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32 posts from December 2010

December 27, 2010

FIU fans invited to welcome team home at 7 a.m.

FIU fans are invited to greet the team when they arrive back in Miami. Fans can go to the field house next to FIU Stadium around 7 a.m.

December 26, 2010

Live blog from sort of warm Miami

Live blog kicks off at 8 tonight, live from my living room. Game is on ESPN. Check Back

Justin

Little Caesars Pizza Bowl Edges

FIU OFFENSE VS. TOLEDO DEFENSE

EDGE: PUSH

Both sides have the same strength: Controlling the line of scrimmage, and by extension, the running game. The Golden Panthers' rush offense is ranked 28th nationally, gaining 189.2 yards per game. Toledo's run defense? It's also the 28th-best, surrendering just 130.6. The game may hinge on FIU's ability to block senior Archie Donald, Toledo's second-team all-conference linebacker.

FIU DEFENSE VS. TOLEDO OFFENSE

EDGE: FIU

With all due respect to T.Y. Hilton, Toledo's Eric Page is probably the best player on the field. But the Rockets' offense has a problem. It doesn't have much anything else. Page has accounted for 26.6 percent of Toledo's 4,314 yards of offensive output. Expect FIU, statistically the Sun Belt's top defense, to stick all-conference corner Anthony Gaitor on Page, and then pressure freshman quarterback Terrance Owens into making bad decisions.

SPECIAL TEAMS

EDGE: FIU

In the return game, Page - named first-team All-American by several publications - and Hilton, the Sun Belt player of the year, are essentially a wash. Both are outstanding. But if it comes down to a game-winning field goal, the Panthers have to like their chances. FIU kicker Jack Griffin has made 15 of 18 FG attempts this year, with a long of 50 yards. Toledo's combination of Bill Claus and Ryan Casano has missed 8 of 13 tries.

COACHING

EDGE: PUSH

For FIU coach Mario Cristobal and Toledo's Tim Beckman, this is all brand new. Both are bowl newbies, at least in the top job. Combined, they have just six seasons of head coaching experience after spending decades as assistants. Cristobal is an offensive guy, while Beckman's specialty is defense. He was a three-time nominee for the Frank Broyles Award, which goes to the nation's top assistant coach, while the defensive coordinator at Bowling Green.

INTANGIBLES

EDGE: TOLEDO

With Ford Field just 63 miles from campus, the Rockets could only have more of a homefield advantage if the game were played at the Glass Bowl. Expect Toledo fans to outnumber FIU partisans by 10-to-1, at least. And while none of the current Rockets were around for Toledo's last bowl appearance, at least the school has some postseason history. Toledo is 7-3 all-time in bowl games, and played in Detroit three times between 2001 and 2004. This is a first for FIU.

Little Caesars Pizza Bowl: FIU vs. Toledo -- TONIGHT!

Kickoff: 8:30 p.m., Ford Field
 
TV/Radio: ESPN/790 The Ticket
 
Records: FIU 6-6 (6-2 Sun Belt); Toledo 8-4 (7-1 Mid-American)

Series: Tied at 1-1.

Last meeting: Sept. 26, 2009; Toledo 41, FIU 31

FIU

OFFENSE

LT 71 Caylin Hauptmann
LG 77 Cedric Mack
C 76 Brad Serini
RG 61 Curtis Bryant
RT 54 Rupert Bryan
QB 13 Wesley Carroll
RB 6 Jeremiah Harden
TE 30 Jonathan Faucher
WR 82 Greg Ellingson
WR 4 T.Y. Hilton
WR 5 Wayne Times

DEFENSE

DE 97 Tourek Williams
DT 75 Andre Pound
DT 96 Joshua Forney
DE 31 Jarvis Wilson
LB 13 Toronto Smith
LB 34 Winston Fraser
CB 7 Anthony Gaitor
FS 25 Jonathan Cyprien
SS 11 Ashlyn Parker
CB 24 Emmanuel Souarin
CB 27 Jose Cheeseborough

