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25 posts from October 2010

October 30, 2010

Live blog

Starting in 5 minutes

October 28, 2010

Q&A with FIU offensive coordinator Scott Satterfield

What have you seen this year out of Greg Ellingson?

“From Day 1, from when I got here, he was one of the hardest workers on the field. I think, when he first got here, when they recruited him to come here, they didn’t know how talented he would be. But he’s always been that hard worker, since he’s been here, from what the guys have said. And I’ve seen that since I’ve been here. Everything he does is at 100 mph. He doesn’t get tired. He goes and goes and goes. He’s like the Energizer Bunny. That’s just the way he is. His personality is that way too. But he’s been a big-play guy for us this year, and he’s a go-to guy, too. If you look at the catches he has, most of them have been for first downs. A lot of them have been on third down. He’s just that kind of guy. When the game’s on the line, or we have to have a big play, he’s the guy that comes through with the big play. That doesn’t just happen by chance. That happens because he busts his tail on the field and during practice, and everybody has confidence in him.”

The running game has really come along in the last two weeks. What’s different?

“I don’t think anything’s different. We’ve been emphasizing it, working hard. Our offensive line, we kind of solidified things up front. The beginning of the year, we were shuffling guys in and out, and we’ve kind of got some guys that are working good in there. Those guys have gotten after it. And it hasn’t been one running back. It’s been by committee. Coach Wright’s done a good job of getting those guys in there, keeping them fresh, and the guys that are getting the carries, they know they’re not going to get a ton of carries, but when they get the carries, they’re running hard. But yeah, that’s one of our goals. We have to be able to run the football and those guys have come through.

“The depth’s been huge for us. We’ve gotten dinged up throughout the season. Harden’s missed a couple of games at running back, Mallary’s ankle is dinged up, DP is dinged up. We’ve needed that depth without question. The freshmen that have come into our camp this year have done well, and they’ve gotten some reps in practice and they’ll probably see some reps in the game, too. Without a doubt, you’ve got to have some running backs if you want to run the football, because they’re going to get dinged.”

Kedrick Rhodes is a guy that seems to have popped a little this year, no?

“In two-a-days, in camp, he really showed some things, but he’s young. He’s gotten reps and he’s screwed up here and there. But throughout the season, we’re at the halfway point, and he’s really caught on the last couple of weeks. We’d like to get him more touches on the field, because he’s a big-play guy. Everybody has confidence in him, too. He’s a great kid.”

You throw a lot to your receivers, but is it a priority to get it to the tight ends?

“Well, when they give it to us, we’re going to take it. We hit [Faucher] last week a couple of times. We’d like to have a little bit more throws to the tight end, because we want to keep it balanced. We don’t want just one guy getting all the touches. We’d like to carry it across the board so the defense can’t focus on just one guy. We’ve had a few injuries there, too. We’ve had guys beaten and banged throughout the fall. I think right now, they’re as healthy as they’ve been all season. All three of our tight ends have played. Hopefully they’ll get some more touches as we go.”

Defensively, what does FAU do?

“Well, they pretty much line up in their 4-3 and they’re a solid defensive football team. They’re a bend-but-don’t-break type team. They keep everything in front of them. They’ve got some great athletes out there that can run. And in the secondary, they’re all old guys that have been there, a lot of experience. They present a lot of problems to you, just because of the experience they have in the secondary. Not many people throwing the football on those guy. We’ve got to continue to do what we do on offense and try to execute and grind out first downs.”

Give me a couple of names to look out for on defense.

“Well, in the secondary, the two corners, [Tarvoris Hill and Keith Reaser], I think are good players, and not many people have hit big plays on their corners out there. I think their defensive end Kevin Cyrille, is pretty good. He’s a big kid. They’re pretty big up front, and he causes havoc off the edge. And the big linebacker inside, [Michael Lockley] the Mike. He’s probably a 240-pound guy, 245. He really plugs the running game. And [Marcus Bartles], the safety. He’s not a big guy, but he flies up there and makes a lot of plays. I think he had 14 tackles last week.”

FAU scouting report

The Owls have struggled losing five out of the last six games. FAU opened the year beating UAB 32-31 and that was pretty much the highlight of their season. The Owls lost a thrilling contest to Arkansas State last week 37-17 on the road. The Owls and ASU were tied late in the game, but turnovers killed FAU. The Owls have played three out of conference games, the latest - earlier this month - losing to USF in a route in Tampa. The Owls also traveled to Detroit to face Michigan State - on a neutral (Ford Field) - for a rare out of state home game. The Owls are 0-3 in the SBC losing to ASU, Monroe and North Texas.

