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22 posts from September 2010

September 30, 2010

Pittsburgh scouting report; FIU breakdown; game prediction

Shannon and Wannstedt Football After being ranked 15th in the preseason, Pittsburgh has struggled losing two of its first-three games. Pitt opened the season with a much publicized loss at then unranked Utah 27-24 (OT). Utah, ranked 13th in the AP top 25, out-gained Pittsburgh 405-266 in total yards. Utah quarterback Jordan Wynn was effective against Pitt, throwing for 283 yards and three touchdowns. Defensively, Pittsburgh has struggled to cover the pass, giving up six passing touchdowns in three games.

This will be the second week in a row Pitt plays host to a team from Miami. Pitt lost 31-3 to Miami at home last Thursday. UM quarterback Jacory Harris had 248 yards, 2TD and 2INT against Pitt. Pitt's lone win came against lowly New Hampshire 38-16. Pittsburgh has gotten off to slow start  and there are rumors that coach Dave Wannstedt (aka the Wanstach, left) might be on his way out if he cannot right the ship.  After FIU, Pittsburgh will next face Notre Dame in a nationally televised game on Oct. 9 before starting Big East play the following week.

Offensive breakdown

New Hampshire Pittsburgh Football(5) QB: Tino Sunseri (left) has started all three of Pitt's games. Sunseri, 48-77, 520 yards, 3TD, 2INT, had his first-career start against Utah. Sunseri is an accurate passer that can scramble outside of the pocket and pick up extra yards with his feet. Sunseri, a Pittsburgh native, was rated a three star recruit by Rivals.com in 2008. Sunseri was effective (16-28 for 184 yards, 1TD) against Utah but was taken out late in the Miami game after getting knocked around.

Back up QB Pat Bostick took over for Sunseri, but his results were not much better. Last week, the Hurricanes proved that an effective pass rush will disrupt the Pitt offense. The Hurricanes had five sacks and nine tackles for loss. The FIU defense will need to put constant pressure on Sunseri to win at Heinz Field. FIU will need to continue using different schemes and blitz to confuse Sunseri like they did against Texas A&M. FIU has the speed on defense and offense to match up with Pittsburgh.

RB: Sophomore Dion Lewis (right) emerged as one of the best young running backs in college football after rushing for 1,799 yards and 17 touchdowns as a freshman. Lewis is a shifty back that can either use his quickness or strength to pick up extra yards. This season, Lewis has 143 yards on 47 carries and two scores. Lewis, still has not had a break out game and has Miami Pittsburgh Football struggled some.

Against Miami, Lewis had 12 carries for 41 yards. Back up running back Ray Graham picked up the slack against the Canes rushing for 100 yards on 14 carries. Graham also broke the 100-yard mark against New Hampshire.

WR: Pittsburgh relies on 6-5, 225 pound junior Jon Baldwin and 6-5, 220 pound Mike Shanahan on offense. Both are large receivers that give Sunseri big targets. Baldwin had 6 catch, 100 yard and a TD against New Hampshire.

Baldwin is a deep-pass threat that can get open off the line. Baldwin has two TD catches over 40 yards this season (44-yard TD Utah, 56-yard TD New Hampshire). In his career, Baldwin has 15 catches of 40 yards or more.

OL: There have been some moves made by Pittsburgh this week on the offensive line. According to the Tribune Democrat from Johnstown, P.A., Pittsburgh has moved junior Lucas Nix from right tackle to right guard. Junior Jordan Gibbs will replace Nix. The moves were made because Pitt felt something needed to be done to jump start the struggling running game. As I wrote higher, RB Lewis has gotten off to a slow start.

DEF: The Pittsburgh defense took a big hit after senior defensive end Greg Romeus underwent back surgery in Sept. Romeus, 2009 Big East Defensive Player of the Year, had a career-high nine sacks last year.

FIU breakdown

WESLEY11 FIUFOOT SPTS JWR After three unimpressive weeks, the FIU offense showed that it is capable of scoring points on the road. FIU had a relatively easy time moving the ball against a struggling Terps' defense. For the most part, the FIU offense had its best game of the season. Even though, QB Wesley Carroll (left) struggled with his accuracy at times, Carroll played a great game, throwing for over 300 yards. After watching the game again, I noticed that Carroll is not afraid to run out of the pocket and pick up some tough yards. Carroll rushed six times for 32 yards, including several drive saving first downs.

FIU had a chance to win from the start of the game till the end. Trailing 35-21, FIU failed to score on several redzone trips that sealed the victory for Maryland.

The main difference in the Maryland game versus the first-two games is that the FIU defense played so poorly. For a change, the offense kept FIU in the game which was nice to see. FIU had a number of chances to win on Saturday but several big plays gave Maryland the win. This week, FIU faces a talented Pittsburgh team that has struggled so far. Pittsburgh (1-2) is capable of scoring a lot of points in a hurry and after last week's game, coach Mario Cristobal (right) addressed the defensive breakdowns during Wednesday's weekly news conference.MPOINT11 FIUFOOT SPTS JWR

"Big plays are due to lack of little things or not doing the little things well enough. Some times our tackling technique, not running through the defender, not wrapping up correctly, taking an improper angle, not communicating on a certain single to change a certain coverage or a certain front. Things like that, seem like there little things but they are not. A lot of these football games are coming down to one, two maybe four, five plays and you have to be on point all of them," Cristobal said.

The weather has been a factor for FIU this week, after dealing with tropical storm Nicole. The Panthers were able to practice on Tuesday at FIU Stadium  but had to move Wednesday's practice to the gym. The weather might also play come game time. The temperature in Pittsburgh on Saturday is expect to be the 40's or 50's.

