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A few thoughts from East Carolina 34, FIU 13.

As FIU trailed 21-13 in the fourth quarter, I thought, “This is easily their best game of the year.” I’d hold to that statement even considering the final score.

East Carolina’s a good team, probably the best in Conference USA. They’ve got experience and a crispness honed from years of playing together where FIU’s still trying to find players to coalesce. They've got a great offense, excellent special teams and good enough defense. What set up and began as a blowout turned into a tense struggle with the Panthers trading blows evenly with the Pirates from the middle of the second quarter to the middle of the fourth. In the end, the deeper, more experienced team made the big play on a trick play (young teams can be particularly gullible) to force FIU into a one-dimensional offense.

The nine sacks of E.J. Hilliard – five in the fourth quarter after the flanker reverse pass touchdown made it 28-13 – skewed the rushing yards a bit. Lamarq Caldwell ran for 53 yards on only 10 carries. Caldwell’s power fit this game better than freshman Silas Spearman’s shifty speed. Caldwell also had three catches for 30 yards.

Freshman tight end Jonnu Smith clearly is FIU’s most consistent offensive skill position player. It’ll be interesting to see how he changes as his still-young body does. Right now, Smith’s both security blanket (Hilliard’s term) and big play threat. FIU needs another Smith on offense and a couple on defense to emerge for this program to make the leap forward that’ll keep the rebuilding from being the building of the Second Avenue Subway line.

Redshirt junior quarterback Jake Medlock doing the Danny White could’ve been done weeks ago. FIU’s punting the first seven games looked like performance art, if you were describing premature ejaculation via the medium of punting. I know FIU didn’t want to put its game, but injury-prone quarterback out there for any special teams psycho to obliterate. Medlock’s 45.0-yard average on four punts, two of which were downed inside the 10, should give him that job for the next little while.

As for Hilliard, I thought he had an OK game. The end zone interception, a bomb into double coverage with the score 21-13 and FIU on the East Carolina 43, was a bad decision. But he ran the ball decisively and took the passes that were there most of the time. And engineering that long drive, even if a bunch of it is on the ground, takes good quarterback leadership.

Big ups to Austin Taylor, who followed his school-record tying 52-yard field goal with the first touchback of FIU's season. It went in on the bounce, but none of FIU's previous kickoffs that reached the end zone stayed there.

The fourth and 1 from the East Carolina 20...I understand going for it. FIU was down 14-3. A touchdown on the drive makes it 14-10 and establishes the idea in both team’s minds that FIU can trade scores with East Carolina if necessary. Also, Ron Turner wants to show and instill confidence in the offense.

On the other hand, a field goal makes it a one-score game at 14-6. Also, on third and 1, FIU went straight power, overloading the right side and running Lamarq Caldwell behind the beef. The attempt to buffalo their way to a first down got stoned by the Pirates. So, on fourth and 1, FIU lined up similarly. In the press box, a scribe who covers East Carolina regularly said FIU should come back with the same play because the Pirates trend is that they’d give up the ground on the second try.

His scouting report beat FIU’s. The play action pass fooled nobody and Hilliard got chased toward the sidelines. He crossed the sideline before he threw. That showed he needs to adjust his mindset to the situation, something that showed on the second fourth quarter possession with FIU down 28-13. On both fourth downs, Hilliard had nothing to lose by just finding a receiver downfield and throwing toward him. Maybe you get a pass interference penalty. Maybe you get a catch. Maybe you get The Immaculate Reception. It’s the fourth down version of knowing when to give up on a play and throw it away on first through third down.

For the second game I covered in three days, I saw coaches outthink themselves. Or, maybe just get too into “We’re going to do what we’re going to do” instead of adjusting to the situation.

I’m re-reading John Feinstein’s Next Man Up on the year he spent with the Baltimore Ravens. When All-Pro cornerback Chris McAlister goes down against the Jets, thus bringing aging Corey Fuller off the bench, injured Deion Sanders instantly says the Jets will go after Fuller. He grabs safety Ed Reed and warns him to shade to Fuller’s side. Sure enough, the Jets attacked Fuller for some big gains.

