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A few thoughts from Bethune-Cookman 34, FIU 13

After FIU took a hat trick of losses – on the field 34-13, in the halftime band comparison, even in the crowd count – head coach Ron Turner marched into the postgame media session with a casual “What do ya got?” Turner stopped next to the podium, not behind it like an infomercial presenter with a book to sell.

You could tell this was a man waiting to be lobbed any kind of question so he could take the answer toward whatever he really had to say. So, I pulled out an eephus pitch, asking if he was surprised Bethune-Cookman didn’t just run the ball on FIU, but outmuscled the Panthers in the second half.

Turner began, “We knew they were going to come in and try to run the ball. Yeah, I’m a
little surprised they were able to run it as effectively as they did, as consistently as they did. As I said earlier in the week, they’ve got a good football team.”

Then, you could hear Turner shift as deftly as Fangio going from fourth gear to fifth. “We got beat by a better football team tonight. I’ll tell you what I told the team: we got beat by a better football team because more of a team than we are right now. When we become a team, where everyone’s pulling in the same direction – I’m not saying guys are going against one another, but we’re not totally, totally believing in one another and totally a team yet. When we get to that point,
games like this will cease.”

I asked if he was speaking offensively, defensively, both...Turner said, “Just everywhere. We’ve
got guys thinking about other things besides what’s best for the team. More about them and stuff like that. Not a ton of them, but it doesn’t take a ton. Until 100 percent of the guys buy in, we’re not going to be the team we can be. We’ve got a hell of a lot of guys who have bought in. We’ve got a hell of a lot of guys that are trying to do what we ask them to do and are playing like a team. But all it takes is a couple. All it takes are a few to pull it down. We’ve got a couple that need to get with it.”

Of those who played most of Saturday’s game, I don’t know who Turner meant. I know he wasn’t
thrilled with some of the Twitter commentary that advocated putting E.J. Hilliard in the game earlier (if not starting him), whether those tweets were players expressing their own feelings or retweeting those of friends/fans. Yet Hilliard didn’t get into Saturday’s game until Jake Medlock lost a helmet during a fourth quarter play down 34-7, thus bringing in Hilliard to handle the fourth down and the touchdown.

Jake Medlock played offense and, after a first punt by Chris Ayers, punted until that helmet-losing play. Desiring a rugby-style punt and also probably to put the fear of a fake in Bethune’s head, FIU used Medlock. He averaged 35.4 yards per punt with a long of 58. The run near the goal line and another scramble earlier looked like 2011 Medlock, where he figured why elude a tackler when you can have a close, violent relationship with him.

Apparently, freshman Austin Taylor outkicked redshirt freshman Sergio Sroka in practice this week. Taylor hit an extra point and had his second one blocked.

Someone else asked Turner what the staff could do to get the players more focused blah, blah, blah. “Keep working hard, doing what we believe in," he replied. "If someone’s not with us, get him out. Get him out. Now, there’s only a handful. There were more. Some of them aren’t here. Obviously, we’ve still got a couple. So get the guys in this room that believe in what we’re doing, are going to do it our way. We’re not going to change what we do because what we do works. We’ve got a hell of a
staff. Our systems work. We’ve got a good plan, and we’re going to stick with it. It will work. It will work. When, I don’t know. The three things we talked about: accountability, toughness, discipline. We haven’t been accountable to one another, 100 percent. We haven’t demonstrated the kind of toughness, physical or mental, that you have to have to win at this level. And our discipline on the field and off the field. It’s never going to be good on the field until it’s good off the field. We’ve still got some issues there. We’re going to get it right, but it’s not there yet.”

Seemed like a good time to ask about senior defensive tackle Isame Faciane, who finished with two tackles, both for losses, and a blocked extra point in three quarters of work. Faciane spent the first quarter benched while fellow New Orleans-area behemoth Darrian Dyson started in his place, not as effectively.

“That’s what I’m talking about, discipline,” Turner said. “One of our seniors, a captain our first game. For discipline reasons, didn’t play in the first quarter. As soon as that happened, I said, “We’re going to be in trouble.” Accountability, to a man. We don’t have that yet. We have a hell of a lot of them. But not to a man.”

