October 01, 2011

Football Gameday V & other balls, including ticket info on Wade, LeBron, Bosh game

The first part of this is a rerun from Friday afternoon's blog post. If you saw that, feel free to skip past this to the football, volleyball, futbol or whatever ball-type thing gets you groovin'.

 PSEUDO-NBA BASKETBALL

The NBA put an All-Star Game in Miami in the second year of the Heat and Miami Arena, a building that was outdated about 15 minutes after it opened. Why the NBA hasn't brought it's winter showcase back to Miami, despite American Airlines Arena downtown on the bay and South Beach nearby (maybe that's the reason), is a mystery. Which makes it all the more ironic that the next time a near all-star game gets played in Miami, it's at a small college arena in the suburbs.

Tickets for that game, "LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh present the South Florida All-Star Classic" at FIU's U.S. Century Bank Arena, 7 p.m., Oct. 8 will go on sale Monday at noon at the University Credit Union Box Office on the first floor of the Fieldhouse adjacent to at FIU Stadium. No phone or online orders will be taken. Tickets will cost $50 for upper bowl general admission, $100 for lower bowl reserved. Fans can buy two tickets per person until 3 p.m., four tickets per person after that.

The game, which Wade billed on Twitter as DWade vs. King James, will include the Heat's Big Three, the Knicks Carmelo Anthony and A'mare Stoudemire, Oklahoma City's Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, New Orleans' Chris Paul, and many other stars.

Proceeds will go to Mary's Court Foundation, a foundation established by FIU coach Isiah Thomas in honor of his strong-willed mother, the late Mary Thomas

FOOTBALL

This is going to look like a Reader’s Digest Condensed Book version of my usual pregame posts. I’m tired, have a stuffy nose, a Long Island waiting and a dissatisfaction with how much I’ve seen of Duke.

This is the kind of wacked team that drives fans and coaches crazy, makes prognosticators look stupid and keeps bettors away from like the team came Chernobyl-dipped. Losing to Richmond (what?), drilled by Stanford (expected), then punking Boston College (everybody’s doing it) in a comeback win, then blowing Tulane off the field.

Take that BC game. Duke allowed BC only three first downs on the ground, but trailed BC 19-7 in the third quarter. They came back to win 20-19 after a last second BC field goal attempt went awry.

When a line finally came up for this game after FIU coach Mario Cristobal said quarterback Wesley Carroll would play, it was FIU by 3. That’s moved to 3.5 to 4, depending on where you look. Translation: some money on FIU, probably not much, and even less on Duke. Bettors are staying away from this one.

Duke lost defensive end Kenny Anuike, their best pass rusher, to injury early against Tulane. FIU will be without free safety Chuck Grace (right knee) and wide receiver Glenn Coleman (shoulder).

Duke undoubtedly saw the trouble Louisiana-Lafayette caused FIU with the quick wide receiver screen. FIU’s defensive backs couldn’t get off the Lou-La wide receivers’ blocks, thus allowing at least 5 to 7 yards before ball carrier contact. Eventually, they’ll draw FIU up, fake a hitch and throw the go. Until you prove you're not a fool, you'll get played for one.

FIU failed in both ends of its pass defense last week, but the pass rush gets the bigger they pass/you fail grade because that grew into a given after three weeks. When it didn’t get there last week, even by blitz, the secondary couldn’t maintain coverage. FIU coach Mario Cristobal uses “big” to describe every offensive line the Panthers face. But for Duke’s, he also used “long.” Long arms…that’s what scouts look for when searching for linemen that’ll keep the quarterback from being treated like a piñata at Westchester triplets birthday party. Cristobal’s worried about the pass rush getting erased for a second consecutive week.

One thing Lou-La did to loosen up FIU that the Dukies will do just because it’s their wont is throw on first down.

Duke allowed only eight rushing first downs against Tulane and BC. Take away the sacks and they allowed a combined 161 rushing yards on 43 carries, 3.7 per carry. Not overly permissive, but not The Great Wall of Durham, either. Richmond ran for 95 on 31 carries (no sacks). Duke coach David Cutliffe felt Tulane and BC were more straight ahead, physical teams. Cristobal called defensive tackle Charlie Hatcher “as good as we’ve faced” and, remember, Duke lost defensive end Anuike.

Add it up and I see another game where the shifty Kedrick Rhodes gets the bulk of the carries for FIU.  

Wesley Carroll’s back at quarterback for FIU. Despite an ankle that might still be bothering him, he needs to be a better passer than the Wesley Carroll who played against Central Florida and Louisiana-Lafayette. Against UCF, he was just a bit scattershot. Though the play calling got stale against Louisiana-Lafayette after the opening drive, Carroll’s decision-making wasn’t exactly Manning-esque before his injury. Carroll takes too many Ken O’Brien sacks/hits, where he holds onto the ball too long. By contrast, one play last week, he threw a panicky pass with the nearest upright Lou-La player pondering Kierkegaard on the sideline.

As well as Jake Medlock – the name just sounds like it should be followed by “A Quinn Martin production” – played against Lou-La, there were moments when Carroll would’ve made better reads. Against Duke, FIU needs to put more of the game in Carroll’s hands and he needs to be the senior leader in performance he can be. The plays -- small, medium, large and T.Y. Hilton – were there against Louisville and should be there against Duke.

Richmond’s Tre Grey got Duke for eight catches and 129 yards. That’s a secondary that should fear Hilton, even at 80 percent Hilton, or Wayne Times.

Let’s say both teams move the ball well. There’s been a defensive score in every FIU game so far, so figure on one here by FIU – a jumped route, a post-reception fumble, something along those lines. That score could wind up being the difference in a game where the punters should be able to spend the game arguing with the cheerleaders over who's the better athlete.

FIU 38, Duke 35.

But that’s just one black man’s opinion. I could be wrong (and have been the last two weeks).

VOLLEYBALL

In less time than it took my daughter to finish two bowls of matzoh ball soup, Western Kentucky swept FIU out of U.S. Century Bank Arena 3-0 (25-17, 25-22, 25-19). Jovana Bjelica had 13 kills and Chanel Araujo had 14 digs as Western left the former Sunblazer Arena with a win for the second consecutive season.

Defending Sun Belt champion Middle Tennessee State visits Sunday at noon.

WOMEN’S SOCCER

Since the humiliation by Oregon State two weeks ago, the women footballers have run off four in a row, the latest a 3-0 spanking of Troy Friday that gets them to 3-0 in the conference. They’re also 6-5 overall, their first time above .500 this season.

Chelsea Leiva and April Perry, striking early and late, each got her second goal of the season. In the middle, sub Deana Rossi sent FIU into halftime with a 2-0 lead off an assist from Kelly Ann Hutchinson. Hutchinson and Nicole DiPerna, who set up Leiva’s goal, are tied for the team lead with three assists.

South Alabama’s up next, at 2 p.m., Sunday.

September 24, 2011

Women Win, Men Lose, Football Gameday IV

Not to be confused with The Carter IV, referenced in today’s game advance now up at http://www.miamiherald.com/sports.

Bad enough for FIU that Sun Belt teams don’t win out of conference. Friday night, Central Florida failed against BYU. That little bit of BCS-ing out of the way, let’s get to FIU vs. Louisiana-Lafayette.

All week, this game reminded me of the gag at 3:06 in Stop, Look and Hasten (1954), the best of the early Roadrunner cartoons. (Gee Whiz-z-z (1956) is the best of them all, although Chuck Jones himself showed a special affinity for Zoom and Bored (1957).)

  

FIU’s shown excellent resiliency at key points each of the last two weeks. This game will test their focus.  

After getting the kid to bed each night this week, I’d settle into a long-ago present from the wife, a sleek German-designed recliner, and watch Louisiana-Lafayette Square against Oklahoma State in the season opener.

That was Lou-La’s first game under head coach Mark Hudspeth and against a program now ranked in the top 10.  Actually, what impressed me factored in all that.

Even as T. Boone Pickens State took the switch to Lou-La, 61-34, you could see the talent on the losing side, such as wide receiver/kick returner Darryl Surgent easing up field on a 31-yard punt return. On a per capita basis, Louisiana’s about as good as it gets for producing football talent. There’s more NFL players from Florida, California and Texas, but also a whole lot more electoral votes.

Louisiana-Lafayette’s offensive line gets bigger as you go left to right: 296, 300, 305, 324, 330. That’s a 311 average Both Louisville and Central Florida, got some push early before those big bodies wore down as the games wore on in the late summer swelter. September heat and humidity, particularly the South Florida brand, turned those offensive lines into a Deuce-and-a-Quarter getting started on a 15-degree morning by late in the second quarter. Will Louisiana-Lafayette Jeff, from a pretty dehydrating part of the U.S. itself, wilt the same way?

Despite size and talent, Lou-La can’t get it together on offense. In their other game against a Division I opponent thus far, Kent State, they managed only 159 total yards. That’s an acceptable showing only if the Kent defense lined up 11 Jack Lamberts coordinated by Nick Saban. Against Division I-AA Nicholls State, they moved only 280 yards.

Hudspeth blamed some of their offensive problems on an inability to settle on a starting quarterback between Blaine Gauthier and Chris Masson. He also said he’d like to let Blaine Gauthier throw the ball a little more. That would seem logical, especially on first or second down. FIU’s been beating up quarterbacks on third and long after beating up running backs on first and second down. 

I see no reason for FIU to play T.Y. Hilton and his strained right hamstring more than 15 snaps. If Hilton does play – and he’s expected to -- I’m not sure FIU will use him often in much more than a decoy capacity. Besides, Wesley Carroll’s been erratic the last two weeks and Louisiana-Lafayette Road Drive-In sustains itself on interceptions and pick sixes. Lionel Stokes should’ve had two more interceptions early against Oklahoma State.

From what I saw, the kind of runner who succeeds against this defense possesses vision and quickness, more a Kedrick Rhodes-type runner. Lou-La’s cornerbacks come down very low to help in run support. Expect FIU to try to back off the cornerbacks early with some stuff downfield, then move the ball with an implacable running game.

I don’t see many points for Louisiana-Lafayette unless FIU scores at such warp speed, Lou-La gets as many possessions as it could ever want.  I’m not sure about FIU. Overall, that is. Here, I’m sure they’re better than Louisiana-Lafayette and they’ll slowly pull away as the game huffs and puff toward its finish.

