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37 posts from August 2013

August 31, 2013

Who isn't here

Before I go out for my tailgate walk, here's who got left behind (near as we can figure) when FIU left Camp Mitch for College Park (by the way, I love this campus. New colonial-retro brick buildings. Feels like College).

There's the injured guys such as junior defensive end Gionvani Francois, senior defensive end Paul Crawford, freshman quarterback Israel Paopao, fifth-year senior wide receiver Rockey Vann, redshirt junior Yousif Khoury, and redshirt freshman defensive tackle Marques Cheeks. Now, as for others...

In numerical order: junior cornerback Richard Leonard, sophomore wide receiver DeAndre Jasper, senior wide receiver Glenn Coleman, sophomore linebacker Patrick Jean, redshirt freshman Adrian Jenkins (he's on the roster, but don't bet on seeing him this season), freshman kicker Cody Hodgens, redshirt junior wide receiver James Louis, redshirt freshman linebacker Josh Glanton, freshman cornerback Xavier Hines, freshman kicker Karson Dietrich, freshman safety Vontarius West, freshman running back Silas Spearman III.

Fifth-year senior Darrious Cook, redshirt freshman fullback Jorge Lorenzo, freshman fullback Jordan Gibbs, redshirt junior defensive end Jericco Lee, fifth-year senior safety Antwoine Bell, sophomore defensive tackle Darrian Dyson, redshirt freshman linebacker Leroy Owens, redshirt senior tight end Junior Delpe, freshman linebacker Jeremy Derrick, junior linebacker Matt Larrubia, freshman linebacker Jordan Guest.

Freshman center Danny Nunez, redshirt freshman guard Ian Koch, redshirt freshman offensive tackle Julian Rodriguez, freshman guard James Cruise, redshirt freshman tight end Ricky Fernandez, sophomore wide receiver Raymond Jackson, freshman tight end, Jonathan Pavlov, redshirt freshman defensive tackle Imarjaye Albury, junior defensive end Wonderful Monds II.

Some of these guys are academic casualties. Some are just too far down the depth chart to make the travel roster.



Gameday I, 2013: College Park Daze

Before we get started, must notice that the women's soccer team got its first win of the season, 2-0 over Stetson, Friday night at Camp Mitch. Junior Ashleigh Shim and sophomore Madlen Weinhardt scored for FIU, which will host Florida Sunday.

Tough start to the weekend for FIU's roadies: volleyball lost a five-setter to High Point and got swept by host South Carolina at the Gamecock Invitational. Around the time that was ending, the men's soccer team was just getting started against Loyola Marymount. They didn't start scoring until already down 2-0, Roberto Altiero scoring off a Nelson Milsaint setup, and lost 2-1.

Thinking about FIU football as I rolled across the federally funded 95s of Maryland to the home of close friends I haven’t seen since double-dipper Steve McNair was the Ravens quarterback, I thought of British racing driver Nigel Mansell again.

Mansell’s first race week for Ferrari, the 1989 Brazilian Grand Prix, went so disastrously that he told his wife and children they’d make the British Airways flight home that would leave before the race ended. Surely, the car would break down early. He wrote in his autobiography that he shared his feelings with the pilot, an acquaintance who offered to tarry a bit if the Mansells seemed to be running behind.

Instead, the car behaved as it hadn’t shown it could. Mansell drove its wheels off. The BA flight left late, but without the Mansell family. Nigel left the next day with his family, the points for a first place finish and cuts on his hands from the sharp handles on the trophy.

Like Mansell, there’s no reason FIU should win this game. In practice, they’ve looked like what they’ve been since the spring – novices in the offense, sloppy in all three phases of the game – only less so as they’ve slowly improved. The quarterbacks get the ball out a fraction faster now but still doesn't look like they're friends with this offense yet. It's a relationship in progress.

“We’ll keep it simple, early,” FIU coach Ron Turner said. “Your first year in a program, there are a lot of things you might want to do and you can’t. So we’ve got to take every situation – first or second down, third down, red zone, whatever it might be – and say “What are the things we do well in our base offense?” and do those.

“Once we master those and do those well, then we can expand and game plan. We probably won’t be able to game plan as much early as I’m used to doing just because the guys aren’t ready for that yet. We’ll have enough to attack defenses and do what we want to do. There will be a lot of things I’d look at on film and say, “Man, this would be good” and put it on the back burner for later, maybe later in the year we can do it or it might not be until next year.” 

Schematically, FIU’s lack of complexity on both sides of the ball leaves this as a matchup of who plays a cleaner, crisper game and who has the better athletes. The answer to both questions, logically, should be Maryland.

Yet…the Terrapins quarterback, C.J. Brown, wasn’t exactly Ken Anderson back in 2011 before missing
the entire 2012 season. Why should Brown, in his first game in almost two years, be any better than the sub-50 percent percent passer he was then? True, he didn’t have a Stefon Diggs in 2011. Brown also doesn’t have a single pass thrown under real pressure in almost two years. And I think FIU might get a good inside pass rush push, which no quarterback likes.

That’s why I see Maryland using Brown’s running ability and an abundance of misdirection, cutback plays and reverses to take advantage of FIU’s youth and enthusiasm at outside linebacker and corner. They’ll try to make someone other than Diggs beat them. Wide receiver Deon Long might be up to the task.

On offense, if Lamarq Caldwell can a) average 4.0 yards a carry early in the game and b) hold onto the ball, FIU will be able to get some long drives going that’ll calm down the Krabby Patty Cake crowd. This fan base loves its Terps, but isn’t in love with head coach Randy Edsall.

An inexperienced FIU offensive line gets a Maryland defensive line that’s also largely unproven. I asked offensive line coach/run game coordinator Steve Shankweiler what he wanted to see from his offensive line.

“I just want them to play with some composure,” Shankweiler said. “It’s the first time for all of them except maybe for one. I’m not even talking about being a starter, I’m talking about playing. Just maintain your composure. Don’t chase ghosts – a three-technique is a three-technique. Don’t try to see too much. We’ve got the game plan very,very simple, which hopefully will allow them to play aggressively and not have to think as much. That’s the way we’re going to be most of the year. We’re
going to try to develop in this program a physical toughness. You do that when you’re confident. It’s going to take some games for us to get that confidence level.”