"This might be a hand warmer game for some of the kids," Cristobal said. Cristobal also said that his coaching staff has been hard at work trying to keep the players from buying into the weather distraction. "If you start thinking about the weather and making it an issue than it will be an issue," he said.

Falcons Steelers Football Prediction (picture of Heinz Field during a Steelers game)

FIU takes on Pittsburgh as 17 1/2 point road underdogs. FIU (0-3) has shown much improvement from last season but has come up short against three BCS teams.

There is no doubt the Pittsburgh coaches have warned their players about not taking FIU lightly.

Both teams will be hungry to win after tough losses. Expect to see FIU move the ball early on Pittsburgh and find success through the air. FIU will need to capitalize early. I expect the FIU defense will be able to get pressure on the quarterback and keep the game close. Unfortunately for FIU, I see Pittsburgh taking control in the third quarter and not letting up. FIU will need to turn this game into a defensive battle. Pittsburgh has a lot of weapons that will become a factor late in the game. PITT 38-28.

Justin Azpiazu

 

September 28, 2010

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?

 

Quarterbacks highlight FIU's Class of 2011

While the Golden Panthers appear to be set on Wesley Carroll as their starting quarterback for the rest of this fall, he might just find himself locked in another training camp battle next year.

That's because FIU has frosh Jake Medlock waiting in the wings, and at least two more heading to campus next to fall, according to internet reports.

Dylan Warner, a 6-1, 187-pound run-pass threat from MacArthur High in Lawton, Okla., apparently has recently committed to FIU, joining Central's Rakeem Cato in FIU's recruiting class of 2011.

The Oklahoman reports Warner's choice came down to Wyoming and FIU, but chose the latter because Mario Cristobal recruited him as a quarterback.

Cato's Rockets torched his former team, Miami Springs, last weekend 70-0, needing their starting QB to complete just 6 of 10 passes for 144 yards, but with three touchdowns.

FIU cannot officially comment on recruits until they sign their letter of intent, but word is the Panthers are also in the running for a highly touted quarterback recruit in California, as well.

Warner's commitment gives FIU roughly 10 thus far. The others, as reported by Rivals.com: Cato, LB Demetrius Allen, RB Shane Coleman, LB Lyndon Edwards, TE Ya'Keem Griner, OL Richie Reay, DB Luis Rosado, OL Everette Slocum and WR Clinton Taylor.

September 25, 2010

FIU-Maryland Live Blog

Hello from gorgeous College Park, Md., where the 55,000-seat Capital One Field sits atop the campus' rolling hills.

FIU (0-2) takes on the Terps (2-1) in the Panthers' second of three straight non-conference road games.

Check back at 11:55 a.m. for the live blog.

September 24, 2010

Maryland scouting report; FIU breakdown; prediction

Maryland scouting report

FIU travels to College Park, Md. to take on a Terps team that is fresh off a 31-17 loss to West Virginia. The Mountaineers torched the Terps' defense, leading 28-0 before Maryland scored in the third quarter. Both of Maryland's touchdowns came on long passes (60, 80 yards). So far the Terps are 2-1 with a very ugly 17-14 win over Navy and a 62-3 win over Morgan State.

Maryland West Virginia Football

The Terps quarterback play can be erratic at times. Junior quarterback Jamarr Robinson (left, 6-0, 195lb) starts his sixth game against FIU on Saturday. Robinson is a good athlete that has the ability to use his feet to gain yards. Against Navy, Robinson, who is reported to be dealing with a soar shoulder, had 12 carries for 92 yards. The Terps were conservative passing the ball against Navy, completing only two pass on five attempts. While the Terps have used other QBs this season, Robinson seems to be there number 1 guy.

Last week, the Terps opened up their passing game after going down early to West Virginia. Robinson connected with junior receiver Torrey Smith twice for touchdowns. Smith (6-1, 205lb) finished the game with three catches for 149 yards and two scores. Smith is one of the Terps best play makers, is third on the list for most career all-purpose yards at Maryland.

On the ground, the Terps have split carries between Da'Rei Scott and Davin Meggett. Through three games, Meggett has 186 yards on 25 carries, while Scott has 107 on 22 carries. Both have scored once.

Injuries

The Terps have been battling the injury bug recently, with starting left tackle Justin Gilbert being lost for the season with a torn ACL. The Terps have moved right tackle R.J. Dill to left tackle and will have redshirt freshman Pete DeSouza start in his place. As noted earlier, Robinson is still dealing with a soar shoulder after getting beat up by the Mountaineers.

FIU scouting report

It's been two weeks and two tough losses for the Golden Panthers. Last week, FIU lead 20-6 before ultimately falling short. This week, the Panthers hope to turn things around against a weak Maryland team that is projected to finish towards the bottom of the ACC. Will this week finally be the one FIU gets a close win? I think it's a huge possibility. FIU matches up well against the Terps. Expect the FIU secondary to limit Terps receiver Torrey Smith. With questions remaining about the play along the Terps offensive line, I feel the Panthers' defense will make all the difference.

FIU will need to muster the same pass rush they had against Texas A&M to win. The Terps are struggling at the moment and could be ripe for an upset. The experts in Vegas have Panthers as 10-point road dogs and I think that number will prove to be to high. FIU has shown great potential this season. The question that still remains for FIU is, can they play four quarters?

Prediction

The FIU offense will struggle early, but this week it will not matter. Led by a relentless pass rush the Golden Panthers' defense will shut down the Terps for much of the game. The true drama will be in the fourth quarter when FIU will face it's biggest challenge. FIU 17-14.

