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FIU-TAMU recap; season projections; injury update

FIU stunned the Aggies last weekend for three quarters. It seemed almost natural that the Panthers would win the game, but they did not. I know most FIU fans were disappointing after Saturday's 27-20 loss at Texas A&M. The Panthers were leading 20-6 to start the fourth quarter when Texas A&M decided they were tired of being hit in the mouth by a scrappy FIU defense.

Eventually, the inevitable happened and the Aggies stud QB Jerrod Johnson took over the game and the rest is history. The game had a lot of ups and downs, but at the end the Panthers played great, showing that this is a young program that still needs some work to catch up with a solid Big 12 team.

But do not fear, these Golden Panthers are the real deal, they are just not at that level yet. Soon, but not yet. It seems like we are watching a young Golden Panthers team grow up. Last season FIU played 17  freshmen, second in the country among division I schools. This season some of those true freshmen are making a big impact.

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On the defense

S Jonathan Cyprien (left, with #29 Dezariah Johnson), 78 tackles and an interception in 2009, has emerged a reliable cornerback that gives opposing receivers fits. So far this season, Cyprien has a team-high 20 tackles, one pass break up and two forced fumbles. 

DE Tourek Williams, 27 tackles, including 4 1/2 tackles for loss in 2009, continues to be a force on the d-line. Alongside, DT Joshua Forney, the pair have been able to open holes along the offensive line for the Panthers' line backers to exploit. There is a lot of youth on the FIU defensive line with Jerrico Lee, Isame Faciane, Greg Hickman (all three freshmen) and Andre Pound, Kasey Smith, Andrew Mattox (sophomores). DE Hickman has put together a nice couple of games, with five tackles, including two sacks for an 8-yard loss. 

On the offense

Bg19 fiufoot spts EPF OL Rubert Bryan, Giancarlo Revilla, Caylin Hauptmann, left, (sophomores) and Ceedrick Davis  (freshman) are playing out of their minds. Along with seniors Brad Serini and Cedrick Mack, the FIU offensive line has only given up one sack. Yes, that's right, ONE SACK. Credit coach Alex Mirabal for having his guys ready to play at such a high level. We all know that with a talented o-line, your team will be able to move the ball on the ground. Which brings me to my next point.

Sophomore Jeremiah Harden has been the Panthers go to back. It seems Harden can do everything. Harden is a strong shifty runner that is able to get to the second and third levels of the defense. Harden has shown the ability to catch the ball out of the backfield and make plays in the open field. Expect Harden, 37 carries, 145 yards rush, 5 catches for 37 yards,1TD catching 2010, to have a break out game soon.

Season projection

After two games it is starting to become clear that FIU has made huge strides since last year's 3-9 team. Expect the Panthers to be a force in the SBC this season.

Sept. 25 @Maryland

I will have a full break down of Saturday's game tomorrow, but for now I say, after two hard weeks FIU finally gets a close win on the road to knock off Maryland. FIU 17-14.

Oct. 2 @Pittsburgh, L
Oct. 9  W. Kentucky, W
Oct. 16 @N. Texas, W
Oct. 30 @FAU, W
Nov. 6  ULM, W
Nov. 13 @Troy, L
Nov. 20 @La. Laf., W
Nov. 27  Arkansas St., W
Dec. 4   Middle Tenn.,  L

 I say 7-5 and a bowl game.This is a real possibility. If FIU can manage a win against Troy or Middle Tennessee then who knows, a SBC title? BUT I SAY WITH CAUTION, there are still many what ifs remaining, what if someone gets hurt, what if the team reacts negatively to a tough loss, what if things do not go as smooth the rest of the way, what if...One thing I can say for sure is that the season is still young and FIU fans must be excited. It is going to be a fun ride. The team plays their next home game on Oct. 9 against Western Kentucky and it would only help the team if a large number of fans showed up.

Injury Report

OL David Istinich is back practicing with the team after missing some time with what Cristobal described as flu-like symptoms. Cristobal said Istinich should be ready to play by the Pittsburgh game next week.

TE Dudley LaPorte is still dealing with his foot injury. "We are trying to get him there, it looks like it's going to be a little bit," Cirstobal said. 

Sophomore C Kenneth White is back with the team after having surgery. "He missed all of camp," Cristobal said. "He is trying to get back."

G Austin Tottle has a low back sprain.

LB Pooh Bear Mars, is almost ready to play but still needs a little more time to prepare. "He has to be fully mobile. He has to be ready to press on that foot," Cristobal said.

Justin Azpiazu

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Nice write up Justin. I'm also optimistic about conference play if we keep this level of intensity.

Go Panthers!