AP090905054434 Quarterback Jeff Van Camp (left, AP Photo/Dave Weaver) threw for over 250 yards and three touchdowns against UAB. Interceptions have been a problem for the redshirt senior. Van Camp has thrown six interceptions up from only two in 2009. Last week against ASU, the Owls had a chance to take a late lead in the fourth quarter, but Van Camp threw an interception returned for a touchdown. The play sealed the victory for ASU. Florida Atlantic South Florida Football

Running back Alfred Morris (right, AP Photo/Steve Nesius) has been the Owls leading rusher with 455 yards and five touchdowns. Morris had a season-high 153 yards and two touchdowns against ULM. USF limited Morris to a season-low 22 yards. Last season, Morris rushed for a 152 yards and two touchdowns against FIU (no doubt a concern for coach Mario Cristobal and the Panthers.)

Miami native Lester Jean, has been Van Camp's favorite target, catching 34 passes for 512 yards and three touchdowns. Jean had a monster nine catches for 164 yards against UAB. Against Michigan State and ASU, Jean had 99 yards, but no scores. Jean is a tall receiver (6 foot 3) can that can get open down field. Jean has TD catches of 77 and 80 yards.

Defensively, the Owls have given up an average of 28.3 points per game and are tied for 24th place in the country (with FIU) for tackles for loss. Free safety Marcus Bartels leads the team with 60 tackles.

Response to comments

Q. Do you know if Coach Schnellenberger will be on the hot seast if the Owls go down to FIU?...Gooch07
A. I think coach is safe at FAU, until he decides to go away. Schnellenberger built the program from scratch and has made them a fairly competitive team. They are just having a down year. In today's day and age, fans are to quick to call for a coach to fired.
Q. Can you guys get an updated injury report from both teams?...TrueBlue
A. Working on it.

 Justin Azpiazu

October 27, 2010

Sun Belt Network schedule released

FIU men's basketball team will have two games aired on the Sun Belt Network this season, FIU-FAU on Feb. 5 and Middle Tennessee on Feb. 2.

Full SBC network schedule here.

FIU's games at Louisville on Dec. 1 will be on ESPN3.com, at Denver on Jan. 15 will be on FSN Rocky Mountain (not sure if the local FSN Florida will air the game) and WKU on Jan. 27 will be on FOX College sports.

October 26, 2010

FIU's Roberts named to All-SBC Third Team

Marvin Roberts, who led the Golden Panthers with 15.4 points per game last year, has earned third-team All-Sun Belt honors, as voted on by the conference's coaches.

He was the lone FIU player recognized in the preseason poll, which was announced Tuesday.

Roberts, the senior guard who also shot 41.7 percent from the field and averaged 4.8 rebounds per-game in 2009/2010, is one of three starters back for FIU.

Still, the coaches do not envision Isiah Thomas' second year with the Panthers being that much more successful than his first, when they went 7-25. FIU is picked to finish fifth in the Sun Belt's East Division, ahead of just Troy.

The Panthers will appear in two Sun Belt Network-televised games this winter: at Florida Atlantic on Feb. 5 and at Middle Tennessee on Feb. 12 -- both games scheduled to begin at 2 p.m.

Complete results:

SBC Preseason All-Conference

First Team

George Odufuwa (North Texas, Sr., F)
Josh White (North Texas, Sr. G)
Tim Williams (South Alabama, Sr., G)
Sergio Kerusch (WKU, Sr., F)
Steffphon Pettigrew (WKU, Sr., F)

Second Team

Martavius Adams (Arkansas State, Jr., F/C)
Donald Boone (Arkansas State, Sr., G)
Greg Gantt (Florida Atlantic, So., G)
Raymond Taylor (Florida Atlantic, So. G)
Tristan Thompson (North Texas, Sr., G)

Third Team

Solomon Bozeman (UALR, Sr., G)
Brett Royster (Florida Atlantic, Sr., F)
Marvin Roberts (FIU, Sr., G)
Randell Daigle (Louisiana, Sr., G)
James Washington (Middle Tennessee, Sr., G)

2010 SBC Coaches Preseason Poll (first-place votes)

West Division

1. North Texas (12) – 72 pts.
2. Arkansas State – 55 pts.
3. Denver – 51 pts.
4. Louisiana – 36 pts.
5. UALR – 26 pts.
6. ULM – 12 pts.

East Division

1. WKU (11) – 71 pts.
2. Florida Atlantic (1) – 53 pts.
3. South Alabama – 47 pts
4. Middle Tennessee – 42 pts.
5. FIU – 22 pts.
6. Troy – 17 pts.

October 25, 2010

Cristobal on Dodge's dismissal

During the weekly Sun Belt coaches conference call, Mario Cristobal was asked about former North Texas coach Todd Dodge, fired four days after FIU thumped the Mean Green 34-10.

Cristobal's response: "I think he’s a great coach and a great human being. You could see that program, you could see, North Texas every year got progressively better. They were in every game, just about. We had some tremendous matchups with them. Again, a complete class act. He’s a great football coach, and his son’s a tremendous human being and a great football player, as well. Nothing but the best for Coach Dodge."