Justin Azpiazu

September 22, 2010

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

September 20, 2010

Gaitor: All-SBC Defensive POW

Senior cornerback Anthony Gaitor surely would have preferred getting out of Texas A&M with a win, but he has got a nice parting gift for his two-turnover-causing performance in College Station.

The Sun Belt Conference named Gaitor its defensive player of the week Monday.

More to come after Mario Cristobal’s conference call …

UPDATE:

Transcript of Mario Cristobal's weekly conference call

Opening statement:

“We’re playing some of these BCS opponents really, really tough, and are looking forwarding to putting four quarters of football together, instead of three and three and a half quarters. We’re pretty excited to go up to College Park to play Maryland.

What’s the latest on Ariel Martinez? How about other injuries?

“Ariel suffered a pretty significant knee injury. There definitely is some cartilage and ligament damage, so he will be lost for the season. Pooh Bear Mars is improving, but not fully healed yet. I think there’s a chance we get James Jones this week.”

What are your thoughts about Anthony Gaitor being defensive player of the week?

“Going back to fall camp, he made the commitment. He was challenged by our defensive coaches to be a better football player, and he responded. He had to respond to a demotion during springtime, by having the best summer, the best offseason he’s ever had. He’s playing lights-out football. He really is. Not only physically, but mentally, he’s on-point, he’s coaching up the guys, and we’re using him in a variety of different ways. And he’s possibly a guy we use on punt returns this weekend.”

What did you see out of Wesley Carroll Saturday? He went the distance. Did you have any thoughts of putting in Wayne Younger?

“There were some things that might have presented an opportunity for [Younger]. But we just felt the more reps Wesley gets right now, the better he’s going to get. It was a very tough defense we played against. They threw all kinds of stuff at us, so we felt good about letting him continue and finish the football game, and of course he’s going into this weekend as the starter, as well.”

You mentioned playing a full four quarters. At what point does it become a mental thing?

“It’s about finishing. We have placed ourselves in a position, as a Sun Belt school, to go toe-to-toe with these BCS opponents, and actually have a chance in the fourth quarter to be leading the football and a chance to win. In our case, and where we come from, it actually makes our appetite a little bit stronger, and gets us hungrier to go forward and push the football team and win football games.

“Finish is something you’re going to preach in everything you do, whether it be a set in the weight room, a mental rep through a walk-through, and of course in practice. Finishing is a mentality. Finishing is a way of life, and a way you complete. Everything, schoolwork, football. It’s something you harp upon and preach all the time. We’re getting closer to it. We just have to go do it.”

The rush defense looks like it has taken big steps up from last year. What has been the reason?

“I think a couple of things. We finally have a weight room. This is the first time in the time we’ve been here that we’ve worked out a full offseason with a weight room. Being able to work out our bodies. Second of all, I think our players commit have themselves to being better football players. And Coach Collins, our defensive coordinator, has done a great job of coaching those guys up.”

When you see Maryland giving up eight sacks, is there anything you can take from that?

“Maryland is a very talented football team, and in everything we’ve seen on film so far, they’re very big and they’re very physical. They can run the ball and they have a very athletic quarterback. When he gets hot, he’s really hard to stop. Them giving up those sacks against West Virginia isn’t something you look at and say, ‘Wow, they’re not performing well.’ They are. They’re a good football team and they have performed well. The couple of mistakes weren’t attributed fully to the offensive line. And they’re very correctable. It’s similar to what we had in Game 1. We expect a high-caliber, very explosive Maryland football team.”

Reports: McAfee, Harris commit to Panthers

Isiah Thomas is at again.

According to internet reports, two of the nation’s top 100 players in the Class of 2011 have committed to Florida International: guard Cedrick McAfee and forward Darnell Harris. 

Both are four-star recruits, and will join centers Chris Coleman and Yvan Ngirabakunzi, who have also committed to FIU.

McAfee is a 6-2, 180-pound point guard from Memphis Melrose, and is the 59th-best player in the country at any position, according to ESPNU’s rankings.

Harris, a swingman ranked 83rd overall, picked the Panthers over Providence and Loyola. He will join Coleman, a current teammate at Christian Life Center Academy (Texas), on Southwest Eighth Street.

Coleman has long been in Thomas’ plans, agreeing to attend FIU during his junior year. 

Ngirabakunzi, a 6-9, 205-pounder out of Piney Woods, MS, chose the Panthers after backing out of a commitment to attend the University of Miami.

Interesting to note: FIU, which lured elite recruit Dominique Ferguson to campus last year – although he’s still awaiting NCAA clearance – is the only Sun Belt team to have a commitment ranked in the ESPNU 100.

If all goes well, the Panthers will have three such players on the court next fall, instantly changing the team’s conference – and perhaps even national – outlook.

September 18, 2010

FIU-Texas A&M Live Blog

Hello from muggy College Station, where the afternoon highs reached the mid-90s.

The heat didn't put a damper on Texas' unofficial state sport: Tailgating.

Frat boys and sorority girls camped out overnight in massive tents, the first to arrive on the grounds of the massive Kyle Field.

FIU (0-1) looks for its first win of the season after a gaffe-filled loss to Rutgers last week. Texas A&M (2-0) hopes to remain undefeated ahead of its Oct. 30 Big 12 opener against Oklahoma State.

We'll have a live blog at starting at 10 till 7, but here's a warning: It won't be a play-by-play account of the game. I've got two stories due the second the game ends, so while I'll keep you posted on the game's ebbs and flows, if you want the actual play-by-play, I recommend ESPN.com.

See you at kickoff.

September 17, 2010

Texas A&M scouting report; FIU scouting report; prediction

Texas A M Johnson Football

Texas A&M scouting report

Led by quarterback Jerrod Johnson (left, 6-5, 245LB), the Aggies opened the season with wins over Stephen F. Austin (48-7) and Louisiana Tech (48-16). Johnson is an incredible athlete that can run and pass well.

