While this year's model of FIU footballin' Panthers wraps up training camp, with classes and Bethune-Cookman nigh, plenty of news came from other eras of Panthers football.
Friday night, Lakeland Christian quarterback Christian Alexander, a three-star FIU commit, threw for 215 yards and a touchdown as his team crushed George Jenkins 33-3. Alexander's school lost star running back T.J. Simmons in the scoreless first quarter, then took over the game in the second quarter.
Saturday afternoon began with Central High walking onto the grilliron -- not gridiron, grilliron, Equator hot on the field -- of Hoover (Ala.) High and quickly stumbling over special teams. A blocked punt started Hoover's first possession at the Central 6. Safety Olin Cushion got in on the tackles that kept the first and second down runs out of the end zone. Hoover eventually flubbed the field goal attempt. Another Central special teams blunder and a blown call on a Hoover fumble preceded a Hoover touchdown. Without the earlier run stops, Central would've been down 14-0, on the road with only the fact that they hadn't been sauteed on that scalding field the only positive.
Late in the first half, Cushion intercepted an overthrown sideline bomb to end another Hoover scoring threat. He showed an instinct for the big play when he made the risky move of turning into the end zone to get room for a U-turn that put him behind some blockers. He slipped before the Central 20, so the decision didn't work as far as field position, but it wasn't as if he tried to make a big play when there wasn't one there to be made. Bad luck, not bad judgment.
About the time Central kicked the last minute field goal for a 24-21 win, Detroit waived former FIU defensive tackle Greg Hickman. A few hours later, the other half of FIU's 2013 defensive tackle pair, Isame Faciane, didn't play for Minnesota in the third preseason game against Kansas City. That's a sign that Chef-to-be Faciane's cooking career might get started sooner than he wants. He might be kept around to play the fourth preseason game. Same with former FIU cornerback Sam Miller, although Miller did play for Buffalo against Tampa Bay.
Saturday night belonged to FIU's Homestead-by-way-of-Booker T. commits in their season opener against Chesapeake (Va.) Oscar Smith High. In his first game as Booker T. Washington quarterback after transferring from Homestead High for his senior year, Maurice Alexander went 22 of 25 for 365 yards and five touchdowns.
Before someone pooh-poohs that the numbers got inflated by numerous quick hitches and screens taken for big yardage, consider a few things:
*Alexander did go deep for the 53-yard touchdown that began the benediction for the competitive phase of the game and hit the receiver in stride.
*the three incompletions went drop, overthrow, underthrow. That would be solid accuracy under fire if all 25 throws were hitches and screens.
*Alexander's release and velocity gave receivers room to run after the catch. The ESPNU crew commented on those assets while saying Ron Turner would be a happy man next fall.
Alexander looks like he can have a tendency to throw less an ideal pass than an ideal pitch -- hard, low in the strike zone -- but those passes obviously remained catchable (only three incompletions, remember?). In college, those passes also run into defensive linemen arms more often. His failed scramble on fourth down looked like a possibly rash decision, yet the wide receiver on that side failed to make the one block on which success or failure hinged.
FIU commit Ocie Rose, another Homstead transfer, got a second half interception that he took back for a touchdown wiped out by a penalty.
I didn't get to see much of FIU lineman commit out of Jacksonville Trinity Christian left tackle Deion Eakins, in Trinity's 17-0 loss to Buford (Ga.). Trinity couldn't get much going on offense and the Booker T. game kept Lead Game status on my TV. For me to discuss Eakins' performance would overreach the sample size of plays I saw.