February 27, 2016

FIU's Queens Reign Over Conference USA Waters -- Again

Reasons FIU should embrace its Swimming & Diving team as the school's best athletic program. Some previously stated, all worth repeating:

1. They're annually among the best teams academically, if not the best.

2. No latecomers exist in this sport. You don't just go into the pool as a teenage lark, like taking up electric guitar. Everybody swimming at a Division I level avoided or fought through burnout. Or may still fall victim to it.

3. They show up at everybody else's sporting events more often than any other team.

4. They make the best coladas when they work the baseball concession stand.

5. A year after becoming the first FIU team to win a Conference USA title, Saturday they became the first to win consecutive Conference USA titles and the first FIU team to win consecutive conference tournament titles since women's tennis won three straight Sun Belt Conference titles in 2005-07.


The Panthers didn't float through Saturday's coronation. They could have with an obese 233-point lead on second place Rice after Friday, which meant they'd win the title unless the CUSA required them to swim with anvils on their backs.

Instead, FIU kept putting the hammer down. More individual wins by the Swimmer of the Year, redshirt freshman Naomi Ruele; sophomore Kyna Periera; and senior Valeri Inghels; another diving win by sophomore Rebecca Quesnel, giving her two of the three diving titles after a concussion kept her out of the 2015 meet; and a climactic crushing relay win, this one in the 400 freestyle relay that FIU won by 4.5 seconds.

That's right, 4.5 seconds. That's a rout and a wrap -- by 311.5 points over Marshall and 318 over Rice, which came in as the favorite if you went by national ranking.

You bully like that, you take home all the hardware. Ruele, at the meet last year recording video via iPod after a shoulder injury caused her to be redshirted, won Swimmer of the Year. Quesnel won her first Diver of the Year award. Diving Coach of the Year went to Rio Ramirez. Randy Horner got his second consecutive Coach of the Year honor.

Horner said when he did the pre-meet handicapping, comparing times, "It looked like a dead heat between Rice and us. They looked stronger in the swimming and, with the diving (Rice doesn't dive), it equaled out. I've never seen a team light it up the way they did for three and a half days without one slip up along the line."

FIU did swim a near perfect meet. Saturday, Periera took 4.27 seconds off Sonia Perez Arau's FIU record set at the 2014 CUSA meet in winning the 1650 freestyle in 16:24.36. Freshmen Oceane Peretti (17:04.41) and Ilari Manzella chipped in another 20 points from eighth and ninth, respectively. Sophomore Skye Carey (1:58.95) and senior Becky Wilde (2:00.23) contributed a fifth and sixth in the 200 backstroke.

There have been three sub-50 second 100 freestyle races in FIU history -- Ruele in the Saturday prelims (49.30) and Ruele and sophomore Letizia Bertelli (49.89) in the final as they came in first and second. Both knocked Johanna Gustafsdottir's 50.01 from the 2014 CUSA meet down to third. Jenny Alfani came in eighth in 51.79.

When Horner mentioned "a lot of stepping up from swimmers who hadn't done it before or in previous seasons," one swimmer he had in mind was sophomore Chase Harris. A hand injury sidelined Jessica Chadwick for much of the season, necessitating Harris fill Chadwick's role as in the breaststroke and individual medley races. Saturday, Harris' 2:16.01 got her on the podium for the 200 breast in third. Also scoring for FIU were freshman Nicole Hunnewell (eighth, 2:21.19) and Peretti (16th, 2:23.02).  

FIU's butterfly queen, Inghels, crushed the field in the 200 fly, winning by 2.78 seconds in 1:58.49. Junior Jenny Deist's 2:02.34 was good enough for seventh. Sophomore Maria Lopez's 2:05.47 put her in 11th. Quesnel won the platform diving the same way FIU seemed to be winning everything -- by ridiculous blowout -- when her 299.80 in the platform diving left Marshall's Megan Wolons 57.45 points to the rear. Laura Coronado (221.95, third) and Natalia Coronado (216.90, fourth) and Lily Kaufmann (203.55, seventh) gave FIU half the top eight.

All that remained was the final relay, the 400 free relay. Last year's acted as metaphor for the upward sweep of FIU's program when Johanna Gustafsdottir, FIU's most college-decorated swimmer, motored through an anchor leg that deserved those overused words "amazing" and "awesome" to bring the Panthers from significantly back to winning comfortably.

