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24 posts from October 2009

October 31, 2009

Game 8: Louisiana vs. FIU LIVE BLOG

Hallo Happy Halloween from FIU Stadium. A chamber of commerce hot, sunny day here in Miami. The FIU Witches also send their best wishes for a Happy Halloween to all.

In less than 30 minutes, your Panthers will take on the Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns and we'll find out later this afternoon if it's trick or treat for FIU.

FIU is seeking its first home win of the season and first-ever win against the Cajuns.Ull

****So that the question is not asked 500 times during the LIVE BLOG, here are your viewing & listening options for today's game: 

Blog BLOG: Right here.

Tv VIDEO: Panther Pass on fiusports.com

Radio RADIO: 790 AM -- the part-time home of FIU Football.

A few reminders for all GPP LIVE BLOGS:

1) The size of the LIVE BLOG window is at its maximum, but the way the blog program works by making the window larger it takes away the scroll button. However, you can still view previous comments by using your arrow keys.

2) There are only 25 spots to be an unmoderated commentator which allows you to post comments without my approval.

If you are 1 of the first 25 to log-on AND I think you will contribute some worthwhile comments then I will go ahead and approve you as unmoderated commentator.

3) After the 25 spots are taken up, I then have to approve each comment from each reader. So if your comment takes a minute or so to show up it's because I'm busy either writing down the previous play for my game notes, working on the FIU/UL notebook for Sunday's paper or posting on the blog at the moment. At that time, I am not able to publish what you posted, but I will eventually get to it.

Let's go blogging....

October 30, 2009

Louisiana/FIU Preview: The Louisiana Ragin' Bills?

Fiustadium 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 westernHn . 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 Kelly 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.Ghost

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 Jackie 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.

We're home this week, so drop by the open-air press box and tell me I was wrong around 3:30 p.m. on Saturday or just post your-Pete-was wrong comment on here.

GPP says: Louisiana 37, FIU 30


Aaapaw LIVE GPP BLOG of Louisiana/FIU begins around 11:30 a.m. from FIU Stadium on Saturday and I'll be with you until the end of the game, thanks to the deadline-friendly game time.

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.

LonePanther: Pete's, who's likely to play center for this squad?Essola

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.

Cajun Talk

Will be back on here later today with your GPP preview and prediction of Louisiana at FIU and will also get to your questions then.

Here is Ragin' Cajuns beat writer Josh Parrott with his take on Saturday's game.Ullcajuns

1)  The Cajuns lost their top three offensive players in QB Michael Desormeaux, RB Tyrell Fenroy and WR Jason Chery. How have their replacements done and are they similar to the top 3 offensive players from last season?

JP: Those were all big losses. Sophomore Chris Masson won the starting job in preseason camp and has had some nice moments. He's a stronger passer than Desormeaux but not near the runner. Sophomore Brad McGuire has alternated in the past three games as a run threat. He ran for three touchdowns last week but might be out with a sprained foot. Undrea Sails won the starting tailback job as a senior and was the league's fourth-leading rusher before breaking his left leg two weeks ago. Redshirt freshman Yobes Walker has stepped in and averaged 99.5 yards rushing the past two weeks. Chery has been missed in the receiving game, which relies mostly on tight ends Luke Aubrey and Ladarius Green.


2) D-coordinator Kevin Fouquier (left) ran a pretty solid defense at FIU. How's the Cajuns D this season and what can FIU QB Paul McCall expect on Saturday?


JP: The results have been mixed. The defense was strong in the first part of the year, holding down Foo Southern and Kansas State and LSU to a degree. Then the injury bug hit and Nebraska rolled to a big win. The defensive line can't get any pressure on the quarterback and can't stop the run. The Cajuns are first in the league with 10 interceptions but still lack discipline to wrap up on tackles and be in the proper place in coverage. Sloppy is the word that comes to mind.

3) The FIU D has struggled this season. What must the FIU D to stop the Cajuns offense and have a chance to help FIU win this game?



JP: Make the Cajuns one-dimensional. Walker and McGuire have helped the running game pick it up the past few weeks. Masson has struggled when he has to throw it, mostly because opponents at the time know he has to. The Cajuns have won by taking care of the ball. FIU will have a chance if it can create some turnovers.


4) The Panthers are 0-6 against the Cajuns. With your knowledge of the Cajuns, how does FIU go about winning this game?


JP: Make sure T.Y. Hilton touches the ball at least 10-12 times. Give Paul McCall enough time to find his receivers and stretch the field to test a secondary that likes to gamble. Get enough of a running game toHilton maintain some offensive balance. Take advantage of Cajun mistakes, whether it's a missed tackle or a lost fumble.


5) Your game prediction and final score?    


JP: The Cajuns don't play perfect but do enough to win on the road, although it will be closer than it should. FIU makes some plays on offense but can't get to Masson and can’t stop Walker, both of whom have strong performances. Cajuns 30, FIU 21

October 29, 2009

Meet Your FIU Hoopsters

It Don't worry we have not forgotten about your Panthers football team. Will have the view from Louisiana and their beat writer Josh Parrott on here Friday as well as your GPP preview and prediction of Saturday's high noon game between the Ragin' Cajuns and Panthers. So you get a 2 for 1 deal on Friday and you didn't even have to bargain for it.

For now we have more stuff to give you from Lunch with Isiah. We ran down the current FIU basketball roster with IT.

FIU has now been practicing for a little more than 10 days to go into Chapel Hill and upset No. 1 North Carolina.

What's that you say? Pete, have you had too much tonight? No, sorry that was my nephew grabbing a hold of the keyboard writing the previous sentence about FIU/UNC, while I answered a phone call.

Anyway, without further ado, here is what IT had to say about his players after about 10 days of practice

Jeremy Allen (G, 6-3, 186, Jr., Central Michigan transfer who will be eligible in 2010-11) –

IT's take: "He's a defender, good shooter, can score and has emerged as one of the leaders of the team. Tough competitor, don’t back down to anyone."


Anthony Anderson (G, 6-0, 160, Soph., son of assistant coach Anthony Anderson) – Bright

IT's take: "He's a shooter, zone buster."


Marlon Bright (F, 6-3, 236, Sr.) – (right, thanks Alex J. Hernandez photo) 

IT's take: "I would say he is the epitome of what a student-athlete should be [future Rhodes Scholar]. Right now he is the leader of our team. Tough inside player, extremely bright, picks it up quickly. He embodies what we’re about here at FIU."


Cedric Essola (F, 6-9, 215, Sr.) –

IT's take: "I’m pleasantly surprised by Cedric, because he was injured a lot. I didn’t know much about him other than he was injured and every time I saw him he could barely walk, barely run. He’s tough as nails and in a quiet kind of way he is competitive and extremely bright out on the floor. He has great basketball instincts. He’s not like a high jumper, but he will let you know that he is around."


Nikola Gacesa (F, 6-9, 238, Sr.) –

IT''s take: "He is a player. He can shoot the basketball, good on the post, good passer. If I had to pick two captains right now it would be Niko and Marlon."


Phil Gary (G, 5-11, 190, Jr.) –

IT's take: "Good point guard, great vision, handles the ball, keeps everybody under control. Keeps everybody in position and is really getting a feel for understanding tempo. He’s from the west side of Gary Chicago so his self-confidence comes from having to navigate the neighborhood. There is definitely no fear in him. His understanding of the game, he sees it at a very high level. The passes that he makes and the things that he sees and the way he is able to maneuver around the defense. He has exceptional vision. I think the players like playing with him, because he has that one special skill other players seem to like which is passing."


Martavius Kee (G, 6-2, 190, Soph. will be eligible Jan. 2010) –

IT's take: "He can really be a good defender for us. He can score the basketball, but he is an emerging defensive player. He is taking a liking to defense right now and I’m glad that he is seeing that he has that capability. He won’t be eligible until January."


Brandon Moore (F, 6-8, 207, Soph., Arkansas transfer will be eligible in 2010-11) –

IT's take: "Is a shot blocker transfer from Arkansas. He has put on about 10 to 15 pounds and looking to add some more weight. If we can get him to about 220 I think we’ll have a good player in him."


J.C. Otero (F, 6-7, 210, Sr.) –

IT's take: "A shooter, good passer. He and Niko play well together. They have a good understanding, a good feel for each other. He doesn’t have the explosiveness he had before the knee injury, but J.C. has what we call know-how. He knows how to get himself in a position to get a basket or a shot."


Marvin Roberts (F, 6-5, 210, Jr.) –

IT's take: "Probably our most explosive scorer and he can also become a great defender. He can score from the perimeter. He can score by driving, works the offensive glass. He averaged 28 points at the junior college. I don’t know if he will ever average 28 points here, but he’s a guy that can put it in the hole. He’sRussell very streaky with it so I can see him being able to score in bunches."


Tremayne Russell (G, 6-0, 180, Jr.) – (right, thanks AJH photo)

IT's take: "Has worked really hard in the weight room and it’s definitely showing out on the floor as his shots improve. His athleticism taking the ball to basket is getting better and in terms of reading the defense."



Nick Taylor (G, 5-10, 165, Jr.) –

IT's take: "He has been injured. He has been off and on hurt."


Antoine Watson (G, 6-4, 200, Jr.) & Stephon Weaver (G, 6-3, 195, Jr.) –

IT's take: "Antoine and Stephon are definitely two scorers, but both of those guys have taken a liking to defense and I am seeing a defensive tenacity in Weaver and Watson that I hadn’t quite expected. I think both these guys are taking a lot of pride in the defense right now."


Scrappy Other IT thoughts:


On lack of size and style of play for FIU this season: "We will have to be scrappy. We’re small and we’ll have to depend on our quickness and we’ll have to depend on trapping inside and gang rebounding, because we’re not big enough for the bigger teams. Hopefully in the next couple of years we can answer that problem with better recruiting in terms of getting bigger people."



