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FIU-Maryland recap; reevaluated season projections

After three close losses, I feel like a broken record on this blog. FIU is a good team, FIU will do better, don't worry FIU fans...The truth is the Golden Panthers are not yet on the level of a Texas A&M, Maryland or Rutgers. FIU still needs time to grow and coach Mario Cristobal still needs to have a full recruiting class (which will not happen till next season). Will 2010 be the year FIU makes a bowl game and wins the SBC? Probably not. Anything can happen from this point on. But it is not going to be easy. The Panthers still have holes on this team that need to be addressed. Not all was bad against the Terps, though. Below are a few positives and negatives.

QB PLAY  positive and negative

WESLEY11 FIUFOOT SPTS JWR Junior starting quarterback Wesley Carroll (left) has looked descent so far. Wes has had trouble with decision making and accuracy. Several times in Saturday's 42-28 loss at Maryland, Wes failed to connect with open receiver because of badly thrown balls. Against BCS teams, mistakes will kill you. The blame definitely does not all fall on Carroll. All in all, Wes and the offense played pretty good. Carroll, 35-58, 355 yards, 2TD, 2INT, kept FIU in the game. FIU had an easy time of moving the ball through the air against Maryland. Trailing late in the game, FIU had to abandon the run and try to move the ball in big chunks. Wes was able to connect with WRs Greg Ellingson and T.Y. Hilton with ease. The problem came in the redzone. FIU was stopped twice, late in the game, on drives that could have changed the outcome. On one of their stops, Carroll over threw an open receiver (on what would have probably been a touchdown). One stat that stood out to me was that FIU ran 98 offensive plays to Maryland's 55 and were still outscored.

RECEIVERS positiveSPORTS FBC RUTGERS FIU 2 MI

As I mentioned before, Maryland had no answer for Ellingson (right, 6 catches, 93 yards and a TD) and Hilton (7  catches, 72 yards). Both made easy work of a struggling Maryland defense. TE Jonathan Faucher also got into the mix with 3 catches for 28 yards and a score. Early in the game, Fauch took a vicious shot over the middle of the field, but was able to bounce back and returned to the game. Wayne Times had 5 catches for 44 yards. The Panthers receiver core for the most, part played solid.

RUNNING GAME negative

The running game was another story. The Panther failed to establish the running game early. Harden, 17 carries for 46 yards and a score, was shut down for much of the game. Harden scored early in the first quarter, but seemed to disappear the rest of the afternoon. Maryland averaged 6.0 yards per carry on the ground, opposed to FIU's 2.9 YPC. The FIU running game was aided by Carroll, who showed he has the ability to scramble out of the pocket. Carroll had 6 carries for 36 yards. FIU will need to be able to run the ball if they hope to be successful. The Panthers will have a hard time winning if they have to rely on Carroll to throw the ball 58 times a game.

OFFENSIVE LINE positive

I really cannot say enough about the work the offensive line has done. The Panthers have only surrendered one sack all season. It would be nice if the running game would have been more effective against Maryland, but if you throw the ball 58 times and not let your quarterback get hit, you are obviously doing something right. Commenter Baltimore Panthers points out below, that since Carroll has the ability to evade defenders, the offense line should not get all credit for only giving up one sack. I understand your reasoning, but you still have to give credit for the blocking up front. The offensive line is very much improved and should do even better heading into SBC play. The big problem will be if there is an injury.

DEFENSE negative

Morgan St Maryland Football(3) Unlike the last two weeks, the FIU defense did not show up on Saturday. The defense was able to limit Maryland in the first quarter, but once back up QB Danny O'Brien found his rhythm, the Panthers were playing on their heels the rest of the game. The Panthers allowed O'Brien a season-high 250 yards through the air, and two touchdowns, including a poorly defended 68-yard touchdown pass to Torrey Smith (left). Big plays doomed the Panthers against the Terps. Aside from the 68-yard TD pass, the Terps scored on a 56-yard run by Da'Rel Scott and a 85-yard punt return by Tony Logan. Way too many defensive breakdowns to beat any opponent.

