September 10, 2014

Conference USA says, "Whoops."

The full account of today's Board of Trustees Athletics Committee meeting can wait until tomorrow. Much like the one last spring, many words were spent on many issues, too many words to transcribe and analyze after a school Open House and dinner. This time, with the SAAC and Compliance Department better armed in almost every way, you didn't have much "how does this happen?" over Animal House grades and season-turning NCAA violations. So most of the many words bore happiness.

What I want to get to before I get to bed concerns two things from Conference USA. A CUSA spokesman said senior cornerback Randy Harvey will receive no further punishment for his brief bout with Wagner wide receiver Keith Foster. No word on what punishment Harvey will receive from FIU coach Ron Turner.

The same spokesman also admitted an officiating boo-boo from the Bethune-Cookman loss.

With 3:32 left in the first half and FIU down 7-3, the Panthers decided to go for it on fourth and 2 from the Bethune 3. Quarterback Alex McGough called a timeout to discuss the play call. The timeout ended, officials started the 25-second play clock. FIU arrived back for the next play on Miami time. His receivers still not properly set, McGough turned and signalled another timeout. The referee refused to grant the timeout. The play clock struck zero. Fourth and 2 became fourth and 7 after a delay of game call. FIU took the field goal.

Conference USA admitted the official should've allowed the timeout. The NFL long has had rules against calling consecutive timeouts without a play happening. Colleges let you take all the timeouts you want.

Would FIU have gotten the first down? Maybe, maybe not. Would FIU have scored a touchdown? Maybe, maybe not. But a touchdown there, instead of a field goal would've put them up 10-7 at halftime. If the second half plays out the same, it's Bethune having to throw at the end, not FIU. The Wildcats' second touchdown aside, their passing makes a regular football do things that a Nerf football does after the dog takes a bit out of it.

August 31, 2014

Who's Next

This weekend seemed to be about FIU football down the road -- current freshmen, future opponents, future players.

Wagner's 1-0, by the way, after a resounding 21-3 win over Georgetown. Behind an offensive line that's combined for 100 games and 86 starts, Fort Lauderdale Dillard graduate Otis Wright ran for 73 yards and two touchdowns. Wright took 24 carries to do that, though. Also, Hoya football was one of Wagner's three victims last year. Translation: FIU should be 1-1 when everybody heads for church (or the church of the NFL) Sunday morning.

Among FIU's 2015 recruitng commits, The Quarterbacking Alexanders both came out on top. Maurice Alexander threw two touchdown passes in Booker T. Washington's 19-7 late night win against Tucker (Ga.). Christian Alexander completed 7 of 13 for 140 yards, including 9 and 62-yard touchdowns, as Lakeland Christian crushed Winter Garden Foundation Academy 41-0 in just under three quarters (the coaches agreed to end the game after a lightning delay with 4:48 left in the third quarter).

Running back Terry Bennett ran for a pair of 11-yard touchdowns as Jacksonville Atlantic Coast drubbed Jacksonville Jackson 49-6.

Defensive lineman Milord Juste forced a fumble and had two sacks against Lake Worth John I. Leonard for a dominant Palm Beach Gardens defense: 21-0.



Former FIU defensive tackle Isame Faciane's on the Minnesota pratice squad after being one of the Saturday cuts. Former FIU cornerback Sam Miller also was a Saturday cut, but hasn't show up on anybody's taxi squad, which can now carry 10 players instead of just eight as in past years.

August 30, 2014

Gameday I: The Big Payback?


The highest paid assistant coach in FIU football history earns his paycheck Saturday on The Money Pit at The Cage.

Defensive coordinator Josh Conklin, now entering his third season of coaching at the FBS level, contractually makes $200,000. And, right from jump street this season, Conklin's looking at scheming and adjusting to deal with a ground game that both pushed and Punk'd FIU for 311 yards on 52 carries. Put the sack numbers with the passing yards, as the NFL does and colleges should, too, and that's 324 yards on 50 carries, 6.48 yards per carry.