This year's relay acted as metaphor for the way FIU bestrode its competition this meet. Bertelli gave a 15 hundredths of a second lead to freshman Mauri Lauridsen. Lauridsen's 49.95, the second fastest leg swam in the entire race, presented Periera with a 1.33 second lead. Periera turned a 2.31 second lead to Ruele. Ruele slammed down the fastest leg in the race, a 49.14 to finish the whole thing in 3:20.10, a whopping 4.5 seconds up on Old Dominion.

"This was actually more rewarding," Horner said. "To repeat, it's a validation of last year. We had no room for error and we dominated from Day 1."

Oh, and this year, instead of walking or biking to practice at Tamiami's pool, they had to schlep to Gulliver Prep or wherever they could to practice. Tamiami's renovation took a Miami longer than the two months originally stated. FIU didn't get back into Tamiami until five days before leaving for the conference meet. Similarly, the divers turned nomads when the University of Miami pool they usually use for practice went under repairs.

FIU lost significant swimmers that helped build the program, such as Gustafsdottir, Klara Andersson and Jean Madison, as well as last year's freshman ace, Silvia Scalia. Still, while they didn't defeat all in the dual meets as they did in 2015, they left everyone in the CUSA meet on the bad side of the wake.

That says FIU's good. This reign could last a long time.






February 26, 2016

FIU Wins Conference USA Swimming & Diving Title Friday; Will Be Crowned Saturday


FIU should walk into Saturday's final day of the Conference USA Swimming & Diving Championships one behind another, all doing the all-wrist, no-fingers royal wave to the crowd.

Because Saturday's now Coronation Day after defending champion FIU did to its 117-point lead what an Afro Sheen Blowout Kit did for Afro's in the 1970s --- blew it out to stupid big. A 233-point gap leaves second place Rice and everybody else swimming for personal gain.

Which, also, is what's left for FIU.

"Obviously, one of our goals is to win it," FIU coach Randy Horner said. "We told them at dinner tonight, 'You've done what you had to do to secure a title. Now, go out and achieve individual goals and and personal bests.' It kind of takes the pressure off and they can swim more freely."

FIU's water women took three individual swimming events, the 100 backstroke (freshman Naomi Ruele), 100 butterfly (senior Valeri Inghels leading a podium sweep plus fifth) and 200 freestyle (sophmore Kyna Pereira leading a 1-2); the lone diving event, the 1-meter (sophomore Rebecca Quesnel); and, again, the relay of the day, the 400 Medley (Ruele, sophomore Chase Harris, Inghels, Periera).

There's no special teams in swimming. That's (Arnold Schwarzenegger voice) "Total domination."

Rice's best chance to close the gap on FIU came in Friday night's first event, the 400 individual medley. And while Rice picked up 50 points and took second, fourth and sixth, FIU freshman Ilari Manzella (4:18.90), senior Becky Wilde (4:22.60) and sophomore Chase Harris (4:25.73) neutralized the Rice effort with a third, fifth and 10th for 37 points.

After that glancing blow, FIU landed the Sonny Liston left in the 100 fly. Inghels reset her FIU record from Friday morning a little lower with a 53.47. The rest of the podium spots went to FIU freshman Mari Lauridsen (53.72) and sophomore Letizia Bertelli (54.13). Junior Jenny Deist's fifth (54.69), sophomore Ally Mayhew's ninth (55.58) and sophomore Maria Lopez's 12th (56.54) completed an 83-point event for FIU.

The 200 free follow up shot saw Periera break Johanna Gustafsdottir's FIU record of 1:46.90, set at this meet two years ago with a 1:46.46. Skye Carey's 1:47.83 brought her home in second. Senior Jessica Piper's seventh in 1:50.96 gave FIU 51 points to Rice's 31 and expanded the lead to 191 over Marshall and 195 over Rice.

Rice could cut the gap only to 176 points in the 100 breast. FIU's only swimmer in the top flight, sophomore Chase Harris, got home fifth in 1:02.97, but a 10th and 15th freshman Nicole Hunnewell (1:04.31) and junior Jessica Chadwick (1:05.32) kept the blowout rolling.

Rice doesn't dive. FIU does. Well. Quesnel's been the Stirling Moss of Conference USA diving over the last two years, the best diver without a conference title. Until Friday, when she took the 1-meter with junior Lily Kaufmann third, Natalia Coronado 11th and Laura Coronado 12th.