Later that 2004 season, Denver went to Indianapolis for a playoff game. The previous year, Peyton Manning strafed the Broncos so badly, the Colts never punted in a 41-10 playoff win. Denver traded for All-Pro cornerback Champ Bailey over the summer and put Bailey on Marvin Harrison in the playoff game. Manning saw Bailey on one side and rookie Roc Alexander on the other against Reggie Wayne. Manning went at Alexander, to the tune of 10 catches for 221 yards and two touchdowns for Wayne. They daggone near retired Alexander – Denver took three cornerbacks early in the next draft. Alexander never started another NFL game and played only 11 more.

Contrast that with Thursday, when Cincinnati didn’t seem to realize the Dolphins needed to use third string R.J. Stanford, a 2010 seventh-round pick of Carolina’s, at cornerback late in the game. The Bengals never threw Stanford’s way. Saturday, East Carolina seemed to take some time finding freshman Brad Hyman-Muhammad, starting in place of senior cornerback Sam Miller. Once they did, completions of 43 and 27 yards fueled the drive that put the Pirates up 21-3 in the second quarter. Then, they left Hyman-Muhammad alone for the most part.

Meanwhile, credit FIU’s defense for refusing to stay down. The Pirates were going like 60 until FIU responded with that long…long…Gunsmoke-long…march to their touchdown. The 9:20 march and halftime – after a sack by Isame Faciane and a pass breakup by Demarkus Perkins forced East Carolina to try a field goal it missed – allowed the defense to steady itself.

Perhaps the most impressive part of FIU’s defensive performance was the sacks came off coverage, not just the strength of the team, the defensive line, beating their counterparts. In fact, the pass rush did little, even those times ECU got rid of the ball quickly. Cornerback Randy Harvey credited the defensive backs with having good “eye discipline” and just staying with their receiver no matter what moves, crosses or looks they got from East Carolina’s routes.

I need to remember to ask Turner this week about this end-of-first-half silliness. With 27 seconds left, instead of just taking a knee, FIU ran Caldwell into the line for a few yards, as they did last week. I reiterate -- either you’re trying to score or you don’t run a play. Running between the tackles with your three-yards-and-a-cloud-of-dust back amounts to coaching masturbation that serves only to get somebody hurt. And Turner tells us weekly about how too many guys are playing too many snaps because he’s dealing with a short roster.

During an early FIU possession, I heard repeated high school-like cheers of “Take it away, dee-fense, take it away!” The clarity in the cheers sounded as if they emanated from below the press box, which is at the east end of the stadium’s south side. Why were FIU’s cheerleaders chanting for the defense? Then, I realized they were coming from the East Carolina cheerleaders down at the west end of the south side. You need a long bridge of silence to carry that little noise that far.

With the score 21-13, East Carolina’s fans drummed their feet on the stands during an FIU third down. FIU’s student section? Lounging. Forget all the other things wrong with the football program, the stadium, athletics. Your one-win team has a shot at upsetting the conference favorite and you can’t raise your voices for your fellow students? Your fellow athletes?

To quote Cartman, “Super…weak.”

Comments

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DJN, you said: Your one-win team has a shot at upsetting the conference favorite and you can’t raise your voices for your fellow students? Your fellow athletes?

We never had a chance to upset EC in the game. We played better but, you are exaggerating when you said that we had a change of winning this game.

By the way, bribing student to show up is disgusting. I wish my school would give prizes to good students and good professors and not people for showing up at a bad football game.

They had scored 10 points on consecutive drives, got the ball three times down a touchdown and two-point conversion, entered the fourth quarter down that margin...but didn't have a chance to win.

Do you get any joy in life besides being the black cloud Schleprock in any conversation, a Livia Soprano behind an FIU-oriented sign-on?

He also hates puppies djn. He is the ultimate Debbie downer

By the way, B&GH, you think I have an anti-FIU bias, but I've never seen you post one positive thing about FIU sports on this or any other board outside of "glad we fired X, now maybe Y will be a better coach." No "Yay!" from you for track, soccer, swimming, men's basketball, Jerica Coley. You even kvetched about FIU's bowl seasons. Kvetch, kvetch, kvetch (feel free to substitute another word there if you want). YOU'RE the one with an anti-FIU bias. Or, maybe it's just an anti-life bias.

