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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.


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.


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.



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