As you know if you have followed the Panthers in 2009, this season will not be one for the highlight DVDs. You all know the issues this season and no need to go in depth about them (O-line, D-line, run D, injuries to half the starters, lack of quality depth, etc.). FIU has to get better at several things before the 2010 season.
There are three games left this season and FIU is currently 2-7. Two of the final 3 games are winnable and if the Panthers are victorious, then they'll finish 4-8 -- one game short of last season. And admit it, at one point this season you were wondering when would win No. 1 happen.
Still, 4-8 is no reason to throw a parade down 8 Street, but at this point you take what you can get. Hell, after a 1-5 start to finish 3-3 with the situations FIU has encountered this season, could build some mo for 2010.
Saturday night at FIU Stadium, North Texas visits FIU for the first of the two winnable games left on the schedule -- the other is against Florida...................................................................................Atlantic.
The Panthers have had memorable games against the Mean Green the last two seasons besides that FIU has won both by a combined score of 80-29. The last couple of games against the North Texas Mean Green have meant "go" for FIU. Go for the FIU O, D and special teams as O'Darris D'Haiti's blocked punt last season will attest.
In 2007, FIU gave the grand old Orange Bowl its proper send-off or as FIU at the Movies will remind you: "Resurrecting the Champ"
That year, the OB's other tenant couldn't close the deal or score a point. However, in the final college football game in the OB, FIU defeated NT 38-19 led by Audric Adger's 4 sacks and a helmet sticker from ESPN for his work. It was also MC's first win as a head coach (right, thanks Alex J. Hernandez photo).
Last season, the nation was introduced to T.Y. Hilton (left, thanks AJH photo) on the ESPN regional broadcast of FIU's 42-10 win over NT.
This season, the Mean Green is meaner and not so greener as you may have noticed in the previous post with NT's beat writer Brett Vito.
However, if the Panthers D can rise up like they did against Louisiana in their last home game, then we could be looking at a 3rd straight blowout win vs. NT. FIU has to make NT QB Riley Dodge beat them with deep passes and neutralize RB Lance Dunbar. Also getting Big Ontario Smith back from injury to play with "El Hombre" Aaron Davis, "El Oso" Scott Bryant and "El Talon" Tyler Clawson should help the run D.
On offense, even with a 95% percent Paul McCall, the Panthers can make things happen. Just dump off some passes to T.Y., Wayne Times, Ty Frierson and Greg Ellingson and watch them do their thing. No need to hit the 80-yard bomba. FIU has enough playmakers to catch a 5-yard pass and go another 75 yards.
With a less than 100% McCall, FIU needs another big game out of Kendall Berry (right, thanks AJH photo), who is the 6-foot, 200 pound running back the Panthers have been looking for and are recruiting for next season and beyond.
I like FIU in this game, but I'm not so sure it will be a cakewalk, because this season nothing has been that way for the Panthers -- it took a half of football to put away a very bad Western Kentucky team.
Should be a very pleasant Miami evening as Jackie (left) tells us. Jackie is calling for 72 degrees and a clear, starry Saturday night at FIU Stadium. Jackie also like the stars on the FIU offense to have a big game after having sub-par outings the past 3 weeks.
But the GPP is with Jackie on this one -- when is that not the case? I think FIU wins without the last second heart palpitations -- and for the record, the palpitations were not for Dustin's kicking, because he has been pretty automatic this season. The palpitations are because of the weather -- 72 degrees is cold.
GPP says: FIU 38, North Texas 24
Don't forget the GPP LIVE BLOG of North Texas/FIU begins at 6:45 p.m. on Saturday right here. It's one of those unfriendly deadline kickoff times so there's a good chance I may have to leave after the 3rd quarter, but the blog will remain open.