Glance at Sun Belt Standings

Friends, hope you enjoyed your bye week. For the first time since Labor Day, actually had two consecutive days off. But I'm back and energized for the stretch.

And by the looks of things, it's gonna be wild. Thanks to Western Kentucky's 54-21 stunner AT Lafayette, Florida Atlantic remains the Sun Belt's lone winless team. Yes, the same FAU that hosts FIU on Saturday.

Much more on that game in the days to come, but first, here's a look at the SBC standings:

Troy 3-0
FIU 2-0
MTSU 2-1
ASU 3-2
ULM 2-2
ULL 2-3
WKU 1-2
UNT 1-3
FAU 0-3

In the words on a friend who's seen his fair share of Sun Belt games, "A lot of [bad] teams clubbing each other."

UPDATE: Just got word from the Golden Panthers that FIU's home game against ULM on Nov. 6 will appear on the Sun Belt Network, shown locally on CSS. Kickoff is 7:30 p.m.

UPDATE NO. 2: For those of you who had an issue with my buddy's assessment of the Sun Belt, here's something to mull over.

The highest-ranked Sun Belt team, according to Jeff Sagarin, is South Alabama, which won't formally be part of the conference in football until 2013. And that's at 100th place in the country.

Truth be told, these aren't very good teams. Not by a long stretch. But that doesn't mean FIU playing for a bowl berth isn't exciting -- or newsworthy. Just trying to keep a little perspective.

October 23, 2010

Midseason Sun Belt Conference Report

The following is a midseason look at the Sun Belt by the league’s newspaper beat reporters. Ted Hutton (FAU) declined to participate.

***All eight beat writers that participated picked Troy to win the Sun Belt, for the Trojans and Middle Tennessee to play in a bowl game and Troy redshirt freshman QB Corey Robinson as the Freshman of the Year.

***Three players were nominated for Offensive Player of the Year: Troy senior WR Jerrel Jernigan (five votes), WKU junior RB Bobby Rainey (two votes) and Troy redshirt freshman QB Corey Robinson (one vote).

***MTSU senior DE Jamari Lattimore (Defensive Player of the Year) and Middle Tennessee (Biggest Disappointment) received seven of eight votes. FIU senior DB Anthony Gaitor (Defensive POY) and Middle Tennessee senior QB Dwight Dasher (Biggest Disappointment) got the other votes.

***Six beat writers selected Troy redshirt sophomore DE Jonathan Massaquoi as Newcomer of the Year, FIU as the Biggest Surprise and for three teams to play in bowl games (which has never happened). The other two votes went to FIU junior QB Wesley Carroll and ULM redshirt freshman QB Kolton Browing (Newcomer) and ULM (Biggest Surprise) and two teams going to bowl games.

***Five beat writers selected Troy coach Larry Blakeney as Coach of the Year. FIU coach Mario Cristobal (COY) got the other three votes.

***Three beat writers had the Ragin’ Cajuns playing in a bowl game. Three had FIU competing in the postseason, and one had Arkansas State in a bowl.

------------------

ADAM BEASLEY

FIU beat writer

Miami Herald

(Miami, Fla.)

Offensive Player of the Year: Bobby Rainey, RB, WKU

Defensive Player of the Year: Anthony Gaitor, DB, FIU

Newcomer of the Year: Wesley Carroll, QB, FIU

Freshman of the Year: Corey Robinson, QB, Troy

Coach of the Year: Larry Blakeney, Troy

Conference champion: Troy

Bowl teams: Troy (GoDaddy.com Bowl), FIU (New Orleans Bowl) and Middle Tennessee (Little Caesars Pizza Bowl)

Biggest surprise: Florida International

Biggest disappointment: Middle Tennessee

------------------

ADAM SPARKS

Middle Tennessee beat writer

Daily News Journal

(Murfreesboro, Tenn.)

Offensive Player of the Year: Jerrel Jernigan, WR, Troy

Defensive Player of the Year: Jamari Lattimore, DE, Middle Tennessee

Newcomer of the Year: Jonathan Massaquoi, DE, Troy

Freshman of the Year: Corey Robinson, QB, Troy

Coach of the Year: Larry Blakeney, Troy

Conference champion: Troy

Bowl teams: Troy (GoDaddy.com Bowl), Louisiana-Lafayette (New Orleans Bowl) and Middle Tennessee (At-large bowl TBA) ... I think Big Ten will fill Little Casears Pizza Bowl.

Biggest surprise: Louisiana-Monroe

Biggest disappointment: Middle Tennessee

------------------

DREW CHAMPLIN

Troy beat writer

Dothan Eagle

(Dothan, Ala.)

