August 09, 2011

A few lines of scrimmage analysis

Some stuff from Monday's full pads scrimmage, which began in a light rain and closed in a clear buggy-ness that attempted to envelop and invade Coyote III in the parking lot. He wasn't happy. Neither was I.

(By the way, sorry I'm making this Late Night with David J. on my blog days. That's just the way we've had to work during the preseason, especially when practice ends in the late afternoon, there's no terribly breaking news, I still have to write the daily stuff for print and have to Eddie Arcaro the kid through dinner, teeth brushing and into bed. So, with The Crusaders' Southern Comfort album as soundtrack, I'll proceed...)

After a 70-yard bomb to T.Y. Hilton on the second play of the scrimmage, first team quarterback Wesley Carroll completed his next six passes for 90 yards and a 14-yard touchdown to Jairus Williams. As the rain stopped, Carroll arced a beautiful rainbow down the right sideline to Jacob Younger behind Jose Cheeseborough for 35 yards on a third and 2. Carroll threw well on the move to his left throughout the day. His next incompletion came on throw to the back of the end zone. The play after that, linebacker Christopher Edwards strung out Darian Mallary and Chuck Grace dropped Mallary for a loss of 3. A third down fade pattern to 6-2 Glen Coleman didn't work because 5-9 cornerback Richard Leonard wouldn't let Coleman big brother jerk him out of the way. On the next snap, sophomore linebacker Gregory Hickman blocked a 35-yard Dylan Lynch field goal attempt. Hickman also had a sack that ended the third 1s vs. 1s possession.

The day's John Mackey Award goes to tight end Colt Anderson, who caught a short ball from Carroll, then bounced through two tacklers the way the recently deceased Colts tight end used to do.

(Digression: Double shot of pain for old Baltimore Colts fans recently, with Mackey and Bubba Smith passing. Both were significant players in football history. Mackey was the first truly modern tight end -- fast enough to get deep and a big, powerful, bed-wetting nightmare for defensive players to tackle in the open field. That it took 20 years for him to be elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame can be blamed in two things -- some old-time journalists resenting his role with the NFL Players Association and sheer ignorance. Bubba Smith was very good in the NFL, but awesome at Michigan State. Nobody wanted to face him on the field in college, nobody could fail to like him off the field. How did a 6-7 guy from Texas escape the old Southwest Conference? It was 1963. In a great HBO documentary on the integration of the SEC, ACC and SWC, Bubba told of talking to legendary Texas coach Darrell Royal about coming to Austin. Royal said he'd like to have Smith, but didn't know if he could get him a scholarship. Texas didn't have any black players. In fact, their 1969 national championship team would be the last national champion without black players. Bubba, who wanted to go to Texas like kids want to go to Disney World, summed up the pain and stupidity in racism when he recalled thinking "How is it you don't like me and you don't even know me?" Bubba took his personality and game to East Lansing, where he became BMOC, incredibly popular among students of all races, an All-American and staple on one of the greatest defenses in college football history. Michigan State crushed opponents with black players the SWC and SEC didn't want. Bubba would be the No. 1 overall pick in the 1967 common draft  between the AFL and NFL.)

Sophomore defensive tackle Isame Faciane had a nice scrimmage and drew a holding penalty on Shae Smith that wiped out a Carroll completion. But Faciane, 6-3, 290, said he's still getting used to playing with his added weight, 10 pounds since the spring, 45 pounds since the end of last season, and playing inside. When I was in college, I saw a lot of people try to get used to moving with an extra 45 pounds after their freshman year. Most weren't 6-3 and playing defensive tackle, although they could do to a Mother Bear's or Pizza Express pizza what I saw senior James Jones do to a few running backs Monday.

In the kicking game, kickoff edge to Dylan Lynch, kicking field goals edge to Jack Griffin. Griffin nailed a 47-yarder to trump Lynch's 40-yarder and a block of a Lynch attempt by Hickman (either because of Hickman's penetration or Lynch not getting the ball rising quickly enough). On the kickoffs, Lynch's greater height gives the coverage team time to get there. Though they only went to the 11-yard line or so, better that than Griffin's easily returned low liners to the 5.

