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24 posts from October 2009

October 06, 2009

DLP Out; Jr. On The Way In; Put Down The Pitchforks

Laportedudley Back to practice Tuesday for your Panthers as they prepare for Western Kentucky on Saturday, but FIU will have to go on this season without a key cog to the offense as starting tight end Dudley LaPorte broke his foot against ULM and is out for the season.

DLP broke the foot when he landed awkwardly on the 14-yd TD pass from Paul McCall.

DLP is eligible to take a redshirt this season, since he played in less than 30 percent of his team's games which would leave him with 2 years of eligibility.

Tight end Eric Kirchenberg had surgery for an abdominal injury and is now expected to miss the season. That leaves Jonathan Faucher as the starter, Colt Anderson, John Ellis and Joey Harris as the backups. Harris, a tight end in high school, moves back to his old position after working on the defensive line this summer.

Good news on the injury front, receiver Junior Mertile (right, thanks Alex J. Hernandez photo), thought to be out for the season after a knee tear at Rutgers, had surgery last week and the tear wasn't as bad as initially thought. With a strong rehab, JM could be back in 3 to 4 weeks which could have him back for either Middle Tennessee (Nov. 7) or North Texas (Nov. 14).

There is no doubt season-ending injuries to key starters have hit the Panthers hard (safety Ash Parker), Mertile but FIU has bigger issues to solve to get going this season -- mainly the running game on both sides of the ball.

Once again, the Panthers run D was pushed around for the second consecutive game: 304 rush yards by the Warhawks the week after Toledo ran for 223 yards. And this was after FIU looked like it was in for a game of stout run D judging by its performance in the first quarter against ULM.

Asked MC about the run D vs. ULM after Tuesday's practice and this is what the FIU coach had to say after reviewing the game film:

"It needs work. Is our talent level where we need it to be? No. Do we play with great effort? Yes, but sometimes that is not enough. Those guys have to continue to get better, have to continue to get better push upfront and then when you are in a position to make a play, you have to make a play. Especially, playing so many spread offenses the ball is well-hidden. So if a guy misses a tackle, typically for a guy for each gap, if you don’t make that tackle someone else may not be there to save your butt unless they make a great play getting off the block. It all starts upfront. I know they are putting a ton of time into it, but we’re not where we need to be at all. We only know one way and that’s to get to work. You get your butt up at 5 in the morning and work until late at night and get it fixed and get better."

More than their own running game (which we'll get to in a second), the Panthers have to find a solution to the run D quickly or tougher upcoming opponents such as Troy, Arkansas State, Louisiana, Middle Tennessee and of course Florida will have a field day on offense. And not to discount Western Kentucky, because in the last two games FIU has not proven it can stop the run.

With the exception of Toledo, FIU has not been able to run the ball this season. The Panthers had 148 yards on the ground against the Rockets and Darriet Perry averaged nearly 4 yards per carry in that game so the ability to run the ball effectively is there.

Owensdaunte Although it was limited duty, Daunte Owens (left, thanks Roy Viera photo) showed he could contribute with 7 and 12-yard runs. Thought it was a good idea to mix it up with the backs and bring in the bigger Owens to spell DP and then bring in Darian Mallary. Still, the run game and the run blocking have to be more consistent if FIU is to have sustained success on O.

Yet, with a struggling running game the Panthers still put up 35 points and when they did run the ball 2 weeks ago, FIU scored 31 points. Scoring 35 and 31 points should be enough to win ball games.

For a team that is still trying to find itself this season, FIU cannot rack up 11 penalties for 106 yards. For a team whose margin for error is minimal right now, those yellow hankies are back breakers or as MC called them "drive killers".

Four of the 11 penalties on Saturday were pre-snap penalties, which is a lack of focus. That has to be cleaned up.

It's year three under MC and FIU is 0-4. Nobody said building a program that was at the ground floor after 2006's winless season was going to be easy. This isn't fantasy football where Mario's Maulers can just swing a 3 for 1 trade with Touchdown Truckers or search the waiver wire for help.

For those that have already started the "fire MC" chants with torches and pitchforks in hand, please put down the torches and the pitchforks and get yourself your favorite adult beverage and make it a double if Mob need be.

MC inherited: a team with no depth, not having a full allotment of scholarships for the first three years of recruiting (FIU gets its 25 scholies back in February 2010), a program on academic probation and questionable talent. After two years and four games, FIU has had its largest win improvement in program history from one season to the next from 2007 to 2008. At the beginning of last season, FIU was getting blown out of games and now although the Panthers have not won -- they have been in every game this season where the offense struggled for the first 2 games and the defense struggled in the last two games. With a better D and a better run game, FIU is 3-1 or 2-2 right now.

But the Panthers do not have those records and that has to be fixed.

You are witnessing this season some of the growing pains of building a program. That's not to say the Panthers get a hall pass for their performances the past couple of weeks, because they don't especially  after showing flashes of the team it can be this season.

