Spring practice is done after Wednesday's Blue/Gold Spring Game and now the countdown begins for the 2010 season opener vs. Rutgers on Sept. 11 at FIU Stadium. Just 155 days.
The next time you'll see the Panthers on the football field might be for one of the few open practices when camp rolls around in the second week of August.
The last time we saw FIU on the field was Wednesday in the spring game and what came out of that was: an aggressive, faster defense, a stud running back in the making and an offense that took some time to get going, but when the QBs got time to throw and the playmakers got a hold of the pigskin we saw what FIU is capable of when it has the ball. Now they just have to put it all together when Sept. 11 rolls around.
You can take to the poll question at the bottom of this post.
THE CHILI WAS CERTAINLY HOT
Yes, it was against an offense they see everyday in practice and yes, the offensive line was missing some key cogs (Brad Serini, Rupert Bryan and Austin Tottle on Wednesday), but the Panthers D certainly came out in the spring game like they just ate a 5-alarm bowl of chili from new DC Geoff Collins's kitchen.
What was most encouraging of the D's performance was that many of the young defenders (sophomores) were the ones making plays. FIU will rely on a lot of these young guys this season, because that's what the majority (18 sophomores) of FIU's D is comprised of in 2010.
Although it was old man -- if we can call a senior that -- Jarvis Wilson (above, right, thanks Alex J. Hernandez photo), who unleashed havoc in the O's backfield early with 3 sacks of Wayne Younger. Sophomore LB Winston Fraser (left) had a hand in 1 of the 3 sacks. It seemed like Jarvis is a lot quicker this year.
WF also got in on a QB hurry later on and with DL Tourek Williams chased down Younger which is not easy to do considering the QB's elusiveness. DL Kasey Smith, who coaches expect big things from, had a tackle for loss.
Other sophs who made plays early on were Markeith Russell and Josh Forney with some tackles in the backfield.
Although both GC and OC Scott Satterfield kept the play calling very simple, the FIU D did blitz a lot.
Probably, one of the sophs you have been expecting to breakout, did so Wednesday. Pooh Bear Mars (right) had 6 tackles in the game and about half of them were for a loss using his speed and power to get into the backfield. It seems like the game is slowing down for PBM this spring.
DB Chuck Grace made a couple of plays: batting a Wesley Carroll pass and CG also went over the middle and batted a pass away intended for Wayne Times. Emmanuel Souarin, who has had a good spring, kept it going in the spring game with a couple of tackles at the line of scrimmage on pass plays.
Senior Kreg Brown had a pick and defensive lineman James Jones almost had a pick that would have gone for 6 if he holds on.
One thing that might have had GC hot when he watched the film later was that there were a handful of missed tackles -- which was an issue last season even though GC was not here in 2009. Although on some of those plays, we have to give credit to No. 6.
HARDEN MAKES IT LOOK EASY
No. 6 would be new running back Jeremiah Harden, (left) who made the spring game his personal showcase.
What will stand out for most about JH's performance Wednesday will be the 69-yard TD run that only the Youth Fair was able to contain him from running onto SW 107th Ave.
But more than that is what JH showed when he first gets any handoff. As you may have read in a previous post on here, WC -- JH's high school teammate -- described JH as a guy that gets lost going into a pile, but somehow always finds his way out for extra yardage.
Besides that ability, what I've noticed from JH is his vision of knowing where the blocks are going to be and knowing when to cut it back, because there are no open running lanes in front of him. That's what makes JH a special back.
On the long TD run, we saw that once JH got around the right corner he put it into an extra gear and then some to out run the D.
Now FIU has to develop another back to complement JH. A slimmer Darriet Perry has the ability to be that back. He needs to get back in the flow after missing half of last season with an injury.
Freshman Kedrick Rhodes could possibly be the Ricky to JH's Ronnie -- if you will. If you're looking for a sleeper in this position battle come camp look toward senior Trenard Turner, who has a knack for breaking tackles, but has been injured most of his FIU career.
SPREADING THE WEALTH
Like you've read a zillion times on here, the FIU spread O will go as the O-line goes. Missing 3 key OLinemen Wednesday didn't help, but still the O had some trouble getting going early on which occurred in some games last season.
However, once the O got some rhythm we saw what the playmakers can do.
TE Jonathan Faucher, who along with Colt Anderson has improved, caught a 16-yard TD pass from WC.
WC also hit Junior Mertile (right, thanks AJH photo), who looks fully recovered from his knee injury, for a 56-yard TD.
Again Times continues to look better and better. WT led all receivers with 4 catches for 73 yards and what makes him dangerous are his moves in the open field. The moves are T.Y. Goodbye-like.
WC had the better day of the 2 QBs throwing the ball and directing the O. But at the end of the day, the stats were similar between the 2 QBs. WC was 8 of 11 for 90 yds, 2 TDs, 1 INT. WY went 8 of 15 for 80 yds, 1 TD, 0 INT.
Future FIU playmaker Willis Wright and future FIU safety Randy Williams and many of the Miami Springs Golden Hawks took in the spring game as they sat near the 40-yard line.
Will have a mid-season look at the FIU baseball team on the next post. The Panthers are in Murfreesboro, Tenn. this weekend taking on a tough Middle Tennessee. Saturday's game is on TV on CSS's Sun Belt Game of the Week.
The lovely Golden Dazzlers are putting on their annual variety show on Saturday, April 17 at U.S. Century Bank Arena. As we saw last season, the Dazzlers can put on a show with their tribute to Michael Jackson (left, thanks AJH photo) and their salute to Harley Davidson (right, AJH photo) Here is some more info from an e-mail sent by the Dazzlers:
The Variety Show is an annual fundraiser (and biggest) which we have done in the past. This is the 5th one.
It is an all dance event featuring the Golden Dazzlers performing various dance routines showcasing many styles of dance such as lyrical, jazz, pom and hip hop. Group numbers, solos, duos and all sort of combinations will be involved. In addition, we have guest performers from the community, giveaways and interactive crowd games.
After spending all year performing at football, basketball, volleyball, and baseball games (not to mention the appearances and community events) this is finally an event where it’s only about us, by us. It’s the Dazzlers turn to shine!
We would love the fans’ support on this one!!!!
Tickets are now on pre-sale for $ 8.00 at the football fieldhouse and at the door at the arena on show day for $ 10.00.
As you may have noticed by the photo on the left in the rail, Adam Beasley is joining the FIU beat and will handle the print duties.
A little about Adam: besides bringing plenty of writing experience from Syracuse and working in newspapers in 5 states, Adam is a busy guy at the Herald.
In addition to FIU, Adam also covers soccer for the Herald and works in the news department. In news, Adam will be a charter member of the breaking news team. Adam will continue to split his time with the continuous news desk, writing breaking news and 1A takeouts for the daily newspaper and the Sunday newspaper.
O'darris D'haiti #20: How did saloney joseph do as I worked out with him before he tried out for the team. He is a small guy but the kid has heart. You think he will stay with the team by what u seen so far in practice and the spring game?
PP: Saloney looked quick. He's not that big of a back at all, but he might surprise if given some extra reps. Not sure if he will be back for fall camp. All depends on the health of the RBs.
You Got Gold: Pete, the regular signing period for college hoops should be starting soon, right? I think it's mid-April til mid-May. Does Isiah have any scholarships left for 2010?
PP: IT does not have anymore scholarships left for this season, but you never know if all the players from last season will be back and maybe a scholie or 2 opens up here or there. Will have any updates if they happen. If anything else, check back in October when practice begins.
Last I heard, we might find out around mid-summer if it will be an early "Christmas" season for FIU.