In the Terps 3-4, inside linebacker Cole Farrand is the leading returning backler, but senior cornerback Dexter McDougle is second among returnees. When your cornerback’s that high among returning tacklers, your front seven was getting blocked and/or you’re allowing too many completed passes. I think FIU might catch Maryland napping with a bomb either early in the game or when the Panthers start backed up inside their own 10.

An upset requires a positive special teams play – downing the ball deep, a turnover, a Seth Thomas-cleaning hit. Let’s see how that facet plays with a punter and a kicker in their first games and a placekick holder who hasn't done it since high school (but clearly was best in practice). Without junior Richard Leonard on returns, a guy like freshman Shug Oyegunle might show everybody that he’s got wiggle to go with his speed.

A much better FIU team went on the road in last year’s season opener and got spanked by a better ACC opponent than the Panthers face today. FIU committed ill-timed fumbles, blew field goal snaps, tackles, generally played disastrously.

I don’t know that this team won’t play just as poorly. But I also don’t know that Maryland won’t lay an egg. Or a pile.

Call it 34-14, Maryland. That’s just one black man’s opinion. I could be wrong.

August 30, 2013

The other team with a bunch of new guys

FIU’s football team, for all its turnover, looks to have the stability of Letterman in late night compared to FIU’s men’s soccer team, which opens its season Friday night at Loyola Marymount.

The 28-man 2013 soccer roster includes 15 newbies – 12 freshmen and three transfers – in second-year coach Kenny Arena’s version of Extreme Makeover.

“Last year, Kenny came here, he had to deal with whatever he had,” senior midfielder Gonzalo Frechilla said. “He didn’t have enough time to get the players he wanted. This year, he brought the players he thought were going to help us out. They’re definitely good players.”

One of the three transfers Arena managed to snag, junior Roberto Altiero, led South Florida in goals last season.

“My first year (at South Florida) we got to the Elite Eight. My second year, we made the national tournament, but lost in the second round,” Altiero said. “I decided to come here because after talking with Coach Kenny, I thought he would make a pretty good team.”

Frechilla said the communication among the new brew was non-existent in their preseason loss to Lynn, but much better in the 2-2 preseason tie with Barry.

Arena didn’t do a total renovation. Junior forwards Quentin Albrecht and Colby Burdette, last year’s top two goal scorers, and 2012’s leading setup man, sophomore Daniel Gonzalez, all remain.

Arena’s first season at FIU, the first without scholarship restrictions in several years, the team made Bruce Arena’s son look like The Golden Child early. It took Game No. 6, a 2-1 loss against No. 21 Furman, for the Panthers to experience anything but victory. After that, however, victory proved a fleeting thing as FIU went 0-7-1 in Conference USA on the way to 8-8-2.

The changes in Conference USA might give FIU some relief. Central Florida’s still on the
schedule as a non-conference opponent, but annually strong SMU isn’t. FAU, clobbered 5-0 by FIU in 2012, now count as a conference opponent. The Panthers still have to go to Kentucky, site of a 5-1 trampling by the Wildcats last year.

“We have a lot of freshmen. These two games, we have been keeping the ball a lot,” Altiero
said. “We have some good technical players. We have to keep working a little more on the defense. I think from the midfield to the forward spot, I think we’re pretty good.”

Frechilla said, “During preseason, we had a team barbecue where all the freshmen coming in did a skit to help get to know each other. It helped a lot. They opened up after that.”

August 29, 2013

Crawford out, too

Senior defensive end Paul Crawford, demoted from the first team over a week ago, now isn't making the travel roster for Saturday's football season opener at Maryland. FIU coach Ron Turner wouldn't elaborate on whether this was behavorial (I don't get the idea Crawford's entirely endeared himself to the staff) or health. It could be both.

Whether or not Crawford would've been an impact player on defense, his 6-8 height and Elongated Man length up the middle definitely can affect field goal attempts. He blocked several during training camp.



Ron Turner Extras

The Q&A session with head football coach Ron Turner lasted 28 minutes and, once transcribed, extended to 70 newspaper column inches. The original budgeted space was 30 inches, which got pushed to 40 inches. Here's a good chunk of the 30 inches that didn't make the prime cut. Sort of like DVD extras.

Coaches must be teachers. What’s the schoolteacher parallel to Ron Turner? What subject
would that teacher teach? What level of school?

“Probably high school. But any level. Teaching is teaching. I’m not sure what subject. Part of me wants to say history, part of me wants to say English. I do like history, I do like to read. Definitely not science, definitely not biology, definitely not math.”

What adjustment in dealing with players have you had to make again in going back to college after eight seasons in the NFL? Or have you had to make an adjustment?

“I don’t think there’s any major adjustments. Once you’re there, in the NFL or whatever, coaching’s coaching. Teaching is teaching. College ovviously, they’re younger, not quite as mature. In the NFL, you’re getting guys that are in the NFL because they’ve learned to do things right. Most of them are pretty accountable. Unless they have such tremendous talent that they don’t have to be and
still play. Otherwise, they’d get cut. Biggest adjustment is dealing with the immaturity and youth of some of them.”

When you sell yourself as a coach to an athletic director, another coach or a parent, what assets of Ron Turner do you first advertise?

“I think the biggest thing is my character, what things I believe in. The kinds of things I learned from my mother, about how you treat people, doing what’s right, working hard. But, most importantly, treating people right, treating the players with respect. Giving them the respect they deserve and that they’ve earned. Treating it like a family.

“When I talked to (athletic director) Pete (Garcia) and President Rosenberg about this job, I made them understand this will be my football family, but my personal family is very important to
me. Through all the years of coaching – long hours, we’re gone a lot -- but I’ve always made sure I made the effort to be around. To get involved in as many of their activities as I could. To be there every possible minute that I could and involve them in what I’m doing. And I encourage our coaches to have their families, their kids around so our players see how important that is.”

Ever a moment as a father that you question the devotion coaching requires?

“It can be a tough balancing act. I’ve been around coaches who poured 100 percent of themselves into their job. Which is easy to do because we get so consumed with the pressures and the time. And I saw some guys when I was young that did so much of that, it broke their families apart or they didn’t have a relationship with their kids. And I said I’m not going to do that. I think you can balance both. But it takes some effort.

“When I leave the office, especially when the kids were young, I was home. At least, until they went to bed. I didn’t work while they were there, no “Leave me alone, I’m working right now.” If I had recruiting calls or scripts to do, if I was home, I would wait until they went to bed or do it here before I went home. When I went home, I tried to give them my time as best I could. I tried to make as many of their events whether it was a sporting event, choir, band, scouts, whatever they were doing, I wanted them to know it was important to me. I tried to include them in what I was doing. I tried to get them to come to practice as often as I could. I think you can balance it, but it takes work. Like any job.”