Justin Azpiazu

Response to comments

I think you guys are wrong asking for Mario Cristobal to be fired. Cristobal has done a good job with the team and has had to deal with NCAA violations that occurred before he took over. There is no way of knowing if Strock would have won a SBC title by now, but I am not going out on a limb by saying chances are it would not have happened. When Cristobal took over, the program was at a low point and a change needed to be made. Judging the team's progress after they have played three BCS conference teams is insane. Last time I checked FIU plays in the Sun Belt. Wait until the end of the season and what progress has been made against the SBC before you rush to judgment. Even if this season turns out to be a complete bust (which I do not see happening), Cristobal should be allowed to return for at least another season to what progress can be made. You also have to take into account that the two new coordinators will need a few games to have their systems into place. This team is still a work in progress. Early in camp Cristobal said this team was still young and it has shown. FIU fans should be excited about the effort the team has shown against Rutgers, Maryland and Texas A&M. This teams can give any university a tough game. To see FIU not only hang around, but actually have a change to win is a sign of what is to come. In previous years, FIU would not have even had a chance against those teams. Or am I wrong?

 

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Justin, I kind of disagree with you with giving credit to the offense for only one sack, I agree that they are better than last year, and keep on improving, but also Carroll is elusive as you can see on Saturday he avoided a sack with some moves, and also he throws the ball away if he gets too much pressure, our qb avoids a sack at all cost. I don't blame him, but I bet if we had Paul, he would've been sacked several times. The reason I don't give full credit to the line for allowing sacks like last year, is because we haven't been able to open running holes consistently, and there is consistent pressure on our qb and runner backs.
Our receivers were ok, GE started slow dropping a few but made it up at the end, TY is on a different league, WT is getting better and should be use more often, But JM needs more work, I still think we need to use Crawford as a TE in the end zone on short and goal.

Justin will you grade the coaching staff and play calling?..and can you get rid of the Pete Pelegrim planted links on this blog?...He tries way to hard to please..His blog is str8 garbage and is looking for hits.. Keep up the good work

Baltimore Panther....i agree with the use of TE's I think we need to utilized all 3 of our healthy TE's (#86 and #15 need to be used more, Even if u don't throw the ball to them, but use them as blockers!! This is #86's 3rd year as a Panther and I believe that its about time that they put him in for more playing time!! GO FIU!

this season feels a lot like 06' with all of these close scores against bcs teams and 4th quarter meltdowns... im just hoping that we show up come sunbelt time. WKU-North Texas-FAU-ULM are all def winnable and could get us back to .500 with four games to go.

The only difference with the '06 year is that we opened that season with a 7-6 loss at Middle Tennesse, then that heart breaking 1 point loss at USF, followed by 5 point loss against Bowling Green. Very similar results, but 2 of the 3 games weren't BCS teams really.

I thought that team had the best defense we've ever had, probably even better than this season as well. It didn't have any offense, though.

Havent really seen our OC open up the playbook at all this season... hoping maybe he takes more importance in Sunbelt games and decides for the teams not to have had film on them when a tight moment comes.

...Doubt Im right but, still praying.

FIU should have never gotten rid of Don Strock.
The last year he was Head Coach, all of their games they lost were close and/or competitive.Crystal Ball has no clue as to what he is doing. He's a coordinator - not a Head Coach. Smartest thing FIU could do is to bring Strock back next year and admit they made a mistake.

Mario was never a Coordinator, he spent two yrs an GA and two yrs as an Ast Oline/TE coach. Very weak resume only got the job because he was Cuban. POINT BLANK no sugar coating. FIU would have been better off with Manny Diaz. http://www.mstateathletics.com/ViewArticle.dbml?DB_OEM_ID=16800&ATCLID=204870399

Agreed BRO!

mario's weak resume has lead to-
consistent staff turnover every year.
players arrested.
disciplinary problems.
bad team gpa.
4 losing seasons.
0-3 again this year.

enough is enough!!!

Not saying Don Strock is the answer, but he had nothing and got better results. I think with the new facilities,and the budget to hire better coaches he would have delivered a conference title or two by now. FIU best players came from Strock and they play on a high school field, with no weight room and worked out of trailors.