Stats

Passing: 53-78 for  671 yards and 6 TDs

Rushing: 17 carries, 56 yards, 1 TD.

Johnson's 68 percent accuracy rating makes him a dangerous threat through the air. The Golden Panthers' secondary will need to adjust accordingly. This is not the Rutgers team FIU faced last weekend. Texas A&M has the capacity to move the ball in big chunks. Johnson has carved up the two defenses he has faced, torching SFA for 322 yards and LT for 349 yards and four touchdowns. 

Against Louisiana Tech, Johnson connected with WR Jeff Fuller (his favorite target) 10 times for 160 yards and a touchdown. On the ground, the Aggies have split carries between running backs Christine Michael and Cyrus Gray. In two games, Michael has 212 yards on 36 carries and two scores. Back up running back Gray has 29 attempts for 103 yards and a touchdown.

Defensive woes

The Aggies' defense is another story all together. After finishing 105th in total defense last season, Texas A&M decided to hire former Air Force defensive coordinator Tim DeRuyter. At Air Force, DeRuyter's defense was ranked 11th in the NCAA in total defense and seventh in interceptions. In their first two games, the Aggies defense has been effective. Linebacker Garrick Williams is leading the team with 16 total tackles. Defensive lineman Damontre Moore has 12 tackles, including three sacks for 19 yards. The Aggies have limited opponents to just 92 yards rushing.

FIU scouting report

Wesley10 FIUfoot MHS TMCCoach Mario Cristobal announced earlier this week that Wesley Carroll (left) will start the game at QB. As you might recall, Carroll and Wayne Younger split time against Rutgers. Cristobal said he might still use Younger if he feels Younger can bring a different look to the offense. I would not be surprised if Younger makes an appearance against Texas A&M.

The Aggies' defense has been tough against the run, but susceptible to the pass. Louisiana Tech had 208 yards passing against Texas A&M. The Panthers  will need  to be able to pass the ball well. It is important for the Panthers to get off to a fast start on Saturday. After a weeks worth of watching film, I feel the FIU offense will have a chance to move the ball against Texas A&M. It is imperative FIU limits the penalties and turnovers. Texas A&M might not be as forgiving as Rutgers was with the turnovers.

Look for the Panthers to try and find a big pass play down field. One of Louisiana Tech's touchdowns last week came on a long pass.

The true test for FIU will be stopping Johnson. Defensive coordinator Geoff Collins has his guys buying into his new defensive philosophies and so far it has paid off. Look for FIU to try and confuse Johnson with different defensive schemes. If FIU can limit Johnson, the Golden Panthers might just walk out of College Station with a win.

Prediction

The Golden Panthers travel to Texas as 28 point road underdogs this weekend. Out of FIU's first-four games, this one might be the toughest. The Aggies pack over 77,000 fans into Kyle Field and the place gets loud. I expect the Golden Panthers' inexperience playing in such a hostile environment will contribute offensive miscues. The Texas A&M offense will be limited at first by the Panthers' defense but after halftime the Aggies will find their rhythm and make the game out of reach. Texas A&M 31-14.

Even though I feel the Aggies will prevail, there is still the possibility FIU can catch Texas A&M off guard. The Aggies play a big conference game Sept. 30 at Oklahoma State and the look ahead effect might come into play here. The Aggies have already played two non-conference games and I suspect they are itching to play the Cowboys. If the Golden Panthers' defense can stun Johnson early, Texas A&M might not be able to recover. The Golden Panthers will need to turn this game into a defensive battle to win. FIU cannot win a shootout.

Justin Azpiazu

September 15, 2010

Weekly FIU news conference; QB battle

QB battle

As many of you might have suspected, Coach Mario Cristobal named Wesley Carroll (right) the starting Wesley10 FIUfoot MHS TMC QB. Even though Carroll will start, expect to see Wayne Younger play. Cristobal said he was not happy with the way either QB played against Rutgers and will use which ever one he feels gives the offense the best chance at moving the ball. 

On Wednesday Cristobal said about the QB situation, "Wes has done some good things. Both quarterbacks have done some good things. We think going into this football game and going forward with this season, [Carroll] has earned the right to be the starter."

WEDNESDAY NEWS CONFERENCE

Coach Cristobal touched on several points during Wednesday's news conference.

Opening remarks

"The Aggies are a big and physical football team. Obviously a Heisman Trophy candidate at quarterback. One of the top offenses in the country. On defense they changed what they have done defensively to what Air Force did last year with the new coordinator [Tim DeRuyter]. They are very aggressive. Tremendous challenge to us and something our players have been looking forward to all summer."

On the defense

"We are very multiple defensively. And I think the ability to adjust is really going to help us as the season goes along."

Louisiana Tech Texas A M Football(7) On Texas A&M QB Jerrod Johnson (left)

"He does it all well. Whenever the ball is in his hands, there is danger. He can run it, he can throw it. He makes stuff out of broken plays. He can scramble. He's a very large individual at about 250 pounds. He's a triple threat guy."

On cutting down on mistakes

"We have to get better at that. Us not turning the ball over, obviously along the lines of creating turnovers and we also have to cut out the penalties. Especially the pre-snap ones. Those can put you in bad downage situations."