Offensive Player of the Year: Jerrel Jernigan, WR, Troy

Defensive Player of the Year: Jamari Lattimore, DE, Middle Tennessee

Newcomer of the Year: Jonathan Massaquoi, DE, Troy

Freshman of the Year: Corey Robinson, QB, Troy

Coach of the Year: Larry Blakeney, Troy

Conference champion: Troy

Bowl teams: Troy (GoDaddy.com Bowl), Ragin' Cajuns (New Orleans Bowl) and Middle Tennessee (Little Caesars Pizza Bowl)

Biggest surprise: Florida International

Biggest disappointment: Middle Tennessee

------------------

MATTHEW ROBERSON

Arkansas State beat writer

Jonesboro Sun

(Jonesboro, Ark.)

Offensive Player of the Year: Jerrel Jernigan, WR, Troy

Defensive Player of the Year: Jamari Lattimore, DE, Middle Tennessee

Newcomer of the Year: Jonathan Massaquoi, DE, Troy

Freshman of the Year: Corey Robinson, QB, Troy

Coach of the Year: Mario Cristobal, FIU

Conference champion: Troy

Bowl teams: Troy (New Orleans Bowl), Florida International (Little Caesar's Bowl) and Middle Tennessee (GoDaddy.com Bowl)

Biggest surprise: Florida International

Biggest disappointment: Middle Tennessee senior quarterback Dwight Dasher, who was suspended for the season’s first four games by the NCAA after accepting an illegal loan.

------------------

BRETT VITO

North Texas beat writer

Denton Record Chronicle

(Denton, Texas)

Offensive Player of the Year: Jerrel Jernigan, WR, Troy

Defensive Player of the Year: Jamari Lattimore, DE, Middle Tennessee

Newcomer of the Year: Jonathan Massaquoi, DE, Troy

Freshman of the Year: Corey Robinson, QB, Troy

Coach of the Year: Mario Cristobal, FIU

Conference champion: Troy

Bowl teams: Troy  (GoDaddy.com Bowl), Middle Tennessee (New Orleans Bowl)

Biggest surprise: Louisiana-Monroe

Biggest disappointment: Middle Tennessee

------------------

NICK BAUMGARDNER

Western Kentucky beat writer

Bowling Green Daily News

(Bowling Green, Ky.)

Offensive Player of the Year: Corey Robinson, QB, Troy

Defensive Player of the Year: Jamari Lattimore, DE, MTSU

Newcomer of the Year: Jonathan Massaquoi, DE, Troy

Freshman of the Year: Corey Robinson, QB, Troy

Coach of the Year: Larry Blakeney, Troy

Conference champion: Troy

Bowl teams: Troy, MTSU

Biggest surprise: FIU

Biggest disappointment: MTSU

------------------

JOSHUA PARROTT

Ragin’ Cajuns beat writer

Lafayette Daily Advertiser

(Lafayette, La.)

Offensive Player of the Year: Jerrel Jernigan, WR, Troy

Defensive Player of the Year: Jamari Lattimore, DE, Middle Tennessee

Newcomer of the Year: Jonathan Massaquoi, DE, Troy

Freshman of the Year: Corey Robinson, QB, Troy

Coach of the Year: Larry Blakeney, Troy

Conference champion: Troy

Bowl teams: Troy (GoDaddy.com Bowl), Ragin' Cajuns (New Orleans Bowl) and Middle Tennessee (Little Caesars Pizza Bowl)

Biggest surprise: Florida International

Biggest disappointment: Middle Tennessee

------------------

TABBY SOIGNIER

ULM beat writer

The News-Star

(Monroe, La.)

Offensive Player of the Year: Bobby Rainey, WKU

Defensive Player of the Year: Jamari Lattimore, Middle Tennessee

Newcomer of the Year: Kolton Browning, ULM

Freshman of the Year: Corey Robinson, QB, Troy

Coach of the Year: Mario Cristobal, FIU

Conference champion: Troy

Bowl teams: Troy (GoDaddy.com Bowl), Florida International (New Orleans Bowl) and Arkansas State (Little Caesars Pizza Bowl)

Biggest surprise: Florida International

Biggest disappointment: Middle Tennessee

October 21, 2010

FIU receives 11 midseason All-Sun Belt Conference selections

First-team

Safety Jonathan Cyprien, cornerback Anthony Gaitor and wide receiver T.Y. Hilton.

Second-team

WR Greg Ellingson and center Brad Serini. KR T.Y. Hilton.

Third-team

OL Caylin Hauptman, OL Cedric Mack, K Jack Griffin, DE Jarvis WIlson, LB Winston Fraser.