Atwan Barnes,Chandler Williams,Keivous Bouie,Nick Turnbal, Rashad Smith,Josh Padrick,Alex Bostic,Corey McKinney,Lance Preston(rip),Harold Leath,back ip QB Paul Mcall,Greg Moss,Sam Smith OL Victor Cenius,Timmy Dierks,

Quite a discussion you're having with yourself and your imaginary identities here goldenpanther99. Even an idiot can see you have an agenda the moment you mention bringing back Strock. All credibility is lost.

Sorry FIUer, I started the conversation on Strock. GP99 is right. Strock definitely would have had a conference title by now.

Are you all serious? Strock would've brought a Conference Title? MC responsible for bad GPAs? You guys are making FIU fans look like idiots. MC has consistently raised the APR scores during his tenure and continues to bring in talent far and away above the talent Strock was recruiting. I'm sorry but you guys are WAYYYY off on this one.

McCrystal, I think you are Strock.

These idiots are scUM bags trying to stir the pot, all of sudden these NEW monikers appear with hate for FIU and MC. It's called FEAR !!!

McCrystal - Half the team in 2005 and 2006 was playing and should of been academically ineligble, that is why FIU has been under scholly sanctions. Somehow, MC is responsible for what happened before he got there ? Because of the STROKER U IDIOT, we forfeited games in 2005 and are on NCAA sanctions. Strock was not fired, he resigned after the MIAMI DEBACLE and coached out the rest of the season.


Get a clue U moron, many of us have been following the team since it's inception and U show up with these ridiculous comments. GET LOST !!!

FIUer

I didn't say bring back Strock..I said I am not sure if he is the answer but I would like to have seen the type of talent he could have brought in with better facilities. I don't have it in for Strock or out for Mario. I only brought up a point that many FIU followers are talking about. The players were slightly better under Strock. So stop out thinking yourself, it makes you look odd.

FIUBlueandGold

Give me a list of Mario's recruits that tops this one and please note that Mario's first class was lead by "all world" QB Colt Anderson and DB Anthony Gaitor: It's not even close, but I will hear you out

Atwan Barnes LB,Chandler WilliamsWR,Keivous Bouie LB,Nick Turnbal DB, Rashad Smith RB,Josh Padrick QB,Alex Bostic LB,Corey McKinney WR,Lance Preston(rip)LB,Harold Leath WR,Jamie Burke QB Paul Mcall QB,Greg Moss DB/KR Sam Smith TE, OL Victor Cenius,Timmy Dierks, Linoell Singelton DB,John Haritian DB,

FIUB&G,
First of all, I have been following the program since its inception...and I'm not talking about the first snap on the field. Strock built that program from day one and the Athletic Department, not Strock, wasn't ready for the responsibilty of a major football program - academically - so they made Strock a scapegoat. And believe what you wish but Strock was forced out. And as far as MC, he has had plenty of time to build a winner but he can't and won't. FIU needs to cut its losses and get rid of MC and yes, get Strock back on the sideline to finish the job he started.

This is sooooooo DUMB.

I can see it now, Stroker and Bruce Hardy ask for "kegerators of bud light" and a membership at Doral Golf built into their contracts. Maybe this time Bruce Hardy can bring himself to wear something other than flip-flops when visiting high school prospects and coaches.

I think you guys are wrong asking for Mario Cristobal to be fired. Cristobal has done a good job with the team and has had to deal with NCAA violations that occurred before he took over. There is no way of knowing if Strock would have won a SBC title by now, but I am not going out on a limb by saying chances are it would not have happened. When Cristobal took over, the program was at a low point and a change needed to be made. Judging the team's progress after they have played three BCS conference teams is insane. Last time I checked FIU plays in the Sun Belt. Wait until the end of the season and what progress has been made against the SBC before you rush to judgment. Even if this season turns out to be a complete bust (which I do not see happening), Cristobal should be allowed to return for at least another season to what progress can be made. You also have to take into account that the two new coordinators will need a few games to have their systems into place. This team is still a work in progress. Early in camp Cristobal said this team was still young and it has shown.FIU fans should be excited about the effort the team has shown against Rutgers, Maryland and Texas A&M. This teams can give any university a tough game. To see FIU not only hang around, but actually have a change to win is a sign of what is to come. In previous years, FIU would not have even had a chance against those teams. Or am I wrong?

