A short week before The Shula Bowl made Tuesday a Thursday in the FIU football world. Players bounced off the field like kids going from recess to lunch, a light Wednesday from knocking heads with somebody again. Then, it's 10 days off before going to Texas-San Antonio to complete this early Conference USA season mini-round robin.
No injuries of note. Cornerback Richard Leonard might get another look on offense this week.
What FIU would really like to see offensively comes in Snack Pak boxes of yardage instead of one economy size chunk of yardage. Long, laborious drives of many plays and much real world time. Give your defense time to rest. Mentally and physically crush the opponent under a feeling that they're standing against an inexorable force.
The most plays contained in an FIU touchdown drive this year is eight. That's something they'd like to change Thursday.
The disappointment of Sundays' 2-1 loss to Charlotte still lived in FIU coach Thomas Chestnutt's voice Monday. Up 1-0 at halftime, at home on a skillet of a soccer field, the Panthers (6-5, 1-1 in Conference USA) couldn't bring home the win in the last game in a seven-game homestand.
"It's about us finding a killer instinct and being able to kill off teams," Chestnutt said. "Playing-wise, we're good enough to beat every team that stands in our way. I like what we have. I like what we're capable of."
Chestnutt points to a team defense that allows only 8.2 shots per game -- "we're well organized defensively and not allowing tams to have good looks at our goal" -- and points out they've got more going for them than fifth-year senior Chelsea Leiva, who has seven goals and an assist in 11 games.
Senior forward Ashleigh Shim is "not showing up on the scoresheet but she's making a lot of things happen," Chestnutt said. He pointed out senior Marie Egan's play in the back and senior Johanna Volz in the midfield.
FIU's part of Battle of the Identifying Vowels Weekend comes Friday when they go to FAU. After actual road games at UAB and Middle Tennessee State, they'll be back home Oct. 17 to face Rice.
SWIMMING & DIVING
FIU's best team for combining athletics and academics does its athletics thing on the Biscayne Bay campus, across town from the activity hub of Camp Mitch. Occasionally, other athletes journey over to watch them, sometimes out of gratitude for the water women showing up at everybody else's games.
But for Saturday's noon season opening meet against FAU, you can get on the bus, Gus, to the Biscayne Bay Campus. You don't need to discuss much, but you do need to e-mail Liz Augustin at LAugusti@fiu.edu. The deadline for reserving a spot was today. Do it early Wednesday and claim you're working on Miami time.