That’s a lot of certainty about the approach after losing three games by a combined 115-23 and getting rolled at home by an FCS team. That's probably necessary to sell this to a group of young men you didn't recruit.

(Oh, this week, one of FIU's past arrested players asked me to remove the blog post describing his arrest because "it's been up long enough." As if this were somebody's personal blog, an adjunct to their Facebook page. This is still a part of the Miami Herald, the media outlet of record in this town. Blog posts come down if there's an error, not because they don't reflect well on someone.)

What FIU learned about itself and the option from the Maryland scorching seemed to have limited effect. They still bit too hard and chipped their teeth when what they bit into wasn't there. Bethune did their scouting, too. They saw redshirt sophomore defensive end Lars Koht jumpy and befuddled against Maryland’s option and ran some at him once he came into the game. On the drive to a 21-7 lead, they got 10 on a third down option run at Koht on the FIU right side. On the next third down, a third and 3, before the Wildcats came at Koht with an option to FIU’s left , he jumped offside to give Bethune a first down.

Mostly, though, FIU got pushed around up front. By the third and fourth touchdown drives, Bethune just kept running option plunges and quarterback keepers.

First play of the game, FIU calls a play with a bomb pattern and Medlock found T.J. Lowder for 42 yards. Second play, Lamarq Caldwell for a loss of 1. Third play, Caldwell for 1. Fourth play, Medlock leave the pocket with 250-pound defensive tackle Rony Barrow breaking through protection like the zombies in Thriller coming through the front door, then throwing the ball away under pressure from linebacker Nesley Marcellon.

One series summed up some of FIU’s offensive problems. FIU doesn’t have the offensive line teamwork to run the ball, even against light fronts such as Bethune’s, yet there’s an insistence on trying to run it. I admit, I thought they’d be able to do it on Bethune. But, they couldn’t and FIU always found itself in third and longer-than-you-want.

A few longtime reporters profess to be experts on offensive guard play. A few actually are. Some of them even happen to be in the first group who think they are. Most of us know our depth of knowledge puts us just a few steps beyond the kiddie pool end. I’m in that group. But I’m wondering where junior college guard Bryan Pinkston ranks in development after seeing redshirt freshman guard Trenton Saunders spend most of Saturday night a half-step behind Bethune junior Rony Barrow and often holding onto Barrow for Medlock’s life.

That kept Medlock from doing what he does well and did on the touchdown to Lowder: stepping up
into the pocket, giving everybody another half-second to get open while causing defenders to pause for that half-second and hitting an open receiver. FIU’s receivers need that. Other than deep patterns, Panthers receivers just don’t get open consistently. Walk-on Fred Porter got his first start of the year. He had two catches for 16 yards.

Medlock declared before camp he felt comfortable with this offense with its similarity to what he ran at Jacksonville Fletcher High. He hasn’t looked it in three games. Of course, no other part of the offense that helps make quarterbacks look good can say they’ve done their part. Perhaps they’ll perform better with Hilliard. Perhaps not.

Those looking for a sunny side for FIU should note: the academic suspensions of Richard Leonard, Glenn Coleman and Willis Wright make this their redshirt season. They could all be back next year. And senior cornerback Sam Miller had a 42-yard punt return, a 41-yarder to set up FIU's second touchdown and an interception that led to, well, Tim Burke's 92-yard interception return touchdown for Bethune.

As for this year, well…there’s Louisville (ooo, that’s going to hurt) and then a bye week
before starting Conference USA play at turnover factory Southern Mississippi. The next home game won't be for almost a month, Oct. 12 Homecoming against Alabama-Birmingham. If that wasn't Homecoming, judging from Saturday, the unveiling of my father-in-law's headstone that same weekend might have a bigger crowd.

If you’re going to stay along for the ride, I offer the advice of Senator Blutarsky: I suggest you start drinking heavily. Judging from the tailgates, you are.

By the way, Kedrick Rhodes had a 29-yard touchdown run for West Alabama against McNeese State tonight.

 

Comments

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Late night for you, but aside from the CJ Ross craziness, this is my sports quote of the day: "...he figured why elude a tackler when you can have a close, violent relationship with him."