It's the same cast of characters coming from Daytona. In the backfield,there's quarterback Quentin Williams, running back Anthony Jordan and Cary White. Up front, four of five offensive line starters return, led by FCS All-American center Andrew Edouard. Last year's game was Conklin's fourth FBS game with a 4-3 defense. He ran a 4-2-5 and a 3-4 while defensive coordinator at The Citadel before spending a year with Tennessee's 3-4. I thought it showed in the lack of adjustments made. Or maybe he felt handcuffed and strapped down by his personnel.

Last year, Conklin didn't have defensive tackle Isame Faciane for the first quarter as Faciane served punishment for an unspecified violation of team rules. Now, no Faciane at all, no Greg Hickman and Edouard's still there.

(Quick digression: Faciane played in Minnesota's final preseason game. He didn't register a defensive statistic. I think he was kept around for that final preseason game, when the starters play the least, if at all, and could be headed for a practice squad. Same with cornerback Sam Miller in Buffalo, although if he's going to make it, he needs to show something on special teams. Miller made three tackles on defense, got a tackle assist on special teams.)

Edouard's not huge, 6-2, 295, but is aged by the maturity of his game. In raw bulk, any of FIU's defensive tackles match up well with him, although 6-5 Lars Koht looks more like a tall, long-limbed defensive end than a defensive tackle. If FIU's linebackers start having to fight off Edouard and his pals, to quote my former Chi-Chi's coworker Jeff, "It's going to be a long night in the gym."

Young linebackers also worry me. For this game, mind you. The expert way Bethune runs its option at speed can have inexperienced linebackers doing the electric football dance -- running in all different directions, into each other, spinning in place. Thinking long term, get the best talent out there and let it learn. Besides, you might luck into a turnover or big tackle for loss, although it's not dumb luck, it's the kind of luck that doesn't happen to those of lesser ability. Talent doesn't always have to know what it's doing to make plays.

The Wildcats averaged exactly 20 passes per game last year. They don't want to throw 20 times against FIU. If you see 20 passes from Bethune, you'll see two interceptions (at least) from FIU and a Panthers win. First down is the important down. Third down's called "The Money Down," but do a good enough job on first down, third down's easy money short yardage or you're stealing money by moving the sticks on second down. There's only so many third and longs Bethune will convert on the ground and they know it. A succession of first down stops will force the ground bound Wildcats to the air on enough second and longs that it plays to FIU's strength, the secondary.

FIU should be better on first down just out of diversity. Head coach Ron Turner said he'll remain the one calling the plays. I think if he's truly more confident in his offense, FIU won't be so predictable on first down (how many times did they NOT run Lamarq Caldwell off tackle on first down?). Domino effect -- better on first down, better on third down, longer drives, fresher defense at the end of the game.

Bethune's got a man-aged if not man-sized defense. Presumably, this year, betwen guards Jordan Budwig and Jordan White and center Donald Senat, somebody will block Wildcats defensive tackle Rony Barrow. Barrow's only 250 pounds but he was practically teleporting himself into the FIU backfield last year. I see FIU getting a push for the running game and can create a pocket for quarterback E.J. Hilliard. The line's got pride. More importantly, it's got another year of growth in the game and under the skin.

The full integration of tight end Jonnu Smith happened after last year's Bethune loss. He caught two passes for 9 yards. Expanding his role gets some first downs. Bethune's got size in the secondary, but they've got a bite size weakside linebacker in 6-1, 208 Jason Smith and not much depth across the position group. A wide receiver set with 6-4 Dominique Rhymes and 6-4 Richard Burrows on the outisde, 6-2, 200 Glenn Coleman in the slot with 6-3, 230 Smith coming from his tight end position should give Bethune 99 problems.

I see both teams moving the ball well. Lots of possessions, points. If the decisive play comes on special teams, it's FIU's night. Otherwise, I'd go with the first thing I wrote for the football special section: Bethune, 34-31.