On his starting five if the season started today: "I have no idea. The competition in practice has been very good. I’m comfortable with any of these guys that I have named. I don’t think any of them is to the point where they are getting ready to overwhelm their opponent. As a collective group, I’m comfortable with what they are capable of doing out on the floor."




Aaapaw GPP LIVE BLOG of Louisiana vs. FIU begins with a late breakfast on Saturday morning around 11:30 a.m. and I will be able to stick with you until the end, because of the very deadline-friendly kickoff time of 12 noon.


SouthPaw: Kambriel Willis should have been a LB at the college level. He never should have been put on the D-line to start out his career. I've questioned that decision from day one. Has he ever been tried there in practice the past two years, Pete?

PP: He has not.

FIUFan: What are the chances of hosting some first round NCAA matches if we do well in the Sun Belt tourney?

PP: Not likely. FIU would have to get into the top 25 volleyball poll (and well into it like top 15) before the season Braves ends and being in the Sun Belt may not help either.

Max: Pete, any news on any future upgrades to facilities? What's the next for the football stadium? The basketball arena? etc?

PP: Might be a little longer with the football stadium, because of the state. The funds are being delayed byBlack the state, because of the current economy. We might be looking after 2013 for the lower bowl of the stadium to be enclosed.

The Bank is expected to get a jumbotron scoreboard some time this season as part of the arena's renovations. Not as big as the Atlanta Braves scoreboard in the photo, above left, but you get the idea. The new scoreboard is expected to go on the east wall of the arena opposite of where the retired jerseys hang.

Also the FIU men's team is expected to have an all-black alternate uniform. Obviously, the photo on the right of Dwyane Wade's jersey is not the black uniform, but that is the color scheme. Both FIU hoops teams are also expected to get new locker rooms too.

Ultimate FIU Fan: Pete, any thoughts by IT of getting C. Arroyo & R. Bell involved with the program, in reference to fundraising both themselves and some of their NBA buds? Is the player that will be available in December the player that transfered last year with Coach Rouco?

PP: IT has reached out. However, I think the fundraising would really get going once the W's start piling up. You know how this town is. Everybody loves a winner. Yes, Martavius Kee is the Temple transfer from last season and will be available to play in January 2010, because he transferred this past January.

October 28, 2009

Lunch With Isiah

FIU basketball media day was Wednesday afternoon and new basketball coach Isiah Thomas sat down toIt talk about his Panthers and other interesting tidbits on his way to taking over the FIU basketball program.

Before we get the player-by-player breakdown of your Panthers by IT on here, this is some of what was talked about at today's lunch.

IT talked about when he first saw PG earlier this year at the national championship game between Florida and Oklahoma at Joe Robbie Stadium.

IT was going to meet UF hoops coach Billy Donovan at halftime, but Donovan got hung up in Patriots coach Bill Belichick's suite so IT went downstairs to meet PG.

About 1 month after the game, PG called IT and said "Think about this, but don't answer me just yet. How would you feel about coaching college basketball?"

IT thought about it. He says he researched FIU and before going on the internet the only thing he knew about FIU was involving the brawl with UM. However, he kept digging and saw that it had 38,000 students and was one of the 25 largest universities in the nation, and has the more than 140,000 alumni.

Ravens PG called 2 or 3 weeks later and told IT: "How about taking a trip down to Miami to check out FIU?"

On his first trip to Miami, IT and PG wanted to keep the meeting low key so they went to what they thought would be a somewhat secluded restaurant on Fisher Island. Only problem with that was that when they got there, a Baltimore Raven was getting married and several Ravens at the wedding immediately recognized IT. The wedding stopped and the Ravens asked to take photos with IT and get his autograph. IT obliged.

Ravens defensive back Samari Rolle went over to PG and said: "Isiah Thomas and FIU athletic director Pete Garcia, I wonder what this is all about?" The low key went out the window.

IT liked what he saw when he first visited FIU and later came back for a second visit.Triath

At the time, IT was training for the Westchester (N.Y.) Triathlon -- not the Wes-ches-ta of Miami --. He liked the sport and was intrigued by the mentality and tenacity of tri-athletes. Or like IT said today: "Those people to me, that's the mentality that you need to play with because they don't stop."

IT has brought a little bit of the triathlon mental toughness to practice as senior forward Marlon Bright said: "He has put a lot of emphasis on mental toughness. In the second practice, after two hours of practice, he ran us more than I have ever run before in practice. You can see him trying to develop our mental toughness. Half of the battle is being mentally tough. That’s what set him apart as a player.”

On the second visit to Miami, IT was ready to take the job, but when he told his wife she said: "What?" and his accountant asked him "Are you sure?"

IT said: "You have to see what FIU can be and not what it is and that's why I'm here."

Shell On his first month on the job, IT said he kept getting lost going to U.S. Century Bank Arena, because of all the entrances to FIU. So eventually, he used the Shell gas station on SW 8 Street and SW 107 Ave. as his landmark and then he would locate FIU Stadium and know the arena was down the street from there.

IT wanted to do the triathlon on Sept. 27, but PG told him he should keep recruiting. So he did.

Over the summer, IT played golf with former FIU great and current Heat guard Carlos Arroyo. IT said that "Carlos kept stressing to me that we have to bring back the fans and alumni. I told him if we can galvanizeArroyo that base and get them to support this team it would be great."

For the record, IT said Arroyo beat him pretty good in golf: "He's got game."

Off to the side here....In case you didn't know, IT was asked about his popcorn company, Dale and Thomas. The brand is not available nationwide, but is at the Publix across from FIU. IT got into the popcorn business, because his favorite food growing up was popcorn. His mom used to make a big bowl for his family in Chicago when IT was a kid and they would all sit around the TV and watch "Batman" and the "Green Hornet". Guess what popcorn will be sold at FIU basketball games this season?

Dt IT said that he has called Bobby Knight and Coach K for advice: "This is a game that you never master. You’re always evolving and learning so you always listen to try and get better."

FIU was picked dead last in the Sun Belt preseason poll. IT's reaction: "I've been picked last all my life. Let's see where we end up at the end of the race."

You can read a story on IT's first few months with FIU basketball in Thursday's Herald in both print and on-line.


Aaapaw Your Panthers football team will be wearing all white in Saturday's game against Louisiana, in part, because of the high noon kickoff. It will be the first time in the 8-yearEllingsonwku history of FIU football that the Panthers wear all white for a home game. And, no it is not being advertised as a Whiteout.

FIUFan: Hey Pete, when is the Herald going to start picking up on the outstanding success of the Volleyball team? I'm mean 21-2 'aint to shabby.

PP: FIUFan, I have written about the volleyball team in my local colleges column each week. However, I am working on a front page story that will include photos of the FIU ladies that will run before the Sun Belt Tournament gets underway. You are correct 21-2 ain't too shabby.

Gooch7: Pete any info on Recruits for this year?

PP: Still got a little more than 90 days to go, but the recruits are holding steady to their commits. Quarterback Jake Medlock has been cleared after Rosa his shoulder surgery and started throwing this week. He could be on target to be ready by camp in August. Running back Casey Turner is the latest commit. He could join running back Jeremiah Harden, who has been tearing it up in practice.

UltimateFIUFan: Pete, I haven't heard much from Kambriel Willis this season, is he injured or just not performing? How about Pooh Bear Mars? Is TY 100% for Sat? If yes, can we expect him on kick-off & punt returns? Status of Paul McCall? HE DESERVES A CONGRESSIONAL MEDAL OF VALOR FOR WHAT HE HAS GONE THROUGH! He is the polar-opposite of Dolphin’s Ted Ginn. PM has a pair, while Ginn lost his pair @ OSU!

PP: KW is not performing. Pooh Bear is getting closer each week to playing D, according to MC. I got a feeling this is the week we see Pooh Bear on D. TY is about 95%, not sure if he will be returning kicks. That is a game day decision. PMC is about 90-95% ready and yes he is the oppo of Ginn. In fact, even without his engineering degree, Paul already has secured a job with Company Jones or as it's known to most Co.Jones.


October 26, 2009

More Beef Coming To O-Line & FIU/ASU Review

Delsoin Looks like FIU will add more beef on the offensive line with the verbal commit of Sheridan Hills offensive lineman David Delsoin, (left) who stands 6-6 and weighs 280 pounds.

Of course, the Panthers could use that beef this season and not just on the offensive line as has been seen for most of 2009.

Outside of Armond Willis, the D-line and for that matter the entire D struggled again Saturday, but mostly in the second half and that needs to change if FIU is going to win any of the final 5 games this season. 

In the first half, we saw some defensive adjustments from the FIU D that were not there the previous week against Troy.

The Panthers moved around a bit more and brought more pressure -- and looking at the box scores of FIU's first 6 games -- FIU played its best defensive half of football on Saturday since the season opener at Alabama.

FIU gave up 86 rushing yards against the Crimson Tide in the first half -- a season low until Saturday. The Red Wolves had 76 rushing yards at halftime and 58 of those yards were on their opening drive. In the other five ASU possessions in the first half, the Red Wolves had just 18 rushing yards.

However, what is alarming was how ASU just went straight down the field on FIU to start the third quarter and easily scored a TD to make it 14-0.

While FIU gave up two plays of 15 yards or more in the first half, the Panthers gave up 8 plays of 15 yards or more in the second half. On that opening drive of the 2nd half, ASU had a 21-yard run and a 20-yard run.Od

ASU rushed for 200 yards in the second half to give them 276 for the game.

Whether that means adjusting to the opponent's adjustments coming out of the locker room or switching personnel along the front seven, the Panthers need to fix this because 3 of FIU's top 5 tacklers from Saturday's game were defensive backs (Jeremiah Weatherspoon, O' Darris D' Haiti (right) and Jonathan Cyprien). Nothing against the secondary, but the old football adage is that you don't really want your secondary being your leading tacklers. That usually means the opposing O is getting through 7 of your 11 defenders.

The offense was not at its best either on Saturday.

We saw a re-shuffled offensive line against ASU with freshman Rupert Bryan getting his first career start, freshman Dave Istanich at left guard along with Cedric Mack getting the most snaps he has had in a game this season.