On Aggies WR Jeff Fuller (right)

"He's a big man. He's a complete wide receiver and certainly we are aware of him." Louisiana Tech Texas A M Football(3) 

On communicating in a hostile environment

"You practice for it. What you don't want to let it surprise you. You don't not want to practice something during the course of the week that you can not communicate on Saturday. We've been practicing today and tomorrow with noise level, making our players aware of the heightened level of communication, how it comes into play in a game like this. I think we have a good plan going into it"

On the offensive and defensive lines

"We took a big step this past week. You'd like to eliminate the penalties, all the penalties but the physical nature of our play has certainly improved and has to keep improving for us to be the team we want to be. And certainly in a game like this, the tone is going to get set up front, we have a big challenge and we have to come out and play."

Tune in Thursday - Texas A&M scouting report, Friday - FIU scouting report, game prediction.

Justin Azpiazu

September 13, 2010

FIU-Rutgers recap; new TV info

Wow, what a game. Too bad FIU could not pull out a close victory at home against Rutgers. Don't worry Panthers' fans, there are many positives to take away from the game.

Defense, defense, defense. Coach Geoff Collins seems to have the Golden Panthers' defense performing at a high-level. It was nice to see how quick the guys looked out there.

The defense is going to be a big help this year. I was not sure how well FIU would do this season but if the Panthers' defense can keep playing like this, I do not see why a 6-6 or possibly a 7-5 record is out of the question (I say this with a lot of caution). I would not be doing my job if I did not question the fact that the Rutgers' offense is not that good.

Even though I think the FIU defense is much improved. I still think we need to see what happens against Texas A&M and particularly Maryland to see where the defense truly stands. With that said, I do not want to take credit away from the job the guys did on Saturday. They really played very well and showed some great things.Statistically, FIU limited Rutgers to a 172 total yards (96 pass, 76 rush) which usually means a win. FIU is currently ranked second in the nation in total defense behind California, a pretty remarkable feat after last season.

Consistent line play. Both the d-line and o-line played well. The Panthers offensive line was nearly flawless...except for a sack. I felt for much of the night both Wesley Carroll and Wayne younger had a good amount of time in the pocket to make plays. Offensive line coach Alex Mirabal and coach Cristobal have done a good job of filling in the hole left by Kevin Van Kirk's injury. The o-line was also able to open enough holes for the Panthers to have an effective run game for most of the night.

Offensive flashes. One thing you can take away from this game is that this offense has the potential to move the ball. The score would have been a lot different if the Panthers didn't turn the ball over four times, including three costly fumbles. Running back Jeremiah Harden had a solid 88 yards on 15 carries, but he also had a drive ending fumble. Cristobal about Harden in Saturday's game. "Explosive guy made some nice plays, but you can't put the ball on the ground. He had some real nice runs. He also had the catch for a touchdown. I don't want to point out at him. I know they are a good team, they tomahawked [the ball], stripped it out."

If Harden can keep his hands on the ball the kid could turn into a major play maker for the Panthers.

FIU fans show up. The game attracted more than 19,000+ to the stadium. Let's see what happens later on in the year when the team starts SBC play how many show up. A large crowd like Saturdays can only help your team.

NOT SO POSITIVES

QB play. The quarterback play was erratic from both Carroll and Younger. That being said, I feel Carroll played much better. Carroll, 12-22, 166 yards, 2INT, 2TD, was able to move the offense. Younger (5-10, 38 yards) struggled to find a consistent rhythm. All preseason FIU fans have been waiting to find out will would be the starting QB. And now we know. Expect to see more Younger and Carroll in games.

During Saturday's post game news conference Cristobal said about Carroll, "He was hot and cold." About the QB battle Cristobal said. "We'll always play the guy who is playing best. If both guys are playing equally well or close to it, we'll do whatever is best for the offense. Very similar to schools like BYU or some other schools around the country they have to go to the same system because they are in a similar predicament." When asked if there has been separation so far Cristobal said, "Absolutely not."

Penalties. FIU was sloppy in the penalty department. FIU had 14 penalties for 126 yards compared to Rutgers 3 for 15 yards.

Turnovers. Along with 126 penalty yards, four turnovers will cause any team to lose.

FIU-Maryland

FIU versus Maryland (Sept. 25) will be on ESPNU. Game time noon.

Justin Azpiazu

September 11, 2010

FIU vs. Rutgers live blog

Rutgers breakdown; FIU scouting report; prediction of the game

GYI0061476927LIVE BLOG

Live blog starts at 7:45 Saturday night. Tune in for MY UNFILTERED TAKE on the FIU-Rutgers contest. Feel free to post your thoughts in the comments.

Rutgers scouting report

The Scarlet Knights ride into FIU Stadium as 17 1/2 point favorites over the Golden Panthers. Led by sophomore quarterback Tom Savage (left, Savage has to be one the best names for a college QB), the Scarlet Knights beat up Norfolk State 31-0 last week. Savage completed 10 of 19 passes for 148 yards and a touchdown. Savage started the game a bit shaky completing three of his first nine passes for 43 yards. 

It is important to note that Norfolk State (a MEAC team) sacked Savage three times.

The Scarlet Knights' running game was anchored by junior running back Joe Martinek GYI0061476884 (right). Martinek finished last Thursday's contest rushing for 109 yards on 20 carries and a touchdown. Last season, Martinek was Rutgers' leading rusher with 967 yards on 206 carries and nine touchdowns. Martinek averaged 4.7 yards a carry. Against FIU, Martinek rushed for 126 yards on 23 carries. 

GYI0061476831 WR Mohamed Sanu (left), a preseason All-Big East pick, is a multi-talented threat that has been used at different offensive position. Sanu caught three passes for 68 yards and a touchdown against Norfolk State. Sanu also rushed the ball six times out of Rutgers' version of the "wild cat." Last season, Sanu rushed for 346 yards on 62 carries and had five touchdowns.