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



August 24, 2014

FIU future and past

While this year's model of FIU footballin' Panthers wraps up training camp, with classes and Bethune-Cookman nigh, plenty of news came from other eras of Panthers football.

Friday night, Lakeland Christian quarterback Christian Alexander, a three-star FIU commit, threw for 215 yards and a touchdown as his team crushed George Jenkins 33-3. Alexander's school lost star running back T.J. Simmons in the scoreless first quarter, then took over the game in the second quarter.

Saturday afternoon began with Central High walking onto the grilliron -- not gridiron, grilliron, Equator hot on the field -- of Hoover (Ala.) High and quickly stumbling over special teams. A blocked punt started Hoover's first possession at the Central 6. Safety Olin Cushion got in on the tackles that kept the first and second down runs out of the end zone. Hoover eventually flubbed the field goal attempt. Another Central special teams blunder and a blown call on a Hoover fumble preceded a Hoover touchdown. Without the earlier run stops, Central would've been down 14-0, on the road with only the fact that they hadn't been sauteed on that scalding field the only positive.

Late in the first half, Cushion intercepted an overthrown sideline bomb to end another Hoover scoring threat. He showed an instinct for the big play when he made the risky move of turning into the end zone to get room for a U-turn that put him behind some blockers. He slipped before the Central 20, so the decision didn't work as far as field position, but it wasn't as if he tried to make a big play when there wasn't one there to be made. Bad luck, not bad judgment.

About the time Central kicked the last minute field goal for a 24-21 win, Detroit waived former FIU defensive tackle Greg Hickman. A few hours later, the other half of FIU's 2013 defensive tackle pair, Isame Faciane, didn't play for Minnesota in the third preseason game against Kansas City. That's a sign that Chef-to-be Faciane's cooking career might get started sooner than he wants. He might be kept around to play the fourth preseason game. Same with former FIU cornerback Sam Miller, although Miller did play for Buffalo against Tampa Bay.

Saturday night belonged to FIU's Homestead-by-way-of-Booker T. commits in their season opener against Chesapeake (Va.) Oscar Smith High. In his first game as Booker T. Washington quarterback after transferring from Homestead High for his senior year, Maurice Alexander went 22 of 25 for 365 yards and five touchdowns.

Before someone pooh-poohs that the numbers got inflated by numerous quick hitches and screens taken for big yardage, consider a few things:

*Alexander did go deep for the 53-yard touchdown that began the benediction for the competitive phase of the game and hit the receiver in stride.

*the three incompletions went drop, overthrow, underthrow. That would be solid accuracy under fire if all 25 throws were hitches and screens.

*Alexander's release and velocity gave receivers room to run after the catch. The ESPNU crew commented on those assets while saying Ron Turner would be a happy man next fall.

Alexander looks like he can have a tendency to throw less an ideal pass than an ideal pitch -- hard, low in the strike zone -- but those passes obviously remained catchable (only three incompletions, remember?). In college, those passes also run into defensive linemen arms more often. His failed scramble on fourth down looked like a possibly rash decision, yet the wide receiver on that side failed to make the one block on which success or failure hinged.

FIU commit Ocie Rose, another Homstead transfer, got a second half interception that he took back for a touchdown wiped out by a penalty. 

I didn't get to see much of FIU lineman commit out of Jacksonville Trinity Christian left tackle Deion Eakins, in Trinity's 17-0 loss to Buford (Ga.). Trinity couldn't get much going on offense and the Booker T. game kept Lead Game status on my TV. For me to discuss Eakins' performance would overreach the sample size of plays I saw.

August 20, 2014

A Weak NFL-FIU Second Week

For those FIU football alums trying to get some NFL traction, Week 2 of the NFL preseason was ice.

In Minnesota, defensive tackle Isame Faciane spent his time on the field getting stood up by Arizona guard Anthony Steen, out of Alabama. Faciane had a couple of good plays including being one of several pass rushers who made Arizona's line resemble the just-opened doors to a Popeye's. But after Steen tossed Faciane down on a pass rush, he was taken out for several plays. Then again, it might have been normal rotation.  