FIU 27, Louisiana-Lafayette 10.

Then again, that’s just one black man’s opinion. I could be very much in the wrong.

WOMEN'S SOCCER

This is a reversal  for the start of the conference season -- FIU got outshot by Arkansas-Little Rock 15-9, yet won 2-1 on goals by freshman Ashleigh Shim and Crystal McNamara.

It's the second consecutive game with a goal for Shim, who was set up by sophomore Nicole DiPerna. It's also the second consecutive win for FIU (4-5, 1-0).

MEN'S SOCCER

A male freshman, Arnthor Kristinsson, also has a two-game goal scoring streak working for FIU. Unfortunately, the team has a two-match losing streak after falling 2-1 in double overtime to Marshall at FIU Soccer Stadium. Marshall's Anthony Vigara struck both in regulation and in the 102nd minute. The men are now 3-4 and 0-1 in Conference USA.

VOLLEYBALL

In Denton, Texas, FIU took four sets to defeat North Texas 3-1 (25-15, 21-25, 25-18, 25-19). Renele Forde piled up 36 assists and 19 digs, both team highs. Jovana Bjelica had 17 kills and Marija Prsa had 12. FIU (9-3, 1-0) now heads for the University of Denver for a match Sunday.

 

September 17, 2011

Football GameDay III; Futbol Friday.

Three is a magic number. Yes, it is.

 

We'll discuss three teams in this blog post. It’s in Game 3 of this FIU season that we get a Saturday game in a sold out stadium, tailgaters of all ages free of job or class tethers, alumni in school-toned dorkwear, a classic college-affiliated football scene whether at The Big House or a shotgun shack stadium in Iowa.

Unfortunately missing from the overall atmosphere will be FIU's radio broadcast. There's a conflict with 1080 WHIM, which will be broadcasting another game tonight. So, no FIU radio for the biggest home game in the program's 10 seasons. That's not big time. Very tiny, in fact. UPDATE: after about an hour of uproar over this from FIU fans, the scheduling overlap is no more and the game will be on 1080 with FIU's radio team. Chips lay all over the table in this battle of state schools with enrollments that soon will make them the Seoul and Sao Paulo of American universities. There’s neighborhood rivalries, friend rivalries betwen the players. Both teams claim they’re taking it one game at a time, especially FIU under the pre-interview coaching of Mario Cristobal. Yeah, yeah, but the ultimate goal is to take it one game at a time until you win them all, just like FIU left tackle Caylin Hauptmann said at media day. If Central Florida takes out FIU and BYU, they’ve got a shot as well as an outside shot at getting into a major BCS bowl game. If FIU gets past Central Florida, they’ll have beaten what looks like the best, most talented team on their schedule to get to 3-0.

Then, there’s recruiting. Can one game make a huge recruiting difference? Coaches try to get away from that idea publicly because they privately often hope it isn’t true. That’s too much on riding on one game. Ever notice how fast most coaches in the macho-preaching sports, football and hockey, turn tail to skedaddle away from risky situations if they can? Alas, they can’t run from this idea here. If…

UCF goes UWC on FIU: this result says whatever level to which FIU’s risen, it’s still a step or two below football involving those with chest hair. Recruiting advantage: UCF.

UCF wins solidly, but not in a rout: says UCF’s a better team now, and FIU’s still trailing, which is the consensus opinion. No change in current status.

UCF wins close: You can almost hear  “How many other (my position) are you recruiting?” Recruiting advantage: whichever school is closer to the prospect

FIU wins, by decision or Liston-over-Patterson first round KO: they’re on UCF’s level, they’re rising faster than UCF and might soon be beyond them. Recruiting advantage: FIU.  

Preseason predictions: It’s the third game of the season. We’ve got an actual small sample size. Who gives two clucks to a duck what a bunch of scribes thought in the spring when the preseason publications were actually written? 

The game: I didn’t like this matchup for FIU in the preseason. After watching two FIU wins and UCF beating the stew, as my late grandmother used to say, out of Boston College, I still don’t like it.

What you heard all week from FIU about UCF’s defense were variations on “disciplined. They play assignment football.”

Translation: they don’t put themselves out of position, this increasing their vulnerability to the okeydokes – counters, misdirections, end arounds, reverses. You get an athletic, fast defense that doesn’t let its strength become its weakness, that’s when you get a defense that gives up one touchdown in the last 16 quarters.

UCF got pressure on Boston College’s quarterback rushing only four, blitzing only to break up the boredom. A repeat here means FIU quarterback Wesley Carroll better be Peyton Manning on his reads against a seven-man drop off on obvious passing downs. But a plus for FIU: only two sacks allowed in two games, both of which should’ve been Carroll throwaways. One was that strange play against Louisville when three players moved before the snap, the play continued and everybody hesitated for a beat while Carroll took a sack.

T.Y. Hilton doesn’t think there’s a secondary that can cover FIU’s wide receivers man-to-man. He better be right tonight, for FIU’s sake. If he isn’t, it’s going to be a long night of short possessions for the FIU offense. I don’t see them running on UCF, which is more talented up front than Louisville.

FIU kept trying to work the run last week even as Louisville’s defensive front did to the interior line what Interstate 95 did to Overtown. The called play breakdown, 24 runs and 22 passes, certainly didn’t reflect that the Cardinals’ defensive problems clearly were greater in pass defense against FIU than run defense. FIU likes offensive balance, albeit with more official snaps than 46. I’m more a guy who likes teams that go with what’s working, ditch what’s not.

Darriet Perry spent the early part of the week dealing with a family tragedy back in Valdosta, Ga. Perry’s FIU’s best power runner for yards after contact. There might be a lot of early contact here.

As good as UCF’s defense looked against BC, there were plays to be made against the Knights. They gave up a couple of 8-to-10-yard runs that a Kedrick Rhodes or Jeremiah Harden or Darian Mallary would turn into 15-to-25 yarders. They blew some coverages in the flat, too. BC just didn’t have the skill people to take advantage of it. FIU will if they can create the same chances.

When UCF has the ball, they’re body punchers. A line whose starters average exactly 299 pounds across the front moved Boston College around like patio furniture, especially in the second half. I’ve got a glider that puts up more of a fight when I bring it in off the north balcony for hurricanes than some of those battered, drained BC guys did in the fourth quarter.  

Battered, FIU might be, but they won’t be drained. Or, rather, they shouldn’t be. As with Louisville, I can see UCF having ground success early, but as the game goes on, those big men start to flag a bit and FIU’s quickness again comes into play.

Maintaining rush lanes and solid pursuit lines never again will be so important. If they don’t, UCF quarterback Jeffrey Godfrey will squirt through for first down after heartbreaking first down. FIU needs to keep him in the pocket – Godfrey’s accurate on the move. FIU’s secondary didn’t have the massive blown coverages of Week 1 last week against Louisville, but still gave up some plays it seemed they shouldn't.

So how does this all play out?

Nobody’s ever hurt themselves by coming out screaming like James Brown opening “Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag.” And it would do FIU some good.

 

FIU needs a couple of big plays early – a long run or catch, maybe a huge kickoff return or interception return – to keep the party going in the stands, create an atmosphere that says the fates have decreed an FIU victory.  Everyone has nights like that.

What’s more likely to happen? UCF muscles its way to an early 10-point lead. FIU gets used to UCF’s size, just as it did Louisville’s, in the second quarter. From there, the two slug it out with punts and field goals until Wesley Carroll finds someone doing a Russian kick dance through the UCF secondary for a score. Three possessions later, UCF’s Godfrey hits on two third down throws and leads them to the first of two late touchdowns. The second comes on a fumble return by UCF.

UCF 31, FIU 16.

To paraphrase an ex, that’s just one black man’s opinion. I could very well be wrong.

MEN'S SOCCER

Senior Lucas Di Croce's two first half goals stood up for a 2-1 win against North Florida Friday night at FIU Soccer Stadium, getting the team over .500 at 3-2-2 overall and keeping them unbeaten at home: 3-0-2.

The 7th Annual Alumni Golf Tournament will be held at The Country Club at Coral Springs Sept. 30. Registration's at 7 a.m. and there will be an 8 a.m. shotgun start. In addition to raffle and a live auction of licensed, autographed memorabilia, there will be a closest-to-the-pin contest and hole-in-one contest that could give the winner at 2012 Dodge Ram truck. Registration is $175. For more information, call David Lister (954_594-5763).

WOMEN'S SOCCER

The women's soccer season began with Stetson burying a last minute scoring chance (skill) off a deflected pass (luck) for the win after FIU dominated statistically. In some ways, that set the tone for the season. When a team has several games like that, as FIU has, then suffers a 7-0 loss, as FIU (2-5) did to Oregon State in the Nike Invitational Friday night, the concern usually is preventing the psychological collapse.

"I don't think we're in danger of that," head coach Thomas Chestnutt said around 1 a.m. Eastern time Saturday. "Our team has self belief."

Chestnutt believes FIU just ran into a good team on a night when it was terribly hot, realized it and rode that feeling for all it was worth. FIU has a day off before facing Oregon Sunday.

"Since I've been here, I've not seen a team that played with that level of aggression and committment on the field," head coach Thomas Chestnutt said. "Still, it's embarrassing to be beaten 7-0."

This season, senior Kelly Ann Hutchinson has been FIU's only semi-consistent finisher, potting a team high three goals on 11 shots.

"Kelly and Vicky (Miliucci) have played strong game in, game out," Chestnutt said. "They've been the cornerstones of our team. Even tonight, they played well. Sara Stewart as a freshman has done a great job, very consistent. Usually, freshman are up and down."

Next week starts the conference portion of the schedule, with a road trip to Arkansas State for a Sunday afternoon game.

"We're not where we want to be as a team, but we're certainly capable of beating anyone on our schedule for the rest of the season," Chestnutt said.

September 05, 2011

Enclosed (Not Domed) Stadium in 2012, T.Y., Bjelica POWs, Grace Under Fire

Time for FIU to get its house in order. Texas A&M's waiting to join the SEC harem, the Pac 12's talking with other schools and holes will be created that conferences will want to fill.

FIU athletic director Pete Garcia said today after this football season, FIU Stadium's north side bleachers will be demolished and replaced by seating that fully encloses the stadium. The project will begin No. 13, the day after FIU's final regular season game, against FAU, and will be finished in time for the 2012 season. There will be north side suites and second Stadium Club.