FIU has played well in spurts this season such as the first 3 quarters against Alabama, FIU D's performance against Rutgers and the 1st qtr vs. ULM. The Panthers have just not been able to put 4 quarters of football together this season.

If it can fix its run D, start running the ball and curb the penalties, FIU can still be a good team this season -- Sun Belt champ-good, not likely -- but play close to .500 ball and keep building.


Aaapaw The FIU basketball schedule is out. After their season opener at North Carolina, the Panthers will open up at home against Florida Memorial on Nov. 17.

Aaapaw Two weeks back from injury and two consecutive Sun Belt Player of the Week awards for FIU's 3-time All-American Yarimar Rosa as the Panthers volleyball team is off to its best start inYr program history at 15-2.

Aaapaw Will have a LIVE FIU/WKU GAME BLOG from Bowling Green, Kentucky on Saturday at 6:45 p.m. Miami time. Unfortunately, the game is not on TV and there is no live video feed from WKU's website. So your options are following the game on here or listening to 1080 AM.

WIN A GPP BLOG WEEK 4 STANDINGS (FIU/WKU scores due by 6:59 p.m. Eastern GPP Time on Saturday)


FIUrulez (54), Fomenter (74), Crazy Cane (101), MIA/NY Josh (103)


FIU0406 (54), FIU Fanatic (71), NYCFIUFan (73), FIUPantherFan (74), esteban688 (96)


Puma (50), BaltimorePanther (57), quijote (65), Gooch7 (74), SunblazerPanther (75), Joel (78), TheChampionUnderdog (79), Gold (91), FIU Love (92), FIUcanesFan (99)


LonePanther (63), Golden Panther 90 (70)

CJ (71), Clawing Cancer (71)

CarolinaGoldenPanther (76), SouthPaw (83), theINTERNATIONAL (89), OC FIU Panther (91)


Max (94), Tri-Panther (98), FIUer (123)

GPP: 3-1, (59)



October 03, 2009


MONROE, La. -- Welcome to Monroe, Louisiana and Malone Stadium, home of the ULM Warhawks whereFiuhelmet your Panthers will be looking for their first win of the season here and where four yearsUlm ago, FIU won its first-ever Division I game.

It is a chamber of commerce day here in northwest Louisiana. Clear, blue skies and temps in high 70's.

Can FIU make history again and spoil ULM's homecoming? We're about 15-20 minutes from kickoff so let's go live blogging....

* The live coverage will display below. Press the play button to launch. It may take up to a minute to load.

October 02, 2009

FIU/ULM Preview: Start & Finish Strong Like Cletus

JACKSON, Miss. -- Yes, you read the dateline right. Staying overnight here in the city named after theAj prez on the 20 dollar bill or is it the Peter Gammons look-a-like. It's about two hoursGammons away from Monroe, Louisiana.

Here in Jackson because there are no commercial flights into Monroe regional airport and the Pelegrin private jet is still being built. Flew in today, will drive early Saturday morning to Monroe, but no need to take any train and that's where the Steve Martin/John Candy reference ends.

So here from Jackson -- "The City of Soul" -- comes your FIU/ULM preview. And there's plenty of football soul in these parts with Mississippi State, Ole Miss and Southern Miss in state and it even extends beyond that to include your FIU Panthers.

At lunch, the waiter at the restaurant -- we'll call him Cletus -- kept talking to another waitress and then to yours truly, how a goose bit his leg while he was jogging on Thursday. Now you can cue the "Andy Griffith" Ag theme song here, because this isn't Miami.

However, later on Cletus asked what I was doing in Mi-double s-i-double s-i-double p-i (that's how I learned to spell the state's name) and I told him I was here for an FIU/ULM football game in the state next door.

Cletus, a University of Houston grad, knew a lot about FIU. He said "Florida International sure" and he started talking about T.Y. Hilton, Isiah Thomas and he said "they'all got a heck of a baseball coach in Turtle Thomas, who was at LSU and there was a former Dolphins backup quarterback that was the coach there when they started football earlier this decade, right? See I know my college football."

Cletus sure does. In a way, Cletus reminded me a little of your Panthers the last couple of weeks. Both Cletus and FIU got off to slow starts, but came on strong in the second half.

Which leads us to Saturday's Sun Belt Conference opener for FIU at ULM. FIU needs to play four quarters of football on Saturday to start the conference season at 1-0.

Malone Stadium was the sight of FIU's first-ever Division I win back in 2005, 31-29 (photo, right). The Panthers are 1-2 inFiuulm the building and 1-4 overall against the Warhawks.

The Panthers have to score early and often, because the ULM offense is much better than last season, because of quarterback Trey Revell.

Besides being a mobile QB, which is the type of QB that has given FIU trouble in the past, Revell can also throw the ball, which was not the strength of last year's ULM QB Kinsmon Lancaster. Revell reminds me a little of Arkansas State dual-threat QB Corey Leonard, who has hurt FIU in the past and awaits on Oct. 24.