Defensive tackle Greg Hickman had a tackle assist and a declined hands to the face penalty for the Lions against Oakland.

In the Cornerback Camp Bodies line, Sam Miller had two fourth quarter tackles on Pittsburgh receptions for Buffalo. Junior Mertile, now in Houston, had a tackle on a 24-yard kickoff return in the fourth quarter against Atlanta.


August 10, 2014

Can Miller Pay The Bills With The Bills?

Buffalo announced cornerback Sam Miller signed with the team as an undrafted rookie. The Bills cut another undrafted free agent cornerback, Michael Carter out of Minnesota and Pompano Beach Ely High.

Miller got a look in Buffalo's rookie camp on a tryout basis. He's listed as fifth on the depth chart at left cornerback. Miller's got a shot at making the Bills via special teams. A little bit of defense, a lot of special teams plays and Miller might make the 53 or the practice squad.


The Herald preseason section hopefully will have the same amount of FIU coverage as the last few years. 

FIU's Reason to Watch Browns-Lions

While the rest of the country zeroed in on a Browns-Lions preseason game to watch how Johnny Manziel would translate "Johnny Football" to the NFL, I tuned in to check out former FIU defensive tackle Greg Hickman in his preseason debut for Detroit.

(By the way, how strong is just the idea of "Johnny Football in The NFL" that people cared about watching a Browns-Lions preseason game?) 

As it turned out, the bulk of Manziel's playing time came in the second half and coincided with the bulk of Hickman's time. Detroit rotated Hickman with a few other defensive tackles throughout the second half.

Officially, Hickman had one tackle, a solo, and a quarterback hurry. The tackle was on a 2-yard off tackle run to the right by Terrance West. Hickman worked through and chased down West from behind as the running back got clogged in the hole. Hickman somehow didn't get credit for later dismissing Keavon Milton and stuffing running back Dion Lewis for a loss of 2. 

Hickman had two plays, a Manziel 16-yard scramble and a Lewis 12-yard run, when Cleveland got a big gain through where Hickman had been. The scramble came after a stunt all the way around the right tackle took Hickman out of the contain position you'd want a defensive tackle in against a mobile quarterback like Manziel. If that stunt wasn't an improvisation, but ordered in the defensive call, somebody in the polo shirts gets a demerit. Bad concept. On the Lewis run, Hickman zipped up inside at the snap, leaving a gap that perhaps a linebacker should've filled.

Overall, Hickman helped himself by doing his job. But that low on the roster, you need to make a jump out play or two to keep The Turk from your door.


August 09, 2014

Faciane Friday, Hickman tonight

Friday night's Minnesota preseason opener against Oakland continued former FIU defensive tackle Isame Faciane's attempt to make the Vikings as an undrafted rookie. A plus for him is that the Vikes plan to rotate defensive linemen, Seattle style, so they'll need several. The minus is obvious -- when you enter the first preseason game with 8:46 remaining, there's no few in the queue ahead of you.

In two Oakland possessions, Faciane blocked a pass, drew a holding penalty and generally showed good hustle in getting around the ball when the play went away from him. It does look like he needs to work on his conditioning as he seemed to lose his top two gears near the end.

On the block, the 6-5 Faciane got a little penetraion on the pass rush against Raiders guard Emmett Cleary, then did what d-linemen are supposed to do once progress is stopped: get your hands up. 

Later, on a third down, he drew a holding penalty on Cleary, No. 62, for which officials indicted left tackle Erle Ladson, No. 68. In the official game book, Cleary benefits from mistaken identity begat by scrunched up jerseys. Video, as Floyd Gondoli told Jack Horner, tells the truth. Ladson took care of his assignment with minimal contact, a classic legal punch-thrust. Meanwhile, Faciane powered inside Cleary, who held on for quarterback Matt McGloin's life. The pulled jersey was obvious to all as Faciane spun away from Cleary. Flag.

