We're down to 5 spring practices before the Spring Game. FIU will hold its second spring scrimmage this Saturday at 12 noon at FIU Stadium. A 12 p.m. scrimmage?? Could it be to get a feel for opening the season Sept. 11 at high noon in 90-degree weather against the northern-based Rutgers?? Something to think about.
So to get you ready for Saturday's scrimmage, here's what went on in the Panthers first spring scrimmage back on March 12.
A HARDEN DAY'S WORK
Two of the most important units on the Panthers team this fall will be the offensive and defensive lines, because both are relatively young and inexperienced. In the scrimmage, each line got the upper hand on the other during different times in the 100-play workout.
The O-line carved up some nice holes for the FIU RBs, but some of the FIU RBs made their own holes such as newcomer Jeremiah Harden.
In what might be a sign of things to come later this fall, Harden (left) had a punishing 22-yard touchdown run in where he broke three different tackles. On 2 of the tackles, JH powered through 2 pairs of defenders. JH doesn't look like a big, bruising back, but as former high school teammate and current FIU teammate Wesley Carroll put it: "Jeremiah will run into a pile of players and when you think he's stopped, Jeremiah will pop out of the pile and break one."
On this TD run, JH did not encounter a pile, but on 2 different occassions it appeared JH was going down. Instead he broke free. The run brought to mind when Darriet Perry carried three Hooters defenders on his back for 13 yards in the 2009 Don Shula Bowl at Dolphin Stadium. JH finished the scrimmage with 6 carries for 35 yards.
Speaking of DP, he had some tough running too. DP looks a lot lighter than last season and my 2 cents think that will help him more this season. DP also made a nifty 1-handed catch on a pass thrown behind him.
THE TIMES IS NOW
Wayne Times (right, thanks Alex J. Hernandez photo) was the featured receiver in the scrimmage as T.Y. Goodbye sat out with bumps and bruises -- nothing serious. He is expected back for Saturday. Tight end Dudley LaPorte will miss the remainder of spring ball with a small fracture in his foot. DLP is wearing a boot and should be healed by the time camp rolls around in August.
Times showed some sticky hands and his new muscles helped him break some tackles that he probably does not break last season. WT led all receivers with 7 catches for 44 yards.
Although the O-line paved the way for 145 rushing yards on 27 carries (5.4 yards per carry), they had a couple of false start penalties that were bug-a-boos last year.
Future FIU O-lineman David Delsoin and future FIU QB Jake Medlock took in the scrimmage.
GAITOR, BEAR, and CHESE
Sound like maybe a Cajun dish? Nah, just some of the defensive standouts in the scrimmage. And that's how you spell chese for this particular post.
The defense got going once the offense entered the red zone.
Kasey Smith had a sack and defensive back Dez Johnson, who is back after getting a medical redshirt from last season, broke up a pass in the end zone that ended the possession on 4th down.
We won't really know how much the D has improved under new DC Geoff Collins until they start playing against an offense with a different color jersey and helmet, but one thing that has been prevalent through spring ball is that the D looks more physical than last season.
DB Emmanuel Souarin, who is having a good spring, had a big hit to stop a short pass. Safety Jonathan Cyprien is not making it comfortable for receivers to go over the middle.
Anthony Gaitor (left, thanks AJH photo) is healthy and he's shown it on pass D. He knocked away two passes.
The Pooh Bear Mars you have been waiting for is starting to be unleashed working at middle linebacker. PBM broke through the O-line and got the tackle for loss on a screen pass. You could tell on the play that PBM has some quickness.
Walk-on DB Jose Cheseborough had a sack. Everytime I look over at No. 27, he seems to be making a play.
Linebacker Aaron Davis made 2 consecutive plays: making a tackle in the backfield for a loss and on the next play, AD broke up a short pass.
CAN'T CORRAL THE COLT
The quarterbacks played pretty even in the scrimmage. Wayne Younger was 14 of 28 for 100 yards. WC was 5 of 15 for 75 yards and a TD.
WC connected with Colt Anderson (right) for the only passing TD on a pass down the middle. CA made the play when he faked out 2 defenders on his run into the end zone. The move got the rest of the team hooting and hollering on the sidelines. The TD went for 38 yards.
Keep your eye on Anderson, because he can be a big part of this offense. He has the size, hands and athleticism to play tight end at the Division I level.
