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38 posts from November 2013

November 17, 2013

We Are...Heavily Favored; Volleyball Senior Night

Marshall has scored over 60 points once, over 50 another three times, 49 in another game and 45 last week against Tulsa. The offensive line coach, Alex Mirabal, and the offensive coordinator, Bill Legg, left FIU without the warmest of feelings for the school.

Can't wait to see what the over/under will be on the 6 p.m. Fox College Sports game, FIU's last home game of the season. The opening line is Marshall by 33.


Senior Night saw FIU sweep North Texas 3-0 (25-23, 25-20, 25-22) behind 14 kills by junior Martyna Gluchowicz and 13 by sophomore Lucia Castro. FIU ends the regular season 12-16, 6-8 in Conference USA.

The volleyball team plays Middle Tennessee State Thursday in the Conference USA tournament. Middle swept FIU during the regular season and hasn't lost to the Panthers since 2010.


Former FIU defensive end Tourek Williams started for San Diego agian and made the game's first tackle against the Dolphins, a long walk from where Williams' high school alma mater, Norland.

This wasn't in the e-book about the 2012 season.

Former FIU starting linebacker Winston Fraser had an interesting run of Tweets on Nov. 7:

"I remember hitting a doobie every morning jus to eat and get right before I hit the field." 

"Regardless of how much I used to blaze...I still understood the defensive playbook better than anyone...even some of the coaches."

"I (past tense of expletive misspelled) up my senior tryna be a leader and (guano). Killing myself to try to help the next (racial slur masquerading as term of endearment)."

"I shoulda just focused on me and made my plays like when I was ballin my junior year."



Basketball up, football down...and out?

The men's basketball team took out Texas Southern 70-68 at the U.S. Centuray Bank and Cabana Coliseum Saturday night to go to 4-2. Stetson's in Monday at 6 p.m. Hearing this third hand, but if an athletic department employee brings seven guests, they get complimentary tickets and a day off. No word on whether they'll get to spend a game in a cabana.

Meanwhile, up on the Tex-Mex border, the football team was getting rolled 33-10 by UTEP, which had lost its previous three games 143-21. Perhaps the less said about this, the better.

So, if Ron Turner was to escape to the NFL, where would he go? He's a West Coast offense guy, but one who likes to work behind the kind of power running game no longer in vogue around the NFL. If you don't have a dynamic offense -- and none of Turner's NFL offenses could be called that -- you better have a defense that truly sits on teams (Seattle, Carolina). Also, the quarterbacks he coached in his last two NFL stops (Indianapolis in 2011 and Tampa Bay in 2012) didn't evolve so well.

Would Norv, offensive coordinator in Cleveland, help a brotha out?

November 16, 2013

Gameday X: Duel in the Sun (Bowl)

Combined score of last week's losses by FIU and UTEP: 99-7.

Combined score of UTEP's last two Conference USA games: 86-14.

Combined losing streak: 11

This is a weakness-on-weakness confrontation.

FIU can't stop the pass, but UTEP throw's the ball like it's a boulder.

UTEP can't stop the run, but FIU runs the ball in bumps of progress better measured by blades of grass than yards.

Each's pass protection reminds you of the store security guard who moves with alacrity only toward the bathroom. I'm not sure if that'll be a problem today because neither rushes the passer well. 

UTEP's the worst team at kickoff and kickoff coverage in Conference USA. FIU's next-to-last in returning kickoffs.

We could go on all day. I won't. It's been a long week and I have other things to do this morning before heading for Homestead-Miami Speedway. UTEP doesn't commit as many turnovers and is at home in the Sun Bowl. They've also been annihilated three consecutive weeks, redshirt freshman quarterback Mack Leftwich will be in his second start and FIU assistants Andre Patterson and Tom Williams give FIU an advantage on personnel knowledge.

If FIU starts quickly, that can birth the biggest snowball you'll ever see in a border town. FIU rarely starts quickly this season, however.