"When my kids were young in Champaign (Illinois, where turner was the University of Illinois head coach from 1997-2004), during the season, Friday’s the day everything’s winding down. So I made sure to have breakfast with them Friday morning and drive the kids to school. And they remember that. They still talk about that stuff. The rest of the week, they were in bed by the time I got home.”

What was your reaction when you found (your sons) wanted to go into coaching?

“I was proud that they would see this their whole lives and want to get into it. But I wanted to make sure they were doing it for the right reasons. I encouraged them both to major in business or something else. They both majored in business. Morgan was a finance major at the University of Illinois, one of the top schools in the country. I said, ‘Morgan, you've got a finance degree from the Universtiy of Illinois…go out in the business world and make some money.’ He said, ‘Dad, I want to coach.’ 'Well, you can help at the high school.' He said, 'Dad, all my life you told me to go with my passion. My passion is coaching. That’s what I want to do.' I said, ‘Well, do it.' Pretty much the same with Cameron. He was a business major at The Citadel. Both of them knew all along they wanted to coach. Morgan didn’t’ play college football, but he helped coach
at the high school while he was in college in Champaign.”

How long does it take for you to learn where to go in a new city?

“With the GPS, not long at all (laughs). It depends on the city. Miami’s pretty easy to get around. Chicago, took me a while. Took my wife like that (snaps fingers).”

If you weren’t doing this, what would you be doing?

“I get asked that a lot. Probably something in law enforcement. Whether that would be an attorney, police or FBI, I don’t know. I’ve always been interested in that. I read a lot of books on that stuff. Probably somewhere in that direction.”


August 28, 2013

Leonard, Coleman update

I'm technically off today (I'll be out at Camp Mitch talking to soccer folks later). Our intrepid intern is out at La Cage. He followed direction well and asked FIU coach Ron Turner about the academic eligibility of junior cornerback Richard Leonard and senior wide receiver Glenn Coleman.

Turner said they don't have a final decison on either yet, but are planning on being without them Saturday and don't know beyond that. My hypothesis: if they're not eligible for Saturday, they won't be eligible for at least the first four games.

Leonard's loss hurts in FIU dealing with Maryland sophomore wide receiver Stefon Diggs. Terrapins quarterback C.J. Brown was more broadside-of-a-barn than laser as far as accuracy when he last played in 2011, but Diggs averaged 172 all-purpose yards per game catching balls from Maryland's parade of increasingly lesser quarterbacks in 2012.

Senior defensive tackle Greg Hickman told me Tuesday there was a players only meeting this week. He told me when speaking to his younger teammates about off the field business, “I try to tell them how important it is to stay in school. You’re going to need that education for the future. Don’t get in any trouble because, as you can see, people are getting kicked off left and right for everything.”

August 27, 2013

Startup Week

A flurry of starts this week: first week of classes, men's soccer starting on Friday in LA at Loyola Marymount, volleyball starting Friday against High Point at the Gamecock Invitational and, of course, the football team facing Maryland.

At least two transfer running backs who fans hoped to see and insiders knew throughout camp might not be seen won't be starting anything for now. Anthon Samuel, the Opa-Locka native who transferred from Bowling Green after running for 998 yards there last year, won't join the team this season.

"He's ineligible this year because he's a transfer," FIU coach Ron Turner said. "He switched his major to one that has a lot of morning classes. He's not going to be with us in the fall. But we'll see where he is in the spring."

Ironically, Samuel's Monsignor Edward Pace High teammate Travis Greene, will start at running back for Bowling Green in the opener.

Then, there's Jakhari Gore, Frank's smaller and slower cousin.

You have to wonder if Frank (or, anybody in the family) ever laid the "Your name is mine!" realization on Jakhari the way Paul Scofield's Mark Van Doren does to Ralph Fiennes' Charlie Van Doren in Quiz Show. While Frank does the family name proud as a respected guy who overcame numerous impediments to gain a college degree and NFL stardom, Jakhari...hasn't. And that could be said before whatever happened Friday night. Turner wasn't blowing smoke when he said Monday Gore probably would've been a roster drop anyway despite his name and local high school greatness (on the field).

According to the arrest affidavit description:

Friday, "at about 11:23, the victim came to FIU to visit (Gore). A verbal altercation ensued outside of the University Park Towers Dormitory. At this time, (Gore) snatched the keyes from the victim, preventing her from leaving. (Gore) began walking away from the victim and convinced the victim to follow him up to his dorm room.

"Once inside, the victim stated that (Gore) grabbed her forcibly behind her head in an attempt to have her perform oral sex on him. The victim pushed (Gore) away, but was still held in (Gore's) dorm room against her will, preventing her from leaving. The victim followed (Gore) back downstairs, thinking that she would retrieve her keyes. (Gore) then took control of the victim's vehicle and drove away with the victim inside of the vehicle. (Gore) was transported to the FIU Police Station for questioning on (Sunday). Post-Miranda warning, (Gore) refused to give a statement and stated, "I will give my side of the story to the judges and my attorney." (Gore) was processed at the FIU Police Station...then, transported without incident to (Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center)."

August 26, 2013

Depth and losses

The first football depth chart of the season. Let's take a look, shall we?

Quarterback: Jake Medlock, E.J. Hilliard, Travis Wright because Israel Paopao has what looks like a high ankle sprain. Othewise, Paopao would be No. 3.

Running back: Shane Coleman, Lamarq Caldwell, Alfonso Randolph, Talir Satterfield-Rowe, Silas Spearman. Anthon Samuel is listed last. The uncertainty on his waiver might be matched by uncertainty about his head (I haven't seen much of him since his concussion).

Fullback: Caldwell, Jordan Gibbs, Jorge Lorenzo. For when they use a fullback and feel like using a fullback instead of moving a tight end back to fullback or just going three-wide or one-back, double tight end.

Wide receiver: Clinton Taylor, DeAndre Jasper, Dominique Rhymes, Fred Porter. Taylor's had a good camp and got the reps when T.J. Lowder went down with a shoulder injury.

Wide receiver: T.J. Lowder, Shug Oyegunle, Jairus Williams, Richard Burrows. Notice, overall, the smaller speed guys (Taylor, Jasper, Lowder, Oyegunle) got placed ahead of the long-limbed skyscrapers (Rhymes, Williams). If that remains the case, FIU might put a pinch more spread into its overall offense.