Scouting report FIU

After waiting all fall camp, FIU fans will finally find out who the team's new starting quarterback will be. And guess what folks? Chances are both QBs will see considerable playing time against Rutgers. Adam Beasley has a story in Saturday's paper advancing the game, here.

Wesley10 FIUfoot MHS TMC Beasley quotes offensive coordinator Scott Satterfield as saying that, "we'll probably see both guys out there." While this may not surprise some fans, I find the decision a little concerning. I expected Wesley Carroll (left) to outshine Wayne Younger during fall camp. If Carroll is not clearly the starter, then frankly, that did not happen. It will be interesting to see how Cristobal and Satterfield handle the rotation. Will each get a series? Or will he yank one at the first sign of trouble?

Another possibility is that Younger, a senior, showed something nice during fall camp and Cristobal wants to test how far he has come. (A word of caution: FIU has been so quiet about the QB situation - that I can honestly say - I do not know what is going to happen for sure.) Carroll might come out and be the starting QB after all. So, like so many things in life, I guess we will have to wait and see.

COORDINATORS Satterfield 03 Fuifoot MHS PAB

Another interesting side story in Saturday's game will be the debut of offensive coordinator Scott Satterfield (right) and defensive coordinator Geoff Collins.

Satterfield, a former quarterback for Appalachian State, brings with him to FIU a variation of the Mountaineer's spread offense.

What will the new 2010 Panthers look like? That remains a mystery.

If FIU wants to get the season off on the right foot, Satterfield will need to find a way to move the ball against a tough Rutgers'  defense. The Scarlet Knights feature a talented core of defensive backs that can give any opposing offensive coordinator a tough time.

Hilton4(SL_081011_D3A2343) This is the part where it becomes tricky for Satterfield and FIU. To run a successful spread offense you need to have the right weapons. The Golden Panthers already have a rising group of wide receivers (like T.Y. Hilton, left), but do they have a quarterback that can successfully run the offense? I really hate to stress that fact. Saturday's game will say a lot about this team and where it is heading this season.

On the defensive side of the ball, Collins brings his own changes100 fiu SPTS ADD to FIU. From what I have had a chance to see during fall camp, the defense seemed to be clicking quicker than the offense. Early in camp, Cristobal spoke about how the defense was indeed ahead of the offense, but after a few weeks said, both units had caught up.

FIU is going to have to hope its' defense (Toronto Smith, right; Anthony Gaitor, left) can hold down Rutgers long enough for the offense to score some  points. I have a feeling, the FIU defense is going to be much improved this year and will give Rutgers a hard time moving the ball early.

500 fiu SPTS ADD Last week, both Satterfield and Collins said they were excited about how the team will look this season. I know that a lot of Golden Panthers fans out there feel the same thing.

INJURY REPORT

Rutgers injuries: Questionable: WR Phil Lewis (upper extremity), RB Casey Turner (leg). Doubtful: UT J.T. Tartacoff (leg). Out: OL Devon Watkis (ankle), WR Quron Pratt (shoulder), WR Timothy Wright (knee).

FIU injuries: Questionable: LB Larvez Mars ankle), TE Dudley LaPorte (foot).

PROBABLE OFFENSIVE STARTERS

QB: Wesley Carroll; RB: Darrian Marrary; TE: Jonatha Faucher; WR: T.Y. Hilton; Greg Ellingson; Willis Wight (why not); C: Brad Serini, LT: Caylin Hauptmann, RT Rupert Bryan Jr.,  OG: David Istanich, OG: Giancarlo Revilla.

PROBABLE DEFENSIVE STARTERS

LB: Toronto Smith, Winston Fraser, Aaron Davis; CB: Anthony Gaitor, Emmanuel Souarin; S: Ash Parker, Jonathan Cyprien; DL: Tourek Williams, James Jones, Andrew Mattox, Joshua Forney.

PREDICTION

The Golden Panthers will have to come ready to play if they hope to stop Rutgers. Unfortunately for FIU, I see the Scarlet Knights taking an early lead and not giving it up. I look to the Rutgers defense to limit FIU's chances in the first-half. FIU will find its offensive rhythm early in the third quarter but it will prove to be in a losing effort. RU 21-14.

FIU MEN'S SOCCER TEAM

Coach Munga has been hard at working trying to rebuild FIU back to a contender. I have a story in today's paper about his efforts, here.

FIU WOMEN'S VOLLEYBALL

FIU plays UM in the 10th annual Hurricane Invitational Saturday night at 7:30 p.m.

Justin Azpiazu

September 10, 2010

FIU hoops play-by-play plans learned

Just got word that WQAM's own - and friend of the GPP - Jared Schwartz will handle play-by-play duties for FIU men's and women's basketball on FIUSports.com this winter.

Schwartz, who like yours truly is a Syracuse alum, will handle all home games and select road games.

While video and audio will appear on the athletic department's website, it does not appear likely the broadcast will appear on local radio.

September 09, 2010

Weekly news conference; countdown to Rutgers; Dasher update

Tre00 MCristobal LSPT GDC Coach Cristobal touched on many points during Wednesday's news conference inside FIU's newly remolded football meeting room.

Have you decided who will be the starting QB?

"We have a good plan and we are very close to making some of those things final. If we make them public or not, that depends on what we want to go with over the next couple of days."

What would a win mean to FIU?

"Anytime you step outside the conference and play a football game of this caliber it always give you a chance to measure yourself against the top programs in the country. Rutgers has established themselves as that type of program. Being at home adds a little special feeling as well."

On the defense

"Rutgers is a real physical football team. I think they showed that all season last year. They are very dangerous."

On Greg Schiano (right) SYRACUSE RUTGERS FOOTBALL N

"We're good friends. I'm looking forward to playing him on Saturday."