Justin,

I have to give you lots of credit on this Blog.. Great job covering pretty much everything.. I can't wait until the Maryland game.. This is our only chance for a HUGE out of conference win.. If we win this next game we can ALMOST guarantee at least a 6-6 season.

JUSTIN:
Can you find out WHY we are playing a 4pm Home game instead of a 6pm or better yet 7pm game?

This are the things that drive me crazy! Knowing that we are pulling teeth to fill up the stadium why would we make things worst by starting a game at 4pm in Oct.. I have a feeling (and I hope im wrong) we will only get 10K fans for the WKU game. We need to keep bringing in the students and the Alum's to the games, specially for the Homecoming Game!

Go FIU

Nice comprehensive write up. Gooch, the game is at 4 pm in order to accomodate the TV appearance on the Sun Belt Network. The Sun Belt Network is a partnership between the SBC, Comcast-Charter Sports Southeast (CSS), and Cox Sports Television (CST). Additional affiliates for the Sun Belt Network include the The Texas Channel, Charter Dallas, Bright House Sports Network and WKYU.

For more info on the Sun Belt Network: http://www.sunbeltsports.org/ViewArticle.dbml?SPSID=22157&SPID=1808&DB_LANG=C&DB_OEM_ID=4100&ATCLID=204974954

THAT IS THE BEST BLOG THAT YOU EVER WROTE. CONGRAT'S KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK.

Dont listen to this fool Justin. Real FIU fans appreciate the insight and information you bring us. This was a good blog.

Justin is a good writer. Don't take it out on him that the former FIU blog writer "Pete the Geek" left the blog to join FIU. I'm an FIU alumni and I think he's doing a fine job. Don't blame Justin for the position he is in. I'm sure he wishes Pete nothing but the best so no matter what you say he is going to be here to stay. Justin, keep doing what your doing. Your doing a great job!

Justin you have been a class act from day one..you have been put in a position to write to some of the biggest losers in the country and you have out classed them all...with that said...your season predictions are dead wrong..after two weeks you should know that FIU find ways to lose games..so here's a reality check..not sure if you have been around long enough to know that FAU owns a Mario coached(if a coach is what you call him)..not much has changed

Oct. 2 @Pittsburgh, L
Oct. 9 W. Kentucky, W
Oct. 16 @N. Texas, W
Oct. 30 @FAU, L
Nov. 6 ULM, L
Nov. 13 @Troy, L
Nov. 20 @La. Laf., L
Nov. 27 Arkansas St., W
Dec. 4 Middle Tenn., L

Gooch... that was not an FIU decision, it was a TV decision. TV rules college football, and game times are set by TV.

BTW, weren't some of you complaining about the $40 Rutgers ticket deal, and no individual tickets for that game? Well guess what, not only was the Stadium PACKED for that game (19K, largest crowd ever at FIU Stadium), now FIU has reached its 15K average for the season and can start doing creative marketing for every other game.

Great decison by the FIU administration, and not 1 of you has eaten your crow and admit you were wrong, it was the right call to make the $40 Season Ticket the lowest ticket for that game.

For the WKU game, they've already announced it as Faculty and Staff appreciation day, and any FIU Faculty or Staff can purchase a $1 ticket to the game.

And Reality, i like how you change your tune every week. Wasn't FIU supposed get blown out at home to Rutgers? Wasn't FIU supposed to lose by 40 points to A&M, and not be able to score 7 points? Now your tune is that "they find ways to lose games".... Can't wait to hear what your tune is going to be on Monday, but here are some points that you can use:

- Maryland isn't really BCS caliber
- The ACC is weak
- FIU got lucky
- It was the coordinators not Mario
- Injuries crippled MD
- The refs helped FIU

Feel free to use any of the above excuses to justify your next ridiculous diatribe. If you can't see that A) The FIU football program is in the cusp of big things B) This FIU team can play with and BEAT any SBC team, then you just don't know football.... or in your case, have a personal vendetta against the program, coaching staff and administration.

Reality.. how about you take that check everyone always talking about... learn about FIU's convference. injuries have started to take thier toll on the entire conference

WKU... you got right.. they are still building their program up

NT= again got right.. due to their QB depth is so hampered that they are forced to put noodle arm Dodge back in at qb after switching him to wr for a case of "dead arm"

FAU... their line has improved is still inexperienced and i think starting their 4th C.. + the D looks shaky

ULM= at home.. i dont think we lose if we have an enviroment like we did against rutgers... dont see it happening (their team isnt in that bad of shape as far as i can tell)

Troy = Injury riddled.. still a strong team but plagued by injuries (Starting FS, DE, OL) etc.

ULL - tough at ULL but still winable

ASU - at home again we should win however that will be a tough game..