That also means Glenn Coleman's size and physicality supplement to his speed could be missed. 

Tight end: Cory White, Jonnu Smith, Zach Schaubhut, Ya'keem Griner, Akil Dan-Fodio, The Tight End Field. It's not just depth chart games that say White, the transfer from the University of Miami, and freshman Smith have passed last year's tight ends, Schaubhut and Griner. White and Smith have been getting the most first team reps.

Left tackle: David Delsoin, Dieugot Joseph. There's a big dropoff between the two, just on experience -- Joseph just converted from defensive end in the spring.

Left guard: Delmar Taylor, Jordan Budwig. The freshman Budwig was taking the first team reps Monday and throughout last week.

Center: Donald Senat, Byron Pinkston, Michael Montero, Danny Nunez. Montero, wearer of a Home Depot injury jersey for two weeks, lined up with the second team Monday with Pinkston at right guard.

Right guard: Jordan White, Trenton Saunders, James Cruise. I'm not sure White's OK. He spent Monday on the sideline while Saunders trotted through things with the first team.

Right tackle: Aaron Nielsen, Edens Sineace, Julian Rodriguez.

As for the defense...

Defensive end: Michael Wakefield, Paul Crawford, Cody Horstman, Darrious Cook. Tall Paul needs to get it together. NFL scouts checking out FIU for Isame Faciane and Greg Hickman also will form an opinion on him.

Defensive tackle: Greg Hickman, Lars Koht.

Defensive tackle: Isame Faciane, Leonard Washington, Imarjaye Albury. You'll notice the absence of Darrian Dyson and Marques Cheeks. Cheeks has been wearing the Great Pumpkin jersey lately. Not sure if Dyson's issues are academic or behavior, but he's as conspicuous by his absence on the depth chart as a guy his size is on the sideline.

Defensive end: Denzell Perine, Paul Crawford, Wonderful Monds II. FIU sources confirm would-be starter Giovani Francois definitely is injured, but could be back for the home opener against Central Florida.

Linebacker: Luis Rosado, Caleb Vincent, Jordan Guest.

Linebacker: Markeith Russell, Treyvon Williams, Josh Glanton, Leroy Owens. Betting pool to liven up the season for hardcore fans: pick the game when the freshman Williams takes the starting job from Russell.

Linebacker: Davison Colimon, Derrick Jones, Jr., Linebacker Field.

Cornerback: Sam Miller, Randy Harvey, Sam Gervais, Wilkenson Myrtil.

Cornerback: Brad Hyman-Muhammad, Jeremiah McKinnon, Randy Havey, Xavier Hines, Richard Leonard. At least Leonard's on the depth chart. Obviously, if he's cleared to play this week or after the first four games, he'll be atop this position.

Free safety: Justin Halley, Mitch Wozniak, Jordan Davis, Antwoine Bell.

Strong safety: Demarkus Perkins, Terrance Taylor, Deonte Wilson, Vontarius West.

Kicker: Sergio Sroka, Austin Taylor, Cody Hodgens. This could be a fluid position...

Punter: Chris Ayers, Karson Dietrich. ...so could this one, although I'd bet more on the kickers changing. Ayers established a big advantage early.

Long snapper: Brandon Taylor, Sam Medlock. No surprise.

Placekick holder: Zach Schaubhut, Chris Ayers. Schaubhut showed better hands than Ayers and, as a former quarterback, puts the threat into fake field goals or botched snap fire drills. Ayers arm recalls Garo Yepremian's.

Punt returner: Sam Miller

Kickoff returners: Sam Miller, DeAndre Jasper. 


Confirmed that star senior forward Chelsea Leiva suffered a knee injury that might prove to end her season before it begins. Each of her previous three years, Leiva led FIU in scoring on the way to All-Sun Belt honors.


Leonard, Coleman questionable for Saturday; Gore in (jail) & out (of program)

A rough first 11 hours of the week for FIU football.

Junior cornerback Richard Leonard, easily the premier member of the secondary and perhaps the whole defense, ran scout team drills during Monday's short practice. So did junior wide receiver Glenn Coleman, FIU's leading returning receiver as far as catches, yards and yards per catch. That doesn't bode well for their potential availability for Saturday's season opener against Maryland and, perhaps, the first four games of the season.

Leonard's listed at the bottom of the cornerbacks on the first depth chart of the season. Coleman's not listed among the top eight wide receivers.

"We're waiting to hear academically where they are," FIU coach Ron Turner said. "We should know in the next day or two."

Meanwhile, FIU's most celebrated walk-on transfer will never play a down at FIU. Running back Jakhari Gore is now a guest of the county corrections system at the Turner Guilford Knight Corrections Center after being booked just after midnight on charges of false imprisonment and robbery by sudden snatching. His bond is $5,000 on each charge.

Gore, a Columbus High graduate who sat out last year after transferring from LSU, wasn't going to play this year anyway -- academically deficient -- but he's been dismissed from the program.

"He is dismissed permanently from the team," FIU coach Ron Turner said after Monday morning's light practice. "It's a very disappointing situation. A guy who has gone through a lot of things...brought him back, gave him a second chance in training camp. Once training camp's over, once we get past the first game, the roster goes down a little bit (from 104 to 99). He probably would've been one of the guys not on it. He's got some things to take care of.

"It's extremely disappointing that anybody would do that," Turner continued. "We're still getting the culture where we want it. Obviously, we're not there yet. Bringing in the guys that do the things we want them to do or the guys who are currently on the team changing and doing the things we want them to do. There's a lot of guys who aren't here because they weren't willing to do that and there's some other guys who won't be here because they're not doing it to the level I want. It's unfortunate.

We're giving them a tremendous opportunity. The guys who were here when I got here? We're giving them plently of chances to do it the way we want it done. Some of them haven't."

Updating previous felony situations...former FIU linebacker Winston Fraser got a deferred prosecution/go-into-a-drug program deal on his one misdemeanor and four of his five felony counts of marijuana possession stemming from his July bust. No action was taken on the fifth count. Fraser should count himself fortunate.

Former FIU running back Kedrick Rhodes, who shot a few bullets into the air, has an Oct. 3 hearing date on the two misdemeanors and felony remaining from the gun incident that got him thrown off the team.   

Welcome to the Working Week

A few tidbits to take you into Monday, the start of the first week of classes and parking cussin' and fussin'.

