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Gameday IX: Not Quite in Not-Quite-Nashville

 Middle Tennessee State quarterback Logan Kilgore’s been around longer than one of those acts you see 40 miles away in downtown Nashville, singing their butts off to sparse afternoon crowds and hoping to move up a notch (night gigs) or two (recording deal).

Kilgore gets rid of the ball – he’s taken only four sacks. He knows when to think big and doesn’t get in the way of a running attack that averages a Conference USA-best 221.2 yards per conference game behind Reggie Whatley and Jordan Parker. But Kilgore might have to make more plays than usual. FIU allows only 125.8 rushing yards per conference game, fourth best, and the Panthers don’t get the statistical benefit of a barn full of sacks as East Carolina and North Texas do. That’s actual rushing defense.

If senior defensive tackle Greg Hickman wasn’t spending the last 67 percent of the season plowing through a bad ankle, I’d really like this matchup for FIU’s defense. I think they could sit on Middle’s run, force Kilgore to do more than he’s used to doing and really cause him third down problems. Pressure up the middle does funny things to the best of quarterbacks. Coffee-hammering defensive coordinators drank Colombia and Peru figuring out how to get pressure up the middle on Dan Fouts, Peyton Manning and Tom Brady.

Speaking of third down, here’s an interesting matchup. FIU sort of found itself on third down last week – or found itself not bumping into each other – but is still converting a league-worst 28.3 percent in conference games. But Middle’s giving up a league-worst 58.6 percent on third down. The Blue Raiders give up points, 32.6 per conference game. Their conference games involve a lot of turnovers – 4.6 per game for both teams, as opposed to FIU’s 3.7. Even though Middle’s plus 3 in turnovers and FIU’s minus 1 in C-USA games, I’m a little leery about that many turnovers in games unless it’s lopsided in a team’s favor. The malodorous air of sloppy play can envelope a team too easily.

I watched Middle’s game against UAB last week. Their offense did little until sometime in the third quarter. They got punked on the ground when they played UAB’s quarterback as if he was an actual threat to strafe them. I see them sitting on the short stuff, crowding the box this week, beating on the tight ends and making sophomore quarterback E.J. Hilliard show he can beat them in the middle and deep zones. Collect the run on the way. Of course, if a Silas Spearman pops through, he’ll be playing house music.

In answering 5 Questions About FIU from Adam Sparks, a beat writer covering Middle, I predicted 31-14 with the Blue Raiders jumping up big early and holding the lead until the end. Consistency is a problem for young teams like FIU. I’ll say 27-17, Middle.

But that’s just one black man’s opinion. I could be wrong.


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Today's game was disgraceful. The offense is awful. Play was sloppy. This team is going backwards. We can't take anymore of this sub-par football. This is one man's opinion.


Do you still think I am too negative? I might not be negative enough.

It's astonishing how far backwards we've regressed in one year. At least last year the games were close.

This year is truly embarrasing to our school.

This season hurts. I know Turner is working with Cristobal's team but this team is not competitive in any facet of play. This game shows no offensive and no defense and no special teams. Did Cristobal leave us with garbage or is Turner a bad coach or both? Thank God the Dolphins are making such a stench that no one is smelling the mess at Tamiami. It's not like we just lost, we have not really been in any games this year.

Lets see, team is regressing, AD has pissed off all fans away, additionally AD could care less about the students because A) they pay the bill whether they show up or not and B) will never get much in sponsorship because of his sleaze-ball reputation. Believe me folks your AD doesn't have friends in S. Florida. His reputation is on par with the Obamacare's website, along w / the Athletic Department's. Dr. Rosenberg & BOT, your losing money, friends & time by keeping your AD. Losing time in the sense of re-igniting support, which currently is NON-EXISTENT for a once promising program that beat Louisville on the road & UCF at home.

David: Please investigate several reports that Turner has already put out several feelers to NFL clubs for OC and/or QB coaching spots. This is the buzz among local coaches. Don't look away from the truth. Embrace the truth. The only question is whether his departure will finally impact the problem: Garcia.

While FIU fans everywhere are looking for the silver lining or imagining possible solutions, results like this is are a dream come true for Black Heart.

Well here we are again and your right, sloppy play, can't get out of or own way and it is down hill from here. Again, at the end of the day it's starts at the top. Coaching! How in the world can you put a product like this on the field? Remember this is the plan that he said would work. I've been told that If you keep doing the same thing you keep getting the same results. That's never more true than what we see week in and week out. Say what you will but Cristobal was well liked by his players, Turner on the other hand, that can be questioned. Add that and the discord that exists among some of the staff.....the results can be seen. Maybe the only thing missing with this bunch of squirrels is a nut. Houston Nutt?

Well one disconcerting thing about Coach Turner is that he calls his players by #s! What the hell is that? MC definitely was a work in progress in coaching, btw getting OPTIMUM training as we speak, however NO DOUBTING he truly cared for his players. He actually knew their names and knew much about them and where they came from. Don't see these players seeing Coach Turner as father figure when you are called by, "hey #99 make a play ..."

EP, point well made.

Nick, you've been wrong often. This time, I can say I've heard the same thing since early in the season. I can also say, considering the NFL trends and Turner's style of offense, I have a better shot at an NFL position next year than Turner.

And, insider and EP, referring to players by numbers is just no big deal. Many coaches do it, especially at the NFL level. I've heard players do it at every level, referring to teammates and opponents, scrubs to stars, by number ("We know what's coming. 18's coming," Ed Reed sighed before a Ravens-Colts playoff game). Turner told me the only player he never referred to by number was Devin Hester.

It sounded like yesterday's game got away from FIU on their own errors -- two fumbles and a missed field goal leaving 17 points on the field in the first half. Then, the interception return touchdown to open the second half becomes a death blow instead of something to get over. Also, players are getting worn down from the light roster FIU's carrying. And they're low on offensive playmakers.

Turner will leave quietly at the end of the season for a job as an NFL assistant. Rosenberg will scratch his head and wonder why this situation has been so challenging. Garcia will? Fill in the blank. Resign? Receive a termination notice? Be forcibly removed from his office by campus police following receipt of the termination notice? David: How about a blog entry about the success of the former coaches. Look at Mirabal. He is a big hit at Marshall. Wait until Marshall blows out FIU in a few weeks. The FIU foootball story is one of rags to riches to rags. More like toilet paper after the horrific coaching and game play.

DJN, yea it's no big deal to call a player by his number. The point being it is believed that coach T doesn't have a very good understanding or relationship on a personal side. Im not saying lets do popcorn and a movie but You of all people knew first hand Cristobal put the time in to build that relationship. We can point fingers at this problem or that problem. Bottom line it starts at the top, if your not making progress your not doing your job. The roster was not depleted when this madness started, it may be the excuse this week but not for the others. Turner may not go anywhere, the question is will this program?

I wasn't able to see or hear the game, so I won't judge. Just sounds like more of the same, poor game planning and not making game time adjustments. I did look at the stats and when you run the ball 30+ times and yield and average 3 yards per run. I would say to myself, "Self this is not working." lol... Thanks for the coverage and have a blessed week. GO Panthers.

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