Why is this level of play a shock to anyone who is a fan of Miami-Dade County High School football?
The level of talent that this team has at the specialty positions (questing running backs) is some of the best that was recruited in their class. The shock came in seeing how dysfunctional this group was as a team! The huge point disparity demonstrates the inability to understand what the other team is doing to exploit your weakness, and continuing to do the same thing without account for unanticipated givens. No counter punching. It demonstrates player who are so occupied mentally with their own responsibilities and assignments that they are not able to understand the make subtle timing adjustment that flow with the schemes and game logic. No team play. A program that has no common bond, a sprit, a kindling spark to keep the team as an “affectionate forget me-not” by the bedroom mirror to Miami-Dade. No team support. Finally, this program has some bigger problem to address, or this will become the norm.
These young men on the team are to be commended. This coaching staff is to be commended. The coaches walked into a bad situation (administratively and with team management), losing, and are catching it. The players are CONFUSED, losing, and are catching it. And Miami-Dade and FIU students could care less. In fact it appears that the only one who cares is the one with financial interest (revenue by divisional ranking). Trouble!
At the beginning of the year I was concerned with RT and “working” relationship with the players. More Power To You RT! I had a chance to read WTF: 2012 FIU, this team needs structure and accountability. Once people are no longer reading or document news about off-field issues (behavior and academic), you will see this team win. I still have small traces, but no reason for concern now. I think what you saw in the second through half of the forth is what this team is: A disciplined unit that focuses on fundamental smash mouth football. They are not going to win big but they will win a close game, which the defense creates by limiting opposing offences.
The surprise part is over. Expect this team to play the way you saw them during that “wonder half” the rest of the season. This team has a win with the system, and now they have a “wonder half” against a good opponent. Expect at least one more win, and the team bringing home the Shula Bowl. What a mess up there!
What needs to be asked is what FIU is going to do to make this program a part of Miami-Dade. This program seems content to just being an isolated part of West Dade, and not using its best resource to access putting bodies from all of Miami-Dade in the seats. Here a freebie. Any FIU player that played in MDHS football pictures in both levels. Notes about High School graduation year and team: “I am homegrown FIU Football. Attend and help grow the Panther Pride”
Let’s Go Panthers!
RECRUITINGPRORITITES

1,500 fans? That is a generous number.

I was pleased with the effort last night. I'm coming around on Turner. Going for it on 4th and 16 when pinned deep in his own territory showed me that he hadn't thrown in the towel. It took McCarney a few years to get his guys in at UNT and now they're going bowling and look like CUSA contenders. Maybe Turner can do the same, given time.

I'd MUCH rather cut Coach Turner some slack. New coach, new system, new players, late hire & has a toxic AD as a boss that has done his best to NUKE the fan base. Outside of the seemingly quit job vs Louisville, I will tolerate Coach Turner. Give him a full recruiting year, look for improvements next season, etc. The changes have to come at the top of Athletic Adm.

So we have this offensive genius and lost almost every game this year while FAU doesn't even have a head coach and win.

Well, at least UM lost!

David, yes I do believe that you have bias against FIU but at this point we are the bottom. Even if you want to show that we are a little program, I think we can do a better job ourselves in showing that.

I have written a bunch of posts pro-FIU but it's difficult to find positives when can only sit 1,500 people in the stands(even with incentives). From my point of view, trying to find positives with this team right now will only make it worse. This team needs to blow up and start over. Trying to build from this very obscure place where we are in now will only bring negatives and delay positives.

The AD and Turner need to go and FIU needs to get serious about athletics if we want to compete and stop embarrassing the school. Almost everything surrounding this program is mediocre at best, from the aluminum stadium to the ridiculous rallies that we do in pre-games trying to fire up 200 people.

The game last Saturday was sad, the game the Saturday before was also sad. Telling otherwise is just portraying something that is not.

Run the ball between the tackles over and over again on first and second down. Ron Turner loves third and long. Ron Turner doesn't know his player's names, blames them for losses, and takes no accountability in the coaching. Ron Turner quit on his team by running the clock and then lied about it after the game. Or is Charlie Strong lying? FIU should quit on him. Run the clock on Ron Turner.