MtSu - starting C out for the rest of the season.. having horrible year...

... so tell me again why is it a reality that FIU will only win 3 games against a league thats riddled w/ injuries?

Thanks for the TV info "FIU Fanatic", and "FIUloyal"..

It just sucks to play a 4pm and know we probably lost 5K fans coming to the game just because its to damn hot. I hope Im VERY wrong and we do have at least 15K people at that game.. The crowed like the one at the Rutgers game helps out so much.. I think 50% of the reason why we lost the Texas game is because we could not handle the 95K screaming fans with only 10min left in the game.. Need to give their fans credit.

I also have to agree with CJ and Sunbelt play. We are in a possition where we can win 5 maybe even 6 conference games (big improvement from last year).. And if we win the Maryland game that gives us a very realistic shot at 6-6 and maybe 7-5 and a Bowl game in Dec.. BUT lets take it one step at a time..

My Wishes for Maryland Game:
No more penalties (specially in the 2nd half)

No Fumbles by WR and RB (hold on to the pig skin)

Get the ball to TY, and Times!

Throw in some trick plays.. We have the speed and ability to get creative..

If we have the lead in the 4th qrt don't start playing SOFT Football!


Go FIU!

Loyal,
I was one of many who critized the "no individual" ticket sale, both on this blog and Pete's, actually Pete even censored me cause of some "choice" words...LOL... but the point was made by someone that it was beign done not just for "greed" as I had expressed but as a way to achieve the 15K pergame D1 requirement. And as such I also posted that I had made peace with it... I don't think that everyone one should of posted a sorry to the athletic department.

Gooch7, no penalties are almost impossible, if they just play like they did agaist TAMU and not go -140 yrds, they'll be fine.

Reality, is probably CrazyCane or some form of reencarnation... And I'm glad he's here... makes for entertainment...LOL

Panther 27, Terps 13... GO FIU

The 4pm start time isn't all that bad, a lot of people may actually prefer that time since it doesn't take up most of your Saturday night like an 8pm game does.

good stuff Justin

I was one that criticized the $40 tickets, but I don't get why this is a big deal.

It is an opinion... In my case, I already had 2 season tickets and I was going to invite 15 friends to come but prices made me think twice.

Instead I went with 9 friends who were students.

Had the prices been $15, I could have gotten 6 more PAYING customers instead.

Question for the masses:

Why do you think we have not been passing the ball more?

Our receivers are supposed to be the best part of our offense but in the TAMU game, we barely threw.

We are not using TY enough... he is the playmaker and we need to get him the ball!! Let him make plays and go deep!

It makes no sense the lack of passing I have seen. Does the OC not trust WC yet?

Why do you think we have not been passing the ball more?

Good question, I'm surprised willis wright hasn't seen more playing time. Maybe they don't have enough faith in the QB's because as far as I remember the OC use to have a pass happy offense in toledo. That's the offense we expected coming into this season.

Passing has to do with protection and being able to keep the LB's and Safeties honest with a running game (i.e. play-action fake). My problem with WC is that he misses guys set up on screen passes, he doesn't look off his primary receivers and he does not have the best of pocket presence at this time.

That's what has hindered him from being effective and moving the chains. We need better protection and he needs to step-up and deliver the ball.

According to Cristobal, we've been 50/50 on passing and running. I just think those passes have been short routes and dump offs.

But we've seen the deep pass here and there. I remember Ellingson catching a 40 yard bomb against Rutgers.

I still have not recovered from RU and TAMU. Both winnable games. TAMU on the road, ok a stretch. It is time to open the playbook on the O and just let WC do his thing. MD D looked good against Navy a run oriented team. WVU brought them down to earth. The reality key injuries to them and if we can match the intensity for TAMU.. no reason for FIU to win. I ask you Justin, where are the WRs? Where is the spread offense? We need to give the O some of the D's Chili...

I think we are passing about 50/50.. BUT we NEVER throw the ball pass 25yards.. Im not saying lets go and adopt Hawaii's offensive playbook and try to throw 70 times per game, but with ALL THE SPEED that we have in WR you would think we would see more 25 yards passes. Go deep twice per qrt with TY, Eli, Wright, Times, etc... Better yet go deep with our TE's. We have plenty of speed there and most of the time they have a Big LB that can't run for crap covering them.. Need to use our weapons!!

Go FIU

CB Jonathan Cyprien, really corner? He play safety. Play Linebacker in high school, never ever was he a corner. I should know played with him at FIU and against him high school North Miami vs North Miami beach. Get your facts straight man.

You're right Dhaiti, I fixed it. My bad.

Dhaiti #20..simple mistake tone it down. This blog is awsome.. Great work Justin!!

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