Early bettors are all over Maryland for Saturday's football season opener like thigh tats on Rhonda Ratchet. FIU opened as a 15-point underdog. Now, the line's up to 20. The over/under dropped from 54 to 49.5. Daggone, are people hitting the pawn shops to get down on this game? That's a large line movement from opening to kickoff, much less opening to five days before kickoff.

FIU's "radio" call of games once again can be accessed only through fiusports.com. Pete Pelegrin will do the play-by-play. Officially, the color analyst is "to be determined." This close to the season opener? Sounds like Pelegrin will be doing one of those 1940s Major League Baseball (or this decade's Florida Panthers) multi-tasking radio jobs where you do play-by-play, color, commercials, interviews and battle with dry mouth. Allowing that fans don't follow sports via radio the way they used to without being in the car, hunting for lawn gnomes and nobody's tossing more than Chiclets money, if that, at FIU to do the games, this doesn't look good. Radio coverage of football and basketball is a basic in Division I. This is about the image of the school. With getting the name of the school out there being the football team's main raison d'etre, not being on a radio station with a broadcast team kind of undercuts the purpose.

Not playing in the women soccer's season opening loss to Arizona Friday night were preseason all-conference player Chelsea Leiva and last year's second-leading scorer Scarlett Montoya. Injuries to those two would kneecap the season. Maybe not a red card, but definitely a yellow card for a team that has a chance to continue it's run of 10-win seasons.  

August 24, 2013

Saturday at the close

You can't tell much from a team doing a Shields & Yarnell of a full game day, from pregame warmups to game-ending kneel down.

That's the way FIU spent the last half of Saturday's practice, the final practice of training camp. Monday starts classes and the first game week for this coaching staff at FIU and so many FIU players in Division I college football. This was the time to get such basics down as what order warmup drills will be, who should be sitting/standing where on the sideline, everybody on each special teams unit getting onto the field when necessary, etc.

Again, the more notable stuff came from who did and didn't do what in this trot through and in the 7-on-7 drills beforehand.

Quick digression: the current FIU roster distributed Saturday didn't include senior wide receiver Willis Wright. Wright wouldn't be rejoining the team until Monday at the earliest anyway. But his removal from the roster backs up what I put on yesterday afternoon's blog post.

As was the case Friday, cornerback Richard Leonard did nothing in either with the first or second team or any of the return units The starting cornerbacks in the 7-on-7s were senior Sam Miller and sophomore Jeremiah McKinnon. In the Marcel Marceau part of practice, it was Miller and Brad Hyman-Muhammad. Joining Leonard in the Hat in the Hand Brigade Saturday was senior wide receiver Glenn Coleman, who had been working mainly with the second team with guest appearances on the first team.

Two defensive linemen have been absent from the rotation recently. Junior defensive end Giovani Francois has suffered an injury, according to Turner, won't play at Maryland but will be back for the home opener against Central Florida. On the second team, sophomore Darrian Dyson hasn't been taking snaps there, replaced by Lars Koht.

Redshirt sophomore Clinton Taylor lined up with redshirt sophomore T.J. Lowder and sophomore DeAndre Jasper when the first team went three-wide in the mock game. Though redshirt junior Justin Halley wore the Home Depot-colored jersey again, as he has all week, he and Demarkus Perkins lined up as the safeties in the mock game.

The running backs seem to be Shane Coleman, Lamarq Caldwell, Alfonso Randolph, Silas Spearman and Talir Satterfield Rowe. That'll be a fluid group, based on who's hot and who can hold onto the ball.



Book return

The e-book on the 2012 FIU season is back on Amazon.


As far as two of the most memorable scenes: before the book came out, I'd heard from an FIU source about the meeting between the coaching staff and E.J. Hilliard. Since then, several others have confirmed that the book's account of the meeting is close to court record. The postgame locker room bout between strength and conditioning coach Chad Smith and receivers coach Frank Ponce also went down.

The Louisiana-Lafayette trip's details didn't include Chad Moss, senior vice presdient of Moss Construction, builders of the new dorms across the street from the stadium, getting off the plane in exasperation during the hours-long delay before takeoff. Allegedly, the FIU graduate and FIU Foundation board member declared as he left that the non-trip ended his support of FIU athletics.

As for who wrote the book, initially, I heard a few "It must be (former recruiting coordinator) Dennis Smith" declarations from those close to or formerly close to the program. Nobody's raising their hand, though, because, as one assistant said to me, the book coming so soon after the season from an inside person, felt like a violation of implied privacy code.



August 23, 2013

Morning, Noon & Night at (Camp) Mitch


They're testing the fire alarm in the Graham Center. FIU Move Crew members slow traffic as they helpfully trundle old, jutting-back televisions across crosswalks. Packs of callow teenagers and their lost parents follow young adults officially swathed in logo shirts and seriousness.

Signs of another school year's start. So, let's start by speaking of freshmen and academics.

Freshman linebacker Treyvon Williams spent Friday's football practice at first team middle linebacker. Freshman running back Alfonso Randolph got first team reps at running back. And freshman cornerback Brad Hyman-Muhammad was with senior Sam Miller as the first team pair in the 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 drills. Freshman Jordan Gibbs, who had been in the Home Depot non-contact jersey the first two weeks, practiced fully, but at fullback instead of his recruited position of linebacker. FIU's only true fullback on the roster was redshirt freshman walk-on Jorge Lorenzo.

Now, you might've noticed the first team cornerbacks. At Wednesday's practice, a woman from the SAAC popped by practice and had a quick word with junior cornerback Richard Leonard and running back Jakhari Gore. I heard later Wednesday Gore and Leonard had meetings to discuss their academic situation.

Friday morning, Gore didn't take a single team drill rep, just as he hasn't all camp. But, neither did Leonard. Not 7-on-7, not 11-on-11. Not first team, not second team. Not on kickoff returns, where Miller, Deonte Wilson, DeAndre Jasper, Terrance Taylor and Glenn Coleman took reps.

"We're just resting him, getting the other guys some work," FIU coach Ron Turner said of Leonard.

By the way, Leonard is, pound-for-pound, the strongest FIU player, according to numbers provided by FIU to The Herald for our football special sections. The player who moves the most weight is backup center Michael Montero.

Another quick academic aside: unless something drastically changes, you won't see senior wide receiver Willis Wright in an FIU uniform this season. That's a shame for the team, but mostly Wright, a wonderfully talented player.