Ruele continued her bid for CUSA Swimmer of the Year in the 100 back, winning in 53.09. Junior Jenny Alfani, fourth in 54.04, and sophomore Ally Mayhew, eighth in 56.21.

Horner felt the 400 Medley Relay would be the toughest for FIU and the Panthers did trail Rice by 1.62 seconds after two legs. Inghels chopped that down to 36 hundredths of a second with a 52.75 breaststroke leg, then left it to Pereira's free. FIU's ace sophomore smoked Rice's ace sophomore, Jaecey Parham, by 1.05 seconds in 49.80 and FIU won by 69 hundredths of a second in 3:39.66.

Saturday starts with the 200 back prelims at 10:30. Let the coronation begin.

A little ditty I've sung in many a press box with many a peer when the sporting event being covered is over before it's officially over.







Friday Morning Happy Hour for FIU Swim & Dive


 Friday -- Softball vs. Siena, 4:30 p.m.

Friday -- Softball vs. Central Connecticut State, 7 p.m.

Friday -- Baseball vs. Seton Hall, 6:30

Saturday -- Softball vs. Central Connecticut State, 4 p.m.

Saturday -- Softball vs. Deleware, 6:30 p.m.

Saturday -- Baseball vs. Seton Hall, 6:30

Saturday -- Women's Basketball vs. Florida Atlantic, 7 p.m. 

Sunday -- Baseball vs. Seton Hall, 1 p.m.

Sunday -- Softball vs. Siena, 12:30 p.m.

Before we get to the destruction FIU's water women wrought in the pool Friday morning, let's talk tearing it up in the classroom. Senior Valeri Inghels, junior Lily Kaufmann and sophomore Rebecca Quesnel made the 2016 Conference USA All-Academic Swimming & Diving team, as announced Friday afternoon. You need a 3.2 GPA and be an integral part of your team.

Inghels, who won the 500 freestyle Thursday at the CUSA Swimming & Diving Championships, has a 3.89 GPA as a communications arts major. Kaufmann, who led FIU in diving at last year's meet in Quesnel's absence and finished third in the 3-meter Thursday, is a psychology major with a 3.71 GPA. Quesnel, the dominant CUSA regular season diver the last two years, has a 3.78 and studies criminal justice.

Now, then. About that pool...

The clock is ticking on Rice and Marshall at the Conference USA Swimming & Diving Championships because FIU keeps beating Rice, Marshall, the clock and anybody else showing up at the McAuley Aquatic Center in Atlanta.

FIU did exactly what it needed to do Friday morning as owner's of a 117-point lead on Marshall and 136 on Rice after Day 2: prevent blowouts in their weaker events, set up blowouts in the stronger ones. And without some DQs or drownings, the Panthers could realistically clinch a repeat as Conference USA Champions tonight.

The 400 individual medley is where Rice and Marshall stood the best chance of chopping into FIU's lead. And the two chasing teams did put three each in the top eight, led by Rice sophomore Kaitly Swinney's 4:20.43. But FIU freshman Ilari Manzella (4:20.95, second best behind Swinney) and senior Becky Wilde also got past the rope into the top eight club. FIU's Chase Harris (4:31.37) is in the second eight with two Rice swimmers and one Marshall swimmer. Points bomb defused.

On the other hand, FIU pulled the pins on the grenades in the 100 butterfly and 200 free. Both Inghels (53.69) and freshman Mari Lauridsen (53.76) broke Inghels' school record of 53.88 while sophomore Letizia Bertelli's personal best 54.10 completed a sweep of the top three prelim times. Junior Jenny Deist (54.78) gave FIU half the top eight. Rice and Marshall each have two swimmers in that final.

But in the 200 free, Marshall has zero, Rice has two and FIU's got the top three ("hee-hee!"*): sophomore Kyna Periera (1:49.01), sophomore Skye Carey (1:49.38), senior Jessica Piper (1:49.61).

