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Don't expect many changes at The Cage

Tough fall for a school's sports programs when the volleyball team's 6-6 record ranks as the autumn's Yertle the Turtle and men's soccer's 3-4 slots them as the salutatorians.

The football team's bye week means you'll be spared an embarrassingly honest analysis by professional bettors (the only people laying real money on non-AQ BCS conference games). Next week's FIU opponent, Southern Mississippi, is a 28-point underdog at Boise State.

There's still some news from La Cage. Or, perhaps more accurately, some "olds" as some things haven't changed.

Head coach Ron Turner said redshirt junior quarterback Jake Medlock practiced a bit Wednesday, should be fully recovered from his concussion by Sunday and, if healthy, will be the starter Oct. 5 at Southern Miss. "Jake's our starter," Turner emphatically stated.

Third-string freshman quarterabck Travis Wright still hasn't been cleared by the NCAA, so, with Israel Paopao out for the season with his foot injury, Akil Dan-Fodio is now the third-stringer behind Medlock and sophomore E.J. Hilliard.

Out of 123 FBS teams, FIU's offense ranks 123rd in rushing offense, 120th in passing offense, 122nd in total offense and 123rd in total offense. The Panthers average 2.25 yards per carry on called running plays (1.43 yards per carry overall because sacks get factored into team and individual rushing totals, instead of team passing yards as the NFL does it).

I asked Turner considering the offensive line and the lack of success with the run if he considered just spreading things out and flinging it around.

"No, because that hasn't been much better than the running game," Turner said. "At least we run the ball, we have a chance to get back to the line of scrimmage. We're throwing it, he's running backwards, which was the case last week.

"We've just got to run our offense. We've got to run our offense and start clicking. We had some opportunities in every game to make some plays. You make one or two of those plays, it's shocking how quickly you can gain some confidence. Going back to the Maryland game, the first third and 5, we told them what we're going to do: go up-tempo, no huddle and we're going to double move this corner because he's going to bite the hell out of it. He did. We ran right by him, it was a touchdown. We hit that thing and, it's crazy to say, I'm not saying we wouldn't be where we are, but at least you get some confidence. We don't hit that, we're punting the ball, they go down and score. Instead of us hitting a big play to get some confidence for a young team, we don't do it. We've had opporutnities like that in every game. We have yet to make those plays, at least enough of them to give us a spark, some confidence in the run game and the pass game.

"We're not going to panic, we're going to do what we do. We know what we've got five offensive linemen who've basically never played and are trying to come together. We're seeing good things, we're seeing improvement. It hasn't necessarily showed up on the scoreboard."

So, there you go.




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