They should pay you extra DJN for having to be the warden of this insane asylum you have commenting on this blog. As Tio Ricky would say "Ay Dios Mio". This two sound like the chronics that would call up uncle Neil Rogers and yell out shamba!

Southpaw,I am in the boat with you on this one. DJN please ask coach Turner the hard question, as to what was he thinking when he went for it on 4th and 16 with just 2 minutes left and no chance of winning the game, and even less chance of picking up the first down. The last thing a coach needs is for his players to start doubting his ability to put them in the best situations. He basically took away a moral victory from this young team by giving ECU 7 points after the turnover in downs. He had nothing the gain and everything to lose by making that call. "I hate to say it but that was "JUST STUPID."

Would you also please ask the coach at what point in the season are they going to the address the technique of the CB constatantly giving up 10 yards at the line of scrimmage and not pressing the opponents WR. Every team we have played have killed us on the bubble screen to the WR. "Don't they reveiw film?" YOu have PRO Monday off, that would be a great time for review. I would bet that most other teams are not taking Monday's off especially the ones with a record like ours. "Just Saying"

Again, hats off to the players, I am sticking by my words from early in the season, this is a talented group of young players, and they are showing it. Granted they are going to make rookie mistakes, but these losses are not totally on the players. 75% is on the coach and his staff for not making game time adjustments.

I was sitting in front of a gentleman and he asked who our head coach was because he couldn't tell from just looking on the field. However, from completely on the opposite side of the field, he could point out and recognize the opposing coach because of the way he was interacting with his players, and actually the ECU coach was getting their fans involved in the action. "That is very telling." I said in a previous blog that in most cases the team will take on the deameanor of its leader. I don't see any fire from the coach or his staff. Unlike the previous regime. It just seems like the coaching staff is so far removed from the players during the game. I only see a couple defensive coaches interacting with their players on the sideline.

I must say that I am very proud of these young players, they are really putting up some fight and by all account really should be undefeated in conference play, even if the score doesn't show it.

Keep your heads up. 3Ps: Prayer first, Prepare, Perform...

The school would solve all of its problems by making the players get gold highlights in their hair, right Southpaw? It works for the Dazzlers, in spite of creepers checking them out with binoculars from ten feet away.

What's up with the 1 second challenge... "You go boy"
1 more second to get a player hurt... "Just saying"

If I seem perturbed, it's because a floating cursor caused me to have to redo this answer...

FIUBLUE1: So, down two TDs with 2 minutes left, you want your team to give up and punt just so the final score looks a little better? I haven't talked to an athlete worth a darn who feels that way. With that mindset, some of the great comebacks in college football history never would've happened. The timeouts with the game already decided, I'm not a fan of and have stated my distaste for the pointless final line plunge. But truly trying to get one more score like Saturday or when the game's not actually lost...I'm fine with that. Look what happened last year with ULM when they were in kneel downs. And most teams take Sunday off. FIU takes Monday off. This is still college football. Every school works to the limit allowed by NCAA rules. The inside WR screens, I had a bigger problem with the tackling, especially on the first. Look across college football. Everybody hits them.

Southpaw: My strategic problems with Turner have been put on this blog. That he refers to players by number is a common thing in college and the NFL. Tom Landry used to do it when referring to opposing players. Turner does it more often in the media. Maybe I don't find it a big deal because I sometimes do the same thing when covering a game (and did it ALL the time when covering hockey games).

B&GH: I just went through your posts for a last while. "Justin Halley is a good player" and "This baseball season will be great" "Butch Davis will be the FIU coach!" sum up your "positive" FIU posts. I didn't see one word about Jerica Coley. Not one word during FIU's first winning men's basketball season in years. Not one word about your Sun Belt Swimmer of the Year or Diver of the Year. Not one positive word during a second consecutive bowl season (my alma mater's been playing football since Cuba was a part of Spain and we'd be happy with ONE bowl appearance). You don't have a Blue & Gold Heart. You have a rotten Black Heart and I don't mean the kind that could put you on "Soul Train."