I noticed two other plays that might work in Faciane's favor. He plugged the hole and took on the fullback block in the backfield, mucking up what turned into a 2-yard loss on a left side run. On a third and 10, Faciane bull rushed center Jerrod Shaw to Wisconsin and planted Shaw like a time capsule. Problem was, they wound up well past McGloin. Either Faciane forgot to grab McGloin as he rumbled past with Shaw, couldn't get his hands free or was getting his momentum subtly used against him by Shaw.

Tonight, defensive tackle Greg Hickman tries to make his way up the Detroit depth chart in a preseason game against Cleveland.


August 04, 2014

Betting on the field (exposure)...

The signage outside La Cage still calls the fake grass inside "Alfonso Field." Alas, that will be changing.

FIU needs the money that comes from slapping a name on the field. You've got the NCAA saying Division I schools can stuff their athletes like Sunday at Big Mama's, and Conference USA claiming all scholarships will be full scholarships as of the 2015-16 school year. Time to go find a different source of Other People's Cash.

Might FIU go with a corporate entity? Banks and energy companies seem popular to woo for naming, with their gushers of cash. South Florida comes a little light on energy industries. Ocean Bank loves the College of Business Administration and already have the Ocean Bank Auditorium in the College of Business. Might Ocean Bank love them some Ocean Bank Field at FIU Stadium?

Lime named the basketball court. Might they want some fake grass under their logo?


What a Vikings beat reporter sees from former FIU defensive tackle and cook Isame Faciane in training camp so far...


Tania Tare put up on Instagram a picture of her just-arrived 2013 graduation ring and Sun Belt Conference championship rings.

July 31, 2014

Midsummer Late Night Dreams

Monday's the first football practice. Aug. 22 is the first athletic event of the 2014-15 academic year, women's soccer hosting Arizona. Aug. 30, kickoff vs. Bethune-Cookman.

Who shrunk summer from back in the day, when it ran from Memorial Day to Jerry Lewis Telethon? Good golly, the week of no parking at Camp Mitch will be upon us soon.

Football coach Ron Turner said last week he was happy with recruiting for 2015 so far, especially coming off 1-11. He's certainly getting them out of Homestead, where he scored a committment from defensive back Ocie Rose. Rose transferred from Homestead to Booker T. Washington for his senior season, just as FIU commit Maurice Alexander did this year.

Ratings on Rose are all over the place. Rivals puts him at three stars. puts him at two. and don't have him rated themselves, but 247Sports has him at three stars on their composite rating. At 6-1, 185, Rose bloomed into a big safety who forced two fumbles last year in his 47 tackles.

Two-way interior lineman Richerd Desir-Jones, 6-4, 300, out of Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas gave his pledge to FIU. He's rated at three stars by Rivals and, unrated by and 

Orange Park Fleming Island center Neal Mars, 6-4, 275, also wears an FIU pledge pin for 2015. He's unrated by the four recruiting sites.

For what it's worth...247Sports has FIU's 2015 class rated 94th nationally, ninth in Conference USA. has FIU rated 90th nationally, seventh in C-USA. Rivals puts FIU 91st overall, sixth in conference. Lot of months, a lot of games, a lot of standardized tests and a lot of grades between now and Signing Day. Plenty of time to move in either direction.


First baseman Gunnar McNeill was picked as the Valley Baseball League's Staunton Braves MVP after leading the league in hitting (.402) and RBI (50) with a team-high six home runs. In the playoffs, he went four for eight with a double and two RBI. For FIU, McNeill also pitches. He made three apperances for Staunton, once as a starter and had a 9.00 ERA in six innings pitched.


We do like our academic achievement around here. So belated big ups to the women's basketball team for their 3.37 grade point average being Conference USA's best in women's hoop.


The AP's Mark Long on former FIU safety Johnathan Cyprien.