FIU 13, UTEP 10. But that's one black man's opinion. I could be wrong.




November 15, 2013

Beach, Ball, Buckles & Bussey

The hanging drummers present Thursday won't be there every night. FIU contracted with Galaxy Entertainment only for Thursday night's home opener, the 85-39 waxing of Florida College. Galaxy provided the drummers and the scaffold from which they sat in harnesses. Check out my Twitter feed, http://www.twitter.com/DavidJNeal, for photos of the drummers, the cabanas, etc.

"We've done it everywehre from amusement parks, bar mitzvahs, any kind of party," said David Parente, who hung and drummed along with Sean Woods before the game and during halftime. "Any place they'll have us, we'll do it."

Is the whole shebang as overdone as the name "Lime Court at U.S. Century Bank Arena?" Sure. And I'm OK with that.

(By the way, "Lime Court..." A Mexican restaurant chain founded by a white guy, who sold it to a restaurant company named after a British rock band's hit song, gets its name put the basketball court of a university largely identified with the Cuban-American community. Add in a black person somewhere and it's the epitome of diversity, Miami-style.)

Sophomore Jerome Frink said it'll be a while before he gets used to the courtside cabanas. Both he and Rakeem Buckles felt the team got too distracted by what FIU head coach Anthony Evans called a "festive" atmosphere. Once they started rolling Florida College at 10-0, the Panthers tried to be as flashy as the show around them. Didn't work.

Evans said he was fine with it -- "We're in Miami. So, sometimes, you have to do things that kind of stand out. I guess we did that" -- but he always comes off as the kind of guy who thinks including Crunch Berries ruins Cap'n Crunch. I think he'll be happier Saturday 

He's definitely a man-to-man defense kind of guy.

"I've always been a man-to-man coach," Evans said. "But it seems like they play well in the zone. It seems like I'm going to have to shift it a little until we can become a better man-to-man team. I don't like to play a lot of zone, but if we're good at it, then we're going to continue to play it."

Thursday, FIU went to a zone late in the first half when they took over the game. 

"I thought when the younger guys came off the bench, they really gave us a boost with their athleticism and their length because it gave them problems in the zone," Evans said. "Once they started missing shots, we wre able to take the ball in transition and get some layups." 

I asked Buckles, once again the team's leading scorer, if he's surprised with what he's been able to do so far. He replied, "No, I feel like I should be doing it. I'm 23 years old, this is my fifth year in college (basketball). I had lofty goals for myself, so I'm happy with the way I'm playing...it's expected, let's put it like that."

Evans said, "I'm very impressed with Rakeem. With everything he's gone through, he still has a true passion for the game," Evans said. "I really didn't know what we were going to get because he hasn't played basketball in two years. Once we started practicing, you could see he was trying to work the rust off. The first game, he was still trying to work the rust off, get into game shape. Then, he started getting into a rhythm. That's what you see now."

 As for what they think of the team after five games, Frink said, "I think we're more talented than last year's team, we just have to get everything together, combine our talents and be unselfish."

Buckles assented: "It's going to take a while. Hopefully, we get it quickly. We're not the team that we should be right now, we'll say that."


I Tweeted at Herald high school sports scribe Andre Fernandez while he was covering tonight's Coral Gables-Hialeah game "How's Henry Bussey look?" He answered, "Legit fast. Speed back."

By that point, Bussey already had exploded for an 85-yard touchdown run on the second play from scrimmage. He finished with 141 yards on 10 carries, so he averaged 6.2 yards per carry on his other nine carries. That ended his season with 1344 yards and 19 touchdowns on just 133 carries (10.1 yards a pop). He also caught eight passes for 199 yards (24.9 yards per catch) and two touchdowns.

That's the kind of explosiveness FIU needs in its offense. It'll be interesting if Bussey can bring that combustibility to college.

November 13, 2013

Florida College & The Dunk

If you want to know the team invited to the unveiling of the cabana at the men's basketball home opener Thursday night...