SPECIAL TEAMS

K 38 Jack Griffin
KOS 49 Dylan Lynch
P 40 Josh Brisk
KR/PR 4 T.Y. Hilton

TOLEDO

OFFENSE

LT 74 Mike VanDerMeulen
LG 78 Phillipkeith Manley
C 69 Kevin Kowalski
RG 65 Nate Cole
RT 72 John Morookian
TE 9 Danny Noble
QB 2 Terrance Owens
RB 24 Adonis Thomas
WR 11 Bernard Reedy
WR 80 Tim Cortazzo
WR 12 Eric Page

DEFENSE

DE 40 Alex Johnson
DT 94 Johnie Roberts
DT 97 Malcolm Riley
DE 23 T.J. Fatinikun
LB 45 Isaiah Ballard
LB 32 Dan Molls
LB 42 Archie Donald
CB 2 Taikwon Paige
SS 29 Jermaine Robinson
FS 43 Mark Singer
CB 3 Desmond Marrow

SPECIAL TEAMS

K 2 Bill Claus
P 35 Vince Penza
LS 93 Colin McHugh
KR/PR 12 Eric Page

December 23, 2010

FIU Golden Panthers take flight to Motown

It's official: FIU is on its way to the team's first bowl appearance.

The Panthers left for Detroit on a Thursday morning charter flight, with wide receivers coach Frank Ponce firing off this message on Twitter: "SIRENS ARE SOUNDING OFF! HEADED TO THE AIRPORT. GETTING ON "GOLDEN PANTHER ONE" -- DETROIT HERE WE COME."

FIU is expected to arrive in Detroit early afternoon, then attend a 2 p.m. press conference ahead of its first practice on Ford Field.

I'll be joining the team up in Michigan on Saturday, but if I get any photos/stories from the frozen north, I'll happily pass them along.

December 22, 2010

Ferguson to play Wednesday

So tonight's FIU-Florida A&M game just got infinitely more interesting.

That's because forward Dominique Ferguson, the top-100 recruit out of Hargrave (Va.) Military Academy will play.

Ferguson, a freshman, has been ruled eligible by the NCAA after being forced to sit out the first semester to get his grades in line.

Tipoff is 7 p.m. at the Bank.

Last home news conference before Detroit

FIU coach Mario Cristobal addressed a small group of reporters, Tuesday afternoon, in FIU's last home news conference before leaving to frigid Detroit on Thursday. Cristobal was all business, taking the podium a few minutes before the scheduled 2 p.m. start time.

Cristobal started off speaking about how excited the team is about playing in it's first bowl game ever and about all the preparations the Panthers have had to make before leaving. The weather in Detroit was a mild (by Detroit standards) 27 degrees on Tuesday night, so there is no doubt in my mind there have been many trips to buy coats.

"They are going to see snow. It's going to be colder than the North Pole,'' Cristobal said, about the weather. "We intend on spending most of our time either practicing or watching film. There are a couple of events we have to go to. I think the senior leadership we've had this year will shine through as well. This is a business trip."

Luckily for both teams, the game will be played at Ford Field, were game time temps should be in the mid 60-70's (but you should already know that part).

Cristobal touched on many different topics during his 14-minute interview, including recruiting and injuries.

On the injury front, Cristobal expects running back Jeremiah Harden to be play against Toledo."He looked good. Looks just as explosive as before. His legs are more fresh than they were before."

OL Kevin Van Kirk is healthy, but will not play against Toledo.

"We are doing OK on the injury front, everybody is banged up this time of year."

I took some heat from coach for asking him how he felt about Sporting News Magazine predicting Toledo to win the game.

"That might be stuff you focus on, buddy. That's not part of a college regiment or a college football players daily regiment to prepare for a game,'' Cristobal said. "Quite frankly, I've been in games as a player and coach and I've never seen a game won on paper the day before. Our guys are excited about a great challenge. They are a great football team. They were one game away from winning the MAC Championship. And that's what we know. And that's what we focus on. Everything else is and will always be irrelevant."