Kedrick Rhodes ran for 34 yards on six carries. He said he's up 12 pounds over last season and worked on his speed and cutting with speed. It showed. Running back Jeremiah Harden had my favorite run of the day, actually a swing pass reception that he took up the sideline...and over a couple of defensive backs. Harden's 5-9, 200. Like Jim Brown said in one of his autobiographies, if you're big and fast, let them worry about living to fight another day.

For other stuff from the scrimmage, see the story at For that story, let me correct that the walk-on quarterback is Fred Porter, not Frank. I had the roster in front of me, but did the writing version of misspoke.

T.Y. Hilton's on the Paul Hornung Award (most versatile player) watch list. Hey, a college award named after a player who was, wow, actually great in college! Hornung won the Heisman Trophy while at Notre Dame. In the NFL, he played running back, threw the occasional option pass and kicked. His 176 points in 1960, a 12-game season, stood as the NFL record for a single season until LaDainian Tomlinson broke it with 186 in a 16-game 2006 season. The award's given by the Louisville Sports Commission, which is why it's named after Louisville guy Hornung and not future Dolphins quarterback Bob Griese. Griese ran, passed, punted and kicked for Purdue (blecch) in 1966. The Boilermakers lost only to Notre Dame and Bubba Smith's senior year Michigan State team, both of which finished undefeated with only the blemish of their 10-10 tie on their records.

OK, since I referenced the truest form of my fellow Indianapolis native's late night show earlier, we'll close with a video from the last Late Night with David Letterman on NBC. From June 1993...


July 12, 2011

Getting Big Ups from The Belt for Cracking Some Books

Sorry about the lateness of the post. Herding the kid through a shower -- why does our room's shower and bathtub look like a Toys R Us junkyard? -- while making her dinner kept me from getting this up before the wife came home from checking her computer into the nearest Geek Squad hospital. Once home, I offered up my Dell to be her T computer. Long-winded reason this all didn't get posted in time for you to digest it before The Wheel/Jeopardy Hour.

The Sun Belt Conference threw out a bunch of academic hoorays Monday that will land on both true student athletes and athletes who can fake it (sometimes with professorial help) better than Sally in the deli  .


Thirty-four FIU student-athletes made the Sun Belt Commissioner's List for having a 3.5 or higher GPA during the 2010-11 academic year. Women's soccer led the way with six. By sport:

Baseball: Mason McVay, Jose Velazquez

Men's Basketball: Steven Miro

Women's Basketball: Elisa Carey, Fanni Hutlassa, Liene Jekabsone, Carmen Miloglav

Football: Wesley Carroll, Michael Davies, Joshua Forney

Women's Golf: Katie Mundy

Women's Soccer: Carlan Jones, Victoria Milliucci, Julietta Morano, Melanie Raimo, Kelsey Rene, Paula Zuluaga

Softball: Kasey BArrett, Kayla Burri

Women's Tennis: Liset Brito, Christine Seredni, Marla Vallasciani

Swimming & Diving: Chelsie Kitt, Colleen Quinn, Danielle Snier, Jamie Stinson

Men's Track & Field/Cross Country: Miahcel Bejarano, Richie Bonilla

Women's Track & Field/Cross Country: Daniela Espino, Lashae White

Volleyball: Angelina Colon, Jessica Egan, Una Trkulja, Jessica Wilke

The Sun Belt Honor Roll goes to the athlete-students with a 3.0 or higher GPA for the year. Again, by sport:

Baseball: Jose Behar, John Caballero, Tyler James Shantz, Joel Capote, David Vazquez, Garrett Wittels

Women's basketball: Michelle Gonzalez, Timeyin Oritsesan

Football: Stephen Bailey, Robert Boswell, Michael Cal, Jonathan Cyprien, Chritopher Edwards, Antohny Gaitor, Mike Jean-Louis, Kevin Van Kirk, Andrew Matttox, Ashlyn Parker, Zachary Schaubaut, Jarius Williams, Mitchell Wozniak.