Florida College plays in the United States College Athletic Association, a group of 86 schools  (Tuesday's FIU opponent, Warren Wilson, was the 2013 Division II national title winner...of the USCAA). The Falcons got routed 101-73 by Jacksonville in their most recent game. The game beforehand, however, against Warner (University, not Bugs, Daffy, Wile E., Porky and MJ), freshman Anthony Allen provided one of the highlights of the young college basketball season.


He does that Thursday night, Florida College might get a bill.

Just another tricky day at La Cage

FIU coach Ron Turner said after two games starting sophomore quarterback E.J. Hilliard, he's going back to redshirt junior Jake Medlock for this week's game at Texas-El Paso.

When I asked Turner if the decision's different had other players not left 17 points on the field at Middle Tennessee State and it's still a game early in the second half, he said he made the decision on Hilliard's whole body of work. He was especially ticked that, according to him, the first three plays were scripted and Hilliard made mistakes on all three.

Medlock said he reacted to the first benching of his high school or college career with anger at himself for how he'd been playing. He specifically mentioned the Southern Mississippi safety, saying he should've kicked the ball out of the end zone instead of picking it up, trying to throw and getting knocked out of the game.

Fifth-year senior outside linebacker Derrick Jones Jr. was on crutches Wednesday. Expect Davison Colimon to start there.


For what it's worth...an observer who's at most of the big high school games in Dade and Broward County (that don't run simultaneously -- he's not from Cargg) said he's seen coaches from all the other FBS football schools in the state more than he's seen from FIU. In fact, he estimates seen former FIU offensive line coach Alex Mirabal, now at Marshall, as often or more often at games than current FIU coaches.

FIU's a six-point underdog.


November 12, 2013

FIU puts 3 on postseason C-USA men's soccer teams

The All-Conference USA men's soccer teams, announced Tuesday, including FIU junior forward Quentin Albrecht and senior co-captain midfielder Gonzalo Frechilla on the Second Team. Albrecht's six goals and four assists tied him with Roberto Altiero for the team lead in scoring with 16 points. Frechilla, two goals and six assists, was third.

Midfielder Marvin Hezel led the field players in minutes played, 1,492, scored three goals and two assists and made the conference's All-Freshman team.

FIU finished 6-10-1 and finished one spot out of the seven-team Conference USA tournament.





November 11, 2013

Buckles C-USA Player of the Week; Thursday Night LIV at FIU (well, not really...)

Fifth-year senior Rakeem Buckles put up double doubles in his first three college basketball games since suffering his second season-ending knee injury two years ago, while at Louisville. The 20-point efforts in the second and third games boosted his average to 17.7 points per game while being consistent in pulling down rebounds -- 12, 13 and 11.

All that let Buckles share the Conference USA Player of the Week awards with Marshall's Elijah Pittman.

Thursday night, the men's team officially opens the cabanas adjacent to the painted beach on Lime Court at U.S. Century Bank Arena with a game against Florida College. The athletic department's going all out for a decent crowd for the home opener, down to calling it "LIV it Up at the FIU Basketball Beach Bash."

Club LIV's not actually involved, although the site of the real LIV (as opposed to the offshoot at Sun Life Stadium), The Fountainbleu Hotel, sponsors the suites and cabanas. There will be, however, a postgame student party with free food, a photo station playing on the basketball and bench themes, a mechanical surfboard (that would be amusing if some of the users tailgated before the game) and giveaways.

Knowing better than to rely on students, especially on a weeknight, it's also FIU Faculty, Staff and Retiree Appreciation Night. Each person who fits the above can buy up to four tickets for $1 each.






November 10, 2013

Victory Sunday

Sunday beat Friday.

After collapsing Saturday against Youngstown State, FIU men's basketball hung on to beat Kennesaw State 66-58 to get their first win of the season and the first win under head coach Anthony Evans. Rakeem Buckles had 20 points and 11 rebounds. Point guard Ray Taylor put in 15 and distributed five assists. Tymell Murphy had three steals. FIU, 1-2, can get back to even with a win against Warren Wilson Tuesday.

