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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.

APTOPIX Fla International Texas A M Football

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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