The full expansion to 45,000 seats with a second deck is a few years down the road.

"This is needed right now," Garcia said. "We need to finish out our stadium."

"A huge step. The parallels of the program, the facilities, our university are remarkable," head football coach Mario Cristobal said. "Everything is continually going forward at 100 mph. It's a very strong statement by our administration, one that we're very thankful and privileged to have, that football and this university, building that camaraderie, that tradition are very very important to this university community. As a football coach, I'm as fired up as you can imagine. That was the final piece of the stadium for now."

Garcia said of making the stands ring the field completely, "This will be an important recruiting tool for Coach Cristobal," but what he didn't mention was the bigger picture recruiting tool -- making FIU a more attractive school to recruit to a conference as the puzzle squares shift with conference realignment. The actual number of seats won't change much, but the aesthetic and feel will. It'll look like a college stadium instead of a Texas-sized high school stadium.

Though rain ruined the season opener crowd, FIU's got over 11,000 season ticket holders now and the Central Florida game is nearly sold out. That game's expected to be FIU's largest home crowd in the program's 10-season history.

T.Y. Hilton won the Sun Belt Offensive Player of the Week award after rolling up a national best 283 yards of all-purpose yards against North Texas. Middle Tennessee State's Eric Russell got the Defensive Player of the Week nod after 13 tackles, 11 solo, a sack and an intercetion that he returned 34 yards in MTSU's choke againt (ugh) Purdue. Western Kentucky punter Hendrix Brakefield was the Special Teams Player of the Week. He averaged 44.6 yards per punt on eight punts against Kentucky and had two downed inside Kentucky's 10. FIU's nominees were Hilton, linebacker Winston Fraser (11 tackles) and kicker Jack Griffin. I voted for Hilton, Russell and Brakefield, although I almost went for Fraser over Russell. 

The situation with free safety Chuck Grace lingers, as of right now. Some resolution might come in the next two days. Expect Terrance Taylor, who had four tackles Thursday, to play for Grace when Grace's fourth quarter head shot against North Texas costs him game time against Louisville this Friday. Grace will get some punishment from the Sun Belt. They can't give him a pass, not with the pressure on the authorities at all levels of football to address hits to the head and the ever increasing knowlege of the damage those hits can do.

FIU came through Thursday healthy. Louisville quarterback Will Stein's left ankle had him in a walking boot, but he should play Friday. Center Mario Benavides and defensive end B.J. Butler are out. Defensive tackle Brandon Dunn didn't dress in Louisville's 21-9 win against Murray State and is questionable for Friday.

Up in that part of the country, they think of Florida International as one of those schools you see advertising on Judge Judy or Judge Joe Brown. So Eric Crawford of The Courier-Journal, Louisville's newspaper of record since the days when jockeys in The Kentucky Derby were black, is taking some guff for picking FIU by 7. He's being accused of being a Kentucky homer. Loyalties are so divided between Louisville, Kentucky and Indiana in the C-J's coverage area -- The Hoosier State is across the Ohio River from downtown -- and so emotional that the paper actually used to make sure each school received the same number of inches of coverage to insulate itself against favoritism charges.

VOLLEYBALL

The volleyball team went 2-2 over the weekend at The Blue Raider Bash at Middle Tennessee State, beating Austin Peay and East Tennessee State and losing to Auburn and Missouri. Individually, Jovana Bjelica racked up 76 kills in 15 sets, 35 digs and nine blocks, good enough to be named to the All-Tournament Team and the Sun Belt's Player of the Week.

 

August 31, 2011

Football Game Day I, 2011

As opposed to Football I Game Day, 2011, which would mean you've downloaded the original Mattel Electronics game onto your iPad and you're either playing or waiting for someone else to run across the screen several times to score a touchdown, prompting that electronic tune that seemed to be a TD dance unto itself.

Could see a lot of that tonight.

FIU vs. North Texas on Alfonso Field at FIU Stadium.

Preseason projections: The Sporting News picks FIU as the outright Sun Belt winner. Sports Illustrated says FIU, Troy and Louisiana-Monroe all hit the line 8-4 overall and 7-1 in the conference. Lindy's and Athlon both take Troy with FIU second, Athlon's predicting FIU with a 6-2 conference record and 7-5 record overall. Conversely, North Texas is picked as high as third (Sporting News) and as low as eighth (Lindy's) with SI and Athlon's both putting them sixth at 4-8 overall and 4-4 in conference.

The game: The first 4,000 in the house get a free football schedule magnet to hold those pizza coupons on the door until late the first weekend night after they expire, when you rediscover them because you've got the munchies and Triscuits aren't getting it done.

The significant number for the North Texas offense is 299.6. That's the average poundage of their offensive line starters, a number dragged down by 275-pound center J.J. Johnson and left tackle Matt Tomlinson, 6-5, 298, who might be their best lineman. The Mean Green will keep handing the ball to 5-9, 209-pound Lance Dunbar and try to punk FIU with power and bulk. If this results in long drives that suck the life out of The Cage, well, that's the point, now isn't it? With 6-4 Derek Thompson at quarterback, expect North Texas to make a few plays off the scramble as well as the play action pass. FIU's defensive speed won't be tested as much as the quickness of the front seven. North Texas will put up more than the 10 points of last year's 34-10 FIU win.

But it won't be enough.

North Texas' new defensive coordinator Clint Bowen was the DC at Western Kentucky last year, where an OK Sun Belt defense held FIU to 28 points in a 28-21 FIU win. Tonight, like a stud poker player slowly pulling cards from his sleeve, FIU reveals what they've learned of this expanded version of the offense over the last year. Once the Golden Panthers get the Mean Green going with runs at the defensive ends, look for them to occasionally go back the other way with quick, play action hitches and screens. Don't bet against them, from there, setting up a hitch-and-go bomb.

"21 (North Texas cornerback Royce Hill), I know he's a great cover guy," FIU's T.Y. Hilton said. "He loves bump-and-run. He's got great speed."

So do FIU's receivers. Wesley Carroll completes only 13-to-15 passes, but he averages around 18 yards per completion. A kickoff return touchdown ignites pandemonium late, but an interception return for a touchdown not long after puts North Texas next to Glass Joe. FIU gallops to a 47-24 win that's not as easy as the score makes it look.

 

To paraphrase an ex-girlfriend, that's one black man's opinion. I surely could be wrong.

WAIVERS

The NCAA approved two hardship waivers in two days earlier this week. The second one allowed Salt Lake City native Lewis Walker, who played in 24 games over two seasons with Hawaii, to play this season after transferring to Utah. The first one put tight end Mike McFarland, from the Tampa-St. Petersburg metropolitan area, closer to the field for South Florida after leaving Gainesville. According to the St. Pete Times, McFarland cited a family illness as why he wanted to be closer to home.

Does this mean the NCAA's feeling like Don Corleone on his daughter's wedding day and be willing to let running back Daquan Hargrett and/or wide receiver James Louis do their thing for FIU this year?

 

Don't know, but Hargrett's one more of what FIU already has -- a short, fast back you use as part of a rotation. Louis, on the other hand, is a true talent. That he didn't play at Ohio State -- kind of a good football school with a tradition of tremendous college wide receivers -- as a freshman doesn't dim that he would be a dynamic addition, once he gets into football shape and hold of the offense.

RECRUITING

A few recruits will be floating around The Cage at Camp Mitch on unofficial visits Thursday. Look for the official visits to start with the Saturday night games. No word on any more early commits -- yet.

The Herald's preseason football sections came out today. Please realize the deadlines on those were over a week ago, thus affecting the prognastications and the accuracy of several other details. Writers rarely get excited about what they scribble for the special sections and this is no exception as far as me and what I wrote. OK Apple Jacks reading, not up to Real Reading Room standards.

 

August 13, 2011

Playing dominoes in West Miami-Dade...

There's not much from Saturday morning's practice to report other than the plethora of orange no-contact jerseys.

Among those who weren't hurt before Friday's scrimmage, safety Cain Elliot was still on crutches, of course, with a left ankle sprained Friday; Safety Justin Halley, who had an interception in the scrimmage, took a shot to the head and sat out Saturday's practice; wide receiver Mike Jean-Louis still couldn't seem to bend his left leg, on which the thigh was tightly wrapped; defensive lineman Andrew Mattox had a left thigh wrapped; defensive tackle Isame Faciane also was on the sidelines.

Butch Davis dropped by again with AD Pete Garcia. Mario Cristobal started coaching as a graduate assistant under Davis at the University of Miami. They exchanged much friendly yakkety-yak after practice, along with quarterbacks Wesley Carroll and Jake Medlock.

"Certainly so many things from his blueprint we have applied here," Cristobal said. "Obviously, a person I'm very grateful to and thankful for. It's awesome to see him. He's as good as it gets." 

Davis' presence and the way he recruited South Florida while at the University of Miami brings up the irresistable question, what if FIU has an eight-win or better season? Cristobal's contract buyout isn't so onerous as to keep a big-time school serious about him -- or, rather, that school's boosters -- from ponying up the $453,000 emancipation fee. There's something boosters and money can't buy, however.

As mentioned in a previous post, the Cristobals have two very young children, Daddy Cristobal puts in the marathon days of most college coaches (paranoid control freaks by nature) and Mama Cristobal's very active in the community. For such parents, the extended family support system can be a serious factor in deciding whether or not the grass is greener elsewhere, even if there's more of the long green involved. Yeah, money can buy you a parent support system of nannies, but not everybody's comfortable with that. You can build a parent support system of trusted friends. But, there really isn't anything like having the grandparents who love to spoil the kids, the aunts and uncles who'll turn a mall trip into as much fun as an afternoon at Disney or the cousins who are like siblings. That's raising the kids and, when we're talking coaches, the wife's doing the lion's share of that.

I'm not saying they'll never go anywhere because of that. I'm saying don't discount it as having weight. Current Dolphins defensive coordinator Mike Nolan, an NFL coach who was raised the son of longtime NFL coach Dick Nolan, as quoted by John Feinstein's "Next Man Up:"

"I tell young coaches that they better be sure when they take a new job that their wife can be happy. See, the coaches have it easy. We get someplace and we're spending all our time doing what we love: coaching...We're not the ones who have to find new schools and new doctors and a new place to shop and send out change-of-address stuff and get phones hooked up. Your wife is doing all the work, so you better be sure she's comfortable with whereever you're going, because if she's not, everyone is going to be miserable."