Complete list

MIDSEASON ALL-SBC TEAM
-- OFFENSE --
1st TEAM 2nd TEAM 3rd TEAM
QB Corey Robinson, Troy Ryan Aplin, Arkansas St Kolton Browning, ULM
RB Lance Dunbar, North Texas Alfred Morris, FAU Phillip Tanner, Middle Tennessee
RB Bobby Rainey, WKU DuJuan Harris, Troy Derek Lawson, Arkansas St
WR Jerrel Jernigan, Troy Allen Muse, Arkansas St Luther Ambrose, ULM
WR Lester Jean, FAU Greg Ellingson, FIU Jason Bruce, Troy
WR T.Y. Hilton, FIU Taylor Stockemer, Arkansas St Dwayne Frampton, Arkansas St
TE Rob Housler, FAU Ladarius Green, Louisiana Jack Doyle, WKU
C Tyler Clark, Troy Brad Serini, FIU Ian Burks, Louisiana
OG Kelvin Drake, North Texas Ryan McCaul, ULM Cedric Mack, FIU
OG Preston Bailey, Middle Tennessee Sifa Etu, Arkansas St Esteban Santiago, North Texas
OT Victor Gill, North Texas Wes Jeffries, WKU Derek Newton, Arkansas St
OT Mike Williams, Middle Tennessee James Brown, Troy Caylin Hauptmann, FIU
KR Willie McNeal, WKU T.Y. Hilton, FIU Roderick Hall, Arkansas St
PR Jerrel Jernigan, Troy Eric Russell, Middle Tennessee Orkeys Auriene, Louisiana
-- DEFENSE --
1st TEAM 2nd TEAM 3rd TEAM
DE Jamari Lattimore, Middle Tennessee Ken Dorsey, ULM Mario Addison, Troy
DT Bryan Hall, Arkansas St Shavod Atkinson, North Texas Dorvus Woods, Arkansas St
DT Kelvin Jackson, North Texas Amos Draper, Arkansas St Jarvis Givens, FAU
DE Jonathan Massaquoi, Troy Cory Henry, FAU Jarvis Wilson, FIU
LB Craig Robertson, North Texas Xavier Lamb, Troy Jason Edwards, ULM
LB Thomas Majors, WKU Daylon McCoy, Louisiana Jeremy Phillips, North Texas
LB Michael Lockley, FAU Malik Eugene, FAU Winston Fraser, FIU
LB Darin Davis, Middle Tennessee Javon McKinnon, Arkansas St Cameron Blakes, ULM
CB Anthony Gaitor, FIU Robert Nelson, ULM Dwight Bentley, Louisiana
CB Bryan Willis, Troy Chris Pickett, Troy Rod Issac, Middle Tennessee
S Willard Ross, Troy Jeremy Kellem, Middle Tennessee Lance Kelley, Louisiana
S Jonathan Cyprien, FIU Marcus Bartels, FAU Alex Ibe, ULM
K Michael Taylor, Troy Alan Gendreau, Middle Tennessee Jack Griffin, FIU
P Josh Davis, Middle Tennessee Mickey Groody, FAU Will Goggans, Troy

Justin

 

October 20, 2010

UNT coach fired after loss to FIU

In a move that most everyone saw coming, North Texas coach Todd Dodge received his walking papers Wednesday, four days after FIU thrashed his Mean Green 34-10 in UNT's homecoming game.

Offensive coordinator Mike Canales will take over as the program's interim coach, taking the reins of a team that has lost six of its seven games this year.

October 18, 2010

Five things we know about FIU Football at the midway mark

1. FIU might be the most complete team in the Sun Belt, and will remain in the conference title conversation the rest of the way. Crazy as it may seem for a program that had won seven total SBC heading into the year, but the stats don't lie. FIU is the only team that ranks in the top half of the conference in total offense (4th, 368.8 ypg) and total defense (1st, 340.7).

2. Wesley Carroll has got it going lately. After struggling his first three games at FIU, the redshirt junior has completed 58 percent of his passes for 619 yards and two touchdowns in the last three, throwing just one interception in that stretch. And with the FIU running game now clicking, Carroll doesn't have to carry to the team for the Panthers to win. It's a good formula.

3. That being said, don't start polishing those conference title rings quite yet. Yes, the Panthers are 2-0 in the conference, but those wins have come against teams that are a combined 1-12 this year. We know FIU can beat the bad teams. But how about the good? After the bye awaits FAU (1-4, 0-2), which always plays FIU tough, and then the Panthers play five of the conference's six best teams to finish out the season. A good test will be Louisiana-Monroe on Nov. 6.

4. Without doubt, the Panthers will need their special teams to win a close game for them at some point this year. Which means, T.Y. Hilton will probably need to take over a game at some point. While Hilton has scored on offense the last two weeks, he's been conspicuously quiet in the return game. The Panthers rank eighth in the conference, averaging 18.3 yards per kickoff, and manage just 6.1 yards per punt return.

5. FIU's brutal non-conference schedule, although great for giving the team national exposure, may in the end cost the program a bowl bid this year. The 0-4 start against nothing but BCS conference competition has made the math awfully tough for FIU to get to seven wins, which Sun Belt schools most certainly will need to go bowling. Six and six likely won't get it done, because all the .500 teams from the major (and other mid-major) conferences will earn a spot before it goes to an SBC representative. Comes down to dollars and cents. So unless 6-2 captures the Sun Belt's automatic bid, FIU likely needs to go 7-1 in conference to earn the team's first bowl berth.