I hear you... However, that strategy may work if you are having success moving the ball. We were pinned down inside the 20 and couldn't move the ball the previous 3 downs, what would make you think you were going to do so on 4th and 16, when your progression is backwards? "Come on Man!" We only scored one TD the entire game and did not score in the 4th? I haven't talked to an athlete worth a darn that prefers to be embarrased and don't know of many coaches that would have gone for it on 4th and forever inside their own 20 yard line, regardless of how much time is on the clock. However, we are all entitled to our own Monday morning quarterbacking. You are correct Sunday is normally treatment day and perhaps lifting. We just seem to take two days to rest instead of one. "Just another black mans opinion." Have a great day! GO FIU. I still would like to hear the coaches thinking on making that call and so would the other FIU die hards that were in attendance and within ear shot!

David, I really don't follow basketball, I think is a waste of time and a really boring sport. I only post about football or baseball.

I wasn't celebrating our second bowl game because:

- We finished fourth in our conference.
- We didn't beat one team with a winning record that season.
- We got beat by three Sunbelt teams.
- We didn't deserve to go to that Bowl. WKU earned that spot on the field and "Bowl politics" took it away from them.
- While a bunch of guys were celebrating this, I was pointing out serious issues in the team that then became reallity.

DJN, well done. Some people are just happy being miserable. Putting down others is the way they feel better about themselves and with his postings, BGH must feel like a king.

DGN, you're right, him calling his players by number isn't a big deal. I just think he's either too senile or cares enough to remember their actual names. But that's a non-issue.

The issue is he QUIT on his players and the school he represents. And the he LIED about it. Ask Charlie Strong (Florida's next head coach) about it. Qitting and lying are not two qualities I want my head coach to have.

Now its time to quit on Coach Turner.

Quit on Turner? Give up on 4th down? Who are these non athletes trying to sound intelligent on a sports blog? Athletes don't quit. Only boring critics with no experience of the camaraderie that football brings would even suggest that Division 1 football players should quit during a game or quit during a season. Heck, they don't even know what it's like to quit during an off season workout. My hope is that a few of the imbecilic posters in this blog would quit.

I never asked the players to quit. The FANS need to quit on Turner. It looks like most have. He quit on FIU, so he needs to go. You can't have your leaders quit. Inaugural Panther, you may want a leader like that, but I don't.

B&GH: In 2011 FIU beat Louisville, which wound up co-Big East champions. So, yes, you did beat a team with a winning record. And most 8-win college seasons aren't loaded with wins against above .500 teams. So while other people were enjoying a good achievement for a 10-season old program, you were busy looking for the dung among the daisies and pouting that FIU wasn't 1987 UM reincarnated.

FIUBLUE1: Jim McMahon waves the punt team off the field late in the fourth before leading the 20-point Holiday Bowl comeback vs. SMU. "Harvard beats Yale, 29-29." 4th and 26 to Freddie Mitchell. By your strategy, none of the above happen.

Who is Jake Matlock? Jake Medlock plays at FIU. If you're going to call people out, you might not want to look like an idiot while doing so. And it's Peyton Manning. No one knows who Payton Manning is, either.

Hooter this is the same loser who spells it looser a couple of articles ago. Think he might be related to b&g

B&GH is now forever known as Rotten Black Heart. Great name change DJN. It is clearly more appropriate for him, as he has never known joy, optimism, or laughter.

fire pete garcia and go away dr. rosenberg

Sir, you picked the wrong game to try to get your point across, You are comparing Apples to Oranges! BYU was 11-1 going into the Holiday Bowl.

We are 1-6!

BYU had overwhelmed most opponents that season with a high powered pass-oriented offense. Led the NCAA in total offense/Scoring & Passing. SMU had to "PUNT" the ball after going 3 and out with less than a minute left in the game leading 45-39, unfortunately for SMU the punt was blocked. And by the way Sir, it was a hail mary pass that won the game. My point was simple, if your team is capable of or have proven that it can put up points in hurry as BYU had done all season. Then by all means go for it.

However, if your team has not proven that they are capable of making such plays, the majority of coaches I have seen would have punted when facing the ECU scenario.

Have an awesome and Blessed Day! Thanks for the coverage. GO FIU!

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