Women's golf: Shelby Coyle

Women's soccer: Chrystal McNamara, April Perry, Deanna Rossi, Katilyn Savage, Kassandra Sorzano, Linn Thunn

Softball: Alexandra Casals, Jennifer Gnaidek, Ashley McClain, Elizabeth Peller, Jenny Welch

Women's tennis: Mariana Muci, Maria Spenceley

Swimming & Diving: Sabrina Beaupre, Kelly Boyd, Sabrina Dow, Kelly Grace, Elly James, Jennifer Lee, Mariangele Macchiabello, Melissa Moreno, Joanna Pomerantz, Yesica Rojas, Namiko Shibata

Men's Track & Field/Cross Country: Alvaro Castillo, Victor Chin, Miguel Delgadillo, Chad Ganier, Jason Oliver, Daniel Stephenson, Kevin Vandernotte

Women's Track & Field/Cross Country: Kimberlee Dekrey, Jessica de Roquancourt, Estefania Fierro, Gabriella Herrera, Carla-Kay Mills, Bianca Morrison, Christian Raphael, Brittany Smith

Volleyball: Jovana Bjelica, Rachel Fernandez, Rene Forde, Sabrina Gonzalez, Ines Medved.


June 29, 2011

Pool report (with some old school summer cool)

The folks at have judged FIU's 2011 swimming and diving recruiting class as No. 23 in the nation.

Now, let's just say this up front: even these days, when a stud high school athlete's meets/games have more camera coverage than the cocktail party scene in Traffic, I regard recruiting ratings with an Internal Affairs officer's skeptical eye. If they were so darn accurate, Texas and Notre Dame would've been trading football championships for about the last 20 years and The Fab Five would've won something on the court other than applause for lengthening shorts.

That said, recruiting analysis in the basic human games -- track, swimming, lifting -- tends to be more prescient. So, throw some dap FIU's way for their class, which includes a few young women with a shot at making their 2012 Olympic teams. 

The top-ranked recruit, German Carolin Rademacher, owned the 200-meter breaststroke on her nation's junior level, reeling off four championships from 2005-08. Spaniard Sonia Perez Arau, a transfer from the University of Bridgeport (yes, the folks counted some transfers -- hey, it's their list), won the 100 and 200 backstroke at the Spanish Junior Championships. At Bridgeport, she finished fifth in the 200 individual medley and sixth in the 200 back at the 2011 NCAA Division II Championships. Another back and IMer, Johanna Gustafsdottir, has been on Iceland's national team since 2003. The FIU recruits ranked next, Sweden's Klara Andersson and Ukrainian Valeriia Popova, swim breast and IM and freestyle and butterfly, respectively.

The No. 1 rank among recruiting classes went to 2011 national champion Cal, two spots up on arch rival Stanford. Splitting the Bay Area playmates was Georgia at No. 2.

Since we're posting on a summer night, we'll close it out with an old school summer playlist favorite...  

-- David J. Neal

January 24, 2011

Men's basketball: season outlook

No one can deny that it has been a roller coaster ride for the men's hoops team. Starting the season  - missing several key player - FIU lost 7 of it's first 12 games (granted the nonconference schedule was stacked with some tough teams).

Beginning with the 89-66 loss to FSU, the Panthers dropped six of their next eight games, including three consecutive road losses against Louisville, Marshall and Jackson State.

FIU was able to overcome its early season woes, putting together a 4-1 stretch before the recent four-game losing streak.

Florida Intl Florida St Bas Coach Isiah Thomas (left, Miguel A. Olivella, Jr., AP) seems confident his team will be able to start playing better with the help of Dominique Ferguson, Alex Legion and newly arrived Phil Taylor. Ferguson and Legion have only played in nine and 10 games, respectively. Both Legion and Ferguson (right, Al Diaz, Miami Herald staff) have logged a good amount of minutes - since joining the team - with each averaging over 22 minutes a game (Ferguson 22.7 and Legion 28.1). Taylor played for the first time against South Alabama, after being activated on Thursday. Taylor played eight minutes off the bench, going 0 for 2 from the field.