On the recruiting, "Doors have opened to a higher level student athlete. We expect to have by far the best recruiting class we've ever had," Cristobal said.

I went on to ask coach if the coaching change at Miami has affected FIU on the local stage.

"I don't think that effects it. South Florida and the state of Florida in general is always going to be saturated with recruiters. We are one of the states that has spring ball. The opportunity to play football almost year around. We have good weather. Football players develop here maybe at a faster rate than maybe in other places. I don't think that job changes, staff continuity here and there really affects too much the big picture. I think if you take care of your business..Recruiting these guys from the time you are allowed to recruit them, it pretty much takes care of itself. Now that being said...there is always some spill over...It doesn't only apply to what happening down the street. It applies to other universities that typically recruit down here and that there may be some changes taking place."   

 Justin

December 20, 2010

Monday FIU Football Odds and Ends

  • FIU returned to the practice field Monday to finalize preparation for Sunday's Little Caesars Pizza Bowl. While the majority of Monday's session was dedicated to Toledo, there was time for a little fun late in the workout. Thanks to the 15 extra practices afforded to FIU as a bowl team, the Panthers held their second Scout Bowl of the fall - with the result the same as first time around. The defense bested the offense, making stops and third-and-fourth-and-1.
  • Tony Egues, FIU's director of football operations, plans to leave the team after one season with the Golden Panthers. Egues has given the team his notice, but will remain in place through FIU's appearance in the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl. Before joining the Panthers, Egues had spent 19 seasons in the Miami Dolphins' equipment and operations departments.
  • FIU will leave for Detroit on a chartered flight Thursday morning, and waste no time getting acclimated to Ford Field. The Panthers have a 2 p.m. press conference at the stadium, followed by practice.

December 18, 2010

FIU Hoops Doubleheader -- TONIGHT!

FIU Women vs. Indiana
When/Where: Saturday at 4:30 p.m., U.S. Century Bank Arena
TV/Radio: FIUSports.com
Of note: The Golden Panthers (5-5) enter the game having lost three of four after winning three straight games in late November. ... FIU last played Wednesday, falling at Florida Gulf Coast 86-71. ... In Indiana (5-5), the Panthers will face their first Big Ten opponent since Nov. 18, 2006, when FIU lost to Iowa 72-62. ... The Hoosiers, who led by Jori Davis (18.1 ppg, 7.5 rpg), on a two-game losing skid.

FIU Men vs. Sam Houston State
When: Saturday at 7 p.m.
Where: U.S. Century Bank Arena
TV/Radio: FIUSports.com
Of note: The Golden Panthers (4-5) return home for the first time since Nov. 27 after losing all four games of their recent road trip. ... FIU last played Sunday, losing at Bowling Green 76-67. ... FIU will for the first time have the services of transfer guard Alex Legion, who was cleared to play Friday. ... The Bearkats (5-3) are the defending Southland Conference champions.

December 17, 2010

Legion cleared to play, no word yet on Ferguson

FIU, riding a four-game losing streak and in desperate need of some good news, got it Friday, when two-time transfer Alex Legion was cleared to play in Saturday’s game against Sam Houston State.

Legion, who began his career at Kentucky before transferring to Illinois, and ultimately FIU, had to sit out a year, per NCAA regulations.

The 6-foot-5 shooter out of Detroit has apparently met all academic requirements, and will add depth to an already talented Golden Panthers backcourt.

However, no word yet on the availability of super freshman Dominique Ferguson, a top-100 recruit who was not cleared to play during the fall semester.

December 16, 2010

Reminder: Voting ends Friday for SBC 10th Anniversary Team

From the Sun Belt Conference:

Fans have until December 17th to cast a vote for the Sun Belt Conference 10th Anniversary Football Team, Top Ten Plays and Top Ten Moments.