Ye who have had to live with an unhappy wife know whereof he speaks.

If Cristobal does go, nothing that happened at North Carolina would deter FIU from hiring Davis, whose career surely will restart somewhere in a couple of years. FIU would be a much more inviting place to Davis if it were in a better conference.

And that leads us to the dominoes game.

Texas A&M's trying to move from the Big 12 (which isn't 12 anymore) to the Southeastern Conference. As one college football suit said Friday, "they'll need a partner." The early reports had Florida State, Clemson and Missouri all making the move to the SEC with the Aggies. Outside of A&M, everybody is playing the denial game like those guys who take the lie detector tests on The Maury Show. Some of them are telling the truth, but somebody's lying. Let's say A&M heads for the SEC with Florida State, a strong football-good enough basketball school that's in SEC country more than ACC country.

If it's FSU and/or Clemson, the ACC will start looking for another school. The ACC actually cares about academics, so they're not just going to grab any revenue sport powerhouse or big TV market school feeling like they need to make a move. They might go Big East courting (UConn? Rutgers?).

If the Big East gets nicked as the dominoes fall, don't expect FIU to get a "How do you do?" from that conference. FIU Stadium needs to be enclosed. Going on experience gained by watching 21 years of venue construction in South Florida, I'd put that project at 18 months from now. For the Big East, it probably needs to be enlarged with a second deck. FIU's athletic department has other beefing up and straightening up to do before thinking Big East. 

The Big 12's already going to lose A&M. They lost Nebraska. Oklahoma and Texas can hold that conference together. If they do, Houston's already being talked about as a strong possibility for replacing A&M. I think Texas and their $300 million Longhorn Network that they can't take with them to the Pac-10 or Big Ten will start thinking about life as an independent.

Houston's in Conference USA. So is Central Florida, which the Big East might want for the Orlando market if it goes hunting for a replacement school.

If you've got to replace one or two big schools, the No. 10 and/or No. 19 TV market, who do you do it with? With another big enrollment school that gets the vast majority of its students from an area that combines two TV markets (Miami-Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach-Fort Pierce) into a top 10 market.

That's when the Conference USA folks call the Mitch Madique Campus.

 

July 01, 2011

News and notes: Interview with AD Pete Garcia

I had a chance to catch up with FIU athletic director Pete Garcia Friday afternoon. We touched a on  number of different subjects during our chat. I posted a few notes below.

Football

What are a few things FIU fans can look forward to this coming athletic year?

"We are very excited No. 1 with what’s happened with the foundation built by our coaches and our student athletes. Going into this year we are excited about our football program. First time we are playing six games at home. With teams like UCF and Duke coming in it should be an exciting season."

What are some of the plans to continue increasing attendance at football games?

"Attendance went up dramatically last year. We are bringing in higher quality teams. A UCF team that won the conference and an ACC team in Duke. Our student body is getting more involved in the program. ESPN networks are carrying 6 out of our first 8 games. That’s unheard of for our conference."

Ticket sales?

"It’s going to be safe to say we are going to have over 10,000 season tickets sold this year."

Any word on when the next phase of stadium construction will begin?

"We are stating to have discussions in regard about closing off the north side of the stadium," Garcia said.

Garcia was clear that the talks were just beginning and that plans should become more clear in about "six months."

Is the plan to continue using the arena and the stadium for outside events?

"The Arena is used about 95 percent of the time. A lot of it is outside events that bring in money for the athletic department. The Gold Cup is a perfect example. Those revenues also go into the athletic department.We keep increasing it every year. We could still use the stadium more. We have a number of high school games at the stadium including Belen and Columbus."

Men's basketball

Work on the 2011-12 basketball schedule is underway. According to Garcia, the Panthers will be traveling to Maryland and Dayton next season. Dates will be announced sometime this month.

With much speculation in the national media about the future of basketball coach Isiah Thomas, I figured I'd ask Garcia about the possibility of Thomas taking a head coaching job in the association next year.

"[Thomas] is here and he’s working and recruiting. He’s very excited about his upcoming year," Garcia said.

What are some the changes coming to the basketball arena?

 "New lockers. Brand new entrance with suits. Multipurpose rooms that will be used for suits on game day and other University functions when we are not playing."

 Softball

How is the search for a new softball coaching coming along?

"We are doing a national search for the softball coach. We are confident we can find someone that can build on what Beth did and take the program to the next level."

Justin Azpiazu

Follow me on twitter @JustinAzpiazu

April 02, 2011

FIU's football field has a new name: Alfonso Field at FIU Stadium

Here's a bit of good financial news for FIU in these tough times: The school has secured a naming rights deal for its football field.

For the next five years, Panthers home games will be played at Alfonso Field at FIU Stadium, named after Panthers alum David F. Alfonso, who has provided an undisclosed gift to the athletic department.

Alfonso is chairman and CEO of Empire Investment Holdings, a Miami-based private investment firm.

"We're thrilled that one of our very own grads is so excited that he is now giving back to our athletics program," said FIU president Mark Rosenberg.

February 14, 2011

Q&A with FIU President Mark Rosenberg

Chatted with FIU prez Mark Rosenberg last week, and although he declined to discuss the touchy Garrett Wittels situation, which Clark Spencer and I explore in today’s Herald, he did talk more broadly about the direction of the university, and its impact on athletics.

With all the attention you all received with the football season, have you seen a spike in applications?

 “Not yet, is the best way to answer that. It probably would be premature to identify a spike, because there are all types so things pushing applications. I’d say in another two three months, we’d be in a better position to know, but not right now.”

 You’re anticipating growing the size of enrollment in the next few years, right?

“We’ll go 10,000 in the next five, and in the 10, it will be another 10. Twenty thousand in total. We’ll go from 42,000 to 62,000.”

Mark-Rosenberg-official-photo What exactly will the impact be on athletics?

“I think the impact on athletics is three-fold. First, that growth will expand the fan base. Clearly, the students are critical for a fan base, particular with a high-quality stadium and a basketball arena, and softball field and a soccer field on our campus. We will have a lot more opportunities to have students attend a range of games.

“The second thing is, obviously, as the student population increases, the pool of available funds will increase. The most important thing about the growth in the student enrollment is that we’ll be able to hire, over the next 10 years, at least 800 new faculty. That’s over and above what we would have hired. And we’ll be able to able hundreds of new advisors and counselors. That’s critical if we’re to improve our graduation rate, and then we’ll be able to offer a lot more courses. To our students.

“And the third point, as we enroll more students, we will graduate more students, building a much stronger alumni base within this community. Within the next 10 years, we will graduate 100,000 students. That’s 100,000 alums, alums who have great jobs in the community, and who will be presumably supportive of their alma mater.”

The school had some cuts a few years back. Will this money go to restoring some of those jobs?

“You can’t put toothpaste back into the tube. We will have created new jobs, but they will not necessarily be the same jobs in the same positions, because the cuts decisions were based upon a very disciplined approach to assessing what was good and could get better, and where we could built excellence. There was a disciplined cut agenda. I don’t think we’ll replace with the same programs necessarily. We’re trying to be responsive in the marketplace. We’ll be hiring faculty in programs that are much more sensitive to demand and market demand jobs. We’ll be offering more courses. And with that, of course, there will be additional student fee money that will go to a range of different areas – our health clinics, our athletics, our student activities. That will obviously help us in providing a fuller range of opportunities for our students. I’m essentially giving you a long, complicated answer to what was a very focused question. Truthfully, I look at this holistically, and I know your focus is on athletics, but enrollment growth is about hiring new faculty, maintaining student-faculty ratios, offering more courses, and providing much better advise and guidance for our students.”

It seems to me, the missing piece to building a successful athletic program is to grow the fan base – to pack the football stadium, to travel to bowl games. That’s the sign of a healthy program, when you have people in the seats, correct?

“No question. No doubt that we must do a better job of consistently of getting our fans back to follow our teams. Whether or it’s football or basketball or baseball. Clearly, as the number of students grow, the number of alumni grow, and as the number of alumni will grow, the amount of support that they will bring back to FIU – emotional, financial – will grow. But ultimately, I want to reinforce that notion, in terms of our admissions, we know there are academically qualified students. There’s a demand for access for FIU. It’s not that we’re going to be open admissions. Not at all. This is for academically qualified students around which we will build our institution.”

Are there plans in the near future to start renovating the stadium again?

“Obviously, there’s a context for everything, and the economic downturn has forced us to re-evaluate our timetables. I can’t give you a specific timetable. I can tell you our planners are thinking about when we could initiate that process. We’re looking at other ways to improve stadium. We finally start to improve the press boxes. That’s very important. We’re doing gradual improvements to Landon Fieldhouse. It’s spectacular. We put a wrap around the stadium to advertise more the university. We’re making constant improvements, but we still don’t have a specific timetable for the north end. There are a lot of options we are looking at, but right now, we don’t have a specific timetable.”

February 07, 2011

FIU's stadium manager takes MLS gig

FIU stadium manager Anthony Mozzicato, who oversaw many of the upgrades made to The Cage, has accepted a job with the Sporting Kansas City, and will run the team's new facility, set to open in June 2011. His exact title will be manager of operations for Sporting KC Stadium.

"I would like to thank FIU Athletic Director Pete Garcia and Senior Associate AD Julie Berg for giving me the opportunity to manage FIU Stadium over the last several years as Stadium Manager." Mozzicato said in a statement.  "I am also very appreciative of the working relationship and friendship that I have gained with FIU Football Head Coach Mario Cristobal and I look forward to watching him continue to build FIU Football into a nationally recognized program.  I will always be an FIU Golden Panther."

FIU has not yet named a successor, but it is believed the school will consider external candidates.

November 26, 2010

Quotes left out of Friday's Herald story on FIU football

In case you missed it, here's my takeout piece on the signficance of this year's football season -- and this Saturday's game, in particular -- on the growth of Florida International.

It's pretty exhaustive, but Of course, space isn't infinite in print. But it is here in the lands of 0s and 1s.

So here's a couple of interesting tidbits that were left out.

Athletic director Pete Garcia on a possible contract extension for Mario Cristobal: "I'm very happy with the job Mario has done. This is what I envisioned when I hired him."