"Hopefully, it will give us a back up point guard that can come in, that’s really a point guard and not someone we are trying to convert to the point guard position," Thomas said about Taylor. "If [Taylor] can get acclimated to the things we are doing and we can gel over the next month or so, hopefully by tournament time, we can become a good basketball team. As of right now, we still have a lot of work to do.”

Legion looked impressive coming off the bench. Legion played 16 minutes against UALR last week, Ferguson07 fiuhoop MHS ADD contributing 10 points, four rebounds, a steal and an assist.

Thomas extended Legion's minutes in FIU's 86-78 loss to South Alabama this weekend. Legion played 37 minutes and had 23 points and six rebounds for the night.

From what I saw on against the Trojans, FIU looks like a solid team that needs to learn how to play with one another. I left that the UALR game thinking FIU might have something with this squad. You have to give credit where credit is due. The Panthers bounced back from a 15-point halftime deficit to make it a four-point game late.

The South Alabama game was similar with the Jaguars taking 13-point lead into halftime. The Panthers battled back in the second half, outscoring S. Alabama 52-47.With time running out, FIU held on to a brief two point lead after Marvin Roberts hit a free-throw shot. The Jaguars ultimately proved to be too tough for FIU, going on a 10-0 run with a little more than a minute to play.

In both games FIu struggled defensively. The Jaguars shot 49 percent on Saturday. South Alabama shot 53 percent in the first half. UALR shot 51 percent.

It is an understatement to say this team is still a work in progress. Coach Thomas was quick to point out to me last week, that this team has only been playing together for a few games and needs to learn how to "gel." Thomas hopes by the Sun Belt tournament, this team will be playing together. FIU still has nine games to improve before the postseason. Thomas has done a good job of getting the pieces necessary to build a legitimate team. It will be interesting to see if the Panthers can put it together and go on a nice run towards the end of the season. FIU fans need to be patent and give Thomas time to get the team to where he wants them. It is easy to sound the alarm when things do not seem to be going right.

I have little doubt this team is capable of playing at a high level. How high? Is yet to be determined.


September 05, 2010

Projected offensive starters; countdown to Rutgers


Wesley10 FIUfoot MHS TMC QB: I think most FIU fans know who will be the starting QB this year. Just in case you don't, expect junior Wesley Carroll (left), to play most of the game against Rutgers. Wayne Younger has had plenty of work during fall camp and will most likely see some playing time. 

RB: There is still some confusion as to who will be the Panthers' starting running One13 fiuscrimmage MHS ADD back. Junior Darriet Perry (301 yards on 103 attempts 2009), sophomores Darrian Mallery and Jeremiah Harden (right) are all battling for the stating spot. Mallery has been practicing with the first-team lately. Since I have to pick one guy, I'll go with Mallery, but I would not be shocked to see him split carries with the other running backs. 

WR: Junior T.Y. Hilton and senior Greg Ellingson are the only two wide receivers that are guaranteed to be starters. Junior Mertile, Willis Wright and Wayne Times are battling for the third spot. At the moment, I'll say Mertile will be the third WR against Rutgers. I don't think Willis Wright, as a true freshman, will start the game. I think it is very possible that Wright will be a starter in the near future, just not the first game. Senior Ariel Martinez has put together a nice fall camp and should see some playing time off the bench.

Faucher29 preview MHS AU TE: Jonathan Faucher (left, during his years with Cypress Bay) will most likely be the starter (since Dudley LaPorte is still dealing with his foot injury) but it is still to early to tell if he will be physically ready to play. Faucher is also dealing with a lower leg injury that he sustained early in fall camp. If Faucher does not play, junior Colt Anderson will take his place.

Offensive line

C: Brad Serini (right, no surprise here), LT: Caylin Hauptmann, RT Rupert Bryan Jr., 200 fiu SPTS ADD OG: David Istanich, OG: Giancarlo Revilla.