The run blocking didn't really take and that goes both ways with the O-Line and the running backs. On a couple of plays I saw the RBs running into their own blockers.

Outside of games against Toledo and Western Kentucky, the Panthers haven't really had much success running the ball this season and yet, FIU averaged 34 points per game in the last 4 games. Go figure.

FIU also had a tough time converting 3rd down going just 1 of 7 on 3rd down conversions in the first half (4 of 15 for the game). Some of that had to do with pre-snap penalties making the down and distance longer to convert.

Six of the 10 FIU penalties were pre-snap -- with 5 coming from the offense. That has to be cleaned up too.

I like the idea of starting to change up the playing time, especially with the younger players. Let's see what they got right now. Bryan, Istanich and C-Mack throw them in the fire and let's see what they can do.  

And if other players are not producing then let some others get in the game, regardless of whether they are Hh freshmen, sophomores or whatever.

Look, FIU is not going to run the table and finish 6-6, especially with the No. 1 team in the nation still on the sked. If that happens I will walk back from Gainesville to Miami and my brother will drive the rental car home.

However, if the Panthers play like they are capable of and like they have shown in flashes this season then they still can win each of the 4 Sun Belt games left starting with Louisiana this Saturday.

The FIU defense -- from the first 3 quarters at Alabama, that showed up at Rutgers and played the first half against Arkansas State -- needs to be at the same stadium on the same Saturday as the FIU offense that averaged 34 points per game in the previous 4 games before ASU. Get those two specific units together and you might match last season's 5-7 mark, which right now would be the most palatable ending to this season.


Aaapaw Late breakfast with the GPP on Halloween Saturday....GPP LIVE BLOG of LouisianaBk vs. FIU begins around 11:30 a.m. on Saturday morning from FIU Stadium. Kickoff is at 12 noon and I will be able to blog with you until the final play, because of the deadline friendly game time this week.

WIN A GPP BLOG WEEK 7 STANDINGS (Louisiana/FIU scores due by 11:59 a.m. Eastern GPP Time on Saturday)


Fomenter (107)


FIU0406 (115), NYCFIUFan (136), FIU PantherFan (151), CrazyCane (161), MIA/NY Josh (179)


BaltimorePanther (135), FIUcanesFan (150)


quijote (106), Joel (120), FIU Fanatic (122), CJ (141), theINTERNATIONAL (147), TheChampionUnderdog (148)


LonePanther (119)


Golden Panther 90 (122), Clawing Cancer (136), SouthPaw (146)


Tri-Panther (173),  FIUer (237)

GPP: 6-1, (112)

October 24, 2009

Game 7: FIU vs. Arkansas State LIVE BLOG

JONESBORO, Arkansas -- Welcome to Jonesboro, Arkansas on a cold night with temperatures in the Fiuhelmet 40's. Your Panthers (1-5, 1-2 Sun Belt) are looking for their second win of the season and in the Sun Belt tonight against the Arkansas State Red Wolves (1-4, 0-2 SBC), who are also looking for their second win of the season, but first conference win.

Pre-game note for you: FIU quarterback Paul McCall, who sprained his foot in practiceAsu Thursday, has gone through all the pre-game warmups. He is a game-time decision to start. While PMC is a huge part to FIU's success, we all know that the Panthers D needs to show up here in Jonesboro for FIU to fly home happy later tonight.

Blog TvRadio

Your viewing/listening options for tonight's game

**So that this question is not asked 500 times during the LIVE BLOG:

BLOG: right here.

VIDEO: Arkansas State's website has a video feed at: AStateRedwolves.com. The price for the game is $7.95, but make sure to cancel your subscription after the game unless you want to watch ASU sports for the rest of the month.

RADIO: 1080 AM (If the internet feed does not work, don't ask me, because I have no affiliation with 1080 AM. Call 1080 AM at 305-644-0800 or 305-644-1080 and let them have it)

A few reminders for all GPP LIVE BLOGS:

1) The size of the LIVE BLOG window is at its maximum, but the way the blog program works by making the window larger it takes away the scroll button. However, you can still view previous comments by using your arrow keys.

2) There are only 25 spots to be an unmoderated commentator which allows you to post comments without my approval.

If you are 1 of the first 25 to log-on tonight AND I think you will contribute some worthwhile comments then I will go ahead and approve you as unmoderated commentator.

3) After the 25 spots are taken up, I then have to approve each comment from each reader. So if your comment takes a minute or so to show up it's because I'm busy either writing down the previous play for my game notes, working on the FIU/ASU notebook for Sunday's paper or posting on the blog at the moment. At that time, I am not able to publish what you posted, but I will eventually get to it.

Getting ready for kickoff here, let's go blogging....

October 23, 2009

FIU/Arkansas State Preview: Hunting Season In Jonesboro

Memphis MEMPHIS, Tennessee -- Here tonight from Memphis -- America's Center of Distribution -- as the sign says in the airport and as the 7,500 Fed Ex planes stationed at the airport will remind you.

Memphis is also the land of Elvis, but that was before my time. Haven't seen any Elvis impersonators, but there was a Britney Spears (pre-shaved head and babies) look-a-like on the same flight into Memphis. She told me she was headed to some gymnastics competition in town.

Memphis is about 1 hour away from Jonesboro, Arkansas where your Panthers will take on the Arkansas State Red Wolves on Saturday night.

It is homecoming for the Red Wolves and they have been waiting 350 days (Nov. 8, 2008) since last season to exact some revenge on FIU for the "Hilton Heave" loss.

Although it is homecoming, the crowd and atmosphere might be a little subdued at ASU Stadium, because of all things -- hunting season.

True story: speaking to some folks from Jonesboro during the week, they say that once hunting season starts in Jonesboro then the crowds at their football games start to become smaller and smaller. Hunting season started in Jonesboro earlier this month.

And it could be hunting season in more ways than one on Saturday. On Oct. 1, bobcat hunting seasonElmer started over here. That is the closest animal to a panther that they can hunt in these parts.

However, I got a feeling the Red Wolves will be hunting panthers on Saturday.

Besides being an angry team for last season's loss at FIU, ASU features what can be an explosive offense to throw at FIU. Quarterback Corey Leonard is just as good with his legs as he is with his arm.

For the past three years, running back Reggie Arnold has feasted on the FIU D and with the way that unit is playing this season it could be more of the same on Saturday.

Not only can ASU run the ball, but they have a version of T.Y. in receiver Brandon Thompkins. Plus, their O-Line is as big and physical as Troy's was last week.

It just feels like the Red Wolves are going to put up a WNBA score on FIU like possibly in the high 40's, maybe 50's.

Coincidentally, Jackie informs us that those are the expected temperatures for Saturday's game: high 40's-Jjg 50's with clear skies.

FIU's offense is not as complete (run game) as ASU's and I just can't see them matching every Red Wolves score.

Plus, FIU's O-Line has to contend with future NFLers Alex Carrington (picture El Monstruo at 295 pounds and that's AC) and Demario Davis on the ASU D.

Yes, this is the Sun Belt where close games are usually the norm, but there is too much going against FIU entering this game.

The Panthers are 1-3 all-time vs. ASU. FIU played its first-ever Sun Belt game against Arkansas State in Jonesboro in 2005 and lost 66-24.

Don't think it will be that bad on Saturday (FIU is an 11-point underdog), but I don't think the Panthers are flying home to Miami with a W.

You know the drill: Come back on here and tell me I was wrong around 10:30 p.m. on Saturday night.

GPP says: Arkansas State 48, FIU 24

October 22, 2009

Hilton Heave at FIU....Just Heaving at Arkansas State

At FIU, it is simply known as the "Hilton Heave" -- a trick play touchdown pass by receiver T.Y. Hilton toAsuty Junior Mertile with 38 seconds left in the 2008 game where FIU defeated Arkansas State 22-21.

Over in Jonesboro, Arkansas, they just want to "Heave" whenever you mention that play. Will there be a "Hilton Heave" Part Deux on Saturday? We'll see.

But for now here are some thoughts on the Red Wolves from the Jonesboro Sun's Arkansas State beat writer Matt Roberson. Also, in the answer to question No. 4 is a link to a "Hilton Heave" story that Matt wrote and what the ASU players are thinking one year later.

Asurw 1)  Is the 1-4 start a disappointment for ASU or did they expect a rough start to 2009? I had the Red Wolves pegged as one of the contenders for the Sun Belt title in the preseason.

Matt: The 1-4 start is a definite disappointment at Arkansas State. Generally, the team and fans believed they'd be 3-2 or 2-3 at this point. Losing to Troy was a disappointment but not a complete disaster. However, the loss to Louisiana-Monroe last week exposed some weaknesses and problems that hadn't been noticeable before. No one around here expected to lose to the Warhawks. ASU committed 16 penalties against ULM as opposed to 20 the first four games. The Red Wolves also turned the ball over three times compared to seven the previous four games. Focus, concentration, intensity, you name it, they were all missing and UL-Monroe made them pay.

2) With the way FIU has played on defense, I'm sure the Red Wolves are licking their chops. What would you say is the strength of the Red Wolves offense? Is it more than just Corey Leonard, Reggie Arnold andWolf Brandon Thompkins?

Matt: The strength of
Arkansas State's offense, without a doubt, is quarterback Corey Leonard. Reggie Arnold is a solid running back and Brandon Thompkins has been very consistent this season, but without Corey Leonard playing well, the Red Wolves are simply spinning their wheels and going nowhere. Leonard has shown so much ability, potential and versatility his first three years that it's been a bit strange to see him struggle at times this season. He hasn't run the ball with confidence and his passing game seems to be off a little bit. Opponents who can control or stop Corey Leonard, generally, can stop Arkansas State. It does help to stop Arnold, too, but Leonard runs the show.

3) Besides Alex Carrington (left), who else should the FIU offense worry about on the ASU D and what does the ASU D do best and what is their weakness?