Those are the same team breakdowns for the 100 backstroke top eight, where FIU freshman Naomi Ruele's 53.90 was the second fastest Friday morning behind North Texas freshman Rebeka Bradley's 53.13. Junior Jenny Alfani (53.94) and sophomore Ally Mayhew (56.47) allow FIU to outflank Rice in the top flight. Rice has three swimmers in the second eight. The 100 breaststroke could see a similar points stalemate or close enough for FIU's purposes. Sophomore Chase Harris' 1:03.83 made the top flight, a team bouillabaisse with two parts Rice, two parts North Texas, two parts Old Dominion, one part FIU, one part FAU and no parts Marshall. Freshman Nicole Hunnewell -- Coral Reef High in the house! -- and senior Jessica Chadwick got into the second eight by swimming 1:04.82 and 1:05.91, respectively.

And, even if all this evens out, the 1-meter diving will push FIU farther into the lead on Rice and generally stalemate with Marshall. Quesnel had the top score with Kaufmann sixth, and The Coronado Twins 10th (Natalia) and 11th (Laura).

A good Friday night by FIU won't leave much room for resurrection by Rice or Marshall on Saturday.

*Stolen from Peter Sellers in the original Casino Royale movie, which was, essentially, an Austin Powers movie done during the era of James Bond flicks the Austin Powers movies parodied 30 years later.

February 25, 2016

Swim & Dive Going '73 Belmont on CUSA; Ruele Sets Meet Record; Track Stuff


With two days left in the Conference USA Swimming & Diving meet, FIU's threatening to turn it into one day for competition, one day for coronation.

A meet record by freshman Naomi Ruele in the 50 freestyle. Another blowout relay win giving FIU the natural hat trick in this meet's relays so far. Somewhere in the great beyond, Secretariat's turning to Man o' War with "You watching this, big black? Dag..."

FIU's 339 points puts them 117 up on second place Marshall and 136 up on third place Rice. Or, talking different math language, FIU has compiled 52.7 percent more points than its closest competitor. Without some serious closing by Rice or Marshall on Friday's third day, what they call in golf Moving Day, FIU can take Saturday as a long parade lap to its second consecutive coronation as queens of the Conference USA pool.

The Thursday rampage started with an FIU quinella, sophomore Kyna Pereira (4:45.62) and freshman Ilari Manzella (4:48.22), in the 500 free with sophomore Skye Carey (4:53.88) getting fifth after being eighth in the prelims. Rice answered by dominating the 200 individual medley, led by Jaecey Parham's 2:00.25. But while Rice took first, fourth, sixth and seventh, the fifth and eighth by FIU seniors Becky Wilde (2:02.80) and Jessica Piper (2:03.71) as well as the 13th by senior Valeri Inghels (2:05.31) ahead of Rice's Carly Pratt kept the destruction from being Hurricane Andrew-on-Countrywalk.

"Becky Wilde, Jessica Piper and Val Inghels are going an exceptional job of showing leadership right now, as far as showing how we want things done, setting the culture," Horner said. "Becky Wilde's performance in the 200 IM was a personal best in her senior year.  A lot of times, swimmers get in that senior stretch, see the end coming and let up."

Still, Rice took a 12-point lead on FIU.

Briefly. Very briefly. Like only long enough for the 50 free finals, a podium sweep for FIU. Ruele's 22.23 broke the Conference USA record of 22.33 she had shared with SMU's Isabella Arcila since the morning prelims. Sophomore Letizia Bertelli and junior Jenny Deist came in with times good enough for NCAA B consideration, 22.82 and 22.88. Dead heating for fifth were junior Jenny Alfani and freshman Mari Lauridsen in 23.02. Ally Mayhew chipped in a 10th (23.35) to more than outweigh Rice's single point from 16th place Shelly Patton.

"We knew we have a good group of sprinters," Horner said. "We thought it was possible to put six in the top eight, but that's tough because other teams have good swimmers and you also start knocking out your own people. We were hoping for four. We thought that was an event we could deliver a big blow."

FIU sophomore Rebecca Quesnel (307.3) and junior Lily Kaufmann (288.2) came in second and third behind Marshall's Megan Wolons (316.7) in the 3-meter diving. Sophomore Laura Coronado (259.70) and twin sister Natalia Coronado (217.70) brought home sixth and 11th place points to make the event an overall win for FIU over Marshall (Rice doesn't dive. Apparently, this year, the Texas Owlwomen don't sprint, either.)

That domination of the 50 free made what happened in the 200 free relay as predictable as Hialeah corruption. Ruele, Bertelli, Alfani and Deist won by 3.75 seconds over Marshall in 1:30.70, beating the school record of 1:31.72 set at the 2015 CUSA meet by Alfani, Bertelli, Karin Tomeckova and Deist.

