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A few thoughts from La Tech 23, FIU 7...

So, where were you when the lights went on?

You likely weren't in FIU Stadium, where fans were as scattered and sparse as FIU offensive competency. I counted about 50 people -- it was tough seeing all the way down to the southwest corner -- in the south stands between anthem and game. I'm sure there were Saturday classes with more students than the student section at kickoff or late in the second quarter. Go check the photos on my Twitter feed.

Apathy's worse than anger. I've heard alumni with anger over the football program. But, now, many have donned the attitude of apathy so prevalent among the students. That's a problem.

Not that Saturday's game counted as entertaining on anything more than a "Well, it's football" level. In one stretch of five plays, there were three fumbles, each more comical than the one before it. I half expected to see one side whip out seltzer bottles and spray the other with it, Tom & Jerry style. First and goal from the 4 turned into a 35-yard field goal attempt.

Saturday's offensive slippage (like on a banana peel) isn't on one person. It was a team effort. The line neither gave Jake Medlock time consistently nor did it pry open holes for either Silas Spearman or Lamarq Caldwell. When Medlock had time, he often threw badly or hesitated until the trigger moment passed -- on the fourth down play in the third quarter, tight end Ya'keem Griner came open on a rollout and Medlock held for just long enough to get hit as he threw. That play notwithstanding, receivers rarely extricated themselves from coverage to give Medlock something he could confidently fire toward. The offense lacks developed playmakers, which turns every drive into a march to Moscow. It's not just about speed. Hey, the wide receiver nicknamed "The Playmaker," Michael Irvin, didn't possess blazing speed even at the college level.

(By the way, talked to a guy with blazing speed, T.Y. Hilton, during the third quarter. He said even before the Colts lost Reggie Wayne to the season, he was getting double coverage. When he complained about it on the sidelines, he said his teammates told him it was his own fault for scoring in every preseason game, thus drawing attention to himself).

Ron Turner admitted there was thought of replacing Medlock with sophomore E.J. Hilliard. I don't know what that would've done, but after 69 yards of offense in the first half and 3 of 9 for 34 yards and one interception in the air, I wondered if Hilliard would make a third quarter appearance.

FIU's blitz recognition as far as protection didn't exist. The offense accounted for three fumbles, only one of which came from contact. That's two too many non-contact flubs coming out of a bye week. That points to ill focus and, lackluster coaching.

FIU's punt team continued to be excruciating. In addition to averaging only 35.6 yards per Chris Ayers punt, the unit got a delay of game penalty, a penalty for lining up illegally and another penalty for clocking the returner before he had a chance to field the punt. That's half of FIU's six penalties on bad mental errors. Again, an indictment of the players' focus and the staff's coaching.

Defensively, FIU allowed five field goals and a touchdown. Also, they should've had a touchdown of their own. Denzell Perine and Markeith Russell reprised the Mike Hegman-Thomas Henderson hug 'em-strip 'em play that gave Dallas a brief 14-7 lead in Super Bowl XIII against Pittsburgh. The play was whistled dead with the ball on its way to Russell's hands. The score at that point was 9-0, Louisiana Tech, in the second quarter. It changes the game if FIU's up 14-9 in the third quarter or down only 20-12 in the fourth.

But you can't complain about a bad call -- and FIU didn't afterwards -- when you don't play well. 

Oh, Pet Peeve Time...Am I the only one who wonders what the heck coaches are doing when, instead of taking a knee at the end of the first half, they run a line plunge as FIU did Saturday night and has done before? LaTech was out of timeouts. A kneel down would've done the job. Instead, FIU pounds its workman grinder back for one more play.

This is a violent game involving many guys whose bulk threatens to overwhelm their skeletal structure, especially at this age. If you run a play in that situation, you're either trying to score or you're engaging in coaching onanism.

Inconsistency is characteristic of young teams so maybe this dump wasn't surprising after two games moving forward. Another week of this, though, could see true humiliation visited upon the Panthers.

East Carolina, which has put up 50 points or more three times this season, comes to La Cage next.

 

Comments

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I was there at Saturdays game and it was very sad to see an empty stadium. The majority of the students tailgating before the game don't even go inside to watch the game, they stay outside the stadium and party. What's up with the home section being on the north side of the stadium? Sun in your face through the first 1.5 qtrs of play. Nothing the AD (P.G.) does makes any sense. I wish players success this season.

Very, very sad.

The worst part is that nobody cares. The only ones that want this to keep going are a few guys keep cashing large checks out of this. The source the money for those checks are students fees taken by force from teenagers that want to obtain a college degree and have clearly said that don't care about athletics.

This needs to stop.

KILL THE PROGRAM NOW. Forfeit the remaining games. Stop embarrassing the university. We will set up a tent outside of the president's house to collect signatures on a petition. We can ask local TV news stations to come out and cover this.

I am sickened by the demise of our beloved program.

Forfeiture of the remaining games is stupidity!