MC will stay for a while, he's not going anywhere. The team is showing improvement, in prior years with a schedule like that we probably would've gotten blown out by all of those teams. Were competitive now, which will eventually develop into wins.

Justin

You make good points,but you are wrong. The 2006 FIU team lost to USF by 1 point, who went on to be ranked as high #2 that year. Lost to Maryland by 4 points, and with 10 starters suspend played Bama to a 10-3 half time. So Mario's 0-3 start to below mid level BCS schools isnt so impressive to those who has scene this done with alot less.
With that said, I love the work that you do here, I have been a supporter of yours since day one. I appreciate the interactions and courage to call things like you see them...even when you are wrong..

Thanks GP. It's a free country and we all our entitled to our opinions. And you know what the say about opinions right?

USF was ranked #2 in 2007...

I hear everything you're saying Justin, but there is a growing sense of frustration with the "we're hanging in there with them" argument. Until consistent and improved results are shown in the Win column, MC and company will continue to be challenged. With that said, any talk of Strock is just garbage. If people are going to ponder what-ifs, better to ponder what if FIU had hired Chuck Amato vs MC.

Also GP, the USF team that was ranked 2nd, was the 2007-08 season not the 2006 when FIU played them. FIU did not even play USF in '07. That year USF was pretty bad.

FIUer, I do not want to knock FIU or the Sun Belt, but SBC teams are typically not supposed to hang with the best teams in the country. Granted the last three teams are far from the best. But realistically, Troy, Middle Tennessee or FIU is not supposed to upset the Alabamas of the world. Can an SBC team knock off a SCC team, sure. But it will not be easy. Look how hard it is for some of the other conferences to get signature wins against BCS opponents. Where FIU is at the moment, there best chance at success is to to do well in the Sun Belt and go from there. In the SBC there have been only two out of conference wins, Troy beat Bowling Green and Middle Tennessee beat Austin Peay.

Those writing about MC not doing a good job, DELUSIONAL!!!

Thanks MC for all the hard work, progress is ahead of schedule!

I understand that is the perception of Sun Belt schools but that cannot be our expectation, if it is then we will forever be a Sun Belt school and, in Miami, that's a deathwish. There's no reason we cannot consistently beat the Rutgers and Marylands of the BCS world, and other top Sun Belt schools should be expecting the same. We need a coach and staff with all the right tools to get us there and then this program will take off. I hope MC is that coach, but he's gotta show results this season and next beyond just hangin tough (cue the New Kids on the Block music).

Ok I stand corrected the 2006 USF team went on to win a Bowl game.

And FIUr I can agree with you about Chuck Amato would have been a better choice once Strock left. He actually came down and wanted the job.

Justin

USF went 9-4 in 2006..and if 9-4 is a pretty bad season you must be prepared to rip FIU if they dont run the table from here out. Id take 9-4 this year and pray they extend Mario's contract if he leads the team to a bowl win.

Nice writeup and thoughts, Justin. Guys, understand that these new people using new names posting here attacking MC (crystal balls reminds me of several FAU fans using that for a couple of years on their board, btw), have their own agendas here.....

I understand the trepidation of some TRUE and concerned FIU fans about this team, but I do see a continued improvement within the program and on the field. Mario has to coach FIU, unless something dramatically wrong happens between now and next season, up to the next year at the very least.

FIURage,
Thanks MC, progress is ahead of schedule?
The man has had FOUR years. All his recruits and he still can't win. What schedule are you talking about? Strock won right off the bat with a start up program of scrubs and a crappy facility.

GP you're right 9-4 and is a good record. Yeah I was wrong to say they were pretty bad.

GP also in those years the Big East was pretty good with West Virginia, Louisville, Cincinnati, Rutgers and Connecticut all being ranked at some point.