Other than the throws to Lowder (and the second long reception was one fine catch) Medlock's close encounter with that poor BCU DB was the highlight of the day--at last someone from FIU looked like he wanted to hit somebody. Of course if he tries that at Louisville, all the Hilliard boosters will likely have their wish. And Turner seems resolute if nothing else; seems like we will be pounding it up the middle even if we're down to one-legged backs. My only question about next week is whether or not it will be a complete collapse of the 77-0 kind, or just another ordinary drubbing by a far superior team. The result might say something about whether or not the coach really is bringing some of the team along with him or, conversely, is completely out of touch. After reading DJN's recap of the press conference, one has to wonder. By the way, DJN, who comes to those post-mortems besides you?

Meant to say that was an interesting Kedrick Rhodes update. Think anybody over in West Alabama is likely to try stealing his car? Any word on how many carries his backup J. Gore had?

The postgame media session is usually attended by whoever is covering the game from the local market. That usually means me, one or two reporters from The Beacon, another online site or two, whatever local TV crews care to be there.

Panthers on the Rise??? I guess not.

Can somewhere PLEASE fire Pete Garcia. He is the biggest insult to all the other AD's across the country. The guy walks around campus with his head down and doesnt say hello to anyone like he's supposed to be better than you. Just get rid of the entire athletic administration for that matter. He has disgraced the school by what he has done since he became AD. You think Cristobal is still mad he got fired? Nope!

someone*

The road to a winless season continues. Mr.Neal says he is okay with covering FIU as opposed to the other schools " in town" though we are a city, far from a "town" - But, something has to really be going wrong in your head if you really enjoy covering a bunch of scrubs going no where. Turner is naive and fooling himself , Turner was surprised at the running attack from BCU? Is he that dumb - They are a solid squad playing against a bunch of trash, of course they are going to run the ball down their throats. Another thing Turner is fooling himself about is the idea that he got rid of all the players that could be a distraction, as the losses continue to pile up, more guys will be a distraction on this team... He has already lost the team since week 1. The throttling they will take from Louisvile might end up being historic. This team just flat out sucks - they have no hope and no future... The coach is the least of problems, the AD is not even the least of problems - The problem is FIU is a last resort option for Students and Student- Atheletes in Miami and the state of Florida.. Only 3rd or 4th or even less tier talent is the only thing that will ever be available to them while the bigger name guys go to the other schools in the city/state and around the country. The program is a joke - So far behind the rest in the state that it will be CENTURIES before they can even be a respectable program - forget being relevant... They are far from respectable

Thanks, DJN. I was just trying to imagine the scene, what you have to contend with, etc. As to the coaching thing, really, what is the difference: 3-9 with a bunch of supposed all-stars or 0-12 with maybe 4-5 kids that can play first string D-1 ball.

Hey P don't make ignorant comments towards FIU as a university. To say FIU is a last resort option for kids in the state of Florida? Thats why our enrollment is 60,000 kids right? Football program has its issues but that has nothing to do with the university as a whole

Abort! Abort!

That isn't an ignorant comment - its a factual one. Lets be real, you can find the facts on the webiste of this exact newspaper - The only reason why enrollment is so high is because they have lowered their standards and they pretty much just let anyone attend their school... That is why a lot of people consider FIU the Miami-Dade College of S.Fla Universities - A school where anyone can go to if they dont have the money or grades to yet go elsewhere. This is also why people say MDCC is an extension of HS and FIU is an extension of MDCC... Just a last resort option for all involved - This is really not anything to be proud of.

I am a student at FIU but that does not mean I will ignore the truth about it. It is the sad truth. It will be centuires before it changes

Actually FIU has raised their standards for admission over the recent years. Let me be clear I am not totaling disagreeing with your entire statement. I do think the athletics program needs to be completely revamped but aside from that FIU is a very respectable university. I am willing to say in the next 10 years the campus will be one of the very best in the country no doubt about it.