What needs to be asked is why a coach leaves a QB in the game that clearly doesn't read the progression of the play and/or is so inconsistent that he looks like he is still suffering from a concussion. Here is the other question I ask: this head coach used to be an offensive coordinator in the NFL, is he noticing that his team is ill equipped for a pro-style offense?
I believe the majority of the guys on the roster played in spread or veer offenses because that is the trend in high school. This guy needs to realize that FIU will not get the monster 6,6" 330 lbs offensive linemen that he was able to find when he was at Illinois or while at the NFL.
Also just wondering instead of having a QB sit in a pocket that is constantly collapsing and so that he gets pummeled into the ground ever play why not move the pocket?
Last but not least Head Coach where is this exciting offense you promised I still haven't seen a trick play or a reverse, double reverse, fake kick?

50 fans showed up this week. Maybe 25 will show up for the next game. Stop the insults. End the season now. Spare us the frustration week-in, week-out. This is not another case of post-Don Strock syndrome. A one win season is not expected nor should we tolerate it. It is time to rally and to petition the president to step in and take drastic measures. We cannot suffer anymore.

Nick,

This is far from suffering, don't used those words please. You don't suffer when your team loses, you suffer when you go to war, a relative dies or you don't have money to put food on the table for your kids.

When you used "suffering" for sports only shows how spoil we are as a society.

Regards

In my honest opinion I rather just shut down the entire football program for good and just work on making the basketball program a good mid major school. Fix the arena and make it look as nice as possible. No matter what you will never be able to compete with UM football. Look at FAMU they have been trying to do it for years with no success. Just get rid of the stadium and make more parking for students or a better student lounge so students can go and hangout instead of just coming to class and going home. I love FIU but I also understand that 95% of people that live in Miami will never root for FIU because of UM's rich tradition

For those near-sighted reactionaries that call for FIU's program closure, you sound as ridiculous as those near-sighted reactionary UM "so-called" fans in the 70's that called for UM's football program closure in the 70's. Had they heeded those silly requests, those FIVE national championship would of never occurred.

I do believe FIU needs changes, however those changes need to start with top athletic adm. No community engagement, tyrannical behavior w / staff & fans, etc. That is the root cause. Go FIU!!!

You are definitely the Ultimate FIU Fan, make others that don't care about the team pay for the team you are rooting for. You might want somebody to bat for your house and your food too, don't ya?

The problem here is that nobody cares (there were maximum 1,000 people in the stands and 50 students), it's not that the team sucks. Even if we get better, we can't continue to force people to pay for teams that nobody cares.

You people really need to get a grip. It's a second consecutive bad season in season No. 12 of a program and you're acting like this is the Columbia losing streak or Northwestern of the early 1980s.

Blue&GoldHeart: You could find the bad side of a dollar. Weren't you supposed to be boycotting this blog? Or was that after Butch Davis was hired?

Nick Walsh: I'm going to assume you're being facetious and funny because you know cancelling the rest of the season would cost the athletic department dearly, as FIU would be sued halfway to Mozambique over the numerous contracts breached. Not to mention what it would do to any basic business trust of anything connected with the FIU athletic department by other schools.

Derrick: If you're not 20, you sound it. Because you don't seem to remember the years when the basketball arena was almost brand new, the basketball teams were the school's highest profile teams and there was ample parking. I covered FIU for four of those years. Especially the last season, when both men's and women's teams won 20 games, it was fun stuff at times. FIU also toiled in obscurity, even compared to now. Also, you overestimate the shadow of UM's tradition locally with your "95 percent..." UF fans outnumber UM fans locally. FSU fans almost equal Hurricane boosters locally. Also, UCF manages to get by in the shadow of UF and FSU with UM downstate, so FIU can build a program, too.

I 100% agree with David Neal. I'm a alumi with season tickets... south florida fans only show when a team is winning. The year FIU when to the little caesars bowl, there were a number of times that only 2000 people showed up at the stadium. The following year (TY last) FIU was a hot ticket. Winning fills in the seats. David is also right about the SFL fans its UF #1, FSU #2, then everyone else. No one cared about UM until they started to win.

Blue&Gold Heart, you think FIU is the only university that get student fees? PLEASE!!!! You think ALL students at these other ESTABLISHED institutions care about football or athletics in general? GET REAL! The reality is that student fees tend to be the life blood of MOST university's athletic departments. Very few programs are in the black w/o those fees. Btw, those fees also pay for a multitude of NON-Athletic line items most students ALSO aren't interested in. It's called student life & it encompasses a multitude of diverse activities.

David, I love your articles (even though I believe you have an anti-FIU bias) but you have a vested interest in this program, you are one that needs the ball to keep rolling. The students are paying fees and, if they were voluntary instead of taken by force, I am sure most of them would waive them.