Matt: Arkansas State has a solid defensive line, including Carrington and tackle Bryan Hall. Hall is powerful and has great speed for a guy his size. The unit is very deep and rotates eight or nine just to Carr keep everyone fresh.

Another guy to watch out for on defense is linebacker Demario Davis (right). A sophomore, Davis has shown the best instincts of any ASU player at the position. He's the guy who intercepted Iowa quarterback Ricky Stanzi and returned it 75 yards for a touchdown, then flipped into the end zone. Davis has 51 tackles in five games, so he's proven he can read offenses, and has the speed and ability to make the plays.

ASU's biggest weakness is clearly its secondary. The Red Wolves have given up 243 yards a gameDavis through the air and have made just three interceptions. Speed and decision-making seems to be issues here. Nebraska, Iowa and Troy have all torched Arkansas State with the passing game.

4) The ending to last season's game between ASU and FIU has been dubbed the "Hilton Heave" down here in
Miami. What is the feeling up there about the play and is FIU a game ASU has had circled on its schedule since it came out?

Matt: If you want something in depth on this, read my story today online: click here for Matt's story on the Hilton Heave. You'll get a good idea what they think about that play.  But if you want the quick version, that loss still stings for
Arkansas State. They feel like they should have won the game and not just because of that play in particular. Many of the Red Wolves felt like they let too many opportunities go by without scoring prior to Hilton's big touchdown pass. The consensus here is that while the play was lucky or a fluke, T.Y. Hilton is a thoroughbred, and players like him tend to make great plays. I don't think anyone around here really knew who T.Y. was last year but they all know who he is now. Needless to say, ASU would like to get a little revenge for that loss because it cost them a 7-5 season and a bowl game.

5) Your prediction and score for the game on Saturday?

Matt: Hope I don't offend any of your fine readers down there in South Florida but I really don't think this is a very close game. I may be wrong but Florida International appears extremely weak on defense based on what I've read. Arkansas State is also very good at home and I'm pretty confident ASU wants a little payback for last year's Hilton Heave loss. The key is ASU's quarterback and secondary. If Leonard has a good game running and throwing the football and Arkansas State's secondary just plays average, I don't see this one being much different than the Troy-FIU game last week ... which I know was a 15-point game until the final play. I figure ASU will show some life this Saturday. Arkansas State 38, Florida International 27.

Thanks to Matt for his answers.

Aaapaw You'll get my thoughts on Saturday's game along with Jackie's weather forecast at some point Friday afternoon here on the GPP when I land in Memphis, Tennessee. Will be staying in Memphis -- which is about 1 hour from Jonesboro -- and then driving to and from the game on Saturday.

The GPP LIVE BLOG for FIU/Arkansas State will begin around 6:30 p.m. on Saturday. Kickoff is at 7 p.m. and you can watch the game on Arkansas State's website and/or follow along right on here. Since it is a 7 p.m. kickoff, I will most likely have to start writing for Sunday's paper around the end of the third quarter, but as always I will leave the blog open.


Aaapaw Good to see and speak with some of our GPP readers on Thursday night at the Alumni Panther Basketball Preview with Isiah Thomas.

Good talking to gpantera, FIUPIKE, quijote, Max, Miri, JulesFIU07, Roman and Joel.

And yes, quijote, I will have LIVE BLOGS during FIU basketball games this season.


FIUJM: Would I be wrong in assuming that Sports Grill won't be showing many more games and won't be official place to watch FIU games?

PP: Sports Grill is still the official home for FIU Watch Parties, but the Panthers have to be on TV for thatTv to happen. I would not expect SG to pipe in an internet feed for Saturday's game, but FIU has 2 and possibly 3 games left that will air on TV. For sure, FIU at Middle Tennessee is on CSS (Sun Belt Network) at 4:30 p.m. on Nov. 7. The Sun Belt Conference told me that the Blue Raiders bought the rights to the game and ARE NOT blacking it out in Miami.

Florida Atlantic vs. FIU is also on CSS (Sun Belt Network) at 7 p.m. on Dec. 5. The FIU vs. Florida game is likely on TV, but not for sure yet, to be picked up by possibly Channel 39 down here in Miami since Ch. 39 shows most Gators games that are not on national TV.

PantherPride: Pete, any idea of the freshmen that will be redshirted, if any?

PP: We won't know for sure until the end of the season, because of all the injuries FIU is sustaining each week. But as of today, the following freshmen could get a redshirt because they have yet to play: Chris Redshirts Schirripa, Terrance Taylor, Cain Elliott, Jack Griffin, Dereck Wimberly, Austin Tottle, Jairus Williams and Andrew Mattox.

CarolinaGoldenPanther: Pete, Can you/the Herald talk to typepad and see if they can put in a change to allow users to ignore certain posters?

PP: CGP, the GPP's claw has gotten sharper of late (see: former 14 screen names person). Like I said in a previous post, once the comments on this blog become one person attacking another, then they will be clawed out. Check out the comments from the previous post and you will see how much cleaner that has gotten.

People are welcomed to post here their opinions, but when they start getting on each other or if it gets vulgar then they will be clawed out.

Jimmy: Pete, Just read the article posted on the herald website which indicated that more than 2/3 of the FIU roster were freshmen and sophomores. I had two questions regarding that figure:

How many scholarship seniors do we have on the team? I ask because if we have very few won't that effect how many recruits we can bring in? How many scholarship Juniors do we have on the roster?

PP: By my count there are 20 scholarship seniors on the team and there are 16 scholarship juniors. The numbers won't necessarily affect the number of recruits, because sometimes players transfer or sometimes players have scholies taken away, such as a few of the former coaching staff's previous players when they screwed up off the field.

Yes, not all of MC's original recruiting class is still on the team, because some did not make it because ofDraft grades or did not qualify to enter FIU. This happens to each of the 120 Division I teams. Recruiting is a lot like the NFL Draft without the agents. In recruiting, like the draft -- not every player is always going to pan out.

Gooch7: 1) Will they allow the kids on the field (with costumes) after the game? 2) Can you post some info regarding Season Tix for the basketball season. If you are a Life time Alum memeber do you get some kind of discount?

PP: Will try and find out answers to both your questions while I got some down time in Memphis on Friday. Until then for your first question you can contact: FIU assistant AD for marketing Heather Wight at 305-348-8390 or hwight@fiu.edu. For the answer to your second question: contact FIU asst. AD for ticket operations Jeremy Lamb at 305-348-2903 or jlamb@fiu.edu


October 21, 2009

2 More Hoops Commits & Frederick Ready To Join FIU

FIU basketball received two more verbal commits today for the Class of 2010 and 2011.

Milk Matt Milk (Fort Lauderdale Pine Crest), a 6-8, 240-pound senior power forward told the Panthers he's headed this way to play college basketball next season. Milk is currently a teammate of high school phenom Brandon Knight....hmmm.

FIU also got a committment from 6-9 and growing power forward Yvan Ngirabakunzi (right), who is currently aYvan junior at Piney Woods High in Mississippi. Yvan, who has a good last name to play Scrabble with, is ranked as the No. 40 power forward in the nation for 2011.

According to rivals.com and ESPN, Yvan had an offer from the school across town and decommitted. He has been receiving interest from Arkansas, Marquette and Tulane.

Power forward Eric Frederick (left), who is currently at Highland-Illinois JUCO, has taken care of his academic business and is ready to come play at FIU next season. If you remember, Frederick committed to FIU last season, but was not able to play with this Ef year's team because of grades. EF would be a sophomore when he arrives at FIU next season.

** Of course, all of these commitments are verbal and non-binding, so please keep the GPP's Gatorade Theory of Recruiting in mind when reading the news above.

Aaapaw Was out at FIU's first basketball practice last Saturday and here are some first impressions:

This team is definitely more athletic than any other FIU hoops team I have seen in the last 8 years since I have been covering FIU.

With Phil Gary at the controls at point guard and a more athletic team, the Panthers should not have trouble breaking the full court press unlike previous seasons.

Marvin Roberts, Antoine Watson, Stephon Weaver and Gary are going to do well in the Sun Belt and they have the abilities to make the rest of the team better.

There is not much height on these Panthers and that might hurt come the Sun Belt tourney or beyond if FIU were to get that far. 

Later this week or early next week, going to have new coach Isiah Thomas join us on the GPP to talk about your Panther hoopsters.

You can also learn more about the 2009-2010 FIU hoops team on Thursday night at U.S. Century BankIsiah Arena in the Alumni Panther Basketball Preview where IT will be on hand. However, don't bother asking questions about recruits, because NCAA coaches cannot speak about them until they are signed on the dotted line.


Aaapaw Interesting stat that came out the other day, the FIU football team has played 14 true freshmen this season which is the 4th most among the 120 FBS teams. Only Tulane (17), Texas A&M (16 -- FIU opens at College Station next season) and Air Force (15) have played more.

But that number could grow to 17 by Saturday at Arkansas State, because defensive linemen Andrew Mattox, safety Terrance Taylor and kicker Jack Griffin (for kickoffs) are very close to playing according to MC.

Here are the 14 true freshmen to have played this season: Wayne Times, Darian Mallary, Rockey Vann, Dave Istanich, Giancarlo Revilla, Tourek Williams, Kenny Dillard, Pooh Bear Mars, Jonathan Cyprien, Markeith Russell, Rupert Bryan, Larry McCoy, Josh Forney and Derreck Jones.

Aaapaw The FIU baseball team is currently playing in an exhibition game against the Langley Blaze from British Columbia at University Park Stadium. In the bottom of the 3rd inning, FIU is up 5-0 with R.J. Fondon pitching and Tim Jobe with a solo bomba. Check fiusports.com later for the final score.


FIUManiac: Pete, what about the coaching thus far?

PP: Much like the team, the staff is young and learning on the job. With the exception of the Toledo game, the Panthers have matched up with teams in the first half and came out strong against then-No. 4 and now-No. 1 Alabama. However, then opponents will have a big quarter or big plays and FIU cannot recover. Yes, the defense right now is a major issue and unless it is fixed the Panthers will have a tough time winning the rest of the season.