P, not arguing your athletic dept portion of your statement. However student entrance req according to US News & World Report: Avg SAT of last FIU freshman class 1160 - 1300, higher than FAU, UCF,FGCU & on par w / USF. What other top tier schools have similar SAT scores? U. of Texas, Penn State, U. of Washington, UC-Irvine, UC-Davis, Illinois, etc. Additionally, all non-Florida universities listed are top 50 schools. Furthermore EVERY university listed above is older, in most cases MUCH older than OUR Alma Mater FIU.

So P,if you truly ARE a Golden Panther, 1) take pride in your young university, who BTW is STILL the youngest Research I university among ALL national universities and 2) spread the word on what special things this young FIU is doing. Look up Florida Bar passage rates, National CPA passage rates, partnetships w / NASA on the Aquarius research site, etc.

Again, I'm with you on Athletic adm, it's a mess, however special things are happening the BIGGER more IMPORTANT side of campus. GO FIU!!!

Thanks Ultimate FIU. I appreciate the help.

Excellent post DJN! Tells you a lot about what is truly going on with this football program. Early predictions only gave this team a two (2) win season. Looks with like a stretch now. Your statement on this coach displaying such a physical posture of frustration in relating to the media says a lot of how he is relating to his players. It seems that all of his answers relate to the players not achieving his expected level of performance. I am concerned that after spring, pre-season, and three game preparations he has no acknowledgement of the talent level (less the ineligible, team dismissals, and discipline suspensions) that FIU is not demonstrating. At some point the coaching squad will need to adjust its plan to maximize the resources that they have. He needs to know the players, the strengths and weaknesses they have, and how to get the most from the PERSON (not the player). I was once told that is insanity is defined as continuing to do the same actions and expecting different results. I see the initial stages of insanity settling in on this program.
Ron keeps referring to off field issues, yet I am not getting any press on what type of issues there are. So logic tells me it is either “student” issues or young men whom the coach has personality differences with. It is oblivious that Ron was brought in to turn around the “in-game” coaching adjustments and academic performance of the program. This year the only in-game adjustment I am seeing is the removal of players from the game, and laying fault at the foot of the student athletes. It appears that this coach is not conscience of his environment. We are in South Florida; recruiting MECCA of the NCAA. The players on this team are high school stars that did not get the major school offers they desired, but choose to stay in South Florida because of their belief in the FIU coaching staff that recruited them and the then direction of the program. If these players don’t believe in the individual responsible for the most influence on their athletic dreams, how does he expect them to believe in his system? These students don’t want to be run off because the coach is laying fault at their feet. Most players have no way to pay for attendance to another DI FCS school. So they are now the puppets in a Catch-22. This is difficult for most adults to accept, so how much pain does he think his comments bring to these young men. They begin to feel that they have to rely on each other (team work), the only problem is the negative bonding agent his statements creates comes from the individual responsible for the student athlete careers. Is this what occurred in Illinois? The fighting Illini had only two (2) winning seasons in eight (8) years, with the apex coming with his first recruiting class as seniors. Then the bloodletting begins again; 35-57 (61% winning). If you take out the 2001 season you get a (55%) performance. I’m sorry but both percents are not enough for South Florida football. The biggest concern I have is that it appears that coach could only make the sale to one class of top notch recruits for Illini. After the first season of recruiting how many blue chippers did he pull in? Here in South Florida college players talk to high school players. If the coach has problems in the locker room with his players, don’t be surprised if we see fewer kids from South Florida and more from other regions. Is that what FIU wants?
Ron appears to be a good enough of a person, and I applaud his efforts to build character. However, you don’t have to always demolish a building foundation (player pride as a person) to rebuild the structure (player pride as a FIU Panther). Understand the value system of South Florida and its football players and then find a refined mechanism to retool the individual, not a sledge hammer. Stop blaming the players and find the tweaks that allow you to keep your system and adapt to the players you have. Find a way to win with the talent you have. Nurture, Coach, Communicate with your players you are having problems with. Don’t talk about their negatives, talk to them about where they are at mentally.
This early season is not easy for the coaching staff or the players. But the players are the only ones who have been required to adjust radically after a dismal season, loss of a loved coach, loss of important leaders on the team, and now a dismal start. Then the coach blasts them in the press conference. Way to go Ron, that will surly endear them to you philosophy. These are still young men, but come from various backgrounds. You are not going to change character issues by taking away (in some cases) the only thing that got them to graduate high school, or prevented them from ending up dead or in jail (like so many of our South Florida inner city youth)
Come on Ron. We are hoping for the best for you and the Panthers. Find a way to make this work and accept your part in the losses. Get some wins and there is no need for blame. Players will buy in when they see that your plan works. But as a Head Coach you have amassed a dismal 42-67 record. Your record and blaming is not building a team, it is called not taking responsibility. Is this what you want your player to learn?