To vote on the 10th Anniversary Football Celebration Team, click here

To vote on the 10th Anniversary Football Celebration Top Ten Plays, click here

To vote on the 10th Anniversary Football Celebration Top Ten Plays, click here

The Sun Belt Conference began sponsoring football in 2001 and will celebrate its 10th Anniversary during the 2010 football season.  The Sun Belt is one of only 11 NCAA conferences to participate in the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) and the Bowl Championship Series (BCS).

10th Anniversary Football Celebration Football Team 
11 Offensive Players, 11 Defensive Players, 3 Specialists, one 10th Anniversary Football Celebration Offensive Player, one 10th Anniversary Football Celebration Defensive Player and one 10th Anniversary Football Celebration Coach will be selected by using a school nominated media panel, each institutions head coach and online fan voting.  Each school will nominate current or former student-athletes from their institution that played in the Sun Belt Conference from 2001-present.  In order to be nominated a player must have received First Team All-Sun Belt Conference honors at one point during their career.  Fans are limited to one vote per e-mail address.

Top Ten Plays
Each school will be responsible for creating its own list of Top Ten Plays based on their time while a member of the Sun Belt Conference.  Each school would be asked send a preliminary list and will then submit their top three plays (as determined by votes from the head coach, Sports Information Director and media representative) to the conference office for a round of fan voting, a vote by the established media panel and a vote by the league head coaches.  The list of 27 plays would then be cut to form the Top Ten Plays in the Sun Belt's years of football.

Top Ten Moments
Each school will be responsible for creating its own list of Top Ten Moments based on their time while a member of the Sun Belt Conference.  Each school would be asked send a preliminary list and will then submit their top three moments (as determined by votes from the head coach, Sports Information Director and media representative) to the conference office for a round of fan voting, a vote by the established media panel and a vote by the league head coaches.  The list of 27 moments would then be cut to form the Top Ten Moments in the Sun Belt's years of football.

December 15, 2010

FIU's Wittels honored

Shortstop Garrett Wittels was named to the National Collegiate Baseball Writers of America Preseason All-America Team on Wednesday. As most of you know, Wittels will be looking to extend his 56-game hitting streak this season. Wittels is two games away from tying Robin Venturas' 58-game hitting streak set back in 1987. FIU plays its first regular season game on Feb. 18, 2010 against Southeastern Louisiana at home. For tickets call 305-FIU-GAME

December 14, 2010

Notes from Tuesday's FIU football practice

  • The Panthers practiced in the blustery mid-40s Tuesday morning, but that didn't stop Mario Cristobal, a Miami native, from wearing shorts -- although he quickly thought better of it. "If I would have gone back inside and come back out in pants, I would have never heard the end of it from the players,'' Cristobal said.
  • Safety Marquis Rolle suffered an MCL sprain in FIU's regular-season-ending loss to Middle Tennessee, but coaches are optimistic he will play in the bowl game.
  • Signing Day for high schoolers isn't until Feb. 2, but FIU hopes to make some recruiting noise Wednesday, when junior college players can make official their intentions to transfer.

Rhodes, Davis named to SBC All-Freshman Team

2010 UNOFFICIAL SUN BELT WRITERS ALL-FRESHMAN TEAM
(Created by Sun Belt newspaper beat writers)

OFFENSE
QB - Corey Robinson, Troy
QB - Kolton Browning, ULM
RB - Kedrick Rhodes, FIU
RB - Sirgregory Thornton, ASU
RB - Aaron Spikes, ULL
WR - Jamel Johnson, Troy
WR - Tavarese Maye, ULM
TE - Demetrius Coley, WKU
OL - Jimmie Colley, FAU
OL - Jadareius Hamlin, MTSU
OL - Josh Allen, ULM
OL - Ceedrick Davis, FIU
OL - Andre Huval, ULL

DEFENSE
DL - Amos Draper, ASU
DL - Justin Anderson, ULL
DL - Cory Henry, FAU
LB - Randell Johnson, FAU
LB - Corey Carmichael, MTSU
LB - Zach Orr, North Texas
DB - Otis Peterson, ULM
DB - Isaiah Newsome, ULM
DB - Tyree Robinson, WKU
DB - Arius Wright, WKU
DB - Kiante Young, WKU
DB - Chris Pickett, Troy
DB - Cooper Gerami, ULL

SPECIAL TEAMS
K - Zach Olen, North Texas
P - Josh Davis, MTSU
RET - Brelan Chancellor, North Texas
AP - Jyruss Edwards, ULM

December 13, 2010

FIU Women at Jacksonville -- TONIGHT!