I think Cristobal deserves a ton of credit. Go back in time and look at the recruits, facilities and schedules we were playing. We had no stadium. We had no ESPN top 150 recruits. We had ZERO fans.

It's 2010 and we had 19,000 show up to the first game and we've lost 3 HEARTBREAKERS by an average of 8 points.

If that's not progress, I dont know what is.

Cristobal has been working hard to turn it around and he just might turn it around this year. Wait till we start playing the new schedule with easier teams.

FIU is still not a team ANYBODY overlooks. That was unheard of until this year.

Cristobal has done great progress and I think bringing in someone knew would just delay the progress he's done.

Now... my big big issue right now is some of the play calling. We must have run that draw play with Harden to the left of the QB at least 9 times!!! That play is HORRIBLE! Wes is an excellent QB and I feel confident we will make noise in the SBC!

Building a program takes time. But look at how far we've come. Let's continue giving our support and we'll turn that corner soon.

FAU beat UAB..conference USA

This discussion alone proves there is a ton of pressure on MC to show tangible results now. The definition of "progress" and "we've come a long way" varies greatly between program supporters. On the field, at the end of the game, when I look up at that scoreboard I see no progress yet. Maybe that's too black and white but that's all that matters in the end. We could lose every game in our programs history by 1 point and all that would matter would be that we've never won a game. Honestly, everything else sounds like either excuses or consoling thoughts by die-hard fans. It's fair to be "on the fence" with this coaching staff until they prove they can win consistently and incrementally. Maybe they can spring an upset on Saturday and really kick this off!

I agree FIUer..it's just up setting to hear MC tell us this recruiting class is the best ever and we start counting stars on Rivals.com and ESPN 150's but once they get to the program they are either non factors or no shows.
Fanatic
Not sure but I don't think MC built the stadium or picked the schedule. If you go back in time when FIU first started the program, how could you bring a big school to a high school stadium and to a team with all first yr players and not to mention, how much could FIU pay a big school to came and play a home game back then?.... top 150 players are great on paper in Feb but Sept thru Dec is what counts.

I guess business isn't great for ole PP. He is on the "prowl" .. always fishing in his neighbors pond. Im sure he know's the number to call to buy ad space in the Herald. I think he thought this train wouldn't run without him...WRONG..run much better.

You mean the same Chuck Amato bagging at Publix? He's been out of a job and I don't see anyone even giving him a position coaches job!

This place gets dumber by the minute!!!

U Fans stick to your sight. I'm out for good!

For all of the genuine FIU fans- I told you this site would be over-run with trolls. Locked out of you-know-where, this is going to become the go to place for FIU bashing from FIU obsessed fans of the other local universities.
See most of you on the other side, to the rest of you...sorry, you're not on the guest list.

BTW, UM's coach? Meh. FAU's? Good luck with that.

@ goldenpanther99 better results? where in D1- AA? Lost every game he played once they moved up to D1-A. Just saying if FIU was in D1-AA now I would have gotten a ring on my finger and not a wedding ring.

Nah... I still like coming here. 'Been an FIU fan since 2005 and will get my information anyway i know how. I like to hear what Justin has to say as opposed to always getting my news and info from one source - especially one that is in house now at FIU and clearly will not say negative things even when they are dangling in front of all our faces.

Justin, I agree with what you are saying.. The ultimate litmus test for this season will be how we play during SBC games. I can tell you though from years past, I havent always been convinced that we bring the same energy into games against SB foes (cant say I always blame em') That is the reason I believe FAU has the Shula bowl trophy.

Dhaiti #20 (2009 FIU Player)

Who lost every game they played in at D1-A level?

Dhaiti #20 (2009 FIU Player)

FIU went D1 in 2005 and went 5-6 that year.

Dhaiti#20

I think you missed my point.If FIU was still D1-AA now, It wouldn't have the quality of player's, coaches,facilities,number of scholarships,etc etc. that it has now.

I do believe if FIU had not made the jump so soon they could have had multiple D1AA titles just because of the talent in South Florida alone. It just wouldn't have had the quality of players like an Atwan Barnes, Keyious Bouie or TY Hilton. These guys were major D1 players who turned down other schools to help put FIU on the map.

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