Do you see any parallels between Rutgers and FIU?

"Lots of parallels. Very similar blueprint. The differences in the blueprint, us taking over during probation and missing 16-20 scholarships and not having that issue at Rutgers. Year after year being a little ahead in games won. We are a little ahead of the schedule in that respect. In terms of process, changing the culture, building the program, it's almost identical. In terms of the type and caliber of student athletes we are bringing into the program. A great learning experience because when you walk into a place where it seems impossible and you start chipping away at that and the process takes it course and it finally hits. I believe it was year 5 or 6 six when it finally popped for [Rutgers] with that bowl game. It was very encouraging when that happened."

Faucher29 preview MHS AU Will Jonathan Faucher (left, during his years at Cypress Bay) be ready to play on Saturday?

"He's ready for as many plays as he needs. Fauch is very important guy on special team as much as he is on the offensive side of the ball. We are very excited to have him back."

What did you learn last year from Rutgers?

"They are disciplined and talented. That is a very tough combination. They do it all pretty well."

How would you grade yourself?

"I don't grade and I don't rate performances. My job here is make sure our guys graduate and our football team gets better."

Middle Tenn Dasher Dwight Dasher (left) update

Middle Tennessee coach Rick Stockstill said - earlier this week - that he hopes the NCAA will render its' decision on Dasher's suspension sometime this week. 

Story on Miami native and current Rutgers LB Antonio Lowery (right) Norfolk St Rutgers Football

The Newark Star-Ledger had a nice story about LB Antonio Lowery and his return home to Miami. Story here.

Check back Friday for a full breakdown of the game against Rutgers and my predictions.

Response to comments

Q. 18.5 points? Are you serious?!?!? 17 Point game at most...FIU FPL

A. Don't get mad at me, I don't set the lines. You can thank the good people in Las Vegas for that. Last year the line was 14 and it was at Rutgers. Not really sure what the odds makers find so different this time around. It might have to do with the fact that FIU has an unproven QB and new coordinators. Guess we have to wait and see.

Justin Azpiazu

September 07, 2010

Projected defensive starter; countdown to Rutgers

PROJECTED DEFENSIVE STARTERS

100 fiu SPTS ADD LB: The Golden Panthers have a talented core of linebackers ready to play against the Scarlett Knights on Saturday. Expect senior Toronto Smith, sophomore Winston Fraser and junior Aaron Davis to start the game (depending on defensive package of course). Smith and Fraser have lined up mostly with the first-team all fall camp. Davis has seen more playing time with the second-team.

DB: Sophomore Emmanuel Souarin and Anthony Gaitor (right) as the two starting 500 fiu SPTS ADD corner backs. Ash Parker and Jonathan Cyprien will be the two starting safeties. Possible second-team guys could be CB Jose Cheeseborough and S Marquis Rolle. Rolle saw a good amount of playing time with the second-team defense during FIU's resent scrimmages. Cheeseborough has seen some first-team playing time, but I do not expect him to start against Rutgers. I think Souarin has definitely taken the lead in practice.

300 fiu SPTS ADD DL:  Defensive ends, sophomore Tourek Williams (left) and junior James Jones. As for the starting defensive tackles, Andrew Mattox and sophomore Joshua Forney have really stood out during camp. Cristobal seems really pleased with the effort Forney has shown so far. "I think all those guys are working hard. Tourek [Williams] continues to get better. Josh Forney had a great camp. I expect some pretty good things from Josh. The rest of the guys are hard working, blue collar guys," Cristobal said.

Tuesday's practice

I am at FIU right now waiting to talk to coach Cristobal after practice. Check back later tonight for my interview with Cristobal, season projections and a preview of the Rutgers game.

Justin Azpiazu

September 05, 2010

Projected offensive starters; countdown to Rutgers

PROJECTED OFFENSIVE STARTERS

Wesley10 FIUfoot MHS TMC QB: I think most FIU fans know who will be the starting QB this year. Just in case you don't, expect junior Wesley Carroll (left), to play most of the game against Rutgers. Wayne Younger has had plenty of work during fall camp and will most likely see some playing time. 

RB: There is still some confusion as to who will be the Panthers' starting running One13 fiuscrimmage MHS ADD back. Junior Darriet Perry (301 yards on 103 attempts 2009), sophomores Darrian Mallery and Jeremiah Harden (right) are all battling for the stating spot. Mallery has been practicing with the first-team lately. Since I have to pick one guy, I'll go with Mallery, but I would not be shocked to see him split carries with the other running backs. 

WR: Junior T.Y. Hilton and senior Greg Ellingson are the only two wide receivers that are guaranteed to be starters. Junior Mertile, Willis Wright and Wayne Times are battling for the third spot. At the moment, I'll say Mertile will be the third WR against Rutgers. I don't think Willis Wright, as a true freshman, will start the game. I think it is very possible that Wright will be a starter in the near future, just not the first game. Senior Ariel Martinez has put together a nice fall camp and should see some playing time off the bench.

Faucher29 preview MHS AU TE: Jonathan Faucher (left, during his years with Cypress Bay) will most likely be the starter (since Dudley LaPorte is still dealing with his foot injury) but it is still to early to tell if he will be physically ready to play. Faucher is also dealing with a lower leg injury that he sustained early in fall camp. If Faucher does not play, junior Colt Anderson will take his place.

Offensive line

C: Brad Serini (right, no surprise here), LT: Caylin Hauptmann, RT Rupert Bryan Jr., 200 fiu SPTS ADD OG: David Istanich, OG: Giancarlo Revilla.

Response to comments

I think Mack could start at guard or is he still out of shape?...Panther Viscosity

A. Mack has lost a lot of weight. He could definitely be a starter. He's a big guy listed at 6-4, 320 on the roster. Cristobal told me last week that he has really slimmed down and is getting into better shape.

