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.
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.
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.
Late breakfast with the GPP on Halloween Saturday....GPP LIVE BLOG of Louisiana 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)
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)
Golden Panther 90 (122), Clawing Cancer (136), SouthPaw (146)
Tri-Panther (173), FIUer (237)
GPP: 6-1, (112)