President Mark Rosenberg on the same: "If my son was playing football again, I'd want him to play for Mario Cristobal. I've been really impressed with him."

Garcia on the plans to expand the stadium: "This past year, obviously, we opened up the field house, the weight room. We just finished a couple of months ago, the two new press areas. We’re going to keep adding. Every year, there’s something more to it. As far as more seats, as we get the demand, the demand will dictate how much we keep adding. The final plan is 45,000 with an upper tier. But the demand will dictate how fast we will go. A 45,000-seat stadium down here in South Florida for football is all anyone needs."

New Orleans Bowl Executive Director Billy Ferrante on FIU: “Well, they’re a team that we’ve had our eye on. They’re playing very consistently right now. They, along probably with four others that are still in the mix for the outright championship in the league are ones we’re keeping a close eye on right now.”

GoDaddy.com President Jerry Silverstein: "There are several pieces to the pie. We are very close with Pete Garcia down there and Dr. Rosenberg and we have spoken with they. We have spoken with Troy and Dr. Hopkins. We have spoken with different athletic programs. Sometimes it’s a relationship. Sometimes it’s star players. You’ve got No. 4 down there, Hilton, who’s a very exciting player who can help turn TV sets on. You are building that fan base, where people are traveling and doing better. There are a lot of pieces to the puzzle. Those remain to be worked out. We worked with conference office."

October 14, 2010

North Texas breakdown

North Texas (1-5) started the season with three straight losses (@Clemson, Rice and @Army). The Mean Green's only win came at FAU last month, 21-17. The Mean Green have struggled with injuries, losing 11 starters to season ending injuries. The quarterback position has been especially hit hard, with the Mean Green down to fourth string quarterback Chase Baine. North Texas had relied on Riley Dodge at quarterback, but Dodge broke his wrist against Lafayette and will miss some time.

In North Texas' last game, the Mean Green were conservative with the pass calling, limiting Baine to 17 attempts. Baine completed nine passes for 77 yards, in a 24-19 loss at Arkansas State.The Mean Green have thrown six interceptions, most in the SBC.

North Texas Army Football Running back Lance Dunbar (left, Mike Groll, AP) has been the main driving force for North Texas, rushing for over a 100 yards five times this season. Dunbar is a 5 foot 9, 203 pound back, that can use speed or power to gain extra yards. Dunbar will be FIU's main concern on Saturday. If the Golden Panthers can stop Dunbar chances are they can win.

Against Arkansas State, Dunbar carried the ball 30 times for 104 yards and a touchdown.

The Mean Green have lost two consecutive Sun Belt games and are 1-2 in the SBC. The Mean Green will be looking to turn their season around against FIU on Saturday. The FIU defense will need to be able to stop the run if they hope to win.

Defensively, the Mean Green have a talented group that is ranked second in the SBC, behind FIU, in total defense and second in scoring defense. FIU will need to be careful on offense and protect the ball. North Texas had the ability to score on turnovers. Even though, the North Texas offense is hobbled at the moment, the team can still score. FIU will need to take them serious to win on the road.

Series: FIU leads the series 3-2.

Line: FIU -5

Weather: Sat. H83, L53, with a 7:30 kickoff the weather might be closer to the low.

 Tomorrow - FIU scouting report, prediction

September 11, 2010

Rutgers breakdown; FIU scouting report; prediction of the game

GYI0061476927LIVE BLOG

Live blog starts at 7:45 Saturday night. Tune in for MY UNFILTERED TAKE on the FIU-Rutgers contest. Feel free to post your thoughts in the comments.

Rutgers scouting report

The Scarlet Knights ride into FIU Stadium as 17 1/2 point favorites over the Golden Panthers. Led by sophomore quarterback Tom Savage (left, Savage has to be one the best names for a college QB), the Scarlet Knights beat up Norfolk State 31-0 last week. Savage completed 10 of 19 passes for 148 yards and a touchdown. Savage started the game a bit shaky completing three of his first nine passes for 43 yards. 

It is important to note that Norfolk State (a MEAC team) sacked Savage three times.

The Scarlet Knights' running game was anchored by junior running back Joe Martinek GYI0061476884 (right). Martinek finished last Thursday's contest rushing for 109 yards on 20 carries and a touchdown. Last season, Martinek was Rutgers' leading rusher with 967 yards on 206 carries and nine touchdowns. Martinek averaged 4.7 yards a carry. Against FIU, Martinek rushed for 126 yards on 23 carries. 

GYI0061476831 WR Mohamed Sanu (left), a preseason All-Big East pick, is a multi-talented threat that has been used at different offensive position. Sanu caught three passes for 68 yards and a touchdown against Norfolk State. Sanu also rushed the ball six times out of Rutgers' version of the "wild cat." Last season, Sanu rushed for 346 yards on 62 carries and had five touchdowns.

Scouting report FIU

After waiting all fall camp, FIU fans will finally find out who the team's new starting quarterback will be. And guess what folks? Chances are both QBs will see considerable playing time against Rutgers. Adam Beasley has a story in Saturday's paper advancing the game, here.

Wesley10 FIUfoot MHS TMC Beasley quotes offensive coordinator Scott Satterfield as saying that, "we'll probably see both guys out there." While this may not surprise some fans, I find the decision a little concerning. I expected Wesley Carroll (left) to outshine Wayne Younger during fall camp. If Carroll is not clearly the starter, then frankly, that did not happen. It will be interesting to see how Cristobal and Satterfield handle the rotation. Will each get a series? Or will he yank one at the first sign of trouble?

Another possibility is that Younger, a senior, showed something nice during fall camp and Cristobal wants to test how far he has come. (A word of caution: FIU has been so quiet about the QB situation - that I can honestly say - I do not know what is going to happen for sure.) Carroll might come out and be the starting QB after all. So, like so many things in life, I guess we will have to wait and see.

COORDINATORS Satterfield 03 Fuifoot MHS PAB

Another interesting side story in Saturday's game will be the debut of offensive coordinator Scott Satterfield (right) and defensive coordinator Geoff Collins.

Satterfield, a former quarterback for Appalachian State, brings with him to FIU a variation of the Mountaineer's spread offense.

What will the new 2010 Panthers look like? That remains a mystery.

If FIU wants to get the season off on the right foot, Satterfield will need to find a way to move the ball against a tough Rutgers'  defense. The Scarlet Knights feature a talented core of defensive backs that can give any opposing offensive coordinator a tough time.

Hilton4(SL_081011_D3A2343) This is the part where it becomes tricky for Satterfield and FIU. To run a successful spread offense you need to have the right weapons. The Golden Panthers already have a rising group of wide receivers (like T.Y. Hilton, left), but do they have a quarterback that can successfully run the offense? I really hate to stress that fact. Saturday's game will say a lot about this team and where it is heading this season.

On the defensive side of the ball, Collins brings his own changes100 fiu SPTS ADD to FIU. From what I have had a chance to see during fall camp, the defense seemed to be clicking quicker than the offense. Early in camp, Cristobal spoke about how the defense was indeed ahead of the offense, but after a few weeks said, both units had caught up.

FIU is going to have to hope its' defense (Toronto Smith, right; Anthony Gaitor, left) can hold down Rutgers long enough for the offense to score some  points. I have a feeling, the FIU defense is going to be much improved this year and will give Rutgers a hard time moving the ball early.

500 fiu SPTS ADD Last week, both Satterfield and Collins said they were excited about how the team will look this season. I know that a lot of Golden Panthers fans out there feel the same thing.

INJURY REPORT

Rutgers injuries: Questionable: WR Phil Lewis (upper extremity), RB Casey Turner (leg). Doubtful: UT J.T. Tartacoff (leg). Out: OL Devon Watkis (ankle), WR Quron Pratt (shoulder), WR Timothy Wright (knee).

FIU injuries: Questionable: LB Larvez Mars ankle), TE Dudley LaPorte (foot).

PROBABLE OFFENSIVE STARTERS

QB: Wesley Carroll; RB: Darrian Marrary; TE: Jonatha Faucher; WR: T.Y. Hilton; Greg Ellingson; Willis Wight (why not); C: Brad Serini, LT: Caylin Hauptmann, RT Rupert Bryan Jr.,  OG: David Istanich, OG: Giancarlo Revilla.

PROBABLE DEFENSIVE STARTERS

LB: Toronto Smith, Winston Fraser, Aaron Davis; CB: Anthony Gaitor, Emmanuel Souarin; S: Ash Parker, Jonathan Cyprien; DL: Tourek Williams, James Jones, Andrew Mattox, Joshua Forney.

PREDICTION

The Golden Panthers will have to come ready to play if they hope to stop Rutgers. Unfortunately for FIU, I see the Scarlet Knights taking an early lead and not giving it up. I look to the Rutgers defense to limit FIU's chances in the first-half. FIU will find its offensive rhythm early in the third quarter but it will prove to be in a losing effort. RU 21-14.

FIU MEN'S SOCCER TEAM

Coach Munga has been hard at working trying to rebuild FIU back to a contender. I have a story in today's paper about his efforts, here.

FIU WOMEN'S VOLLEYBALL

FIU plays UM in the 10th annual Hurricane Invitational Saturday night at 7:30 p.m.

Justin Azpiazu

August 21, 2010

Scrimmage report #2

Hey everyone, bright and earlier at FIU for the last day of fall camp and it was hot. The guys started at their usually 8 a.m. with some stretching. After individual drills, the team moved to 7 on 7s for a few plays.

7 on 7s

Wesley10 FIUfoot MHS TMC A few plays worth mentioning. LB Kenneth Dillard intercepted Wesley Carroll (left) on the line of scrimmage and rumbled forward for a gain. Carroll complete a few short passes. Carroll also had a long pass attempt, but was almost intercepted when he threw into double coverage.

Scrimmage notes

I was allowed to watch the first 25 plays of the scrimmage or so plays before practice was closed to the media.

I watched two series, one with Carroll and one with Wayne Younger.

First series

Carroll started the scrimmage working with the first-team offense. 1st play: T.Y. Hilton ran a sweep to the outside and picked up a few yards. 2nd play: Greg Ellingson faked out CB Jose Cheeseborough off the line of scrimmage and was wide-open down the sideline, but Carroll over threw what would have been an easy score. 3rd play: Carroll to Darriet Perry over the middle for about 8 yards,

Unlike Friday's scrimmage, where the defense started off in control, the offense seemed to be able to move the ball to start.

