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3 posts from August 5, 2013

August 05, 2013

Monday morning blues (and whites)

The football team practiced for two and a half hours Monday morning. They actually have enough players to do it, unlike the spring.

For what it's worth...sophomore Lemarq Caldwell took the running back spot with the first team through team drills and when they ran plays against air. Redshirt sophomore Shane Coleman also got some work with the ones. With Donald Senat at summer graduation, the first string offensive line went, left to right, redshirt sophomore Aaron Nielsen; redshirt junior Delmar Taylor; redshirt junior Michael Montero; redshirt junior Jordan White; and redshirt junior David Delsoin.

The second unit offensive line went, left to right, redshirt freshman Dieugot Joseph, converted from defensive line in the spring; junior Byron Pinkston, a junior college transfer from Dean College; freshman Danny Nunez from Dade Christian; redshirt freshmen Trenton Saunders and Edens Sineace.

Junior cornerback Richard Leonard picked off redshirt junior Jake Medlock twice, once in team drills, once in 7-on-7s, both times for what would've been house calls. Medlock blamed his own mental errors, but said Leonard's speed and football intelligence makes him tough to throw against. Leonard said he actually learned how to watch film during this offseason.

Medlock recovered to fire a deep strike to Rocky Vann behind Sam Gervais. Among the freshmen receivers, Shug Oyegunle, a small (5-9) package of explosives from Tampa Gaither probably had the best day. Losing a big, fast talent like Willis Wright hurts FIU -- go back and look at that touchdown against FAU last year to see why -- but there's some serious speed on this roster, guys who placed well in sprints at the state track meet or averaged over 20.0 yards per catch. Speed isn't the end all or be all of receiving, returning or being a defensive back. Doesn't hurt.

Freshman Sam Medlock is trying to make the roster as a long snapper. Redshirt sophomore Brandon Taylor is back in that role. Redshirt freshman Chris Ayers and freshman Karson Dietrich did the punting Monday. Dietrich and Sergio Sroka handled most of the kicking.

A few freshmen got You Ain't Playing Sunnydale High Anymore moments Monday.

The first pass in drills from Israel Paopao, a deep out to the right, got intercepted and taken the distance by redshirt freshman Deonte Wilson.

Cornerback Vontarius West wound up two steps in arrears as redshirt sophomore T.J. Lowder blew by him up the right sideline. To be fair, redshirt junior Justin Halley dropped by a little late with the help.

One freshman linebacker didn't get on the field for his rep, earning him an upbraiding from one assistant coach that included, "See if you get another rep today! I don't want to have to fight your --- to play!" He listened well enough to get on the field several snaps later when directed.

Among the new names dotting the roster is the wonderfully named Wonderful Monds II, a defensive back transfer from the University of Buffalo. His father, Wonderful Monds, knocked around baseball's minor leagues for a while. Both are from Fort Pierce.

An overload at wide receiver puts Brad Hyman-Muhammad, a Class 2A All-State wide receiver last season (20.1 yards per catch) for Riverview Admiral Farragut, at cornerback. That's where they tried to switch wide receiver DeAndre Jasper in the spring.

Among the Signing Day signees, Vero Beach offensive lineman Chris Flaig, Bradenton Manatee defensive back Willie Smith and Norland defensive tackle Akheem Barton were absent. Smith and Barton won't be joining the team. Flaig apparently will be eventually.

Some more transfers might be coming soon, including a running back last at an SEC school. Of course, that description fit Jakhari Gore, too.

Tennessee Titans scout Mike Yowarsky attended practice.

No Wright, Gore, Jenkins for now; good job, Senat

Among the absences on the first day of football training camp was center Donald Senat, who was marching in the summer graduation ceremony. Congratulations to Senat.

Unfortunately for FIU, others have not taken care of all their necessary business. Senior wide receiver Willis Wright, expected to be a starter after FIU finally got him the ball the second half of last season (and he hung on to it) and arguably the offense's most talented player; redshirt sophomore Jakhari Gore, the running back transfer from LSU; and redshirt freshman Adrian Jenkins, the wide receiver-turned-safety-this-spring will not join the team for fall camp until at least the first day of classes.

That's Aug. 26, meaning they'll be too far behind physically and mentally, especially with a new offense, to play in the first few games.

Redshirt freshman safety Jordan Davis rode the bike with a walking boot on his left foot. Offensive tackle Yousif Khory missed practice with an injury. All others on the roster were present.


End-of-Summer Camp

For 26 years, summer didn't necessarily mean the start of camp, but training camp (Panthers, Dolphins, now FIU) definitely meant the end of summer. Let the rest of the world believe summer stretches to Sept. 21. To me, it ends Monday at 9:15.

Here's a few questions that'll start to be answered over the next three weeks:

Which gambles pay off? FIU rolled the dice on freshman quarterback Israel Paopao (grades), running back Silas Spearman (grades), running back Eric Moate (injury) among others. If they get a parlay of hits, this season might not resemble a Detroit neighborhood while also setting the table for future feasting.

How well did new head coach Ron Turner recover in recruiting? With recruiting halted after the firing of the previous coaching staff and Turner just returning to college football, FIU's recruiting class got ranked in the triple digits by everybody who does such things. They lost Bradenton Manatee defensive back Willie Smith, generally ranked among their five best 2013 recruits (for what all those rankings are worth). But FIU picked up some late signees over the next two months as well as some junior college transfers that might have improved that class somewhat. They'll have enough guys running around out there to do a team show of The Warriors.

Who'll be backup quarterback? Jake Medlock's injury past and the offensive line concerns say Medlock could be calling "MEDIC" by the time the first conference game rolls around. So, is E.J. Hilliard an option that gives FIU a chance to win as opposed to last year when Hilliard got undone by his own inexperience and some strange coaching strategic decisions? Or is Travis Wright or Paopao a better option?

Also, how much have the quarterbacks internalized the offensive system? You could almost see Medlock and Hilliard thinking in the spring scrimmages. First one to fully grasp the systeam might be the first guy taking snaps at College Park, Maryland, Aug. 31.

How many freshmen offensive linemen? They've got a few in the class. If you're going to be short on experience and mature bulk, how much do you start building it now?

Linebackers. A learning year for a group no longer headed by an entitled pothead (If we're to believe the e-book. And Central Booking).

Who'll replace running back Kedrick Rhodes or kicker Jack Griffin? FIU's got several players who think they can make up for Rhodes' production all by themselves. Doubt it, but it'll be fun watching them try. Between showing maturity and mental toughness, kicking battles always are the least predictable of a football training camp.

By the way, for all the national jokes about FIU coach Ron Turner's age and familiarity to the modern college athlete's world, Turner's on Instagram as "FIUCoachRT."








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