Senior defensive end Paul Crawford, who was demoted to the second team this week, got put through the whistle drill by Turner after practice. Seems somebody is in Le Chateau de Bow Wow.

During Friday's practice, sophomore running back Lamarq Caldwell tried a halfback option pass. Redshirt junior safety Justin Halley picked it off. That might work better with someone with quarterback in his more recent past. Taylor had the day's other interception, of an E.J. Hilliard fade to Jairus Williams that floated behind Williams. It wasn't the crispest offensive day.

But on the upside, none of the field goal attempts got blocked off the feet of redshirt freshman Sergio Sroka and freshman Austin Taylor. Both looked like they went three for three. Tight end Zach Schaubhut held for both. Brandon Taylor did the long snapping for both.


A quartet of women's soccer team players strolled through the GC in eye-grabbing fuschia shirts telling you, "SOCCER GAME TONIGHT."

Actually, there's two. The men's team plays Lynn in a preseason game at 4:15. The women open their season against Arizona at 7 p.m.


August 22, 2013

Exiled in Davie

I was all set to write about today's football practice and do a women's soccer season preview -- most consistent FIU team of the last six years, picked to win its division in Conference USA, opening at home Friday night vs. Arizona -- but I got shifted up to Davie to cover the Dolphins for the day. So, obviously, no post-practice blog, but keep checking back because there's football roster news I'm trying to confirm. No futbol femme, however.

You can settle down from Saturday errands -- or roll out of bed if you've been partying with the PIKEs -- and watch FIU at Maryland football season opener at week from Saturday on Fox Sports Florida (653-655 on Direct TV, check your cable directory otherwise).



August 21, 2013

Giving you a Wednesday

FIU's last team conference champion that plays its sport on an FIU campus opens its season Friday, 7 p.m. against Arizona. Hopefully, I'll have a season preview up tomorrow or Friday.

T.Y. Hilton's having a spectacular preseason for Indianapolis after showing himself to be one of the most dangerous young receivers in the NFL last season. Becoming enough of a national name to be name-checked by national media pales next to his accomplishment this spring: Hilton finished his work toward an FIU degree in Liberal Studies.

So now the best player in the history of FIU's highest profile program can fully claim the description "student-athlete."

As for the football team's Wednesday morning practice...kind of good news/bad news.

The good news: freshman running back Alfonso Randolph showed the vision and cutting ability FIU coaches like on a 20-yard third-and-long run and a 16-yarder, two plays later. His next carry, senior defensive tackle Isame Faciane destroyed the blocking and planted Randolph for a loss of 2. Randolph wasn't heavily recruited, but he's run well throughout camp.

The first team offense drove 65 yards to a touchdown on the second team defense, converting a fourth down along the way.

Kicker Sergio Sroka nailed a 47-yard field goal attempt and freshman Austin Taylor hit from 46.

The rain held off until 15 minutes after practice.

The bad news: way too many drops and jumps. If you play the way you practice, get ready for an overabundance of "aw, he had it..." plays this season. This isn't just from Wednesday and isn't just about the receiver drops -- when Dominique Rhymes dropped two perfect throws from E.J. Hilliard, it seemed the perfect benediction for practice. The near-interceptions kill. There were too many late, telegraphed throws from Hilliard and Jake Medlock that shouldn't have been launched and should've been picked off. To pull off the upsets FIU desires, you have to grasp those turnover opportunities.

The second-team offense committed most of the false starts.

While kickers hit two long field goals, two more field goals were blocked. Paul Crawford got some of a Sroka 46-yard attempt -- 6-8 Tall Paul, long kick, no surprise -- and a shorter field goal got smothered by a third of the block team.

"Good for the defense, not good for the field goal unit," FIU coach Ron Turner said. "Like I said, we might lead the country in going for it on fourth down."

Each of the three times Turner's said that, there's less levity in his voice. Like I said before, coaches despise uncertainty on special teams. They want nice snaps, clean holds, punts and kicks that clear the line of scrimmage and go where they're supposed to go and returners that hold onto the ball (the only thing that could keep junior Richard Leonard, who blew a punt Wednesday, from being one of the nation's best returners). So far, FIU's found some consistency in Chris Ayres punting and Sroka's kicking. The long-snapping, the holding, the blocking for kicks, the fielding of punts and kicks...comfort level not reached yet. 

Redshirt junior backup defensive lineman Jerrico Lee is out with "health issues" and will miss at least the opener at Maryland. Freshman offensive lineman Tim Thomas is still dealing with family issues in Texas.

Personnel deployment: sophomore linebacker Patrick Jean (pronounced "jahn," he confirmed today) took second team reps at outside linebacker. In the 11-on-11s at practice's end, the first team corners were Brad Hyman-Muhammad and Jeremiah McKinnon, the safeties were senior Mitch Wozniak and fifth-year senior Terrance Taylor. The second team corners were redshirt junior Sam Gervais and freshman Wilkenson Myrtil.


August 20, 2013

Bowling for A Fistful of Dollars

Call it Cobblin' Conference USA after the way FIU's new conference home has managed to retain primary connections with six college-affiliated football bowls. Remember, one of the important upgrades for FIU (and the other immigrants to C-USA) was the greater number of primary bowl tie-ins compared to the Sun Belt or dying WAC.

C-USA is doing a little time splitting, reaching agreements wtih the Heart of Dallas Bowl and, on the other side of the Metroplex, the Fort Worth's Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl that will have a C-USA team in one Metroplex bowl or the other from 2014-19. They've got the same deal with the Beef O' Brady's Bowl and the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl -- three times in each. They've reupped with the R&L Carriers New Orleans Bowl and added the New Mexico Bowl for that same time period.

Then, C-USA reportedly thought outside the borders, er, the box, according to ESPN. Thomas Robinson Stadium in the Bahamas holds only 15,000, but for a bowl involving a Conference USA team, that might mean "PACKED HOUSE ROCKING!"

C-USA has been looking at someplace in South Florida to stick another bowl game. There was Marlins Park talk back in June. Now, ESPN says they'll be using FAU Stadium, which is new and nice, nicely-sized for a lower tier bowl and needs events to help pay off the enormous debt FAU incurred in building the joint. 

This year, Conference USA's got a primary connection with the Beef O'Brady's Bowl; New Orleans Bowl; Military Bowl; Heart of Dallas Bowl; and Liberty Bowl.

Why are there so many bowls? Sports cable networks need the live programming.