4th play: CB Emmanuel Souarin deflected Carroll's pass. 5th play: Darian Mallary runs for 4 yards and picks up a first down. 6th play: Carroll scrambles for six yards. 7th play: Punt.

Defensive starters on first play of first series. DL: Tourek Williams, Jerrico Lee, Joshua Forney, Jarvis Wilson. LB: Winston Fraser, Toronto smith. DB: Ash Parker, Anthony Gaitor, Jose Cheeseborough, Jonathan Cyprien, Emmanuel Souarun.

Second series

Younger takes over with the second-team offense. 1st play: Jeremiah Harden rushes for 2 yards. 2nd play: Younger completes to Harden for a first down. 3rd play: False start. 4th play: Harden rushes for 3 yards. 5th play: Younger to Jacob Younger for 3 yards. 

At this point, facing a third and long, the offense seemed ready to punt the ball again. 6th play: Younger fires a strike to Wayne Times for a 10-yard pick up and a first down. 7th play: Younger scrambles for 8 yards. After two more short runs, the offense stalled. Younger was sacked on a bad snap and Joshua Forney batted a ball down on the line of scrimmage.

Coach06 fiu spts da Post scrimmage interview with Mario Cristobal

On fall camp

"It went really well. We had a bad injury with Kevin Van Kirk. But aside from that, we can heal. I think we are in pretty good shape. We are still three weeks out, so technically, we have another week of camp, we just have school. Overall our players know there is work to do and they are hungry to do it."

How has the defensive adjust to the new schemes?

"Real well, real well. They had a great night [Friday] night. They did a lot of things that made it confusing and difficult for the offense and capitalized with tip balls and what not and creating turnovers. [Saturday] the offense came out and kinda of counter punted but the defense came right back out again and counter punched them right back."

On evaluating potential starters

"Its all performance based, it really is. And of course you always tie in academics and doing the right thing off the field. But it truly is on film evaluation and part of it is practice because you do create the scenarios in practice that simulates a game and of course you tie in the scrimmage."

I'll post stats when I get them in a little while.

Response to comments

@FIU FPL We need your thoughts/impressions so far. While a play by play of scrimmage is nice...what did you think? Is Carrol better or is Younger IN YOUR OPINION? Is the offense the strength or is it the defense? HOW GOOD is OL Caylin? Do the defensive schemes IMPRESS YOU or NOT?

A. I like what I see from the defense, they are quick. But I'm going to hold off on what I think 100 percent till we get closer to that first game against Rutgers. On the QB situation, Carroll will most likely start but Younger will still see the field.

Justin Azpiazu


April 06, 2010

Blue/Gold Preview

Helmet FIU will kickoff the annual Blue/Gold Spring Game on Wednesday at 3:30 p.m. and while most of you will be at work -- unless you get George Peterson to call your boss for you or if your boss is Michael Scott -- don't worry the GPP has got you covered.

The GPP will channel its best Al Michaels and deliver you a play-by-play LIVE BLOG from FIU Stadium beginning with a 2-minute pre-blog show at 3:28 p.m. on Wednesday afternoon.

To get you ready for the spring game whether you are planning on attending or will follow through cyberspace, here's what to look for:

BATTLE LINES

Like last season, the continued development of the offensive and defensive lines will determine how successful FIU will be this coming season.

This spring it's pretty much been a draw when the two lines have gone at it. If anything the D-line might haveMattox a slight edge on the O-line right now. Of course, when looking at any position this spring you have to factor in the injured players not participating and the newly-signed Panthers that won't be on campus until July.

One key cog to the O-line that has missed this spring is Rupert Bryan recovering from a knee injury. He started non-contact drills late in the spring and is expected to be 100 percent come fall camp.

Tourek Williams and Andrew Mattox (right, thanks Alex J. Hernandez photo) have carried their strong freshmen seasons over into this spring. Keep an eye on No. 97 and No. 93 on Wednesday as well as James Jones, who has recovered nicely from his two surgeries.

If you're at FIU Stadium see who controls the line of scrimmage on Wednesday.

Outside of Brad Serini and Cedric Mack, there aren't any other seniors on the O-line. Same thing goes for the D-line outside of senior Thatcher Starling.

TIGHTENING THE OFFENSIVE STRENGTH

With Dudley LaPorte sidelined this spring with a foot injury, Colt Anderson and Jonathan Faucher have taken Ty advantage of the extra reps.

As we saw last season in limited duty (1-handed TD catch vs. ULM) before he broke his foot, DLP will be a big part of the O this season. However, the emergence this spring of CA and JF have given the Panthers another pair of offensive weapons.

CA, in particular, has had a terrific spring. The two tight ends appear ready to join what is FIU's strength -- receivers. And the receivers have gotten stronger. If you haven't been out to spring practice this season, take a look at the new muscles on Wayne Times and T.Y. Hilton (left, thanks AJH photo). Times stood out in the first scrimmage.

Another receiver who has had a good spring is Ariel Martinez. The walk-on from Coral Park started making some tough catches last fall.

YOUNG AND YOUNGER

Some of the heralded young defensive players that didn't see much playing time last season have been getting more playing time on D this spring and have shown some of their potential.Mars

Linebacker Pooh Bear Mars (right), defensive back Emmanuel Souarin and safety Terrance Taylor have had their moments this spring. Walk-on defensive back Jose Cheseborough has also made some plays.

Aaron Davis also continued his strong finish to last season and can be a pass rushing threat this coming season. FIU needs to get more pressure on the QB this season.

I think the Panthers have really taken to new DC Geoff Collins and you'll see a new energy with the FIU defenders this season.

One area where the Panthers need more of the younger players to emerge is along the D-line to go along with Tourek and Mattox.

Quarterback Wayne Younger might be the Panther that has shown the most improvement this spring. Besides looking like he's taken to the weight room, WY has more zip on his passes and as usual can move with the ball in his hands. WY might be making the starting QB decision a lot tougher on MC and offensive coordinator Scott Satterfield later this August.

Fiu PANTHER PAWSE

Apaw Pi Kappa Alpha and the FIU Football Team are organizing the Kendall Berry Memorial Flag Football Tournament.
 
The 7-on-7 tournament will be taking place at FIU Stadium at 9:00 AM on Sunday, April Kb 11. Teams will consist of 7- 10 players each. Registration costs are $10 a player, with 100% of the proceeds going to support the remembrance of Kendall Berry through a memorial and banner at FIU Stadium, and possibly an FIU scholarship.

For more information you can contact: Francis Aguilar (Pi Kappa Alpha Fraternity Philanthropy Chairman) at (305) 542-8343 or fagui007@fiu.edu

Q&A

Jsuarez88: Pete, can you help me undertstand why they wouldnt play this game on a fri-sun??? Why would they do it mid-week at 3pm??

PP: Because of the 30-day window each college team has to complete spring practice. Also about 28 players have classes or exams on Wednesday night so they had to move the game up to the afternoon.
 

March 04, 2010

Spring Forward: Practice Opens

There was football weather at FIU Stadium on Wednesday afternoon as FIU began spring practice. A windy and chilly day, of course nothing like the high of 45 degrees that awaits a thin-blooded native Miamian in Hot Springs, Arkansas on Friday.

Lots to get to from Wednesday's first practice. Thanks to Roy Viera for all of the photos from Wednesday'sTy practice. Will try on Thursday to post larger photos than the ones currently on here. Having a little trouble with this blog's photo posting.

First thing I noticed on Wednesday was No. 1 playing defense. That's right, receiver Marquis Rolle has become safety Marquis Rolle. MC said the switch was made, because there are a ton of receivers on the team and the Panthers need help at safety this season. Rolle has never played safety before, but he's got the size and athleticism to play the position.

Speaking of safety, Ash Parker is back for one final season after tearing his knee in the last two season openers (2008 at Kansas and 2009 at Alabama). Ash will not participate in contact drills this spring -- only in non-contact stuff. Maybe playing the season opener at home is the charm for Ash.

Noticeably bigger from another off-season in the weight room: Wayne Times (not looking like a freshman anymore), T.Y. Hilton (above, right with a solid 175 pounds with muscles), Winston Fraser looking like a senior. Tourek Williams and Jonathan Jackson both up to 250.

New defensive line coach Cedric Calhoun was in FIU gear and coaching up the Panthers D-linemen. So was new linebackers coach Juan Navarro as he coached the LBs.

On the D-line, James Jones, who returned from knee and shoulder surgery, was full-go on Wednesday. He should definitely help the FIU pass rush this season, if his play at Kansas in 2008 was any indication. Jonathan Jackson is getting close to being 100%, but he will be limited in the spring as he prepares for fall camp in August.

Am Expected to miss the spring with injuries are: OL Rupert Bryan (leg stress fracture), RB Darian Mallary (shoulder surgery), WR Rockey Vann (knee) and DB Jarrell McGee (knee).

The newest Panthers made a connection. As he went through his reads and no one was open, QB Wesley Carroll scrambled out of the pocket and found Jeremiah Harden, who cut across the middle for 7 yards. You can read more about these two in Thursday's MH.

Catches of the Day: Times making a 1-handed catch with his body going the other way on a deep pass down the middle. Receiver Ariel Martinez (left, thanks RV photo) going up, up, and away for a pass over the middle. Somebody find some playing time for this guy, every time I turn around he's catching everything thrown his way. Junior Mertile doesn't look like he missed a beat returning from last year's knee injury. JM made a couple of nice catches.

If you didn't know the chili was hot on defense, you certainly learned Wednesday afternoon. New DC GeoffGc Collins (right, thanks RV photo) is a walking Cuban coffee colada. New OC Scott Satterfield was not heard from Fort Lauderdale like GC, but he got his points across constantly instructing the FIU QBs. Last time FIU had an OC/QBs coach that played QB was James Coley -- now Florida State's OC. SS played QB at Appalachian State.

Wayne Younger (left, thanks RV photo) looks bigger and he must be, because there was some extra mustard on his fastball today. You sure you don't need another pitcher, Turtle?

Younger Pooh Bear Mars and Aaron Davis came close to picking off passes. On both plays, each LB had a nifty pass break up.

New punter Josh Brisk sure gets some hang time on his punts and seems to have a strong leg. Is it Munera-like? Not sure yet have to see more punts.





