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Carroll & Hilton practice; Bjelica, Sun Belt POW (again); women's hoop sked highlights

Not sure why the first injury I asked Mario Cristobal about after Monday’s practice was safety Chuck Grace. Maybe because Grace still has a brace eating up his right leg while quarterback Wesley Carroll and wide receiver T.Y. Hilton can be seen around campus walking normally. And Grace’s side of the ball reached a far deeper level of failure Saturday than Carroll and Hilton’s, turning Lou-La quarterback Blaine Gauthier into the Sun Belt Offensive Player of the Week.

As for Carroll and Hilton, Cristobal said, “He’s going to be fine. He practiced today. T.Y. continues to get better.”

Asked straight up if Carroll would start against Duke, Cristobal said, “I expect him to be fine, I do. If he had to go back in this past Saturday and just sit there, he would’ve been OK. It just wasn’t that type of game.”

Grace will be out for another two weeks with a knee injury. Wide receiver Glenn Coleman has a right shoulder injury.

The Zeppo?: A blog reader asked if running back Darian Mallary was injured. Among FIU's returning quartet of backs, none have carried the ball less than Mallary. It would be hard to -- Mallary has one carry for 1 yard.

Mallary hasn't looked hurt to me, but I asked El Jefe de Futbol FIU about it.

"He's OK. He's a good football player. He's helped us win a lot of games. He's going to help us win a lot of games," Cristobal said. "We're a litlte thick at that position right now. Shane Coleman's also a good player we'd love to play this year and not redshirt." 

Opening line vs. Duke: Not on the boards yet, according to vegasinsider.com. Quarterback injuries tend to do that. The sports books probably hate FIU after taking a beating on the Louisville game and probably taking a minor smack on Saturday’s loss to Louisiana-Lafayette.

TV thoughts: This game, which got upgraded from ESPN3 to ESPNU, suffered a couple of inches of shrinkage with Saturday’s loss. I was surprised, knowing how he can be, that Cristobal didn’t believe the increased media attention or talk of undefeated seasons caused any focus problems that manifested themselves Saturday. I tended to agree with Kedrick Rhodes, that the team lost something after the opening drive.

"I don't think it did at all. If we came out flat, i would've said so," Cristobal said. "We come out and score in five plays. And we come out and force three-and-outs right away. I don't think we responded well enough when the momentum slowly, slowly started to go back their way."

One of the ESPNU color commentators on the Duke game will be Danny Kannell, who went from Fort Lauderdale Westminister Academy to Florida State to the Giants for several years.

Blood: I did finally get one question answered about cornerback Jose Cheeseborough. As a lifelong track fan, seeing a Cheeseborough from Jacksonville caused me to wonder if he was any relation to Jacksonville native Chandra Cheeseborough, a track sprinter who began racking up medals in international meets when she was 16 and became one of the most decorated sprinters in U.S. history.

“Distant cousin,” Jose said. “I’ve never met her.”

Committment: Nick England, a running back from Suwanee (Ga.) Collins Hill, verbally committed to FIU. England might play wide receiver at FIU. He allegedly runs a 10.5 100 meters.

 

VOLLEYBALL

The football team's three-week streak of having a Sun Belt Player of the Week ended (no, making Blaine Gauthier Offensive Player of the Week doesn't count). But Jovana Bjelica took up the slack, taking her second volleyball POW award in the last three weeks.

As FIU dispatched North Texas and Denver over the weekend, Bjelica rolled up 36 kills in eight sets. She had 12 digs against Denver to go with 19 kills for her sixth double double of the season.

WOMEN'S BASKETBALL

FIU hosts Maryland and Cal State-Bakersfield in its Thanksgiving Classic, Nov. 25 and 27, and Auburn, Charlotte and Albany in its Fun & Sun Classic, Dec. 29 and 30, on the schedule announced Monday.

The other highlights of the schedule for head coach Cindy Russo's 33rd season at FIU: Season opener and home opener, Nov. 11 vs. Jacksonville; first Sun Belt conference game, at Western Kentucky, Dec. 11; first home Sun Belt game, Jan. 7 vs. Louisiana-Monroe; regular season closer, Feb. 25 vs. South Alabama; Sun Belt tournament, Mar. 3-6, in lovely Hot Springs, Arkansas.

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