Noticed several players (including one presented as a starter in pregame announcements)in the stand(not even allowed on the sidelines)during the game. Makes me wonder if Ron was being truthful with some of his previous statements that players were not playing because of game performance. Are we observing of the new "Saban"?

Great post, RECRUITING PRIORITIES. I'm starting to think this coaching hire is far worse than my initial gut reaction, which wasn't good. If he doesn't start getting buy in and coaching this team UP, including putting his best players on the field, I would fire him before seasons end.

Dialog Dog, the difference between 3-9 or 0-12 is the point loss margin. Last year loss differential was an average of 6.6 points per game(less than a touchdown). This year differential is 27.3 points per game. To put that in perspective FIU has not scored a total of 27 points on the combined season. I don't expect any improvement next week with this "number thing". In fact I am afraid it could be significantly worse after Louisville.

Common Panthers, lets get back into the game of football!

Speak with local high school coaches, and they will tell you that FIU's assistants aren't our recruiting the players. So if the inherited players are the problem, why isn't recruiting a priority? Let's face it. This will be a winless season. So how will Garcia explain away this one? We yearn for the spirit of 2010. We should be happy that Bethune Cookman brought its band and fans last night. The FiU stands were empty, even the student section. I had two rows to myself next to the grey chair seats on FIU's sideline. It was very roomy.

President Rosenberg Please Fire Pete Garcia on Monday and resign yourself on Tuesday.

Talking about the stands; why is everything backwards? Color Guard, refes, mid-field logo, and "Conf USA" all face the visitor side. At least correct the field. Is that not important or the program just doesn't care?

Please keep the laughs coming DJN, we're gonna need 'em. And you always post some good tunes...so there's that. Gonna be a looooong season.

Let me swallow this last piece of humble pie! Wow, was wrong about DJNs early coverage of my panthers. For that please accept my deepest apology! This is the best story I have read all season when it comes to this years panthers.

I have made the trip from Tampa for every home game and Saturday wasn't pretty. A young team that is definitely going to stuggle this year, but I certainly hope the true fans will not abandon ship, they will need our support especially in the stands. DJN your story is spot on and I don't know who "Recruiting Priorities" is however, he must be a fan of the sport, because his reply to the story could not have been written any better if Coach Turner had written it himself. Maybe at your next press conference you can print "Recruitng Priorities" reply and somehow slip it to the Coach. "May be an Eye Opener"

I think if the coaches look at the film of Saturday's game they will realize that they have a huge chuck of the blame for the outcome. Not one defensive adjustment the entire game. An why are all the defensive coordinators down on the field and not in the box? When defending the read-option the LBs and Safeties must be on the same page and that was not the case on Saturday. I don't understand why these guys are having such a hard time defending this type of offense this year, when it is just a scheme or two away from the same offense that we have run in the past 3 years? So, is it the personnel or the coaching?

Perfect. Again my apologies and maybe I will get a chance to meet you personally at homecoming. Thanks again and regardless of the forecast for this season, let's all continue to the support these young men.

"chunk" my bad....