Ultimate FIU Fan, in most of the schools that you mention (ex. UF, USF, Penn State, Michigan, etc) student PAY athletic fees but the CARE about their athletics and GO to games. Here the apathy is general, and the message is clear: they don't care.

Thank you djn

Things can turn around quickly. But it's not going to happen under Garcia and Turner. How long it's going to take and how much pain will be incurred will be determined by the ineffectual Board and Rosenberg.

BGN, you are not a bright man! You are also a troublemaking loser. My goodness you are negative. Never anything positive from you. What gives? You get called out for your two-faced wavering positions constantly. Don't you see it?

Things will get better, as a "TRUE" fan of this team you have to believe that. Most teams will take on the character of their leader, and that is basically what you are witnessing. I said it a couple weeks ago. Its not the quality of players that are here, these kids can play, several of them are making plays. Last game the defense showed promise and are continueing to do so. However, you still have an issue at CB and Safety, still no adjustment. The opposing teams are exploiting both positions, go back and look at the film of where the points of coming from against us. If the current QB play "per coach Turner" is still giving you the best chance to win, and you are still losing, would it hurt to try another player? Like I said, the QB play from the last game was not inspiring because the WR made athletic plays, not because your QB was playing well, he hasn't played well all season, look at the film, he's completely lost in this offense. To be honest with halfway decent coaching, this team is 3-0 in the conference instead of 1-2 heading into a ECU game? All the ranting about throwing in the towel for the rest of the season is absurb. "Come On Man" "True" fans rally behind the team regardless. However, I was willing to give the Turner regime a full year to establish their system. After watching each game, I am now convinced that it is not the quality of players, it is the stubborness of a coaching staff to make adjustments during and after the game. Who in their right mind would rely on a kicker that averages 30 yards? How do expect your defense to continue to hold when the opponents average starting position is close to mid field? How do expect an offense to thrive when, I know what play is about to be run probably before your QB does, simply by the personnel that is on the field? All these things lead to losses, and again its not the players. The first 4 games were simply lost to better teams and better players. The last 2 however, were not! As much as many of you dislike the AD and probably for good reason. Right now he is not the reason this team is not putting up wins and filling the stands. Winning will solve that problem, regardless of who or where you are. Please continue to rally around these players, believe me they want to win as much as any of us. Stay the course! 3Ps - Prayer First, Prepare, Peform! GO FIU!

Mr. Neal,

UCF doesn't have a program that has one 5 national championships right down the road

To those of you that are supporting FIU through even tougher times than ususal, I say congratulations on being true fans. It is easy to "lose it" and stop supporting FIU. So good for you.

To BGH: You moron! You don't get it. Ever. And to add to your negativity, you blame the only guy at the Herald (other than Pete) that has given FIU a fair shake. Granted that Pete was a homeboy, but dude, DJN is covering FIU fairly. What do you want him to do, just report the good news? Ignore the bad news? And besides its not like you have EVER been fair to FIU either, you hypocrite. All you ever do is criticize FIU, its coaches, players, and fans. And you have the NERVE to call out DJN.

Derrick, Gainesville is just an hour from Orlando and UF gets covered by the mid-state media the way UM is covered down here. You can talk UM's 5 national titles, but in the lifetime of a current recruit, UF has won (not "one") three national titles (1996, 2006, 2008), two in the cognizant lifetime of said recruit. UM has 1 national title in that same recruit's lifespan (2001). Throw in the differences in conference stature and game day atmosphere for home games and UF casts as big or bigger shadow over UCF than UM does over FIU. And, funny enough, UCF's gotten strong largely with players they got out of South Florida, some of which UM coveted.

I have been to every home game this year and one away. To see the head coach and his staff not adjust his approach to the player’s strong suites is an understatement. There is no recruiting by this staff locally. There is no involvement with the community. Mario isn’t here any more and his work ethic and community involvement is sourly missed. This was going to be a rebuilding year no matter what but it is turning into total collapse of a program that was headed in the right direction. The AD is arrogant and lacks all communication skill where it is required with the fan base and students. Changes need to happen at the top. Lack of action will set this program back even further. Call of 87

Mr. Neal,

You make great points there's no arguing that but I truly believe if you attend FIU its hard to ignore the mess that goes on regarding the athletics department. Our "Director of Sports and Entertainment" is a laughing stock. Not one individual respects him and sadly it's not just him, there are quite a few others that will remain nameless that work in the athletic department that are just downright selfish and could careless about FIU. I wholeheartedly appreciate your coverage and everything that you do for the program but in my personal opinion they need to revamp the entire athletic administration because from experience at both FIU and another D1 as both a student and athlete they are doing an awful job.

P.S. Hire James Knapp as the new athletic director, former two sport athlete and overall great ambassador of FIU

It's sad what has happened to my beloved Panthers, but I was out there last Saturday, and I will be out there this coming Saturday as ECU lays a beating on us.
"You could find the bad side of a dollar." What a fitting comment in regards to B&GH.
Fire Pete Garcia!

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