Just as in modern football, it's about creating big plays for yourself and limiting the big plays by the other side, swim and track meets can be about landing big shots as FIU did in the 50 free and turning the competition's big shots into glancing blows, as FIU did to Rice in the 200 IM.

I asked Horner what Friday's equivalent of Thursday's 200 IM would be. He picked the 400 IM, which would have Manzella, Wilde and Chase Harris. He thinks FIU's next big shot could be in the 100 butterfly and the next relay, the 400 Medley Relay, could be the toughest relay fight with Rice, Marshall and North Texas all contenders.


How close did junior Alton Eliphar come to winning an individual title in the men's 60 meters at the CUSA Indoor Track & Field Championships Thursday? Ready? Set? Blink!

You took too long.

Eliphar finished a mere one hundredth of a second -- .01 of a second, that is -- behind Louisiana Tech's Jermey Hicks, 6.70 to 6.71, in the 60. That second, Luka Mustafic's second in the shot put (55 feet, 11 3/4 inches or 17.06 meters) and Chris Sullivan's third in the heptathlon accounted for 22 of the FIU men's 26 points. Sullivan won the 1000 meters in the heptathlon on the way to 4,856 points. 

A pair of thirds highlighted the women's effort. Senior Cam'ree Jackson's 7.49 got her 60 meters down the track in third and freshman Clarissa Cutliff's 5-7 in the high jump did the same.


The Pool Remains Blue (& Gold) Thursday Morning as Ruele Ties Meet Record

When it comes to winning long races, big meets and the heart of your Desired, you've got to get yourself in position to be in position. FIU walked into Thursday morning with a 14-point lead over Marshall and Rice at the Conference USA Women's Swimming & Diving meet. After Thursday morning's preliminaries, FIU's might walk out of Georgia Tech's McAuley Athletics Center after Thursday night's finals in position to end the competitive phase of the meet Friday.

That's a long way away, but a distance that gets shorter each time FIU packs the top flight of a final.

FIU freshmen Naomi Ruele and Ilari Manzella led Panthers domination of the 50 freestyle and 500 free, respectively. While Ruele's 22.33 tied the meet record set by SMU's Isabella Arcila in 2013 and broke her own FIU record of 22.73, sophomore Letizia Bertelli (23.03), juniors Jenny Alfani (23.08) and Jenny Deist (23.09) came in second, fourth and fifth. Freshman Mauri Laudrisen (23.21) gave FIU five of the eight finalists. Marshall has two. North Texas has one. Do the math and you'll see Rice, the meet favorite if you went by national rankings, has none.

Manzella (4:49.80) and sophomore Kyna Periera (4:50.01) came in first and second in the 500 prelim. Sophomore Skye Carey (4:57.07) makes three FIU finalists. Rice has two. Marshall has one.

Rice did put four finalists to FIU's two in the 200 individual medley, including top qualifier Jaecey Parham (2:00.41). FIU seniors Becky Wilde (2:03.77) and Jessica Piper (2:04.19) just have to stem the damage, especially with the 3-meter diving being this evening also.



February 24, 2016

Blue on the Diamond, Gold in the Water

The baseball team's Wednesday afternoon playdate with Missouri, ranked in some preseason polls, didn't go as well as their dinner plans with St. Thomas did Tuesday night. But FIU's best program and other 2015 Conference USA champions made up for it Wednesday night.

As the Conference USA Swimming & Diving Championships opened Wednesday, FIU let the rest of the conference know the title isn't up for grabs -- it must be taken from the Panthers or it's coming back to Camp Mitch. FIU swept the first day's two events, the 200 Medley Relay and the 800 Free Relay, to take a 14-point lead into Thursday against Rice and Marshall.

Here's what should worry Rice and Marshall and give FIU that first bite of Ben & Jerry's feeling: last year, FIU started slowly in the relays.

This year, freshman Naomi Ruele, sophomores Chase Harris and Letizia Bertelli and junior Jenny Deist took the 200 Medley Relay in 1:40.60, 61 hundredths of a second over Marshall which beat Rice by a blink (three hundredths of a second) for second. Bertelli's 23.77 butterfly leg took FIU from fifth to first and Deist's 22.66 freestyle anchor leg brought home the win and a school record, beating the 1:41.78 at last year's conference meet by Silvia Scalia, Klara Andersson, Bertelli and Deist.