Yes, DLP is a huge part of this team's offense, but CA is developing as a solid tight end and you can't forget about Jonathan Faucher and Joey Harris, who have become 2 big bodies that can catch the football.
Toward the end of the scrimmage, Kendall Berry broke off a 23-yard run. KB led all RBs with 54 yards on 6 carries.
The scrimmage ended with the D stopping the O inside the 5-yard line. Cyprien had a pass breakup and redshirt freshman Terrance Taylor deflected the pass on 4th down to end the day.
After the D denied the O, DC Collins dove into his defense's celebration pile.
Thanks again to all you good people for the kind words. Let's get to your questions:
alt7787: Since you're back I've got a question on top of my L.A. Fitness one, but answering that one is at your discretion. Haha. Josh Johnson has been somewhat weak this spring training, is it anything to be legitimately concerned about or will Josh be good to go opening day?
PP: The L.A. Fitness reference in the previous blog was about a husband and wife who yelled from the second floor of that gym asking me where have I been for the past week.
Josh Johnson (right) will be fine. Most every player has a bad outing during the spring. The Marlins have bigger concerns than JJ such as who will be their 3-4-5 starting pitchers and will Leo Nunez hold up as the closer. It could be a long season if the Marlins starting pitchers struggle early like they did last season and wear out the bullpen.
gpantera: In order to write informative FIU Blogs, will the Herald allow you to cover FIU in person by attending practices, games, travel with team, etc?
PP: I will be at games. We're still ironing out the schedule as far as how the beat will be covered between me and TBA or his cousin TBD. You'll keep getting the daily blogs on here that have won Oscars, Tonys, Grammys, Emmys and Espys and there will be times when I'll also be covering on the print side.
chrisfiu: On a side note, great to hear the Dazzlers will also be at the baseball games. Will the dates be given out in advance?
PP: I'm going to get more info for you on when the Dazzlers (left, thanks AJH photo) will be performing at baseball games. Maybe they will break out new baseball outfits. Just not the baggy throwbacks the baseball team wears for Sunday home games.
Gooch7: PETE: Since there is ONLY one week till the Spring Game will the Herald and FIU advertise the game so we can have a good turn out.
PP: I'll find out more for you about what FIU is planning for the Spring Game.
ThePerfectFan: OMG it is so good to have you back PP!! I want to ask a question about pitching for the FIU Baseball? Why do all the pitchers start such a wonderful season and all of a sudden they start falling like flies in such a short time? Are they been overworked, not given them enough confidence? Given them too many innings to pitch? What is it can someone please explain?
PP: The lack of depth on the FIU pitching staff is one reason. FIU has to manage the way it uses its pitchers carefully this season, because whether it was losing 2 of its top pitchers (Ebert, Mejia) to the major leagues or injured pitchers (Garcia, McVay, Leith) and another not being eligible (Dodds) the Panthers are playing without a full staff this season. That's the hand they were dealt and you try and make the best of it.
I don't think it's a case of pitchers not having confidence, but sometimes they pitch a little more this season, because of the lack of depth. And at times it has worked fine such as Daniel DeSimone (right, thanks AJH photo) pitching a complete game last week and giving FIU 7 innings in Tuesday's win vs. Jacksonville -- both outings helped the FIU bullpen get some much needed rest. At other times, the opponents catch up to FIU's lack of depth such as last weekend vs. Troy and hot-swinging Rutgers from 2 weeks ago. It's going to be interesting to see how FIU fares down the stretch against a tough-hitting Sun Belt where 14-12 games can be the norm as the weather gets hotter and as the season heads down the stretch.
*BTW, FIU is not changing its colors to green and white, what DD is wearing in the photo on the right is the green hats and socks the Panthers wore on March 18 vs. Southern Utah in celebration of St. Patrick's Day.
josh: Pete anything new about the Norwegian bball player Torgrim Sommerfeldt? I know you mentioned a few weeks back about him possibly coming to play?
PP: Nothing new on Torgrim. However, there is another top player that might be popping up on FIU's radar. Need to double check what I'm hearing before posting on here. Let's just say if all of Isiah's commits and the players he is recruiting end up signing with FIU, then you might be watching the 2011-2012 All-Sun Belt First Team wearing FIU across their chests and playing at the Bank. Stay tuned.