ULM also has a potent running back in Frank Goodin and speed (Luther Ambrose) and size (6-3 LeGregory Sapp) at the receivers.

This could be as dangerous an offense as Toledo.

Defensively, ULM runs a 3-3-5 scheme that is designed to stop the spread offenses of the Sun Belt. ULM has the No. 2 ranked D in the Sun Belt behind Arkansas State.

The Warhawks have all the ingredients to be the darkhorse team in the Sun Belt this season.

It's no secret what FIU has to do: control the ball with a productive running game to keep the Warhawks potent O on the sidelines (Did I mention score early and often?) and take the homecoming crowd out of the game (Did I mention score early and often?). And on D, FIU has to wrap up their tackles and bring down Warhawks ballcarriers. (Did I mention score early and often?) And just as important get pressure on Revell and force the first-year starter to make some mistakes toward the FIU secondary. (Did I mention score early and often?) Getting pressure on Revell is not easy, No. 2 Texas had 0 sacks in their season-opening win over ULM. (Did I mention score early and often?)

All this might be too much to ask of a Panthers team that is trying to put it all together and against a pretty solid team on the road. Tell me I'm wrong on Saturday around 7 p.m.

GPP says: ULM 33, FIU 23

Aaapaw The GPP LIVE BLOG of the FIU/ULM game will begin around 3:15 p.m. Miami time on Saturday. Kickoff is at 3:30 p.m. I should be able to stick with you on the live blog until the end, because we have a much friendlier deadline time this week, because of the afternoon kickoff.


October 01, 2009

Watch Parties Updates & What About ULM?

Here's the deal for your viewing of Saturday's FIU/ULM game. The game is blacked out on ESPN GamePlan, but the game will be televised by the Sun Belt Network on Comcast Sports Southeast (CSS).

Sgbird If you have CSS on your home cable, then you can stay home and watch it there if you'd like. If you want to mingle with other FIU fans, then you have 2 options: The Sports Grill on Bird Road (11481 SW 40 St.-- photo, left), which is the home official home of FIU Watch Parties......OR

You can also see the game at Finnegan's River (photo, right) in downtown Miami (401 SW 3rd Ave.). Been to both places and they are great for watching games, plus good food and booze. The Sports Grill purchased the FIU/ULM game from CSS and will show it on their DirecTV. Finnegan's has CSS so they had the game allFinn along.

It's the start of Sun Belt Conference play on Saturday in Monroe and with it thought we'd get the opposing team's beat writer on here to tell you what to expect from a much improved Warhawks team.

Here's The News Star's ULM writer Tabby Soignier answering 5 questions Tabby about the Warhawks:

1) What is the biggest difference from last year's ULM team to this year's?


Experience. ULM is returning 10 on defense and 8 on offense, and it shows. The close games, so far, are being won, instead of folding as the Warhawks have done is recent years past.


2) What are ULM's strengths and weaknesses?


Strength is the defense. The 10 returners include three preseason all conference players. Aaron Morgan leads the conference in sacks and puts pressure on opposing offenses early and often. The linebacker corps is also solid in every game thus far this season, as well as Hawk James Truxillo, who had his best game against Florida Atlantic this past weekend with nine tackles.


The offensive line was the biggest concern at the start of the season, but it has matured very quickly, allowing just three sacks this season. If it gives quarterback Trey Revell enough time, they make him look much better than a first year starter.


3) How much better is Trey Revell than Kinsmon Lancaster and what must FIU do to stop Revell?


Going into this season, fans thought Revell (right) would not be as good of a runner as Kinsmon but that his armRevell would be much improved. He has lived up to the expectations in his passing game, but  many forget he was an option quarterback in high school. He showed off his legs against FAU and looked very comfortable running the football when he needed to scurry out of some trouble.


To stop Revell, FIU must put pressure on him. He tends to hold the ball too long, which gets him in trouble.


4) Who are some of the other ULM offensive and defensive players for FIU fans to watch for Saturday?


Offensively, receiver LaGregory Sapp, who missed last year for academic reasons, is the best kept secret. Though senior receivers Darrell McNeal and J.J. McCoy are best known for ULM, Sapp is the guy you want to go to with the long ball.


Running back Frank Goodin is on pace to improve his numbers from last season, but the speedster is sophomore Luther Ambrose (left), who is the fastest player for ULM. He helps out with the passing and running game and usually when you least expect it.



 Ambrose Defensively, linebacker Cardia Jackson leads the team in tackles with 26 and is the most likely to get drafted at the end of the season. Safety Greg James shares the lead for active NCAA players for interceptions in a career with 13. He needs one more to tie the all-time Sun Belt record.


5) Your game prediction and a score?


ULM, 31-21


Apaw I'll give you my game preview and prediction on Friday from Jackson, Mississippi as it will be planes, trains and automobiles for the GPP (will explain in Friday's post) as we find the way to Monroe, Louisiana for Pta Saturday's game.


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