May 28, 2014

Dolphins and a Gaitor

Former FIU cornerback Anthony Gaitor can come home again if he can make the Dolphins final roster after they signed him Wednesday.

Gaitor played 12 games over his first two seasons with Tampa Bay, his second season being interrupted by a hamstring injury. He was the first player Tampa Bay on whom used the new "injured reserve/designated to return" tag and he did return to start two games late in 2012.The Buccaneers dropped the regular injured reserve tag on Gaitor after tearing knee ligaments in a preseason game against the Dolphins last year then dropped Gaitor earlier this month.

He'll get a shot as a nickel corner with the Dolphins.

May 11, 2014

Isame & Hickman go the FA route

Looks like NFL Network Draft Analyst/Scout Mike Mayock nailed this one.

Mayock said he saw FIU defensive tackles Isame Faciane and Greg Hickman as priority free agents instead of draft picks. Sure enough, after the draft wheel stopped turning Saturday, Faciane signed with Minnesota and Hickman signed with Detroit.

No surprises here. Both played well during 2013 and Hickman, especially, played courageously on a mangled ankle all season. That's painful to people built like Pixie Stix. Imagine doing that at a squarish 275 pounds.

No matter if either young man makes it in the NFL, FIU should be proud of them. Talk to people who've known each for a while and you'll hear about the personal growth each has made as men while at FIU. That lasts many times longer than an NFL career. 

May 02, 2014

Funny how things go...

I don't know if this resulted from the right player going to the right situation or the wrong player going to the wrong situation. I don't know what it says about how these players compare directly or what would happen if they swapped spots like Morgan Spring and Poland Creek swapped stock.

But here's the facts as we head into another NFL Draft: Dion Jordan, the defensive end the Dolphins moved up to take No. 3 overall in the 2013 draft, played 16 games, started none, made 26 tackles and 2.0 sacks for a team that missed the playoffs; and former FIU defensive end Tourek Williams, converted to outside linebacker by the Chargers after being taken in the sixth round, played 13 regular season games, started six, made 10 tackles, 1.0 sack and 1 forced fumble for a team that played two playoff games (he played in both).

So the Chargers got as much out of a sixth round pick from FIU as the Dolphins did from a first round pick from Oregon.




April 03, 2014

Football practice report

It was closed. And, Ron Turner wasn't speaking to any outside media after practice. So, any complaints about the lack of a Herald blog report or story on FIU's practices, please call or e-mail Camp Mitch.

FIU's Pro Day is later this afternoon.

Friday presents an interesting dilemna for the discerning FIU fan. At 7-5 in Conference USA and 23-6 overall, the baseball team hosts an important series against Old Dominion, starting with a 6 p.m. Friday game. The open football scrimmage got moved to a 7 p.m. start.

So, you've got a paid admission game involving FIU's most successful team this school year now up against a free admission game involving FIU's most popular team. As if daily life wasn't enough competition for attendance in either case.



March 21, 2014

November 10, 2013

Victory Sunday

Sunday beat Friday.

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

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

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

October 06, 2013

A Two-Loss Weekend

Junior Johanna Volz's overtime goal gave the women's soccer team a 3-2 win Sunday afternoon against Louisiana Tech to get 4-8 and 2-2 in Conference USA. The men's soccer team crushed Marshall 4-0 Sunday to even the overall record at 5-5 and the Conference USA record at 1-1. The swim team gave FAU the what for Saturday.

OK, volleyball went zero for Texas, losing 3-0 each to Texas-San Antonio and UTEP.

In the NFL, T.Y. Hilton blazed to five catches for 140 yards and two touchdowns for Indianapolis. Jacksonville lost again, but safety Johnathan Cyprien had a team-high 12 tackles, all solo.

The opening line on Saturday's Homecoming game against Alabama-Birmingham is "pick 'em."

September 30, 2013

FIU on Sunday

The men's soccer team beat Penn 2-0 behind goals by Quentin Albrecht and freshman Luis Betancur. That gave them a weekend one up to go with Friday's one down, a 4-2 loss to Princeton.