Meanwhile, the volleyball team (11-5, 5-8 in conference) took out Southern Mississippi 3-1 (24-26, 25-22 cubed). Sophomores Lucia Castro and Gloria Levorin led the Panthers with 20 and 13 kills, respectively, Senior Kimberly Smith had five blocks and sophomore Adriana McLamb had 24 digs. 

In the NFL, former FIU safety Johnathan Cyprien recovered Tennessee's onside kick to clinch the first win of the season for Jacksonville in addition to his three tackles. Former defensive end Tourek Williams made his first NFL sack a true highlight by chasing down Denver quarterback Peyton Manning for a strip sack that set up a San Diego touchdown in the Chargers 28-20 loss.

November 09, 2013

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.

Blowout Friday (not a sale)

Everybody got some. The football team hopes it doesn't continue Saturday.

Men's basketball started first. Or, rather, started slowly first. Two first half statistics say it all: four of 13, 28.6 percent, from the free throw line and 11 turnovers. Unless you're playing the Southwest High JV, the second half's just to make everything official. FIU was playing Eastern Kentucky and the men from EK didn't play. FIU got down 45-24 and eventually lost 83-61 despite double doubles from Rakeem Buckles (13 points, 12 rebounds) and Tymell Murphy (14 and 10).

A half-hour into the men's basketball game, up at Middle Tennesee State, where the football team plays Saturday, the volleyball team charged into Middle. Or, maybe, more Charge of the Light Brigade. FIU got swept 3-0 (25-21, 25-20, 25-21) to the team that was the Sun Belt's best or second best with Western Kentucky over the last few years. Redshirt junior Jessica Egan had 22 assists for FIU.

As the men's game slogged through the second half and Middle drove spikes into the volleyball team, the women's basketball season opener against Florida Gulf Coast tipped off. I got the idea afterwards that FIU coach Cindy Russo was ticked off. Marita Davydova, expected to be perhaps the second most important player on the team behind senior guard Jerica Coley, was in FIU warmup pants and a polo shirt the whole game. Russo just called it a "coach's decision" and didn't say definitively whether or not Davydova would be back in the lineup for the next game.

Sophomore point guard Taylor Shade darted around Gulf Coast and created her own shot long enough to keep FIU in it while Coley stayed cold enough to keep Quarter Pounder meat frozen in the first half. Shade finished with a team-high 18 points, but Russo said her 36 minutes were about 10 minutes too long. Eventually, Gulf Coast pulled away with a 15-0 run to end the first half and continued in the second half as FIU seemed to fade. I don't know if fatigue makes cowards of us all, but, in the second half, the Panthers looked just fatigued enough to foul. Some truly bad defense was played.

Those filing out of The Branch could've stopped by FIU Soccer Stadium ("stadium"...heh heh) where Charlotte was spanking FIU 3-0.


November 07, 2013

A new Sheriff on campus?

Hialeah defensive end Jermaine Sheriff has given his verbal vow to FIU as part of the Class of 2014.


He's unrated by ESPN, Scout.com and 247sports.com. Rivals.com has him at two stars.

Health and Hilliard

Senior cornerback Sam Miller's the only health question going into Saturday's game at Middle Tennessee State and he's questionable. Middle opened a 17-point favorite, now up to 18 with an over/under of 48 1/2.

I asked Turner what he thought of sophomore quarterback E.J. Hilliard's performance last week against East Carolina after a thorough game video review.

"He did a lot of good things but he did a lot of things that looked like a guy who hadn't played very much. He's got to throw the ball. The ball's got to come out of his hand. I told him, "You've got to throw the ball if you're going to play. I don't care if it's incomplete. But you've got to throw the football." He's holding onto the ball way too long.