CLARIFICATION: NCAA rules state that any 7-5 team from a conference will receive a bowl berth ahead of any 6-6 team from the same conference, regardless of where they finish in the conference standings. So, FIU could finish 6-2 in the Sun Belt, yet still be the third option for a bowl. If Middle Tennessee goes 6-2 in the Sun Belt, it would be 7-5 overall, and get the bid. More unlikely, but still possible: If ULM beats LSU later in the year, the Warhawks could still go 5-3 in the Sun Belt and finish 7-5, beating out 6-6, 6-2 FIU. Of course, we're getting way ahead of ourselves, but just wanted to set the record straight.

October 16, 2010

FIU-North Texas Live Blog

Hello from Fouts Field -- aka, the home of Necessary Roughness.

It's gonna be a VERY light night of blogging by yours truly, as it's a deadline game. I'll update with scoring plays, turnovers, big hits, and news and notes, but if you want play-by-play, follow along

We hear that neither Jeremiah Harden nor Larvez Mars made the trip. When more is known, we'll let you know.

Kickoff is 7:30 p.m. We'll be live at 7:25.

 

 

FIU scouting report; prediction

Match fiufoot10A1 MHS AU The Golden Panthers survived a scare last week against Western Kentucky. Ultimately, FIU pulled out a close 28-21 win over the Hilltoppers. This week, FIU travels to North Texas as 5 1/2 point road favorites. North Texas has played better than its 1-5 record would suggest. The Mean Green, pack a mean (had to do it) running game that will need to be contained. FIU did a much better job of stopping the run last week and will to need to play even better. 

Injury update

Barring any last minute setbacks, running back Jeremiah Harden should return to action this week. Harden missed the WKU game with an undisclosed injury.

There is a slight possibility that Pooh Bear will play. As most of you know, Pooh has been out recovering from a broken ankle. Coach Cristobal told me earlier this week that Pooh is almost there and could be back this week or next.

TV info

Game will be on CSS and ESPN3.com (outside of South Florida). Radio. 790 a.m.

Prediction

FIU should be able to have success through the air against North Texas. NT allowed FAU QB Van Camp to pass for 273 yards. I expect the FIU offense to take an early lead but the game should not be a rout. NT will use running back Dunbar to eat up clock and tire out the FIU defense, much the same way WKU tried to do with Rainey. FIU stood strong and pulled out the win. Expect NT to use the same method. If FIU can limit turnovers and stop the run, a win should be easy. FIU 24-14

Justin Azpiazu

Thomas holds two-hour session in first FIU practice

From Saturday's Herald.
BY ADAM H. BEASLEY
There was no easing into training camp for FIU basketball Friday, as Isiah Thomas held an intense two-hour session Friday night, the team's first official day of practice.

The Golden Panthers, with full attendance of their eligible players, went at it with end-to-end, one-on-one defending drills within the session's first hour.

Sporting new, all-blue workout gear, FIU's senior class began preparations for its final collegiate season.

That group included Alex Legion, who has transferred twice -- from Illinois and Kentucky -- and won't be eligible play until after this semester. Legion, a guard, played in 39 games at the schools, starting three.

The Panthers have another practice scheduled for Saturday afternoon, with less than a month before its season opener against Florida Memorial.

Read more: http://www.miamiherald.com/2010/10/16/1876116/thomas-holds-two-hour-session.html#ixzz12UqPIMcz

October 14, 2010

North Texas breakdown

North Texas (1-5) started the season with three straight losses (@Clemson, Rice and @Army). The Mean Green's only win came at FAU last month, 21-17. The Mean Green have struggled with injuries, losing 11 starters to season ending injuries. The quarterback position has been especially hit hard, with the Mean Green down to fourth string quarterback Chase Baine. North Texas had relied on Riley Dodge at quarterback, but Dodge broke his wrist against Lafayette and will miss some time.

In North Texas' last game, the Mean Green were conservative with the pass calling, limiting Baine to 17 attempts. Baine completed nine passes for 77 yards, in a 24-19 loss at Arkansas State.The Mean Green have thrown six interceptions, most in the SBC.

North Texas Army Football Running back Lance Dunbar (left, Mike Groll, AP) has been the main driving force for North Texas, rushing for over a 100 yards five times this season. Dunbar is a 5 foot 9, 203 pound back, that can use speed or power to gain extra yards. Dunbar will be FIU's main concern on Saturday. If the Golden Panthers can stop Dunbar chances are they can win.

Against Arkansas State, Dunbar carried the ball 30 times for 104 yards and a touchdown.

The Mean Green have lost two consecutive Sun Belt games and are 1-2 in the SBC. The Mean Green will be looking to turn their season around against FIU on Saturday. The FIU defense will need to be able to stop the run if they hope to win.

Defensively, the Mean Green have a talented group that is ranked second in the SBC, behind FIU, in total defense and second in scoring defense. FIU will need to be careful on offense and protect the ball. North Texas had the ability to score on turnovers. Even though, the North Texas offense is hobbled at the moment, the team can still score. FIU will need to take them serious to win on the road.