When/Where: Monday at 7 p.m., Swisher Gymnasium
TV/Radio: None.
Of note: The Golden Panthers (4-4) return to action for the first time since Dec. 5, when they lost to UCF 74-65. ... Rakia Rodgers leads FIU with 14.3 ppg, while freshman Jerica Coley goes for 13.5 ppg and has a team-best 16 steals. ... Jacksonville (5-2) last played Dec. 4, losing to Florida Gulf Coast 98-47. ... Senior forward Taneskei Richardson recorded her third double-double of the season in the loss.

December 11, 2010

Cato still mulling options

Good news: Central quarterback Rakeem Cato has the Rockets on the verge of their first state title.

Bad news: Those talents might be taken away from South Beach next fall.

Cato, who verballed to FIU over the summer, told the ubiquitous Andre Fernandez Friday night that his commitment is not strong and he will take visits to additional schools.

Guess we'll know for sure in a couple of months ...

December 10, 2010

Updates from Friday's FIU Football practice

If you were following me on Twitter @AdamHBeasley -- and at this point, why are you not? -- you'd already know this:

Looks like Jeremiah Harden (toe) is out there, too, but in an orange (meaning limited) practice jersey.
3 minutes ago

At first glance, practice looks pretty well attended. Wes Carroll, whose face got cut up against MTSU, is throwing, but in a baseball hat.

After a week off, FIU returns to practice Friday for a light, shorts-and-helmets practice. Heavy Toledo preparation begins Monday.

Interesting non-FB news: FIU to grow by 10k students in 5 yrs. With athletics reliant on student fee, that means more $ http://bit.ly/f0gjPj

December 09, 2010

Little Caesars Pizza Bowl Opening Press Conference Photos

These are courtesy of the Pizza Pizza Bowl...

7B99 7BA9 7BAA
7BBB
7D13
7D24
7D45
7D34
7D56
7D57
7D67



December 08, 2010

Complete All-Sun Belt teams and awards

Player of the Year: T.Y. Hilton (FIU, Jr., WR)

Offensive Player of the Year: Bobby Rainey (WKU, Jr., RB)

Defensive Player of the Year: Jamari Lattimore (Middle Tennessee, Sr., DL)

Freshman of the Year: Corey Robinson (Troy, Fr., QB)

Coach of the Year: Mario Cristobal, FIU

First Team All-Sun Belt Conference

Offense

Ryan Aplin (Arkansas State, So., QB)

Lance Dunbar (North Texas, Jr., RB)

Bobby Rainey (WKU, Jr., RB)

T.Y. Hilton (FIU, Jr., WR)

Jerrel Jernigan (Troy, Sr., WR)

Ladarius Green (Louisiana-Lafayette, Jr., TE)

Brad Serini (FIU, Sr., OL)

Tyler Clark (Troy, Sr., OL)

Victor Gill (North Texas, Sr., OL)

Derek Newton (Arkansas State, Sr., OL)

Esteban Santiago (North Texas, Sr., OL)

Defense

Bryan Hall (Arkansas State, Sr., DL)

Jamari Lattimore (Middle Tennessee, Sr., DL)

Jonathan Massaquoi (Troy, So., DL)

Jarvis Wilson (FIU, Sr., DL)

Demario Davis (Arkansas State, Jr., LB)

Toronto Smith (FIU, Sr., LB)

Craig Robertson (North Texas, Sr., LB)

M.D. Jennings (Arkansas State, Sr., DB)