Tuesday, before the afternoon

In skipping Monday night's practice, I missed the team playing on a homemade Slip 'n' Slide with head coach Ron Turner joining in the skidding.

Tuesday, running back Anthon Samuel remained out with a concussion. Sick wide receiver Glenn Coleman tried to practice, went into the locker room and got an IV, tried again and couldn't do it. While Turner talked to Coleman for a while after practice, a Detroit Lions scout talked to defensive line coach Andre Patterson. Patterson should put that in his schedule: "Post-practice analysis of Greg Hickman and Isame Faciane for NFL scout."

Freshman quarterback Israel Paopao hopped about on crutches and a walking boot on his right foot. I always wince whenever I see one of those, knowing both how long a foot injury can take and what an incredibly miserable hemmorhoid of a human being the injured person becomes until recovery. But this boot protected only a sprain.

Senior tight end Zach Schaubhut worked as a placekick holder for the second consecutive day. Not only has punter Chris Ayers bobbled a few snaps, but Schaubhut actually played quarterback in high school, thus putting teeth into a fake field goal or bad snap situations.

Part of the team drills worked on the offense coming out from inside their own 5 yard line. Redshirt junior quarterback Jake Medlock hit redshirt sophomore wide receiver Dominique Rhymes over freshman Brad Hyman-Muhammad for a 99-yard bomb. Later, Medlock found someone who could be his new favorite target, freshman tight end Jonnu Smith, up the middle on a seam route.

When the 2s took the field for that drill, freshman linebacker Treyvon Williams showed the instincts defensive coordinator Josh Conklin was talking about in today's Herald story (http://www.miamiherald.com/sports). Running back Lamarq Caldwell churned toward a left side hole and Williams filled it with a muffled "CRACK" (they weren't in full pads).


August 19, 2013

A dozen days to go...

While the men's basketball team bounces around Spain, the football team enters almost a bye week zone -- less than two weeks until the first game.

Once again, the first team tight ends were senior transfer Cory White and freshman Jonnu Smith. FIU coach Ron Turner used the word "special" when he talked about Smith's potential. Sophomore linebacker Michael Wakefield played the first team defensive end spot usually taken by senior Paul Crawford, as he did during most of Saturday's practice. Crawford saw little action Saturday and then took second team reps Monday. Turner would only say, "We're putting people where they belong."

Freshman guard Jordan Budwig took some first team reps.

In the two-minute (actually 55-second) drill, the first team got into field goal range with the big play being Jake Medlock arcing a throw to Smith, who was behind fifth-year senior linebacker Markeith Russell. That took FIU deep enough that a spike left Sergio Sroka with a 28-yard field goal. The second team didn't make it within field goal range, stalling at the 39-yard line.

Towering defensive end Lars Koht blocked an Austin Taylor field goal attempt. FIU's been averaging about a block a day on those. The upside? Guys like Koht and Crawford, trees with long branches, can put the fear of Dikembe Mutombo into kickers and FIU's got a couple of guys who can get there off the edge. The downside is that, clearly, field goal execution isn't where it needs to be. Turner half-joked again about going for it often on fourth down, then seriously said sometimes the kickers aren't getting the ball up enough and sometimes it's penetration. 

Wide receiver T.J. Lowder and safety Justin Halley sat out practice with shoulder injuries suffered Saturday. Clinton Taylor and Mitch Wozniak, respectively, took Lowder and Halley's first team reps. Running back Anthon Samuel was completely inactive with concussion symptoms from Saturday. Running back Jakhari Gore was excused from practice for a family matter. 

August 17, 2013

Saturday Not In the Park

Ron Turner declared the Tamiami Park grass field experiment done. The Panthers will be in La Cage Aux Chats for remaining practices.

After practice, a New York Giants scout spent a while talking with defensive line coach Andre Patterson. For the purposes of a 4-3 team like the Giants, seniors Isame Faciane and Paul Crawford work. Senior Greg Hickman, built about as squarish as defensive linemen come, might have a future working as a 3-4 nose tackle.

Saturday included a pile of situational 11-on-11 drills. Crawford sat out the drills as did redshirt freshman defensive tackle Marques Cheeks, although only Cheeks wore a Great Pumpkin jersey. Denzell Perrine and sophomore linebacker Michael Wakefield worked with their hand in the dirt in Crawford's usual spot. Redshirt junior safety Justin Halley came out of the drills with ice on his right shoulder. Senior safety Mitch Wozniak took Halley's place during the two-minute portion.

Interesting personnel deployment: for the first time, the first team cornerbacks were junior Richard Leonard and senior Sam Miller throughout practice. Freshman Jonnu Smith and senior transfer Cory White were the first team tight ends in some of the team drills. Freshmen Wilkenson Myrtil and Brad Hyman-Muhammad were the second team cornerbacks. With sophomore wide receiver DeAndre Jasper missing practice to deal with a family matter, freshman Shug Oyegunle was the first team slot receiver.

For some of practice, first team offensive tackles Delmar Taylor and David Delsoin swapped sides.

Saturday was the first practice with both Conference USA officials and live tackling.

Working short yardage, the first team defense got a hat trick -- three consecutive offsides penalties. "Defense, that's three times!" Ron Turner roared while taking a few steps toward the offenders.

The next meeitng of the 1s ended with safety Demarkus Perkins delivering his daily demolition derby collision, this time on running back Lamarq Caldwell. Caldwell's helmet flew off but Caldwell got up and accurately signalled "first down."

"He's had a lot of urgency in terms of wanting to come every single day to practice," defensive coordinator Josh Conklin said. "That started last spring really. He's just done a great job of showing leadership out there. His approach in the meeting rooms has been very focused. He's one of the few guys in the secondary who hasn't had a lot of fall off. Every day he comes out has been pretty positive."

The next play, Silas Spearman, cutting behind tight end Ya'keem Griner's block and the seal created by offensive tackle Dieugot Joseph, got around the left end for 14 yards.

Sergio Sroka hit off the right hash from 33 and 43. Sroka never got a kick off from 37 yards because by the time holder Chris Ayers got a solid handle on a good snap, he was head to belt line with the interior of the field goal block team. Austin Taylor missed from 33 new dorms wide left, then hit from 36 and 43.