The women's soccer team, having a tough season at 3-7 and having lost Friday night's conference opener against Charlotte, got some of what they needed Sunday with a 4-0 win over winless Old Dominion at Camp Mitch. Junior Ashleigh Shim scored twice, senior Nicole DiPerna and Junior Johanna Volz got the other two goals in FIU's first Conference USA win.

The volleyball team also split on the weekend, outlasting Charlotte 3-2 on Friday and getting dusted 3-0 by Marshall Sunday. Friday night, sophomore Lucia Castro led the team with 17 kills and Ashlee Hodgskin had 23 assists and had 17 Sunday.

In the NFL, Jacksonville safety Johnathan Cyprien had four tackles in Jacksonville's 37-3 loss to Indianapolis, one of which was of T.Y. Hilton. Hilton has five catches for 48 yards. Linebacker Antwan Barnes had a sack for the Jets in their loss to Tennessee. Look for Tourek Williams to get more playing time in San Diego now that Dwight Freeney's suffered yet another serious injury (that man does not have good fortune near Chargers colors). Offensive tackle Caylin Hauptmann was active, but didn't play for Seattle against Houston.

And the line on Saturday's football game at Southern Mississippi dropped to Southern Miss favored by 15.

August 17, 2013

Saturday Not In the Park

Ron Turner declared the Tamiami Park grass field experiment done. The Panthers will be in La Cage Aux Chats for remaining practices.

After practice, a New York Giants scout spent a while talking with defensive line coach Andre Patterson. For the purposes of a 4-3 team like the Giants, seniors Isame Faciane and Paul Crawford work. Senior Greg Hickman, built about as squarish as defensive linemen come, might have a future working as a 3-4 nose tackle.

Saturday included a pile of situational 11-on-11 drills. Crawford sat out the drills as did redshirt freshman defensive tackle Marques Cheeks, although only Cheeks wore a Great Pumpkin jersey. Denzell Perrine and sophomore linebacker Michael Wakefield worked with their hand in the dirt in Crawford's usual spot. Redshirt junior safety Justin Halley came out of the drills with ice on his right shoulder. Senior safety Mitch Wozniak took Halley's place during the two-minute portion.

Interesting personnel deployment: for the first time, the first team cornerbacks were junior Richard Leonard and senior Sam Miller throughout practice. Freshman Jonnu Smith and senior transfer Cory White were the first team tight ends in some of the team drills. Freshmen Wilkenson Myrtil and Brad Hyman-Muhammad were the second team cornerbacks. With sophomore wide receiver DeAndre Jasper missing practice to deal with a family matter, freshman Shug Oyegunle was the first team slot receiver.

For some of practice, first team offensive tackles Delmar Taylor and David Delsoin swapped sides.

Saturday was the first practice with both Conference USA officials and live tackling.

Working short yardage, the first team defense got a hat trick -- three consecutive offsides penalties. "Defense, that's three times!" Ron Turner roared while taking a few steps toward the offenders.

The next meeitng of the 1s ended with safety Demarkus Perkins delivering his daily demolition derby collision, this time on running back Lamarq Caldwell. Caldwell's helmet flew off but Caldwell got up and accurately signalled "first down."

"He's had a lot of urgency in terms of wanting to come every single day to practice," defensive coordinator Josh Conklin said. "That started last spring really. He's just done a great job of showing leadership out there. His approach in the meeting rooms has been very focused. He's one of the few guys in the secondary who hasn't had a lot of fall off. Every day he comes out has been pretty positive."

The next play, Silas Spearman, cutting behind tight end Ya'keem Griner's block and the seal created by offensive tackle Dieugot Joseph, got around the left end for 14 yards.

Sergio Sroka hit off the right hash from 33 and 43. Sroka never got a kick off from 37 yards because by the time holder Chris Ayers got a solid handle on a good snap, he was head to belt line with the interior of the field goal block team. Austin Taylor missed from 33 new dorms wide left, then hit from 36 and 43.