RECRUITING PRIORITIES makes good points. Everything that has happened on and off the field suggests a "my way or the highway" stance from RT and staff. As for what works best to build a team, those intangible methods of meeting a kid half way, trying to bring him along, various things that RP talks about, they probably can work when the head coach buys in. But it sounded from that post game interview that there is not going to be a lot of Kum By Yah being sung in that locker room. It sounded more to me like, "We're from the NFL, we know how things are supposed to work, and anyone who doesn't toe the line is out." But since we on the outside are a little short on specifics, all we really know is that a lot of guys that we thought were number 1 on the depth chart at given positions are not playing or are not here. As to play calling however, it is pretty clear what the staff has decided. "We have installed a game plan that we are going to run...and run...and run...and run, despite anything that might take place on either side of the ball in any particular game. I for one would have enjoyed seeing an occasional stacking of the box to try to slow that BCU up the gut running game. Might they then have torched an inexperienced secondary? Maybe, but at least it would have been INTERESTING to the five or six of us in the stands to see evidence of a coach trying something different. By the way, I will grant that RT finally tried going for it on fourth down (and about a foot and a half, on the BCU 35, I think). The result--a hand off to a running back who looked like he was wearing twenty pound ankle weights being blocked for by linemen backpedaling like they were playing on ice--was a resounding stuff. I am surprised RT didn't turn and shout "told you so." In the end, my guess is that we won't see a whole lot of half time adjustment or innovation on the field this year. Will the result be 0-12 with a team in total disarray (like last year) by the end; or will there be some esprit de corps developed, some games finally played well even if lost, etc.? I am a supporter of FIU football. I can only hope it is the latter outcome, but meantime it seems we will have to be content with venting our frustrations here. Not gonna have much effect, but at least it is mildly therapeutic.

EJ!!! EJ!!! EJ!!!

Ultimate FIU fan, I just attend the school for educational purposes. I get to school, go to class and be on my way... I do not associate myself with the school otherwise... There is nothing to be proud of... Just because someone goes there, doesnt mean they have to love the place... I was born and raised a Canes fan, it was the team I discovered first college wise... Thats who I root for and am loyal to regardless of where I go to school... I am a journalism major, so around the sports team a lot - But, that does not mean I have to love them or anything close to that... I just go to school to get my studies done.

P, your posts in the comments section sound as if FIU was YOUR school of last resort.

As for me, those of us in this profession a few decades know that you never confuse the success of the team/school/sport or the prominence of the team/school/sport with how enjoyable it is to cover or the quality of work you can do.

P, if your studying journalism I would highly suggest you consider going back to ENC1101 at MDC and polish your grammar skills. Whether I agree or agree to disagree with your assertions at this point is irrelevant due to the fact you have violated some core logic rules. Therefore, I would also recommend you take an introduction to philosophy. If you seek to excell in this profession you'll strive to make sound arguments and avoid contradicting premises. More importantly, do your homework!

What evidence do you have to support that 'FIU is a last resort option for Students and Student Athletes in Miami and the State of Florida' because I want you to take a look at the universities that play Division I in the State of Florida and the national championships they've earned.

"Bethune Cookman National Championships 0, Florida A&M University NC 25, Florida Atlantiv University NC 2, Florida Gulf Coast University NC 0, Florida International University NC 4, Florida State University NC 12, Jacksonville University NC 0, Stetson University NC 0, University of Central Florida NC 2, University of Florida NC 26, University of Miami 16, University of North Florida NC 0 and University of South Florida NC 1. "

Where is FIU? Did you know the first football season at FIU was in 2002? At UF it was in 1906, FL A&M 1907, UM 1926, FSU 1947, UCF 1979, etc. I am not even highlighting the 13 something Division II universities nor the NAIA. So if you have some facts that could back up your statement I would be open to discuss your basis. However, purely on the merits of wins when factoring in history, your statement that FIU is a last resort is completely and utterly false. There are plenty of other programs athletes can opt to join that fall way below the standards of FIU.

Also you should take into consideration the University of Miami is a private non-sectarian university whereas, FIU is a public research university. You should look into the difference between private and public universities and how their athletic programs are regulated. This could shed some light on the realities our education system is facing today.

If journalism is in fact your passion, ask questions and seek answers my friend. RP you make some valid arguments. I will say though there is some great talent in South Florida and I am not talking about the Central, Booker T, St. Thomas A kids I am talking about the boys down in South Dade, Southridge and let's not go so far Christopher Columbus. Last season they had Lorenzo Woodley, Jesus Wilson, and Darly Chesnut. Where are those guys today? Mario Cristobal graduated from Columbus. If someone could have recruited from Columbus it could have been him. So I think the recruiting issues stem way before MC's departure.

Neal great article. Thank you

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