Response to comments

I think Mack could start at guard or is he still out of shape?...Panther Viscosity

A. Mack has lost a lot of weight. He could definitely be a starter. He's a big guy listed at 6-4, 320 on the roster. Cristobal told me last week that he has really slimmed down and is getting into better shape.

2010 FIU iPhone App is ready

The app is free for the first 30 days, then it's 1 month: $0.99, 3 months: $1.99, 6 months $2.99, 12 months: $4.99.

Deadspin catches up with Isiah Thomas caught up with Coach Thomas after a U.S. Open match. Story here.

Tomorrow defensive starters.

Justin Azpiazu

August 19, 2010

August 05, 2010

Defensive state of mind

Hey everyone, thanks for the kind words. Before I get to this season's defense, I'd like to take a moment to say that, it is really not fair the amount of abuse Adam Beasley has been getting. Beasley is a good reporter. He has a lot of experience, and is just trying to do his job. I know you guys are going to rip me for saying it, but so what. Cut the guy some slack.

That being said, you guys are more than welcome to call or write Jorge Rojas to tell him how you feel about the events that have taken place recently. His contact info: office number 305-376-3213 or 

Defense breakdown 

Geoffcollins One of main changes to the FIU defense this season has been the hiring of former UCF linebackers coach/recruiting coordinator Geoff Collins (left, courtesy of to the defensive coordinator position. Collins, a 16-year veteran, spent a year at Alabama as the director of player personnel before moving to UCF.

In his first of two seasons at UCF, Collins lead the Knights to a second place rank (Conference USA) in total and scoring defense. Collins inherits a Panthers' defense that really struggled last season. Overall the team was outscored 424-275 in total and 258-194 in the SBC.

2009 FIU Defensive Statistics

Scoring: 35.3 points per game (7th in Sun Belt, 111 in the Nation)
Rushing Yards/Game: 232 (8th in Sun Belt, 116th in Nation)
Passing Yards/Game: 258 (8th in Sun Belt, 108th in Nation)
Total Yards/Game: 491 (9th in Sun Belt, 119th in Nation)

Last season, defensive breakdowns and a tough out of conference schedule limited the Panthers to only three wins. With the exceptions of the Florida and Rutgers games, the FIU offense was able to score points. In five conference games, FIU scored 30 or more points but only won two of those games. One to North Texas and the other to Western Kentucky (the two teams that finished below FIU in the SBC standings). Collins is going to have to sure up the defense if FIU has any hopes of having a winning record. All eyes are going to be on Collins during their tough four game stretch to open the season. It will be interesting to see how the guys responded once they start their SBC schedule.

Defensive players to watch (5 returning starters)

Torontosmith LB: Possibly the position with the most depth for FIU. Returning starters Toronto Smith (left) and Winston Fraser will be joined by OLB and projected starter Kenny Dillard. Smith, who was solid at MLB before injuring his knee last season, and Jarvis Wilson are the only two senior LBs on the roster. Franklyn Brown, who missed 2009 with a groin injury, should be back healthy. Also, don't forget about Pooh Bear Mars. Last but not least, junior Aaron Brown, who finished 2009 with 59 tackles, should be a force during the season. Even though the LB core is solid, It will be up to the D-line to open holes up front for the linebackers to make plays.

DL: After losing three out of four starter to graduation, there is a fair amount of uncertainty on the defensive line. Junior RE James Jones is the one starter left from the 2009 season. At the moment Tourek Williams is projected to start opposite him. Kasey Smith and Joshua Forneyare are the two projected starters up the middle. Three00 fiufoot SPTS ADD

DB: The defensive backs are lead by none other than Anthony Gaitor (right). Gaitor has been a thorn in the  side of opposing offenses the last two seasons. Last year Gaitor, a preseason All-Sun Belt Team selection, recorded 45 tackles and two picks.


Response to comments

@panther viscosity - You're right, I added some info about him to the LB part. Thanks

@roary What's the deal with section 112?

@TrueBlue I know where you're coming from. All I'm asking is from this point on to give the guy a chance. He's been on vacation the last few days. He gets back to work on Friday. If after football season you guys don't like him or me, what can we do?



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