2010 FIU iPhone App is ready

The app is free for the first 30 days, then it's 1 month: $0.99, 3 months: $1.99, 6 months $2.99, 12 months: $4.99.

Deadspin catches up with Isiah Thomas

Deadspin.com caught up with Coach Thomas after a U.S. Open match. Story here.

Tomorrow defensive starters.

Justin Azpiazu

September 03, 2010

Lousiville, Florida State highlight 2010 hoops sked

2010-11 Men’s Basketball Schedule

Date    Opponent    Site    Time (ET)
November
12 (Fri.)    FLORIDA MEMORIAL    Miami, Fla.    8:00 p.m.
15 (Mon.)    BARRY    Miami, Fla.    7:00 p.m.
18 (Thurs.)    FLORIDA STATE    Miami, Fla.    7:00 p.m.
20 (Sat.)    UTAH VALLEY    Miami, Fla.    7:00 p.m.
27 (Sat.)    CHATTANOOGA^    Miami, Fla.    7:00 p.m.
29 (Mon.)    at Marshall^    Huntington, W.Va.    TBA

December
1 (Wed.)    at Louisville^    Louisville, Ky.    TBA
4 (Sat.)    at Jackson State^    Jackson, Miss.    TBA
12 (Sun.)    at Bowling Green    Bowling Green, Ohio    2:00 p.m.
18 (Sat.)    SAM HOUSTON STATE    Miami, Fla.    7:00 p.m.
22 (Wed.)    FLORIDA A&M    Miami, Fla.    7:00 p.m.
28 (Tues.)    at Utah Valley    Orem, Utah    TBA

January
2 (Sun.)    at ULM*    Monroe, La.    4:00 p.m.
6 (Thurs.)    ARKANSAS STATE*    Miami, Fla.    7:00 p.m.
8 (Sat.)    SOUTH ALABAMA*    Miami, Fla.    7:00 p.m.
13 (Thurs.)    at North Texas*    Denton, Texas    8:00 p.m.
15 (Sat.)    at Denver*    Denver, Colo.    6:00 p.m.
20 (Thurs.)    UALR*    Miami, Fla.    7:00 p.m.
22 (Sat.)    at South Alabama*    Mobile, Ala.    TBA
27 (Thurs.)    WKU*    Miami, Fla.    7:00 p.m.
29 (Sat.)    MIDDLE TENNESSEE*    Miami, Fla.    7:00 p.m.

February
3 (Thurs.)    at Troy*    Troy, Ala.    8:30 p.m.
5 (Sat.)    at Florida Atlantic*    Boca Raton, Fla.    TBA
10 (Thurs.)    LOUISIANA*    Miami, Fla.    7:00 p.m.
12 (Sat.)    at Middle Tennessee*    Murfreesboro, Tenn.    6:30 p.m.
19 (Sat.)    FLORIDA ATLANTIC*    Miami, Fla.    7:00 p.m.
24 (Thurs.)    at WKU*    Bowling Green, Ky.    TBA
26 (Sat.)    TROY*    Miami, Fla.    7:00 p.m.

March
5-8 (Sat.-Tue.)    at Sun Belt Conference Tournament    Hot Springs, Ark.

September 02, 2010

Conversation with Mario Cristobal

Caught up with Mario after Thursday's practice. Here's what he said ...

So what did you get out of Wednesday’s scrimmage?

“A lot. We did it all. We went two-minute, four-minute. We put the clock at 4 minutes, 30 seconds. Our offense needed to get two first downs, our defense needed to get the ball back. One coming out from our own 1-yard line, the defense trying to stop us and make us punt from our own territory, the offense trying to get a first down, create more room and churn time off the clock as well. Then we went different scenarios in the two-minute; down by three, down by six. Worked every personnel group, three tights, two backs; five wides. It was our last full scrimmage before Rutgers. Then it’s Rutgers preparation. We started a little bit yesterday, and then it’s full-bore today.”

What’s the status of Jonathan Faucher?

“Faucher looks great. He’s full-go.”

How about Dudley LaPorte? Is playing against Rutgers a bit of a stretch at this point?

“I think it might be. It hasn’t been great progress with him. I know he’s frustrated. We feel terrible for him. He’s a real good football player, and he’s waited a long time to play football. But unfortunately, that thing hasn’t healed the way we’ve wanted it to yet.”

Is his foot just experiencing inflammation, or is it structural?

“You’d like to think it isn’t, but since it’s been broken twice before, you have to be real careful. He’s going for more tests, more MRIs, and hopefully it’ll be a good result.”

Do you think at some point, you might want to shut him down?

“We have in the past 10 days. What he got out there was minimal. We go with what the doctor tells us, and we definitely don’t want to risk anything with him, because not only is he a valuable football player, he’s had a couple of freak injuries. We hope and pray for the best. We want him playing football. We’re a better football team when No. 17 is out there playing with us.”

With the assumption Pooh Bear isn’t ready for the Rutgers game, what does your depth look like at linebacker?

“We’re OK, depth-wise there. We’ve still got [Gregory] Hickman, still got Aaron Davis, Kenny Dillard’s done a good job, Markeith Russell is doing a real good job, Chris Edwards is playing real good football for us. A good number of athletic guys that can run, are real smart football players. We want Pooh back. Make no doubt about it. That was a guy who was a co-starter in the springtime. But it’s not fair to throw him out there right now. He’s getting closer. Will he make it to Rutgers? I don’t know. I know it’s being approached aggressively, because structurally, he is fine. It’s a matter of flexibility, range of motion.”

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