Much like the team, the coaching staff can improve. It certainly is NOT a lack of effort with this staff as opposed to the previous staff. There have been many high school coaches that I have spoken with since MC took over, who said that FIU had never visited their high school until MC took over. The recruiting under MC has improved 200% from the previous staff and there is talent on this team. But where this team really needs to pick it up is along the offensive and defensive lines and for that you need time in the weight room and/or go get the midwest beef or JUCO beef. I think several people are mistaken thinking this is a 3-year deal with FIU. MC & co. inherited a mess, that included significant scholarship losses and a lack of talent. A more fair assessment would be after year 5.

Jdoezer: Pete, you say in your article that you had FIU at 3-3 ("Yours truly had FIU at 3-3 with losses to Alabama, Rutgers and Troy") but yet your picks have you 5-1 with FIU having a 1-5 record - explain? Are you a journalist or a BS'er?

PP: No Big Shot here. (Yes, I know BS does not mean Big Shot). If you read the entire paragraph that I wrote it finishes with: "...when the preseason predictions were published here on the GPP back in August."

When I made my preseason picks in August...at this point in the season I had FIU at 3-3. I pick FIU games each Friday throughout the season and depending on how the team is going sometimes I amend my picks -- As I said back in August that I would do.

I originally predicted FIU to a 6-6 record and the St. Petersburg Bowl back in August but that is not looking like it will happen. So no BS here, if I don't hit on my picks I'll admit I'm wrong. I'm not looking for a career in Vegas.

Thanks for reading the GPP and following my picks.

FIUJM: Does anyone know if Sports Grill showing game this weekend? Or if it's even on TV?

PP: You can watch the game on ASU's website. They have a video feed of the game.


October 20, 2009

Mid-Season Review

We've reached the halfway point of the season and yes, the 2009 FIU football season has not gone as many had envisioned back in August.

Your Panthers are 1-5 and have not played like expected thus far. Yours truly had FIU at 3-3 (with losses to Alabama, Rutgers and Troy) at this point in the season when the preseason predictions were published here on the GPP back in August. So it's 2 games behind the pace. Could the deficit be made up in the final 6 games of the season? Sure, but FIU has to improve in some areas.

In our part of the worldwide web let's take a look at the team and hand out Panther Paws on how they have done so far. You can play at home, at work, in the car or wherever you may be logged on.

Aaapaw The Paws rating scale is 1 to 5 with 5 paws being the best.


Pmc Despite an inconsistent offensive line and sometimes holding on to the ball too long, Paul McCall (left, thanks Alex J. Hernandez photo) is having a pretty damn good season and is on pace to own every single-season FIU passing record. Also, PMC leads the Sun Belt in TD passes (11) and is 26th in the nation in passing yards per game. As of today, PMC is 128 for 227 for 1,461 yards with 11 TDs and 5 INTs. At that pace, PMC would break FIU single-season records for completions, passing yards, touchdown passes andAaapawAaapaw AaapawAaapaw fewest interceptions thrown. 


We've seen the potential against Toledo and Western Kentucky where Darriet Perry, Daunte Owens and Darian Mallary all ran well. However, the running game has been missing in the other four games. How much does it have to do with run blocking and how does it have to do with the actual running game? You'd have to sit down and watch film to actually tell, but from the naked eye it seems toAaapaw Aaapaw be a little bit of both.


The loss of Junior Mertile has hurt, but T.Y. Hilton, Greg Ellingson and Ty Frierson (right, thanks AJH photo) have been as good asFriersonty advertised, especially Frierson who has really come on with the extra playing time. As we saw by the moves on his 51-yard kickoff return against Troy, Wayne Times needs to get the ball a whole lot more in the second half of the season. He can be this year's version of T.Y. Some receivers that can contribute in the second half that have shown flashes in the first six games are: Marquis Rolle, Jacob YoungerAaapaw Aaapaw Aaapaw Aaapaw and Ariel Martinez.


Getting Dudley LaPorte for only 1 game and a half certainly puts a big dent in FIU's offensive plans. The one-handed TD catch against ULM is still fresh in my mind. DLP should get a redshirt for his broken foot and be ready to contribute next season. Once Colt Anderson gets more comfortable at his new position, he will be very good. CA is athletic, has good hands and has shown that he is not afraid to go over the middle. CA is averaging 14 yards a catch. Jonathan Faucher and Joey Harris could help with good second halves of theAaapaw Aaapaw season. If DLP would have been available more, the TEs would get another paw.


With an entire starting line of upperclassmen, more was expected to start the season. Alabama, Rutgers and Troy won the battle of the trenches with the FIU O-line. The O-line did play well against Toledo, ULM and WKU. Still not consistent enough with the run game and again it could be a combination of both the blocking and the RBs production. Maybe mixing and matching the linemen until a cohesive unit develops is the answer. Freshman Dave Istanich has held his own. Need to find out how effective Cedric Mack can beAaapaw Aaapaw by playing longer stretches -- if his conditioning allows.


Lack of a pass rush and inability to shed blockers have hurt. The D-Line may not be big enough yet to take on some of the O-lines FIU has faced this season. In just about every game this season, opposing QBs have sat in the pocket all day to find receivers. There have been some bright spots. Freshman Tourek Williams is second on the team with 4.5 tackles for loss. Armond Willis is third with 4.0 TOL. Thatcher Starling has also had a few good games. However, FIU needs much more from this unit to have a betterAaapaw Lilcanada second half.


You can't say enough of the jobs Scott Bryant and Toronto Smith (left, thanks AJH photo) have done -- Nos. 1 and 2 in tackles on the team. Little Canada leads the team with 8 TOL. Winston Fraser has been effective with 27 tackles (5th on the team) and 3 TOLs. However, this unit was supposed to be the strength of the D and like the rest of the D has had its share of missed tackles. We might see more of the heralded freshmen such asAaapaw Aaapaw Pooh Bear Mars, Kenny Dillard and Markeith Russell in the final six games.


After Anthony Gaitor, the jury is still out here. Gaitor has played well again for the third consecutive season with 2 INTs and 4 pass breakups. Losing Ash Parker again for the season is a big blow. Chuck Grace has done a decent job filling in and leads the team with 6 pass breakups. FIU needs to establish another solid starting corner opposite Gaitor. With all the secondary injuries (Dez Johnson out for the season, KregAaapaw Aaapaw Brown - ankle) might be time for Jarrell McGee and the freshmen to step up.


If Carlos Munera (right, thanks Roy Viera photo) is not named All-Sun Belt first team punter then there should be an investigation. Consistently, this season CM has set up the FIU D with the opposing O in not-so-good field position. If CM's keeps up his season, he could get a chance to punt on Sundays. Hell of a special teams weaponMuneracarlos here.

Dustin Rivest has gotten better as the season has progressed and has shown a much stronger leg than last season. We have not gotten to the point of -- as sorely missed former FIU Spanish radio broadcaster Jerry of the Castle used to say about former FIU kicker Adam Moss's kicks: "Por el medio de la calle Flagler" -- but DR has been pretty automatic of late and kicking with a lot of confidence.

Kick returners Goodbye, Frierson and Times have had a solid start returning kicks. No. 4 took it to the house on what is now the No. 1 team in the nation. Frierson has been steady and had a good gameAaapawAaapaw Aaapaw AaapawAaapaw against Troy. Times showed what he could do against the Trojans.

* Send in your mid-season review of the Panthers and let's see how we compare.


Aaapaw Thursday is your chance to preview the upcoming FIU basketball season with the Alumni Panther Preview with new coach Isiah Thomas at 7:30 p.m. at U.S. Century Bank Arena. You can meet some of the newest Panthers and IT as well. It's a similar event to the football preview back in August with MC. The event is free and open to the public.


UltimateFIUFan: What is the status of Anthony Gaitor & Greg Ellison? Will TY be 100% for ASU?

PP: Will have updated injury report after Tuesday's practice, which is where I'm finishing this blog up from.

mia/ny josh: Pete, since you obviously have the capabilities to show who is and who isnt...please confirm for the masses that I am not Crazy Cane

PP: mia/ny josh and Crazy Cane are two different people. Just a couple of fans of the school from across town that also are fans of FIU.

Aaapaw Will have FIU/Arkansas State LIVE BLOG for you from Jonesboro, Ark. at 6:45 p.m. Miami time on Saturday.

WIN A GPP BLOG WEEK 6 STANDINGS (FIU/Arkansas State scores due by 6:59 p.m. Eastern GPP Time on Saturday)


Fomenter (93)


FIU0406 (81), FIU PantherFan (102), NYCFIUFan (115), CrazyCane (142), MIA/NY Josh (147)


Puma (87), quijote (88), FIU Fanatic (98),BaltimorePanther (102), TheChampionUnderdog (112), FIUcanesFan (119)


Joel (93), CJ (98), theINTERNATIONAL (113)


LonePanther (79), Clawing Cancer (90), Golden Panther 90 (97), SouthPaw (119) 


Tri-Panther (130), Max (132), FIUer (176)

GPP: 5-1, (77)

October 17, 2009

Game 6: Troy vs. FIU LIVE BLOG

Nice, breezy evening here at FIU Stadium. Lots of black around as the crowd is filing in. The GoldenFiuhelmet Dazzlers are sporting new black uniforms and your Panthers have their black tops on for "Blackout Night".

It's the visiting Troy Trojans -- and no they are NOT wearing black unless you count theTroy color of their facemasks or their warm-up shorts. The Trojans are wearing all white uniforms with their maroon helmets.

Your Panthers have their new black tops with a gold stripe down each side of the shirt. FIU is wearing its dark blue pants. But enough with the fashion blog. The uniforms are not going to help upset Troy, the Panthers have to run the ball, stop the run and score plenty of points.

The rain has stayed away from FIU Stadium and we're just about set for kickoff.

Oh, yeah and that guy with a No. 4 for FIU is expected to play.

