JACKSON, Miss. -- Yes, you read the dateline right. Staying overnight here in the city named after the prez on the 20 dollar bill or is it the Peter Gammons look-a-like. It's about two hours away from Monroe, Louisiana.
Here in Jackson because there are no commercial flights into Monroe regional airport and the Pelegrin private jet is still being built. Flew in today, will drive early Saturday morning to Monroe, but no need to take any train and that's where the Steve Martin/John Candy reference ends.
So here from Jackson -- "The City of Soul" -- comes your FIU/ULM preview. And there's plenty of football soul in these parts with Mississippi State, Ole Miss and Southern Miss in state and it even extends beyond that to include your FIU Panthers.
At lunch, the waiter at the restaurant -- we'll call him Cletus -- kept talking to another waitress and then to yours truly, how a goose bit his leg while he was jogging on Thursday. Now you can cue the "Andy Griffith" theme song here, because this isn't Miami.
However, later on Cletus asked what I was doing in Mi-double s-i-double s-i-double p-i (that's how I learned to spell the state's name) and I told him I was here for an FIU/ULM football game in the state next door.
Cletus, a University of Houston grad, knew a lot about FIU. He said "Florida International sure" and he started talking about T.Y. Hilton, Isiah Thomas and he said "they'all got a heck of a baseball coach in Turtle Thomas, who was at LSU and there was a former Dolphins backup quarterback that was the coach there when they started football earlier this decade, right? See I know my college football."
Cletus sure does. In a way, Cletus reminded me a little of your Panthers the last couple of weeks. Both Cletus and FIU got off to slow starts, but came on strong in the second half.
Which leads us to Saturday's Sun Belt Conference opener for FIU at ULM. FIU needs to play four quarters of football on Saturday to start the conference season at 1-0.
The Panthers have to score early and often, because the ULM offense is much better than last season, because of quarterback Trey Revell.
Besides being a mobile QB, which is the type of QB that has given FIU trouble in the past, Revell can also throw the ball, which was not the strength of last year's ULM QB Kinsmon Lancaster. Revell reminds me a little of Arkansas State dual-threat QB Corey Leonard, who has hurt FIU in the past and awaits on Oct. 24.
ULM also has a potent running back in Frank Goodin and speed (Luther Ambrose) and size (6-3 LeGregory Sapp) at the receivers.
This could be as dangerous an offense as Toledo.
Defensively, ULM runs a 3-3-5 scheme that is designed to stop the spread offenses of the Sun Belt. ULM has the No. 2 ranked D in the Sun Belt behind Arkansas State.
The Warhawks have all the ingredients to be the darkhorse team in the Sun Belt this season.
It's no secret what FIU has to do: control the ball with a productive running game to keep the Warhawks potent O on the sidelines (Did I mention score early and often?) and take the homecoming crowd out of the game (Did I mention score early and often?). And on D, FIU has to wrap up their tackles and bring down Warhawks ballcarriers. (Did I mention score early and often?) And just as important get pressure on Revell and force the first-year starter to make some mistakes toward the FIU secondary. (Did I mention score early and often?) Getting pressure on Revell is not easy, No. 2 Texas had 0 sacks in their season-opening win over ULM. (Did I mention score early and often?)
All this might be too much to ask of a Panthers team that is trying to put it all together and against a pretty solid team on the road. Tell me I'm wrong on Saturday around 7 p.m.
GPP says: ULM 33, FIU 23
The GPP LIVE BLOG of the FIU/ULM game will begin around 3:15 p.m. Miami time on Saturday. Kickoff is at 3:30 p.m. I should be able to stick with you on the live blog until the end, because we have a much friendlier deadline time this week, because of the afternoon kickoff.