Logo PANTHER PAWSE

Aaapaw Former FIU defensive back and Rudy Award Finalist - O'Darris D'Haiti is organizing a charity flag football tournament to benefit the relief effort in Haiti. The tournament is thisOd Saturday, March 6 at FIU's North Campus.

If you are interested it is $10 per person and you need at least 5 people on your team. Or if you just want to watch it's $5 general admission. The tournament will take place in the rec fields behind the North Campus library by the basketball courts.

For more info: contact O'Darris (right, thanks Alex J. Hernandez photo) at odhai001@fiu.edu

Aaapaw Will have a LIVE HOOPS BLOG of Saturday's opening game of the Sun Belt Conference tourney between FIU and Denver. Tip-off time is scheduled for 9:45 p.m. (Eastern). Game probably won't start until about 10 or 10:15 p.m., because there are other games being played on the same court before FIU's game. Regardless, expect the LIVE BLOG to begin at 9:43 p.m.

Q&A

NYCFIUFan: Hey Pete, since Fomenter has fallen off the face of the earth and I was in second place, can I get the opportunity to post?

PP: Go ahead. You are a double winner in the 3rd annual GPP Win A Blog. E-mail me your blog with whatever photos or art you want on it and I'll post it on here.

Gooch7: WHAT ARE THE TOP 10 MALES AND FEMALE ATHLETS IN FIU HISTORY? PETE: Maybe we can post up a survey to see what people truely know about FIU Athletic History!

PP: Go ahead and start posting. I have to do some research to get my list. We'll have a poll question on the top athlete later.

March 02, 2010

Spring Practice Preview

Fiu Spring is here. The best time of the year. Pitchers and catchers have already reported to their major league camps and the Grapefruit and Cactus Leagues will open shortly. The college baseball season is underway and, oh yeah, how about the first look at the 2010 Panthers football team.

Although most of the highly-regarded 2010 FIU signing class will not participate in spring football (except running back Jeremiah Harden and punter Josh Brisk), the 15 practices FIU has lined up, including the Spring Game, will be the first of many opportunites for some Panthers to start winning jobs.

There is plenty to look for during the 15 spring practices (which as of now are open to you). We will get to all of it throughout the spring here. [With the exception of this Friday through Sunday practices, because yours truly will be in Arkansas for the Sun Belt Basketball Tournament]. 

But as you get ready for the first practice on Wednesday at 3:30 p.m. at FIU Stadium, here are 5 areas to look for this spring.

BETWEEN THE LINES

The FIU lines needed some beef last season and from everything I've been told, the Panthers offensive and defensive linemen have had another strong off-season in the weight room. T.Y. Hilton has made substantial gains where he's up to 175 pounds. 

Outside of Brad Serini and Cedric Mack, there are no other seniors on the offensive line. The O-line has aMira new boss in Alex Mirabal (right, thanks AJH photo), who coached the tight ends the past 3 seasons. Mirabal will bring a fire to coaching the linemen and besides the added muscle, maybe that's what this unit needs to perform better this season. Serini and Mack will have to help their fellow younger linemen if FIU plans on being an explosive offense this season. If the line can't block, the Panthers will have a tough time moving the ball this season. Dave Istanich and Rupert Bryan got some valuable playing time last season as freshmen. Both held their own against bigger opponents. Now it's time for some of the other young OL to get going before the big boys of the 2010 class arrive. Derrick Wimberly, Austin Tottle and Giancarlo Revilla among others will get a long look in the spring to see who will become regulars with Serini and Mack.

The D-Line will have just one senior in Thatcher Starling. So it will be imperative for the younger linemen on both sides to really emerge this season. Tourek Williams, Andrew Mattox, Josh Forney, Andre Pound, Kasey Smith need to take that next step. The expected returns to health of James Jones and Jonathan Jackson -- whether it's in spring or fall camp in August will also give the D-line a boost.

GET YOUR DEFENSE HOT

"Get Your Chili Hot"....FIU hopes translates into get your defense hot as well. New defensive coordinator Geoff Collins moves down the Turnpike from Orlando and arrives with an MC-like energy and enthusiasm to coach a defense that needs to improve.

Among the necessary ingredients to a better FIU D are: a suffocating run D, more consistent pressure on the QB and tighter coverage in the secondary. Everywhere GC has been the defenses have improved. Are the Panthers the next improved D on GC's resume? It all starts with the play of the D-line. Also some of FIU's young linebackers (Kenny Dillard, Pooh Bear Mars, Markeith Russell) should progress this season to fight for playing time alongside Aaron Davis and Little Canada. At safety, Terrance Taylor has all the tools to join Jonathan Cyprien as one of the best safety tandems in the conference.

Carrollwes BACKS OF THE FUTURE ARE NOW THE PRESENT

The year long wait of sitting out due to NCAA transfer rules is over for QB Wesley Carroll (left) and Harden, who were teammates at St. Thomas Aquinas High. WC is like a kid in a candy or toy store with the weapons he has. JH is expected to be a difference maker with the ground game. Again, a lot of both players 2010 seasons will depend on the O-line's progress. Although, WC is not Wayne Younger with his feet, WC can move, throws real well on the run and has good touch on his passes. Harden looked like a man among boys while running the ball on the scout team in practice last season. With some help from his teammates, he can do the same in 2010.

JUST GIVE THEM THE DAMN BALL

T.Y. Hilton, Junior Mertile, Greg Ellingson, Wayne Times, Dudley LaPorte (right), Willis Wright in the fall -- yes, I would say Wesley Carroll can be one happy quarterback with the type of targets he has to throw to. And if everyone is healthy, you can expect Goodbye to see some single coverage, which he will no doubt exploit. DLP returning from a foot injury could have a monster season. Will be interesting to see how quickly theLaportedudley FIU receivers and their new QB get used to each other.

NEW KICKS

FIU has new kickers for the 2010 season. Jack Griffin is the leading candidate for the placekicking duties, although don't be surprised if MC brings in some competition this spring or in fall camp. Brisk has some huge shoes to fill with Carlos Munera graduated. CM made an art of punting last season and really set up the FIU D well in field position. These two positions will definitely have all eyes on them, because they will be just as important as the lines, especially late in games.

Logo PANTHER PAWSE

Aaapaw FIU hoops got some bad news today as starting senior forward J.C. Otero (right, thanks AJH photo) has a torn knee and is out for the Sun Belt Tournament. J.C. tore the knee late against Western Kentucky last Saturday. The Panthers will miss J.C.'s passing and shooting abilities in Hot Springs.

Aaapaw Will have a LIVE HOOPS BLOG of Saturday's opening game of the SBC tourney between FIU andJc Denver. Tip-off time is expected to be at 9:45 p.m. (Eastern). Game probably won't start until about 10 or 10:15 p.m., because there are other games being played on the same court before FIU's game. Regardless, expect the LIVE BLOG to begin at 9:43 p.m.

Aaapaw Score an E on the GPP, I placed a photo of Pablo Bermudez in the last blog when I meant to get one of Lammar Guy on there. The caption of the photo I received said Lammar Guy and the only visible number on the jersey is a "2" so I thought it was 42 (Guy) and instead it was "12" Bermudez.

A photo of Guy has replaced the Bermudez photo on the previous blog.

And to the reader making the asinine racial comments -- those have been deleted.

Q&A

LonePanther: Hey Pete, still predicting a W for our opener against Rutgers this season?

PP: Can't tell you on March 2. Check back in late August for my season predictions. Was off last season, I had FIU at 6-6, but they went 3-9 so I'll have to put in some extra study time in the film session on the team before making the 2010 guesses.

And while the FIU 2010 schedule is a bear on paper, remember they don't play football on paper, unless Foot it's the paper football game you played in high school with the triangle football.

Yes, FIU could easily be 0-4 to start the season, but what's not to say they knock off Rutgers and/or Maryland and begin 2-2 or 1-3. The Panthers could be much improved or might still need more development -- we won't know for sure until the season is underway. Injuries happen here and there and maybe this is the year the football injury gods do not frown upon FIU, unlike last season.

As far as the Sun Belt schedule, that's the conference FIU is in and that's the level of competition FIU is currently at. With lesser FIU teams the past few years, FIU has hung around with many of the SBC teams. If the Panthers are improved, then they should be able to beat any SBC team.

c-UM: PETE, what is your outlook on the "concessions" at the games? Can PG not cough up minimal money to bring in a serious pan con bistec guy? He should atleast try to reach out to the Gazituas (ex-player; owners of Sergio's) and see if they could help out with that.

PP: Outside of the chicken sandwich at the baseball stadium, the concessions need an overhaul. Not sure what it would cost to revamp the food at the FIU stadiums and arena. But send an e-mail or a phone call to the FIU athletic department with your ideas. Click here for all the info you need: FIU Athletics  FIU reads this blog. Also have the Gazituas contact the FIU athletic department and see what happens.

Great ideas are floated around all the time, but if you good people don't take action -- like the FIU Alumni Association has with the Annual Panther Previews and tailgates -- then nothing will ever have the chance of being accomplished. Click on the link above to take action.

chrisfiu: Pete, what happened to the win-a-blog contest held in December? Was that blog ever posted? I don't recall reading it, maybe I missed it...

PP: Never heard back from Fomenter. So nothing was ever posted. I know 2nd place winner NYCFIUFan received the 2009 Sun Belt Football Yearbook via U.S. Mail.



 

February 02, 2010

FIU Recruiting Prowl: WR/TE/Ks & National Signing Day

We've come to the final FIU recruiting preview of 2010 with a look at the Panthers receivers, tight ends andPen kickers.

Before we get to that, you can check out the Willis Wright interview right below this post.

Also, check back here on Wednesday morning for FIU signings on National Signing Day.

Early Wednesday morning, I will be visiting a few high schools where future Panthers will sign their letters of intent. As those letters roll in, will have the newest Panthers on here for you.

Wwr Just like T.Y. Hilton 3 years ago, Wright (left) will have his ceremony in the Miami Springs library on Wednesday morning and like T.Y. he will have an FIU and a West Virginia hat in front of him. When he picks one, you will know here.

The FIU Athletic Department also will have their own ticker of signings at fiusports.com. So check that out too.

MC will take to the podium at 12 noon in the President's suite at FIU Stadium to announce and comment on the entire class of new Panthers. You can also attend the NSD event at the Stadium Club at FIU Stadium on Wednesday evening at 6 p.m. where MC will talk about his newest players and new OC Scott Satterfield and new DC Geoff "GYCH" Collins will be introduced.