October 16, 2009

Troy/FIU Preview: Does It Come In Black?

n the spirit of the whole "Blackout Night" at FIU Stadium on Saturday for the Troy/FIU Blk game this post is written in all bold black.

Your Panthers will be sporting nifty new black adidas jerseys and you are encouraged to wear black as well to the game.

So we know FIU and most of you will be in black on Saturday, but does an FIU win come in black?

Let's see Troy will most likely be the toughest game for FIU since the Alabama opener. The Trojans enter FIU Stadium as probably the most complete team since the Crimson Tide that FIU faced in the season opener.

Troy QB Levi Brown and his fast weapons such as Jerrel Jernigan (Troy's No. 3 is their answer to FIU's No. 4), Tebiarus Gill, DuJuan Harris and Shawn Southward to name a few are likely salivating reading FIU's run defense numbers from the first 5 games of the season.

Apete The Panthers have given up in rushing yardage this season: 275 yards (Alabama), 160 (Rutgers), 223 (Toledo), 304 (ULM) and 263 (WKU) last week.

Now Troy's offensive strength is the passing game, plus a little Wildcat, but if FIU doesn't find a way to somehow stop the run, not only will Trojan running backs look like Adrian Peterson (left), but Brown and the receivers will have a field day. This game has the potential to get ugly on scoreboard for FIU.

On offense, FIU has done a nice job in its last 3 games averaging 34.3 points per game, but the Panthers have not faced a defensive front 7 since Alabama like they will see on Saturday. Four of Troy's front 7 were named to the Preseason All-Sun Belt team. These Trojan defenders are quick and powerful and could make for a long day for Paul McCall and the rest of the FIU O.

These are not the Hilltoppers on D, but if FIU can establish the type of running game it had last week at WKU and control the clock -- ala the Dolphins -- then it could get interesting.

Of course having T.Y. Hilton at 100 percent would definitely help FIU, but No. 4 doesn't play defense and that's where this game will be decided. Troy will take advantage of the FIU D and the Panthers O will score, but not as easily as it has been doing the last 3Jackie weeks.

FIU is 0-5 all-time against Troy and is a 10-point underdog on Saturday.

Now stranger things have happened before and Jackie (right) calls for a forecast on Saturday night's of heavy rain which could play a part in this game.

But I just can't see the Panthers keeping up with the Trojans. I will say this: if FIU wins on Saturday, it will be the greatest win in the 7+year history of the program. The 2005 first Sun Belt win at Louisiana-Monroe comes close, but this Troy team is so much better than that ULM team and the Trojans are rolling and clicking in all facets of the game right now.

Tell me I'm wrong about my predicted score below, around 10:30 p.m. on Saturday.

GPP says: Troy 42, FIU 23

October 15, 2009

Troy Story & A 4-Free Blog

Before we get you some information on the Troy Trojans from the Dothan Eagle's Troy beat writer Drew Champlin, here are some updates from Thursday's practice.

Favre There were some readers that posted in the last blog that we've been writing too much about T.Y. Hilton in the last couple of posts. Well, the GPP's customer service department suggested we make this post a 100% TY--free post. (Yes, I know I got this idea from Sports Illustrated and their No. 4 Brett Favre-free issue) So here's a blog that I wrote during today's practice.

Among the receivers that practiced were Greg Ellingson, Ty Frierson, Wayne Times, Marquis Rolle, Jacob Younger, Ariel Martinez, Rockey Vann, Jairus Williams, Larry McCoy and wait there looks like a 4 practicing, no wait that's No. 84, Elliott Dix (right, thanks Sam Lewis photo) 

Returning kicks were Frierson, Times and Darian Mallary.Dix

Hold on a second, is that a 4 wearing a non-contact orange jersey? No, that's No. 34 Winston Fraser.

OK, time for special teams drills now.....looks like 4 is going in on special teams, nope, that's No. 24 Emmanuel Souarin.

Now wait a minute, OK, here's the 4 we know and remember as he's running hard down the field. Oops didn't see the other 4 on his jersey. That would be No. 44 Scott Bryant (left, thanks Roy Viera photo).

Bryantoso Ok, wait here is 4 on the second team offense delivering a solid block. Ah, Rupert Bryan tricked me, that's No. 54 with the solid block.

However, there was a former Miami Springs receiver that was running routes and catching passes during individual drills and I'm going to let you guess his jersey number. (Hint: it's an even number between 3 & 5)

For those that don't want to read about complete injury updates from Thursday's practice, then now is the time to type some other address into your web browser. You can come back to the GPP, after skipping the following paragraph or just scroll down to get Troy information.

MC's take after practice Thursday on freshman All-American No. 4, who is a former Miami Springs standout receiver:

"We are happy that he is progressing. Whether he’s game ready we won’t know until game time . . . It’s going to be him coming out here [on game day] and the doctor watching him run around and we’ll go from there.”

On to Troy....

Here's Drew's View on the Trojans and what to expect in Saturday's game and Drew Champlin (right) tells me he never woreDrew No. 4 when he played football:

1) How often does Troy run the Wildcat out of their offense and which Trojan runs that scheme the best?

Drew: They've done it more and more as the season has gone along. Troy did it once in the first half with Jerrel Jernigan, but a few more times in the second half with Dantavious Parker. I hesitate to call it the Wildcat with Parker, because he's a legit QB, but he's a guy that can really run the ball. He runs the scheme the best because he can also throw the ball. He'll fight for the starting QB spot next year.

2) What are the strengths of the Trojans offense and where are the Trojans vulnerable on offense?

Drew: Starting QB Levi Brown is very accurate and he's got some weapons that can go deep, like sophomore Chip Reeves. TeBiarus Gill and Josh Jarboe are deep threats, but have been hampered with nagging injuries lately. Of course, there's Jerrel Jernigan who is to Troy what Hilton is to FIU. Other receivers, such as Cornelius Williams and Zack Marcum, are solid guys that can catch and run. The run game has been spotty, but no one has had a breakout game yet because carries are being more divided this year between two guys - 1,000-yard rusher DuJuan Harris and freshman Shawn Southward. Where Troy would be most vulnerable is if guys like Gill and Jarboe continue to be banged up, but I think both will be ready Saturday.

3) FIU has been praising the Troy front seven on defense. If you were FIU coach Mario Cristobal, how would you go about attacking Troy's defense?

Drew: Short, quick passes to speed guys and hope you can break some tackles. Troy's front line can really get to the QB and the linebackers are as good as they come, so I'd be putting pressure on the Tele secondary, which had four new starters this year and isn't that deep.

4) Do your best John Madden or Cris Collinsworth and tell us how FIU finds a way to pull off the upset?

Drew: It happens because FIU feeds off an energetic home crowd (assuming it's energetic), scores very early, maybe on the opening kickoff or a defensive score, and never lets Troy get a feel for the game. Arkansas State went up 10-0 on Troy, but never completely had momentum. Also, FIU must win the turnover battle if it wants to pull off the upset. I'd hate to say a key player or two needs to get hurt for Troy, but I think Troy wins at ULM last year if linebacker Bear Woods was healthy.

5) Your game prediction and final score?

Drew: If FIU was 4-1 or at the least 2-0 in the league and without those injuries, I'd think they had a better shot to pull off the upset. The Golden Panthers will get their points, but Troy's offense is really in high gear. Could be several big plays on both sides. I'll go Troy 34-20.

Will have the GPP's Troy/FIU preview and prediction on here at some point Friday.


Aaapaw GPP LIVE BLOG  for Troy/FIU game begins around 6:45 p.m. on Saturday. Here are a couple of things to keep in mind for the live blog on Cover It Live:

1) Starting last week vs. WKU, I increased the size of the window to its maximum, but the way the blog program works by making the window larger it takes away the scroll button. However, you can still view previous comments by using your arrow keys.

2) Also, there are only 25 spots to be an unmoderated reader/commentator which allows you to post comments without my approval.

If you are 1 of the first 25 to log-on on Saturday AND I think you will contribute some worthwhile comments then I will go ahead and approve you as unmoderated.

After the 25 spots are taken up, I then have to approve each comment from each reader. So if your comment takes a minute or so to show up it's because I'm busy either writing down the previous play for my notes on the game, working on the FIU/Troy notebook for Sunday's paper or posting on the blog at the moment. At that time, I am not able to publish what you posted, but I will eventually get to it.


Ultimate FIU Fan: Pete, probabilities of TY playing on Sat.?

PP: I'm not a doctor, nor do I play one on TV, but if you asked me for a guess I would say 90% chance that he plays. He looked better today running around and catching passes.

chiapanther: why is freddy pic on basketball page?

PP: Already relayed the message to the FIU athletic department.

pantherpual: Pete we understand that TY Hilton is a prtetty good player but come dude, can you post an article on some of the other players at times?

PP: How about this post above talking about all the other receivers. Plus, Winston Fraser, Scott Bryant, Rupert Bryan, Darian Mallary and Emmanuel Souarin.

zintutor: Pete wouldn't a red shirt be worth giving Junior Mertile if he is behind on rehabing his knee injury?

PP: Both Junior and Dudley LaPorte are eligibile for redshirts since they have played in less than 30 percent of the team's games. Yes, if JM is behind then a redshirt would be the way to go.

Congratulations to Golden Dazzler Vanessa for being chosen as Sports Illustrated's Cheerleader of the Week....quick raise your hand if you enjoy reading the GPP.Daaz................




October 14, 2009

M.I.K.I.F.W. Update; FIU Voter Revealed; 1st Hoops Practice

T.Y. Hilton and the M.I.K.I.F.W. Mikifw
sat out practice again on Wednesday. Goodbye did some light jogging, stretching and exercise bike.

Here's MC's take on Goodbye on Wednesday: "He seems a little bit better. With an injury like that, when you get treatment sometimes it's every two or three hours you feel a little bit better, you feel a little bit worse. If he can practice, great. If he cannot practice, then other guys have to continue to step up."

Good news on the injury front: running back Darriet Perry, center Brad Serini and receiver Marquis Rolle all practiced and should be ready to go for Saturday.