Series: FIU leads the series 3-2.

Line: FIU -5

Weather: Sat. H83, L53, with a 7:30 kickoff the weather might be closer to the low.

 Tomorrow - FIU scouting report, prediction

October 11, 2010

FIU-W. Kentucky recap; injury update

FIU played a thriller Saturday, pulling out a close 28-21 victory over Sun Belt Conference foe Western Kentucky. The Panthers seemed to have the game in control leading 21-0 in the first-half when WKU decided to make a game of it. Both teams played well, with FIU making a few more plays at the end. WKU showed that they are much improved and almost tied the game on a fourth down pass that was broken up by Dez Johnson. If the Hilltoppers can find some more consistancy at quarterback, I have no doubt that they can win some game.

For the first time this season FIU, showed they have the guts to tough out a close win. The game might not have been everything FIU fans wanted, but to see the team rally and play back is a good sign.

Injuries

FIU coach Mario Cristobal said during Monday's Sun Belt conference call that, Jeremiah Harden was going to evaluated on Monday by doctors. Harden missed the Western Kentucky game with an undisclosed injury. 790theticket.com reported that Harden had suffered a concussion. After the game on Saturday, Cristobal stopped short of calling Harden's injury a concussion, saying Harden played a physical game against Pittsburgh and was going to be evaluated.

TV for North Texas

Chances are the game will be picked up locally by CSS. Game will also be on ESPN3.com.

Here are a few positives and negatives observations.

QB play - positive

Wes Carroll had 12 completions on 19 attempts for 108 yards and an interception. Carroll's low yard total Match fiufoot10A1 MHS AU is due to FIU running only 53 total plays (19 pass, 34 run). On his 12 completions, Carroll connected with seven different receivers, including three passes to T.Y. Hilton (left. Andrew Uloza, For the Miami Herald). Carroll was effective and was able to protect the ball. Carroll has done a job good of avoiding the pass rush. Carroll's only mistake came on a poorly timed crossing pattern that missed the receiver and ended up in a defensive back's hands. Carroll has continued to improve in each game he has played. The Panthers' offense was able to move the ball early but had trouble late in the game after WKU adjusted.

Running - positive

Run fiufoot10A1 MHS AU Without Jeremiah Harden, the Panthers made easy work of the Hilltoppers' defense. FIU had 235 yards rushing, using three running backs: Darriet Perry, Darian Mallary and Kedrick Rhodes (left, Andrew Uloza, For the Miami Herald.) 

FIU scored four rushing touchdowns, with Carroll and Hilton getting into the mix. It was good to see FIU move the ball on the ground. FIU was held to a season-low 93 yards against Pittsburgh. The team did not fare much better against Maryland 117 yards and Texas A&M 115 yards. Granted, in two of the three games FIU had to pass more, since they were playing from behind.  Coach Mario Cristobal said after the game that the team would continue to use short, quick passes to augment the running game.  

Special teams - negative

FIU punter Josh Brisk needs to work on his consistency.  Brisk kicked a couple of short punts that set up WKU in FIU territory. Brisk did pin the Hilltoppers deep in their own territory on a 45-yard punt, so some credit is due. Brisk nearly pinned WKU deep in its territory a second time by the ball brushed the front of the goal line.

Defense - positive and negative

The defense played better than last week against Pittsburgh, but there is still need for improvement. FIU held WKU to 299 yards Ball fiufoot10A1 MHS AU of total offense. FIU needs to improve on third down, WKU converted 9 of 18 tries and tackling. You have to give credit to the FIU defense for the way they battled through a tough stretch in the second and third quarter when WKU controlled the ball. (Picture is of Toronto Smith #13, Gregory Hickman #55, Chuck Grace #21. Andrew Uloza, For the Miami Herald)

FIU recorded three sacks.

Here's a shot of the Dazzlers (Andrew Uloza, For the Miami Herald) on Saturday .

Cheerleader fiufoot10A1 MHS AU

Response to comments

@Southpaw, You're right. It did not lead to a TD. I just watched the replay again. The interception was on the drive right after WKU scored.

Below is from last night.

Report: WR Dozier verbally commits to FIU

According to Scout.com, WR Freeman Dozier, from Jacksonville's Raines High, verbally committed to FIU. Dozier, a senior, listed between 6-1 and 6-2 and runs a sub 4.4, 40-yard. 

Justin Azpiazu

October 10, 2010

Report: WR Dozier verbally commits to FIU

According to Scout.com, WR Freeman Dozier, from Jacksonville's Raines High, verbally committed to FIU. Dozier, a senior, listed between 6-1 and 6-2 and runs a sub 4.4, 40-yard. 

October 09, 2010

FIU-WKU live blog

October 08, 2010

FIU-W. Kentucky breakdown; live blog

Join me Saturday for the FIU-WKU live blog kicking off at 3:15 p.m. from FIU Stadium.

