hard, closely contested game with Bama winning. Hopefully they'll be a little worn out still for next week's game and will underestimate us. Their top RB Ingrid was injured towards the end of the game... I really didn't see anything spectacular on Bama's end, FIU should be at the very least competitive.

I don't know...I saw a superb team, full of strong, agile athletes all over the field. I hope we are at least competitive, but am not counting on losing by less than 4 or maybe 5 touchdowns...Hope I'm wrong...(Please).

I don't know what game you where watching but I saw a Julio jones that we won't be able to cover. An running back that gets downhill like a bulldozer. A quarterback that was making played under more pressure than I think we could ever produce at this point because of a massive and athletic offensive line. Four linebackers, two of which looked like a d-line hybrid of 6-4 255lbs, but moved swiftly and hit hard. Aside from a miracle or devistating injuries we are going to get demolished if that same team comes out to play next week. I'm sorry of I sound like a downer, I beleive any game is winnable just the chances are very of staying competitive with this team. I'm just trying to be realistic with myself.

I was shocked at the final score of the hooters vs. Nebraska game. I thought the game would be a lot closer than it was.

Yeah next week's is going to be a tough one, that's for sure...

Bama played a mediocre VTech team and was consistently challenged. If it weren't for special teams, VTech had practically zero offensive output yet Bama still struggled to put them away.

Don't get me wrong, Bama is a good team but I didn't see a killer team like a UF or USC. I'm not expecting a win, but I am not expecting a FAU/Nebraska type blowout either.

V Tech mediocre? I guess you know more football than the guys who had them in the top 10 and winning the ACC. Wait in your great wisdom the ACC is at the same level as the SunBelt.

Good thing that you guys don't play on the team. Because this kind of fatalistic attitude is cancerous to the psyche...

BAMA is physical and talented, but VT did not show me much and I think they are very over-rated.

BELIEVE & DON'T BE AFRAID TO BE GREAT !!!

hey im the biggest FIU fan you can find... i even find myself in some of the "closed practices" lol. And i am a very positive person... but i don't believe that just because i am an FIU fan that i should disregard reason.

I think my attitude of standing behind my team no matter what the outcome would likley be, is a good one. I hope all the players have my mindset. I think we can win any game that we play, but what i won't do is downplay an opponent that is CLEARLY more powerful than us because they played an "over-rated" team(who would still kick our butts). If every FIU football player saw the BAMA-VTech game said "They're good but didn't impress me much." they will face something harder than expected.

They need to say "hey, this is a national championship caliber team that we won't beat unless we play flawless football. Losing is not an option so we need to play flawless football, if not they will take advantage of every mistake and opportunity to run us into the ground." Like MC said... "we strive for perfection knowing full well that we will never attain it!" and thats all i can ask for... but it doesn't change the fact that we will be heavy, heavy, underdogs. If they scored 34 on V-tech with mistakes use your imagination and think what they can to do us.

Look man, if you believe you are over-matched in any competition, you will probably lose. The point of view of fan applying pragmatism is irrelevant. PLAYERS need to be believe or what's the point in playing the GAME ?

Why state the obvious ? Why should any player or fan want to imagine what (turnovers would mean) for FIU if we played a sloppy game against a team like BAMA ??? Why not imagine a disciplined game and tell BAMA we won't BEAT OURSELVES, they have to BEAT US.

Imagine some special teams magic, winning the field position element and not making mistakes.
PLAY HARD, PLAY FAST and PLAY SMART PANTHERS !!

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