Some of you were wondering who was the Sun Belt coach who voted FIU to win the conference title in theBlake preseason? It was Troy head coach Larry Blakeney (right). Trojans beat writer Drew Champlin from the Dothan Eagle asked Blakeney about FIU after the vote and these were Blakeney's thoughts as Drew told me:

"He's aware at how much talent FIU had returning and coming in, and knew how fast the Golden Panthers are. If there's a team that can match Troy or even outrun Troy, it's FIU. Plus, FIU has Troy at home so the schedule played up well."


Your 2009-2010 FIU basketball team makes it debut on Saturday at 12 noon as the Panthers open practice under first-year coach Isiah Thomas (left). There is no midnight madness and practice is open to the media only and for just the first 10 minutes. Will be there and have a story for you in Sunday's paper and Isiah some blog material.

Will start having some posts on the hoops team soon. The team roster is out on the FIU sports website. You can check it out here: FIU hoops roster

Not much size on this year's team, which could lead to a similar season as the first seasons for MC and TT. Newcomers Jeremy Allen (Central Michigan) and Brandon Moore (Arkansas) have to sit out a season, because of NCAA transfer rules.



FIUGP: Pete, What's the reasoning behind the "blackout" game? Aren't Troy's colors "black snd red"? I noticed the coaches sporting black polo's on the sideline during the ULM game. Is FIU looking to make a color change to "black and gold"?

PP: Blackout games are becoming a tradition around college football and now it's FIU's turn. FIU is not looking to change to Pittsburgh Steelers colors.

KJHarris02: Does anyone know which radio station is airing the FIU game?

PP: Game is on 790 AM.

ridgepanther: BTW TY does not practice and MC says he will not play if he does not practice, the next second Serini misses practice and he will? can you esplain plees?

PP: Serini was expected to and did practice on Wednesday and that's why "he would be good to go on Saturday" when that was said on Tuesday.

** If we had a post/comment of the week award -- sort of like a Player of the Week like they hand out inComm different sports -- then FIUfantastic is this week's winner.

Like I wrote in the last post, when I get on-line each day I will take care of the abusive, vulgar comments each time you post one. However, for you FIU fans read FIUfantastic's following comment and try to understand that you are not the only ones that care about FIU:

FIUfantastic wrote: "I heart anyone who cares enough about FIU football (and sports, in general) to take time out of their busy day to stop by this blog and comment. Even if it's negative; I personally welcome it and I'm happy to ready their comments. Thank you!"


October 12, 2009

TY....OK; FIU Mo For Troy; Rosa Wins The Rosa Award

Hiltonty You can all let out a collective sigh of relief as receiver T.Y. Hilton is doing just fine after an MRI this morning revealed that he has just a sprained knee.

Inter The most interesting knee in the FIU world will be there with the rest of No. 4 (left, thanks Alex J. Hernandez photo) on Saturday for a 7 p.m. kickoff against Troy.

Extremely tough task awaits your Panthers when the Trojans arrive in Miami later this week. The most complete team in the Sun Belt is FIU's next opponent.

A much needed win against Western Kentucky last Saturday provides some momentum for FIU going against Troy.

It was good to see other playmakers pick it up when No. 4 was not around. Greg Ellingson and Ty FriersonFriersonty (right, thanks AJH photo) are reliable targets for Paul McCall despite not having the breakaway speed of Goodbye -- but then again not too many people have that Road Runner elusiveness and speed that No. 4 possesses.

Saturday also showed what a healthy Daunte Owens can do. We saw sneak peeks of DO last year at Troy and North Texas and DO showed more of it vs. WKU. DO provides size and speed carrying the ball and is a very nice complement to Darriet Perry. And you cannot forget Darian Mallary, who has yet to be given that little space to break one for 6.

Although they won't be mistaken for the "Hogs" of the Redskins glory years, the FIU O-Line has gotten better as the season has progressed. They kept PMC clean the past few games and opened holes in the running game on Saturday like they did vs. Toledo. If they can do that against Troy, then maybe we'll give them mulligans for the first two games of the season.

Not everything is to be lauded from Saturday's win. The ineffectiveness of FIU's run D is still a mystery to be solved and it needs to be fixed for Troy, because another mobile QB is ready to face the Panthers.

Troy QB Levi Brown and backup QB/Wildcat operator Dantavious Parker have the abilities to split the FIU D. The Panthers need their D-linemen to get off those blocks and with the linebackers help stop the run. FIU also has to shore up the tackling. There were some more missed tackles against WKU and those are killers in trying to stop the run.

Rivestd The FIU D did come up with timely stops when it had to against the Hilltoppers. Probably the biggest stop was after WKU recovered the surprise onside kick in the second quarter. Big Ontario Smith and Jonas Murrell had a key sack on that possession to end the WKU drive.

Just as important was kicker Dustin Rivest (left, thanks AJH photo) nailing 3 of 3 FGs -- 2 of them from 39 yds out. Unlike, the previous week when a missed FG against ULM stopped the momentum FIU had built from its 1st quarter TD, this time a made FG gave FIU a 10-0 lead.

DR won the Sun Belt's Special Teams Player of the Week.

We'll get more into the FIU/Troy matchup as the week progresses, but already a 10-point underdog at home (according to Vegas), the Panthers are going to have to play their most complete game of the season to upset the Trojans.


Aaapaw Will have Troy/FIU LIVE BLOG beginning around 6:45 p.m. from FIU Stadium on Saturday.

Aaapaw Just go ahead and name the award after her already....FIU's 3-time All-American Yarimar Rosa (right, thanks AJH photo) won the "Yarimar Rosa Volleyball Player of the Week Award" for the thirdRosa consecutive week, the Sun Belt announced on Monday. The award was formerly known as the Sun Belt Conference's Volleyball Player of the Week Award. Rosa has won it a conference record 12 times in her illustrious career.

Aaapaw CNN will be broadcasting live from FIU's Graham Center Pit tommorrow (Tuesday) from 3 to 4 p.m. Former local news anchor Rick Sanchez will be doing his show at FIU and is expected to interview Isiah Thomas and Pete Garcia. Sanchez accompanied FIU to its season opener at Alabama to do a report on MC and PG. You can see a preview of it tommorrow during the show.

Aaapaw For all those posing as other readers screen names, your comments will be deleted when I get on-line that particular day. Through the MH's blog tracking program, I get all your e-mail addresses and IP numbers so I know when you are an impostor or when you are using multiple names. Keep it clean and your comments will remain, otherwise you will be clawed out.


CarolinaGoldenPanther: Pete, any updates on FIU basketball recruiting? Also, what's the story with Chris Coleman in the '11 class? ESPN shows he decommitted from FIU?

PP: Coleman did decommit, but still has FIU among choices. With Coleman, you have the same problem that was here with FIU's previous center -- a meddling handler. The handler keeps saying that CC is not going to FIU, even though the kid did originally commit to FIU. He's still 2 years away for 2011 so we'll just have to wait and see what happens. Remember, high school kids have a tough enough time trying to pick a flavor of Gatorade to drink. Always have said you have to wait until they sign on the dotted line.

LonePanther: Pete, What is going on with the rushing defense? Is it a problem with the D-line having a push, are the linebackers overpursuing, or is it a coaching/discipline issue?

PP: Looks like the D-line is not shedding blockers, there are too many missed tackles and several times the D is getting fooled by the quarterback's fakes. Against ULM and WKU, there were times when the DWeath would follow the back without the ball while the QB took off running outside with the ball. If FIU can get the run D fixed, this team could take off.

Puma: Pete if we win can the next blog be about her?

PP: FIU 37, WKU 20....You're welcome>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

WIN A GPP BLOG WEEK 5 STANDINGS (Troy/FIU scores due by 6:59 p.m. Eastern GPP Time on Saturday)


Fomenter (77)


FIU0406 (68), FIU PantherFan (85), FIU Fanatic (86), NYCFIUFan (88), CrazyCane (125), MIA/NY Josh (126)


Puma (66), quijote (79), Joel (81), BaltimorePanther (83), SunblazerPanther (85), TheChampionUnderdog (88), FIUcanesFan (102)


LonePanther (67), Clawing Cancer (77), CJ (84), Golden Panther 90 (87, SouthPaw (94), OC FIU Panther (97), theINTERNATIONAL (99)


Tri-Panther (104), Max (110), FIUer (156)

GPP: 4-1, (67)


October 10, 2009


BOWLING GREEN, KY. -- So is this where your Panthers start to turn the season around? It won't be asFiuhelmet easy as it might seem on paper as you read in yesterday's post about all the poor rankings for Western Kentucky.

The Hilltoppers have a new QB in Kawaun Jakes, who gave life to their offense lastWku week. FIU needs the defense that made the trips to Tuscaloosa and Piscataway to show up here in Bowling Green.

Our local weather bunny or wherever Jackie is from, was 33 percent correct in her Saturday forecast for Bowling Green. After a cold, dreary, rainy day on Friday, it is still cold and dreary, but it has not rained today. Regardless, we won't hold it against Jackie.

Gray, cold skies and temperature at 47 degrees (sitting in an open air pressbox)  to begin tonight's game at Houchens Industries-L.T. Smith Stadium -- which by the way Houchens Industries is the local supermarket chain in these here neck of the woods. The Publix of Kentucky. The Panthers hope to make shopping a pleasure here in Bowling Green.

Time for FIU to get it going....

October 09, 2009

FIU/WKU Preview: It's All In The Weather

LOUISVILLE, KY -- Been a cold, rainy and dreary day in the home of Colonel Sanders and LouisvilleCol Slugger.  

Staying about 2 hours away from Bowling Green (no commercial flights into there) -- home of the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers -- and been told the weather is the same down there today on Friday. It's sort of like the weather here can sum up the season thus far for your Panthers.

But watching the local weather bunny on TV here and she says the forecast for Saturday in both Louisville and Bowling Green is for clear, sunny skies and temps in the upper 50's to low 60's for the 7 p.m. kickoff Weath between FIU and WKU. (What's that you say, that's not a Louisville meterologist on the left?)