FIU-WKU breakdown

Western Kentucky scouting report

Over the past few seasons, Western Kentucky has piled up a 24-game losing streak, the longest Football Bowl Subdivision losing streak in the country. The Hilltoppers last win came on Sept. 20, 2008 against Murray State.

What I wrote about WKU in yesterday's blog

The Hilltoppers started the season playing three of their first four games on the road. Western Kentucky's opening schedule has been one of the toughest in the SBC. Western Kentucky lost at Nebraska, at Kentucky, Indiana at home and at USF. The Hilltoppers have struggled to keep pace with their out of conference opponents. Western Kentucky features talented running back Bobby Rainey, who has a team-high five touchdowns. The Hilltoppers open conference play on Saturday at FIU. - Justin Azpiazu GPP.

W Kentucky Kentucky Football(2) WKU has relied on quarterback Kawaun Jakes and running back Rainey (left, photo credit David Perry, AP) on offense. Both are above average players that have big play capabilities. Rainey is considered by the experts to be a little on the small side at 5-8, 196, but is described as an explosive back that can get up the field in a hurry. Rainey has been a work horse for WKU, rushing the ball over 20 times in each of the Hilltoppers first-four games. Rainey has three over 100-yard performances this season, including 155 yards on 30 carries in WKU's 49-10 loss at No. 7 Nebraska (5-0). Rainey had a season-low 64 yards on 21 carries against USF.
2010 stats, Rainey: 508 yards, 94 carries and five touchdowns.
Quarterback Jakes and the Hilltoppers passing game has struggled to start the season. WKU has been conservative on offense opting to run the ball. Jakes best game was against South Florida last weekend, passing for a season-high 221 yards on 19 completions. Western Kentucky scored on a six-play, 80-yard drive late in the game to pad the score. Jakes hooked up with WR Jack Doyle on a 25-yard touchdown pass. Doyle is the Hilltoppers No. 1 receiver, catching 15 passes for 173 yards and a touchdown.
Defensively, the WKU secondary has allowed opposing quarterbacks to complete 75 percent of their passes. The Hilltoppers have surrendered an average of 441 yards on defense.

FIU breakdown Fla International Pittsburgh Football
FIU is 0-4 and coming off the toughest opening schedule in the SBC. FIU fared well against Texas A&M,   Maryland, Pittsburgh and Rutgers, but the losses are starting to pile up for the Golden Panthers. FIU starts the heart of its season on Saturday, taking on a lowly WKU team that is in the dredges of the nation's longest FBS losing streak. 
There is no doubt in my mind that both teams will be hungry for a win. WKU has also played a tough opening schedule, but has not played as well as FIU. (Photo is of Anthony Gaitor breaking up a pass against Pittsburgh, Keith Srakocic AP).
For the first time this season FIU is favored in a game. According to the odds makers, the Golden Panthers are 9 1/2 point home favorites against WKU. FIU has been a double-digit underdog in all four of its games.
With the start of Sun Belt play, the Panthers will need a win to alleviate fears that the team cannot finish a game. Quarterback Wesley Carroll (left) is coming off a 23 for 38, 223-yard passing game against Pitt. Carroll, completed an efficient 60 percent of his passes and best of all, Wes threw no interceptions. FIU has been able to move the ball through the air, with Greg Ellingson and T.Y. Hilton (left, photo credit Keith Srakocic, AP) catching the bulk of the passes. The WKU secondary has really struggling to stop anyone.
Fla International Pittsburgh Football(2)The FIU offense has been playing at a higher level ever since Maryland, but the defense has struggled. Pittsburgh running back Ray Graham had a field day rushing for 277 yards on 29 carries and three touchdowns against FIU. Graham had 79, 34 and 19-yard rushes for touchdowns in Pitts' 44-17 win on Saturday. FIU will need to desperately address the rushing defense to stop WKU. The Hilltoppers' Bobby Rainey, is capable of  making plays.
Prediction
FIU will move the ball early but can they stop WKU? I expect this to be a close game at first, but FIU should be able to pull away late. I expect the FIU defense to be the difference in the game. FIU should be able to put pressure on WKU's quarterback and push him into making mistakes. If FIU can stop Rainey, then FIU will win. Carroll just needs to be efficient and protect the ball. I expect the FIU receivers to have a big day.
FIU 34-14.

Justin Azpiazu

October 07, 2010

Report: Atlantic wide receiver commits to FIU

We have confirmed what the paper to the north reports: Atlantic High wide receiver Ezekiel Turner has committed to FIU, giving the Panthers their 11th (at least) member of the Class of 2011.

"Over the summer I went to camp to watch them practice and I have a close relationship with the coaches," Turner told the Sun-Sentinel. "Love the campus, love the atmosphere."

Turner, a 5-10, 165-pound slot receiver, is a three-star recruit, according to Rivals.com.


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