Anthony Gaitor (FIU, Sr., DB)

Rod Issac (Middle Tennessee, Sr., DB)

Jeremy Kellem (Middle Tennessee, Sr., DB)

Special Teams

Alan Gendreau (Middle Tennessee, Jr., K)

Mickey Groody (Florida Atlantic, R-Jr., P)

T.Y. Hilton (FIU, Jr., Return Specialist)

Jerrel Jernigan (Troy, Sr., All Purpose)

Second Team All-Sun Belt Conference

Offense

Corey Robinson (Troy, Fr., QB)

Phillip Tanner (Middle Tennessee, Sr., RB)

Darriet Perry (FIU, Jr., RB)

Lester Jean (Florida Atlantic, Sr., WR)

Luther Ambrose (Louisiana-Monroe, Jr., WR)

Rob Housler (Florida Atlantic, R-Sr., TE)

Tom Castilaw (Arkansas State, Sr., OL)

Sifa Etu (Arkansas State, Sr., OL)

Ian Burks (Louisiana-Lafayette, Sr., OL)

Mark Fisher (Middle Tennessee, Sr., OL)

James Brown (Troy, Jr., OL)

Defense

Dorvus Woods (Arkansas State, Jr., DL)

Tourek Williams (FIU, So., DL)

Ken Dorsey (Louisiana-Monroe, Jr., DL)

Mario Addison (Troy, Sr., DL)

Javon McKinnon (Arkansas State, Sr., LB)

Michael Lockley (Florida Atlantic, R-Sr., LB)

Thomas Majors (WKU, Sr., LB)

Marcus Bartels (Florida Atlantic, R-Jr., DB)

Tavious Polo (Florida Atlantic, R-Sr., DB)

Jonathan Cyprien (FIU, So., DB)

Darius Prelow (Louisiana-Monroe, Jr., DB)

Special Teams

Zach Olen (North Texas, Fr., K)

Josh Davis (Middle Tennessee, Fr., P)

Jerrel Jernigan (Troy, Sr., Return Specialist)

T.Y. Hilton (FIU, Jr., All-Purpose)

Honorable Mention All-Sun Belt Confernece

Dwayne Frampton (Arkansas State, Jr., WR); Allen Muse (Arkansas State, So., WR); Tarvoris Hill (Florida Atlantic, R-Sr., DB); Jeff Van Camp (Florida Atlantic, R-Sr., QB); Greg Ellingson (FIU, Sr., WR); Winston Fraser (FIU, R-So., LB); Orkeys Auriene (Louisiana-Lafayette, Sr., DB); Spencer Ortego (Louisiana-Lafayette, Sr., P); Kolton Browning (ULM, R-Fr., QB); Cameron Blakes (ULM, So., LB); Eric Russel (Middle Tennessee, Junior, RS); Dwight Smith (Middle Tennessee, Sr., DL); Brelan Chancellor (North Texas, Fr. RS); Will Goggans (Troy, Jr., P); Michael Taylor (Troy, Jr., K); Orlando Misaalefua (WKU, Sr., LB); Mychal Patterson (WKU, Sr., OL)

The All-Sun Belt Conference Teams are selected by each team’s head coach and a media representative from each institution.

December 07, 2010

More on Little Caesars Pizza Bowl tickets

As mentioned Monday, Little Caesars Pizza Bowl tickets are currently on sale through FIU’s Bowl Central page, and are also available on the phone at 305-FIU-GAME and at the FIU Stadium Fieldhouse Monday through Friday.

We’ve heard that some tickets have already moved, but FIU will likely only sell a fraction of the 10,000 made available to the program, at $45 to $60 a pop.

The program is trying to work out more affordable airfare to Detroit, and additional travel packages could be made available in the coming days.

As for questions in the comments section about bowl purses, I'm hearing that all the Sun Belt-affiliated bowls pay out essentially the same, and it goes directly to covering the cost of travel. Far from a windfall for the Panthers.


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