"Early in the game, he was pretty good at it. As the game went on, he got worse and worse. He's holding it, then he's running backwards. I said, "You're not going to play if you're doing that." Throw the ball, No. 1, if you can't throw it, go forward. We can't take a three-step drop and have a 10-yard loss on a sack. We can't take a five-step drop and have a 15-yard loss on a sack. We get sacked, we get sacked. It's got to be a 4-yard loss. Or find a lane and run. He had a lot of opportunities to pull the trigger and didn't. That's pretty typical of a young guy."

Women's soccer loses in Conference USA tournament

Only junior Johanna Volz could find the back of the net as North Texas gave FIU the what for, 4-1, in Wednesday's Conferece USA tournament game.

North Texas dominated the first half, taking a 2-0 lead and outshooting FIU 13-2 and getting four corner kicks to FIU's one. Volz's goal in the 58th minute got FIU back into the game as play started to even out. But goals in the 72nd and 82nd minute allowed the Mean Green to pull away.  


One note on attendance: official attendance, which is what's on the official statistics book, and what gets reported to the NCAA as attendance often differ.

November 04, 2013

Notice for football and female footballers

Hours before the women's soccer team headed for the Conference USA tournament at Rice, Conference USA announced junior forward Ashleigh Shim had been selected Second Team All-CUSA and senior midfielder Kim Lopez had made Third Team.

Shim's team-high eight goals tied the next three top goal scorers combined. Lopez picked up two goals and two assists while leading the team in shots on goal with 33.

Wednesday, FIU faces North Texas, which brings the conference's Offensive Player of the Year and Freshman of the Year, Rachel Holden, and Defensive Player of the Year, Kelsey Hodges.


The College Football Performance Awards seems to find FIU. This week, the CFPA gave national honorable mention notice to freshman kicker Austin Taylor, who tied the school length record with his 52-yard field goal; now-punter Jake Medlock for averaging 45.0 yards on his four punts; and freshman tight end Jonnu Smith for catching 10 passes for 97 yards.


November 03, 2013

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.”

November 02, 2013

Gameday VIII, 2013: Not seeing a decline of Piracy

As I munched pizza rolls to a Steely Dan soundtrack Friday evening, I pondered the situation facing FIU:

East Carolina throws the ball 45.5 times per game. FIU’s best cornerback, senior Sam Miller, probably won’t play and could be replaced by freshman walk-on Brian Hyman-Muhammad, making his first start.       

The Pirates put up over 50 points three times this season. If you combine FIU’s two highest scoring games this season, you get 48 points.

East Carolina ranks third in the nation in kickoff returns. FIU’s kickoffs flutter like Tweety bird, then descend somewhere around the 5.

East Carolina ranks 10th in the nation in punt returns. FIU’s punts make FIU’s kickoffs look like spy jets.

FIU sophomore quarterback E.J. Hilliard’s numbers in his four career starts: 70 of 93 for 590 yards, three touchdowns and three interceptions…15 sacks taken.

East Carolina needs this game to keep stay atop Conference USA’s East Division, a half-game ahead of Marshall, which figures to trample visiting Southern Mississippi today. FIU’s playing for pride, especially if they run out of the locker room to the Sunday morning softball crowd that greeted them last week. That's entirely possible with this game running up against UM-FSU. One game's got sexy. The other looks closer to apoplexy.


East Carolina 45, FIU 14.

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

November 01, 2013

Women's soccer vs. North Texas in C-USA Tournament

FIU's last Sun Belt Conference tournament game in women's soccer was a 1-0 loss to North Texas in the conference championship game Nov. 4, 2012. The Panthers left gnashing teeth in frustration, feeling before the tournament and after that they were the better team.

So, funny coincidence that FIU's first Conference USA tournament game finds them pitted against North Texas, Wednesday, for the first time since that game 367 days previous. FIU's the No. 3 seed from the East Division after a 1-0 loss to Marshall Thursday night. North Texas finished No. 2 in the West.


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