Pitting the second team offense against the first team defense in 11-on-11 charged freshman guard Jordan Budwig and redshirt freshman Dieugot Joseph with blocking junior Giovani Francois and senior Isame Faciane or senior Greg Hickman. As expected, the upperclassmen stampeded through like the backfield was selling Popeye's at a discount. First play, Hickman and Francois swallowed Shane Coleman for a loss of 1. Second play, Faciane dismissed Budwig for a sack. Then, linebacker Markeith Russell blitzed for a sack.

Not the kids' fault. You've got young, inexperieneced guys trying to block players NFL scouts have been checking out. So what happened when the first team offense faced the second team defense?

Caldwell around the right side for 8. A false start. A quick hitch to wide receiver T.J. Lowder that looked left over from last year for not enough.

Back to the 2s vs. 1s. Sophomore quarterback E.J. Hilliard hit Griner on the right side for 20 yards. He followed that with a try for Jairus Williams deep that didn't lead Williams inside. That allowed Miller to recover for the interception.

Back to the first team offense vs. second team defense. Shane Coleman went for 2. Freshman linebacker Treyvon Williams nailed Coleman after 3 yards. On third down, Rhymes dropped a Jake Medlock pass with Myrtil in coverage.

The second team offense's next drive got quickly aborted by Silas Spearman's fumble, recovered by Hyman-Muhammad. Back out with junior college transfer Talir Satterfield-Rowe at running back, Hilliard converted a fourth and 2 with an 11-yard pass to Rocky Vann. Following Satterfield-Rowe getting slammed by Perkins and linebacker Luis Rosado, on third and 7, a tackle by Hyman-Muhammad held a completed pass to three yards. Sroka split the uprights from 31 yards.

The first team offense came out against the third team defense. Starting from the 38, Medlock found Rhymes for 17 yards. No more first downs after that, however -- Caldwell got stoned for 2 on fourth and 3.

The second team offense took the ball at the 22. Two carries by Anthon Samuel got 7 yards forward, the one went 2 yards backward. Taylor pushed a 34-yard field goal wide left.

Now with the previous results in the practice, you'd figure the first team offense, having trouble moving on lesser FIU defense, would be fighting to stay out of their own end zone against the first team defense. Instead, Medlock drove the team 58 yards, helped by a pass interference penalty on Leonard for treating Rhymes like an obstacle course wall on a bomb. Medlock stepped up in front of pressure on third and goal from the 5 to hit Rhymes for the touchdown.

The second team defense stuffed the offense with a sack by Wonderful Monds II, a sack by Monds and Perrine, then making Hilliard run. Given a renewed possession, the offense got a 17-yard gain from Samuel and a 2-yard gain before incompletes by Hilliard ended the possession.

The final 11-on-11s were 1:15 left, ball on the offense's 35, offense down by two. Caldwell ran for 8 yards and got out of bounds. Medlock took a sack, then got chased into a throwaway on third down. Fourth down No. 1, fourth and 5 from the 40, Medlock got it going with Rhymes again, 18 yards up the right sideline. I guess a 6-4 wide receiver looks like a warm safety blanket. Medlock's next pass, low to Lowder, got knocked away by Leonard as he and Lowder went to the ground. Lowder got up holding his left arm. Glenn Coleman came in for Lowder and caught a third and 10 pass for 5 yards to the 37.

A gutsy call, a draw to Caldwell, got 7 yards and Medlock spiked the ball. Sroka pushed through a 47-yard field goal.

Hilliard thrice extended the second team's last minute drive, first by finding Jairus Williams on third and 10 for 10 yards; by scooping up a bad snap and throwing it away on second down; then running a quarterback draw for 7 on fourth and 3. But Hilliard took a sack from the 30-yard line that moved the field goal attempt for Taylor back to 50 yards. Taylor's kick could've used those three yards, as it fell short of the crossbar.


August 15, 2013

Almost Friday Football

Blah weather for Thursday morning at FIU Stadium. The players probably were happy to have some cooling rain in the chewy heat.

Thought of something as I noted which unit some guys ran with, a corollary to my observation about Jakhari Gore's practice reps in yesterday's post-practice blog post: clearly, the best cornerback and possibly the best player last spring and in camp so far has been junior Richard Leonard. Yet all but a few of Leonard's reps, right from the start, have been with the second team. Senior Sam Miller and sophomore Jeremiah McKinnon have done most of the first team corner work. Today, again, Leonard was with freshman Brad Hyman-Muhammad on the second team.

(I'm in the Graham Center, facing the aquarium, as I type this. I look up and see Ron Turner holding son Cameron Turner's toddler daughter as she and Grandpa peer into the aquarium from the other side. Sweet moment.)

Anyway, back to Leonard...is that what you do in a training camp with a new defense if you think you'll have that player for your first game? Same theory: still installing a new offense, do you run your leading returning receiver in camp as far as catches, yards, touchdowns and yards per catch almost entirely with the second team? That's where senior wide receiver Glenn Coleman has spent the last week and a half, except for the occasional first team rep. Dominique Rhymes and T.J. Lowder with DeAndre Jasper in the slot when they go three-wide has been the standard group with the first team line and Medlock.

Nobody will or can say anything right now. But are words necessary when logic gets applied to actions?

Freshman tight end Jonnu Smith might get more than the usual early exposure.

Practice closed practicing for a miracle -- 55 seconds, offense with the ball at their own 40 needing a touchdown with no timeouts.

When the first teams went at each other, redshirt junior quarterback Jake Medlock hit sophomore wide receiver DeAndre Jasper short to the left and Jasper got out of bounds. Medlock overthrew everyone deep on second down. A Lamarq Caldwell third down run gained little, leaving fourth down. Medlock threw a short pass behind Coleman or Coleman ran the wrong route.

The second teams took the field. A Shane Coleman run and E.J. Hilliard scramble got a first down. Hilliard got sacked on what was supposed to be a play action pass. Coleman dropped a nice deep ball from Hilliard, who had better accuracy from 40 yards than from 14 Thursday morning. The clock read 0:00, but one more play was allowed. Hilliard went Flutie to Jairus Williams with senior Mitch Wozniak and Hyman-Muhammad on Williams. The two defensive backs compounded poor ball recognition with body recognition and ran into each other as Williams reached over his head for the touchdown catch.

It was an appropriate end to practice. Hilliard dropped several rainbows downfield Thursday.

I asked Turner what he thinks when he sees placekick snaps skipping across the grass (a couple more Thursday) or bobbled (one Thursday). He laughed, "Go for it a lot on fourth down." Then, he said seriously, "We can't have that. We have to have zero errors in that part of it."



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