Let's finish the FIU Recruiting Prowl with a look at the Panthers receivers. By now you know there is 1 DAY UNTIL NATIONAL SIGNING DAY.

RECEIVERS

It all starts with Goodbye, but with another season under the belts of several other FIU receivers, opponents may think twice of double and triple teaming No. 4.

Junior Mertile (right, thanks Alex J. Hernandez photo) returns from injury this season and he only runs a 4.4 and has one of the better sets of hands in theMertile Sun Belt. Wayne Times showed plenty of potential last season and is only going to get better.

Greg Ellingson and Ty Frierson will be seniors and provide the experience.

We'll get to the potential recruits that might sign tommorrow in a second, but a couple of freshmen from last season could make the position battles here pretty intriguing.

Rockey Vann is as fast as any Panther -- check that blocked punt last season. Jairus Williams and all 6-5 of his frame can be a weapon in the red zone.

As far as the caballos (horses) expected to possibly sign on Wed. and we call them horses, because of their size and speed are: newest FIU commit Javon Bell (6-1, 4.4 -- 40), Glenn Coleman (6-2) and Mitch Wozniak (6-4).

But what would be the creme de la creme of this class would be signing Willis Wright, 6-2 with size, speed and hands -- just my 3 cents.

Fiuhelmet BACK IN 2010: Greg Ellingson, Ty Frierson, T.Y. Hilton, Ariel Martinez, Junior Mertile, Marquis Rolle, Wayne Times, Rockey Vann, Jairus Williams, Jacob Younger.

Fiuhelmet GONE IN 2010: Elliott Dix.

3cents $.03 for 2010: Quarterback Wesley Carroll will be like a kid in Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory with these receivers and the ones expected in. Let's see does WC throw to the fast ones, the tall ones, the ones with good hands. Oh hell, he couldn't go wrong to whoever he throws to in this bunch. Of course, and this is the BIG IF.....if WC has time to throw from his O-line's protection.

TIGHT ENDS

You say there are more weapons on the FIU offense? You are correct.

Dlp What we saw from tight end Dudley LaPorte (left) last season was a tantalizing glimpse of 2010. Remember, his only TD before breaking his foot. If you were watching it on ULM's web TV or you were at Malone Stadium in Monroe, La. then you saw DLP making a one-handed catch across his body in the corner of the end zone for 6. The only bad thing about the play was he broke his foot.

Jonathan Faucher had his moments in 2009, but the biggest surprise among the tight ends was quarterback-turned-TE Colt Anderson.

CA displayed lots of athleticism at his new position, even making a couple of one-handed catches. And at 6-4, he provides a good size target. Joey Harris returns to his original position after a stint on the D-line.

As of this post, FIU has no commits for tight end.

Fiuhelmet BACK IN 2010: Colt Anderson, Jonathan Faucher, Joey Harris, Dudley LaPorte.

Fiuhelmet GONE IN 2010: Eric Kirchenberg.

3cents $.03 for 2010: Although the receivers might be the focus for opponents to stop in the spread offense, you can't overlook the tight end spot here, because of the players on the unit. DLP could have a monster season.

KICKERS/PUNTERS

One of the players that will be most missed for the Panthers D and special teams in 2010 will be punter Carlos Munera. As consistent as they come, CM was usually on point putting the FIU D in good field Griffin position.

Former Duquesne punter Josh Brisk takes over the punting duties for FIU. Brisk was an All-Broward punter while at American Heritage.

Heading into spring practice, Jack Griffin (right, thanks AJH photo) will get first crack at the placekicking job with the graduation of Dustin Rivest. There is the distinct possibility that FIU brings in another kicker to compete with Griffin.

Fiuhelmet BACK IN 2010: Jack Griffin.

Fiuhelmet GONE IN 2010: Carlos Munera, Dustin Rivest.

3cents $.03 for 2010

: We've talked about how crucial the plays of the O & D Lines will be for FIU in 2010, but the kicker and the punter will also figure into the Panthers success. The hidden yardage Munera provided will be tough to replace. And with a lot of games in the Sun Belt being tightly contested, field goals might figure into several of the outcomes.

Logo PANTHER PAWSE

Aaapaw In our last poll question regarding who would win the No. 1 running back job for FIU, you good people believe it's Jeremiah Harden and by a mile. As of this post, 72.5% of you voted for JH. Poll is still open.

In that question, we had our first reader from Ghana join the GPP. The reader also thinks like you and125px-Flag_of_Ghana_svg voted for Harden.

Our latest GPP Worldwide update gives us:

Globe GPP WORLDWIDE READERSHIP SCORECARD:

The GPP is now read in: 45 STATES: ALA, ARI, ARK, CA, COL, CT, DEL, FLA, GA, HI, IDAHO, IL, IND, IOWA, KAN, KY, LA, MASS, MD, MICH, MIN, MISS, MISSOURI, MON, NEB, NEV, NJ, NM, NY, NC, ND, OH, OK, ORE, PA, RI, SC, TEN, TEX, UTAH, VA, VER, WASH, WEST VA., WISC.

39 COUNTRIES: Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Costa Rica, Croatia, Czech Republic, Dominican Republic, France, Gabon, Germany, Ghana, Guatemala, Honduras, Hong Kong, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Lebanon, Mexico, Netherlands, Netherlands Antilles, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Panama, Peru, Scotland, Serbia, Spain, Sweden, Thailand, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, U.S.A., Venezuela, Vietnam.

1 DISTRICT: Washington, D.C. and 1 TERRITORY: Puerto Rico.



 

January 31, 2010

Golden Dazzlers on Super Bowl TV

The lovely Golden Dazzlers will be on national TV this Thursday morning when they perform on the CBS Daz Early Show (locally on Channel 4) as part of the week's Super BowlEarly_show_logo_jun08 festivities.

The show begins at 7 a.m., but I don't have an exact time when the Dazzlers will be on. So tape it, if you can't see FIU's finest live.

The ladies will be performing from the Loews Miami Beach Hotel. There is a possibility that the Dazzlers could also be part of the Super Bowl halftime show. When I know more info, will pass it on to you.

Aaapaw In case you missed it, I posted earlier tonight the latest recruiting prowl preview on the running backs. It is below this post. On that post, you can vote on who you think will win the starting running back job for the Panthers this season. 

Aaapaw The College Football All-Star Challenge is tommorrow [Monday] at 1 p.m. at FIU Stadium. Admission is free. Expected to participate are: quarterbacks Tony Pike (Cincinnati), Dan Lefevour (Central Michigan), Javon Snead (Ole Miss), wide receivers Jordan Shipley (Texas), Mardy Gilyard (Cincinnati), Dez Bryant (Oklahoma State), kickers Brett Swensen (Michigan State), Hunter Lawrence (Texas) and Josh Shene (Ole Miss) and a few other players. The Challenge will air on ESPN this Friday, Feb. 5 at 9 p.m.

I was going to go to the All-Star Challenge, but I will be busy with the Miami Heat and Willis Wright on Monday. No, Willis is not taking over for injured Heat forward Michael Beasley, those are just two different things I'll be working on Monday.

January 20, 2010

College All-Star Challenge at FIU; UNO Leaves Sun Belt

Fiustad FIU Stadium will be the host of the College Football All-Star Challenge. The event will be taped at FIU on Monday, Feb. 1 from 1:00-3:30 p.m.

In previous years, the challenge has featured NFL stars such as Drew Brees, Donovan McNabb, Matt Ryan, Reggie Wayne, DeAngelo Williams and Edgerrin James. The event will be aired by ESPN on Friday, Feb. 5 at 9 p.m.

The event is free and open to the public.

Apaw Will have LIVE HOOPS BLOG of FIU/Arkansas State at 7:54 p.m. tommorrow (Thursday, Jan. 21). Tip-off is at 8 p.m.

UNO LESS TEAM IN SUN BELT

This is from a press release from the Sun Belt Conference this afternoon:

The University of New Orleans has voluntarily withdrawn its Sun Belt Conference membership effective JulyUno 1, 2010. UNO will drop to Division III.

Budget cuts, the continuing recovery from Hurricane Katrina and the failure of a student referendum to increase student fees for athletics previously forced the university administration to establish plans to maintain a Division I athletic program with far more stringent financial constraints.

UNO was a founding member of the Sun Belt Conference in 1976 and later rejoined the league in 1991.

UNO originally suspended nine of its 15 intercollegiate sports in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

The Sun Belt Conference headquarters, which has been located in New Orleans since 1991, will remain in its downtown office as it still remains an approximate geographic center for the league's member institutions.

With the withdrawal of UNO, the Sun Belt Conference will be comprised of 12 member institutions of which nine play in the Football Bowl Subdivision.

For the three Sun Belt sports with divisional play (men's basketball, women's basketball and volleyball) teams will remain in their current divisions with each division now comprised of six institutions (East: Florida Atlantic, FIU, Middle Tennessee, South Alabama, Troy and Western Kentucky - West: UALR, Arkansas State, Denver, Louisiana, ULM and North Texas). 

Sun Belt Conference men's and women's basketball teams will begin competing in 2010-2011 in a 16-game conference schedule with each team playing a home and away game against teams within their division.  Additionally each team will play all members of the opposite division with three of those games being played at home and three on the road.

Sun Belt volleyball schedules will also feature a 16-game format, The league's volleyball championship will continue to be conducted in an eight team format.

The Sun Belt Conference Baseball Championship will continue under the same format with eight teams participating.  The league schedule will also continue to feature 30 games for the 10 teams that will compete in the league beginning in 2011. Each team will play a home and away three-game series against their natural rival with the series' scheduled for the first and last week of the season.  The natural rival designation for FIU is FAU.

Scheduling standards for football will remain unchanged with each team playing four home conference games and four road conference games.  With the anticipated arrival of South Alabama for football in 2012, the conference will expand to 10 football institutions with teams continuing an 8-game conference schedule and one natural rival remaining on the schedule each year. (In other words the Shula Bowl will always be an annual game as it should be.)

NCAA transfer rules are still applicable for current UNO student-athletes and all Sun Belt Conference member institutions have been notified.

"The Sun Belt Conference will move on as a 12-member league and there are not any current plans for expansion or contraction," said Commissioner Wright Waters.

 


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