Pitting the second team offense against the first team defense in 11-on-11 charged freshman guard Jordan Budwig and redshirt freshman Dieugot Joseph with blocking junior Giovani Francois and senior Isame Faciane or senior Greg Hickman. As expected, the upperclassmen stampeded through like the backfield was selling Popeye's at a discount. First play, Hickman and Francois swallowed Shane Coleman for a loss of 1. Second play, Faciane dismissed Budwig for a sack. Then, linebacker Markeith Russell blitzed for a sack.

Not the kids' fault. You've got young, inexperieneced guys trying to block players NFL scouts have been checking out. So what happened when the first team offense faced the second team defense?

Caldwell around the right side for 8. A false start. A quick hitch to wide receiver T.J. Lowder that looked left over from last year for not enough.

Back to the 2s vs. 1s. Sophomore quarterback E.J. Hilliard hit Griner on the right side for 20 yards. He followed that with a try for Jairus Williams deep that didn't lead Williams inside. That allowed Miller to recover for the interception.

Back to the first team offense vs. second team defense. Shane Coleman went for 2. Freshman linebacker Treyvon Williams nailed Coleman after 3 yards. On third down, Rhymes dropped a Jake Medlock pass with Myrtil in coverage.

The second team offense's next drive got quickly aborted by Silas Spearman's fumble, recovered by Hyman-Muhammad. Back out with junior college transfer Talir Satterfield-Rowe at running back, Hilliard converted a fourth and 2 with an 11-yard pass to Rocky Vann. Following Satterfield-Rowe getting slammed by Perkins and linebacker Luis Rosado, on third and 7, a tackle by Hyman-Muhammad held a completed pass to three yards. Sroka split the uprights from 31 yards.

The first team offense came out against the third team defense. Starting from the 38, Medlock found Rhymes for 17 yards. No more first downs after that, however -- Caldwell got stoned for 2 on fourth and 3.

The second team offense took the ball at the 22. Two carries by Anthon Samuel got 7 yards forward, the one went 2 yards backward. Taylor pushed a 34-yard field goal wide left.

Now with the previous results in the practice, you'd figure the first team offense, having trouble moving on lesser FIU defense, would be fighting to stay out of their own end zone against the first team defense. Instead, Medlock drove the team 58 yards, helped by a pass interference penalty on Leonard for treating Rhymes like an obstacle course wall on a bomb. Medlock stepped up in front of pressure on third and goal from the 5 to hit Rhymes for the touchdown.

The second team defense stuffed the offense with a sack by Wonderful Monds II, a sack by Monds and Perrine, then making Hilliard run. Given a renewed possession, the offense got a 17-yard gain from Samuel and a 2-yard gain before incompletes by Hilliard ended the possession.

The final 11-on-11s were 1:15 left, ball on the offense's 35, offense down by two. Caldwell ran for 8 yards and got out of bounds. Medlock took a sack, then got chased into a throwaway on third down. Fourth down No. 1, fourth and 5 from the 40, Medlock got it going with Rhymes again, 18 yards up the right sideline. I guess a 6-4 wide receiver looks like a warm safety blanket. Medlock's next pass, low to Lowder, got knocked away by Leonard as he and Lowder went to the ground. Lowder got up holding his left arm. Glenn Coleman came in for Lowder and caught a third and 10 pass for 5 yards to the 37.

A gutsy call, a draw to Caldwell, got 7 yards and Medlock spiked the ball. Sroka pushed through a 47-yard field goal.

Hilliard thrice extended the second team's last minute drive, first by finding Jairus Williams on third and 10 for 10 yards; by scooping up a bad snap and throwing it away on second down; then running a quarterback draw for 7 on fourth and 3. But Hilliard took a sack from the 30-yard line that moved the field goal attempt for Taylor back to 50 yards. Taylor's kick could've used those three yards, as it fell short of the crossbar.




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