So maybe the change in the weather here portends to a change in the Panthers season as well after Saturday's game.

It certainly won't be easy as we have seen that FIU does not make anything easy this season. Just in time for the Panthers, WKU changed quarterbacks from the ineffective and immobile Brandon Smith to the accurate and fleet-footed Kawaun Jakes -- which is the type of QB that has always given FIU fits. (See: Dasher, Dwight [Middle Tennessee]; Revell, Trey [ULM])

Jakes led the Hilltoppers to their best offensive output of the season last week against Navy -- 22 points and 434 yards of total offense. FIU D better be ready for this dude.

If we look at the national stats, it seems it could be a good day for the FIU O. On defense, WKU is ranked at or near the bottom of many categories.

In scoring D: WKU is No. 120 out of 120 Division I teams allowing 41 points per game. WKU is also dead last in rushing yards allowed per game (299.75) and No. 118 in total D (499.5 yards per game).

FIU's offense has to score and score a hell of a whole lot on this defense to not give WKU any hope ofTwain springing the upset. (Yes, FIU is favored by 3 in Las Vegas)

In scoring offense, WKU is No. 119 (12.2 points per game) and No. 119 in total offense.

But then you factor in FIU's poor play on D the last two weeks and check the Panthers defensive rankings: No. 120 in total D -- 513 yards per game; No. 116 in scoring D -- 38 points per game and No. 117 in rushing D -- 240.5 yards per game and this could very well be an offensive shootout.

The Panthers hope the WKU stats hold true and that the FIU D's stats justify Mark Twain: "There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics". Why not with a Twain reference, since we are bordering his home state of Missouri.

FIU can in no way, shape or form come into this game overconfident or it will get gashed. If the Panthers play 4 quarters of football -- not 1 half or a quarter like has been the case this season. Run the ball like they did vs. Toledo and score each time they have a chance [that's TDs & FGs] and the FIU D that was last seen in Tuscaloosa and Piscataway shows up then it should be a happy flight home for your Panthers to Miami late Saturday night into early Sunday morning. If not, despite the projected 90-degree, sunny and clear skies forecast for Miami on Sunday, it could be cold, rainy and dreary along SW 8 Street.

GPP says: FIU 38, WKU 27

Aaapaw The GPP LIVE BLOG for the FIU/WKU game will begin at 6:45 p.m. on Saturday night right here. It is a 7 p.m. game, so that screws with my deadlines and will have to leave the blog probably near the end of the third quarter to start writing for Sunday's paper. BUT I will leave the blog open for you good people to go at it.

October 08, 2009

The View From the Hilltop

Will be on here on Friday from Louisville, Kentucky with a preview and prediction of Saturday's game between FIU and WKU.

Before we get to a look at the Hilltoppers from WKU beat writer Nick Baumgardner, here are a couple ofOwens practice notes that could play a part in Saturday's game.

Daunte Owens (right) continues to get more reps in practice and MC said he could see DO becoming a part of an RB rotation with Darian Mallary after Darriet Perry. DO has shown he can break some runs in the past (North Texas and Troy games last season) and with a little bigger size than DM, he could help out. MC said DM is still going to get his carries, because if he gets any kind of opening he can go for 6 from any point on the field.

Freshman linebacker Kenny Dillard (left) is seeing more practice time this week as he heals from an ankle injury. KD was the Herald's Defensive Player of the Year last season at Miami Northwestern. MC says about KD: "There is a guy that has to Kdill play."

Here is Nick's take on the WKU Hilltoppers and what FIU can expect on Saturday:

1) How much better is QB Kawaun Jakes than Brandon Smith and what has he done for the WKU offense?


In a word – infinitely. Jakes has shown the ability not only to make throws while under pressure, but also the ability to escape pressure, buy time with his feet and execute the zone-read option properly. Though he's only a redshirt freshman and Smith a fifth-year senior, Jakes seems immensely calmer and much more under control during the game.


He's got quicker feet and probably a better arm. There really isn't much of a comparison at this point. The biggest thing he seems to have done for the offense is give people some confidence. It didn't get any worse than the first three games offensively for WKU, and having a bright spot to cling onto has definitely brightened some spirits. But, he's only started one game, so we'll see how it continues.



2) Are the nearly 300 rushing yards per game given up by the Toppers D a result of a tough early scheduleWku or a lack of talent?


I'd have to say both. Navy obviously runs the ball more than just about anyone in the country, Tennessee wanted to run the ball heavily in the season-opener and Matt Grothe absolutely made a difference in the loss to South Florida. But more than that, WKU is extremely small and inexperienced up front – and has gotten virtually no production from its defensive line.


The inside linebackers play tough, but too often it seems they're fighting off two or three blockers at a time. This isn't anything new, as the Hilltoppers were basically handed their lunch on a weekly basis when it came to opposition's rush attacks last season. It's been an ongoing problem, and so far, they haven't found a solution.


Jakes 3) Who else on offense besides Jakes (left) should the FIU D keep an eye on this Saturday?


Senior receiver Jake Gaebler makes his return this week after missing the last two games with a hamstring injury. He's something around 20 catches away from setting the school record for career receptions, and obviously the team's top wideout.


Outside of that, sophomore running back Bobby Rainey can be pretty electric if and when he gets rolling. Health and ball security have always been issues for him (he didn't play in this game last season), but when he gets things clicking, he's as good as any back in the league.


4) What are WKU's strengths and weaknesses this season so far?


There really haven't been many strengths to speak of. There have been flashes of strengths, but nothing consistent enough to call a true positive. WKU has been handled in basically all four games this season, and it wasn't until last week that the Hilltoppers finally showed signs of life.


If nothing else, I think for the first time this year the team has hope. As far as weaknesses go, the overall youth of the squad has presented a problem. The defense starts just two seniors and most of the primary backups are redshirt freshman, sophomores or juniors who haven't played much. And more than anything, Tywku the offensive and defensive lines have yet to put together four solid quarters of football.


5) Your prediction and score?


I think WKU is getting close to snapping that massive losing skid (now a nation-long 12 games), but I don't think it'll happen this week. FIU seems to have too much talent and too many playmakers. I think it'll be close, but I'll side with Paul McCall and T.Y. Hilton.


FIU 24, WKU 21






October 07, 2009

FIU 2009-2010 Hoops Schedule

The schedule for the Panthers first season under new coach Isiah Thomas is out and there are plenty of road games.

FIU will play 18 of its 31 games away from U.S. Century Bank Arena beginning with the defending national champion North Carolina Tar Heels on Nov. 9 on ESPNU.

Like it was mentioned in Tuesday's post, the home opener is against Florida Memorial on Nov. 17 and then FIU hosts the Miami Sub-Regional of the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic.

From late November until New Year's Eve, FIU will be on the road with games at Bowling Green, Florida State and the start of Sun Belt play at Denver and North Texas.

Here's the full sked:

2009-10 Men’s Basketball Schedule


Date     Opponent     Site     Time (ET)


 9 (Mon.)    at North Carolina (ESPNU)     Chapel Hill, N.C.     7:00 pm

13 (Fri.)     at Monmouth     West Long Branch, N.J.     7:00 pm

15 (Sun.)     at Tulsa     Tulsa, Okla.     3:00 pm

17 (Tue.)     FLORIDA MEMORIAL     U.S. Century Bank Arena     8:00 pm


2K Sports Classic Benefiting Coaches vs. Cancer

20 (Fri.)     North Carolina Central     7:00 pm   

22 (Sun.)     James Madison     6:00 pm

23 (Mon.)  Murray State       7:00 pm    


28 (Sat.)     at Eastern Kentucky     Richmond, Ky.     7:00 pm

30 (Mon.)     at Bowling Green     Bowling Green, Ohio     7:00 pm



  3 (Thu.)     at Florida A&M     Tallahassee, Fla.     7:30 pm

  6 (Sun.)     at Florida State     Tallahassee, Fla.     1:00 pm

12 (Sat.)     at Florida Gulf Coast     Fort Myers, Fla.     7:30 pm

17 (Thu.)     at Denver*     Denver, Colo.     9:00 pm

20 (Sun.)     at North Texas*     Denton, Texas     4:00 pm

22 (Tue.)     at Sam Houston State     Huntsville, Texas     8:00 pm

31 (Thu.)     SOUTH ALABAMA*     U.S. Century Bank Arena     Noon



  2 (Sat.)     at New Orleans*     New Orleans, La.     5:30 pm

  7 (Thu.)     ULM*     U.S. Century Bank Arena     8:00 pm

  9 (Sat.)     TROY*     U.S. Century Bank Arena     8:00 pm

14 (Thu.)     at Middle Tennessee*     Murfreesboro, Tenn.     8:00 pm

16 (Sat.)     at WKU*     Bowling Green, Ky.     TBA

21 (Thu.)     ARKANSAS STATE*     U.S. Century Bank Arena     8:00 pm

23 (Sat.)     ARKANSAS-LITTLE ROCK*     U.S. Century Bank Arena     8:00 pm

30 (Sat.)     at Florida Atlantic*     Boca Raton, Fla.     7:00 pm



  4 (Thu.)     at Louisiana-Lafayette*     Lafayette, La.     8:05 pm

  6 (Sat.)     NORTH TEXAS*     U.S. Century Bank Arena     2:00 pm

11 (Thu.)     at South Alabama*     Mobile, Ala.     8:05 pm

13 (Sat.)     at Troy*     Troy, Ala.     8:30 pm

18 (Thu.)     FLORIDA ATLANTIC*     U.S. Century Bank Arena     8:00 pm

25 (Thu.)     MIDDLE TENNESSEE*     U.S. Century Bank Arena     8:00 pm

27 (Sat.)     WKU*     U.S. Century Bank Arena     8:00 pm



6-9 (Sat.-Tue.)     at Sun Belt Conference Tournament     Hot Springs, Ark.


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