Home, sweet, home. Great to be writing to you from the comforts of home after 5 of the first 7 weeks of the season on the road. And unfortunately, on the road in the Sun Belt means fly into a mid-major city and then drive 1 to 2 hours to get to the opposing team's city and stadium and then drive 1 to 2 hours back to the hotel. Of course, 1-6 makes those trips much longer.
Today's Did You Know is.....the Sun Belt has only 3 major cities in football and we are living in one of them. Nashville (Middle Tennesee) and Dallas (North Texas) are the other two cities. So you get the idea of Sun Belt travel. [For the record, MT is located in Murfreesboro, but that's only 15 minutes from Nashville].
FIU would like to know what the comforts of home feel like by notching its first home win of the season against Louisiana on Saturday at high noon at FIU Stadium. By the way, "High Noon" = great western . Ever have 86 minutes on your hands, then check out the Gary Cooper picture.
On to the game. The UL/FIU matchup sort of reminds me of the old Jim Kelly/Buffalo Bills/Miami Dolphins matchups of the 90's. (Obviously, I am not comparing the talent on UL/FIU to NFL here)
Instead, what I mean is this: When Kelly (below, left) ran the no huddle K-Gun offense, the Dolphins knew what was coming and still couldn't stop it. In the series between UL and FIU, the Panthers have known what UL is going to run, but have not been able to stop it. I'm not saying the Bills and Cajuns run the same offense, because Kelly did not run the ball and they are not similar offenses -- only similarity is that both teams do not huddle.
UL has been running the same offense since forever. If you have seen a UL game, you know what I mean. UL QB gets ready for the snap and then pauses and looks to the sideline for a play change or a decoy. The Ragin' Cajuns did it with Jerry Babb at QB. They did it with Michael Desormeaux at QB and they are doing it now with Chris Masson and Brad McGuire at QB.
Basically, like most Sun Belt offenses, the UL QB is another running back, who sometimes throws and other times doesn't. If you have followed FIU football in its 8-year existence, then you know FIU has always had trouble stopping this offense with the mobile QBs.
There were several games where the Dolphins came close to beating the Bills, but ultimately the Bills would usually win. Coincidentally, there was one Buf/Mia playoff game that finished with an almost identical score to a UL/FIU game. In the 1990 AFC Divisional Playoff, the Bills won 44-34. In 2004, UL beat FIU 43-34. No, I don't have much time on my hands, just have both the Dolphins and FIU media guides on my desk.
The Ragin' Cajuns and Panthers have played 6 times and UL has won every meeting. Kelly's Bills owned the Dolphins in the 90's.
In its history, FIU has beaten every Sun Belt team except Troy and the Cajuns and to erase UL from this short list, you guessed it, FIU has to stop the run and the running QBs. The ghost of the FIU D cannot be showing up this Halloween at FIU Stadium. FIU has to put on its ghostbusters suits on Saturday.
The Panthers had a nice defensive game plan in the first half last week against Arkansas State where they held the Red Wolves to 18 yards rushing in the first half after the opening drive. But look away now, if you don't want to see what ASU ran for in the second half....200 yards.
Need to see that first half FIU D from last week all of Saturday to stop the 2 running QBs and freshman running back sensation Yobes Walker, who took over when starter Undrea Sails broke his leg 2 weeks ago. Walker has averaged 99 yards rushing in his 2 starts.
UL can be scored on as the 35.6 points per game they are giving up in Sun Belt play shows. However, FIU needs to leave the pre-snap penalties in Jonesboro, Arkansas. Those are drive killers. The offense needs to know the damn snap count and get back to scoring the 34-points-a-game FIU was averaging before the ASU game.
The FIU run game might be able to get on track as UL is allowing 180 yards rushing on the ground per game. A healthy Darriet Perry, more power running from Daunte Owens, give Darian Mallary a crease and he's gone, and Kendall Berry, who has been solid in his limited work, might see his most action this game.
The noon weather should not be an issue for either team since they both play in this type of weather. FIU wearing all white is a good idea. Too bad, UL does not wear black. They'll be sporting their chili pepper red jerseys.
As we take a look at the weather map (left), Jackie is calling for highs in the upper 80's, humid and no clouds in the sky for Saturday at noon at FIU Stadium.
I can't call for an FIU win, until proven otherwise by a leaky FIU D. Sorry, people, but the 239.3 rushing yards per game that FIU yields is a scary stat this Halloween. I do think the Panthers will get back to their high-scoring ways, but the Bills, er, Cajuns still handle FIU.
GPP says: Louisiana 37, FIU 30
Don't forget to check out the LIVE BLOG tips on Saturday's post on here. First 25 bloggers with something worthy to contribute get free access to the LIVE BLOG.
FIU Fanatic: Pete, can you find out how season tickets are going on, maybe a bit specific on numbers?
PP: I'll look into it.
FIUFan: Given an RPI in the teens and a top-25 ranking; what are the logisitics of hosting (i.e. is it a political or a meritorious process?).
PP: It's a little bit of both. We'll find out for sure Nov. 29 when the tournament field and sites are announced.
PP: As of now, if he is healthy it might be Cedric Essola (right, thanks Alex J. Hernandez photo). He has played there before, but FIU does not have a true center this season. Nikola Gacesa might also get a look there too, but I don't think FIU will use the center position as it's used traditionally.
FIU basketball plays an exhibition game against Longwood on Wednesday at the Bank, but it is closed to the public and the media. Which is just as well since I will be in Ocala doing some cow-tipping and covering a golf tournament for a few days next week before doing the Nashville to Chapel Hill trip for FIU football and basketball.