The 800 free relay gave everybody else the wake view from sophomore Skye Carey's 1:48.08 opening leg through senior Jessica Piper's 1:49.03, senior Becky Wilde's 1:48.38 and sophomore Kyna Pereira's 1:47.43 anchor leg. The 7:12.92 provided a 4.9-second victory over Rice and was the second fastest in FIU history behind Johanna Gustafsdottir, Sonia Perez, Dani Albright and Marina Ribi at the 2013 Sun Belt Conference meet.

After Missouri slapped around starter Cody Crouse, the baseball team rallied from a 7-1 deficit to 7-6 and had Kolby Follis on third with no outs in the eighth. The inning died with Follis on third, just as the ninth did with a runner on second. Baseball fell to 1-4 going into this weekend's series with Seton Hall. 



February 23, 2016

Past, Present & Future


Tuesday -- Baseball vs. St. Thomas, 6:30 p.m.

Tuesday -- Baseball vs. Missouri, 3 p.m.

Thursday -- Softball vs. Central Connecticut State, 7 p.m.

Friday -- Softball vs. Siena, 4:30 p.m.

Friday -- Softball vs. Central Connecticut State, 7 p.m.

Friday -- Baseball vs. Seton Hall, 6:30

Saturday -- Softball vs. Central Connecticut State, 4 p.m.

Saturday -- Softball vs. Deleware, 6:30 p.m.

Saturday -- Baseball vs. Seton Hall, 6:30

Sunday -- Baseball vs. Seton Hall, 1 p.m.

Sunday -- Softball vs. Siena, 12:30 p.m.

So, last weekend, men's basketball and baseball went 0 for 5 while softball (8-2) went 4 for 5.

Granted, baseball played Ole Miss, ranked in some polls, receiving votes in others. What's men's basketball's excuse for refunding a game to North Texas, then getting treated by Rice the way teenage George Foreman used to treat other Houston kids before somebody put boxing gloves on his hands?

Men's hoop gets the week off to practice before Saturday's run up the Glades Road exit to FAU. Baseball gets to build its confidence on St. Thomas during Tuesday's home opener. 


FIU goes into this week's Conference USA meet ranked second to Rice in CUSA according to CollegeSwimming.com. Expect FIU to crush all 'round in diving, led by sophomore Rebecca Quesnel. But it'll be swimming depth that decides the meet. 


The Conference USA meet, in Birmingham, 'Bama, starts Wednesday. FIU fans can binge watch Better Call Saul until 11 a.m. Thursday, the start time for the men's shot put and women's high jump. FIU's got the No. 3 seed in each. Freshman Clarissa Cutliff's 5-8 3/4 and two other jumpers are 1 3/4 inches under top seed Middle Tennessee State's Barbara Vilson's 5-10 1/2. Senior Luka Mustafic's school record set last year of 59-1/2 is about halfway between his best this year, 56-2 1/2, and the 61-8 1/4 best from Western Kentucky's Nick Demaline.

While all this is going on, junior Alton Eliphar (200 meters) and senior Cam'ree Jackson (60 meters) could be contending in their events.



February 08, 2016

Future Watch


Thursday -- Men's Basketball vs. UTEP, 7 p.m.

Friday -- Softball vs. Florida State, 7 p.m.

Saturday -- Softball vs. St. John's, 5:30 p.m.

Saturday -- Men's Basketball vs. UTSA, 7 p.m.

Saturday -- Softball vs. Illinois, 7:30 p.m.

Sunday -- Softball vs. LIU-Brooklyn, 1 p.m.

Sunday -- Softball vs. Valparaiso, 3:30 p.m.

The Futures market sells big in FIU Athletics these days.

Make no mistake, it always has. Talk of what could be, should be, will be (maybe) always seems to draw more interest at FIU than what is. Maybe it's just I'm noticing this confluence this year.

Softball starts this Friday at home. Baseball begins a week from Friday at Ole Miss. Sand Volleyball will start soon after finishing last season ranked No. 4 in the American Volleyball Coaches Association poll. And, of course, we just had Signing Day with the football coaching staff likely looking at a Pack For a Bowl or Pack Up the Office season.

Now, take men's basketball, 11-13 overall, 5-6 in Conference USA, zero for four in its last four. You knew the season had entered the "just get ready for the conference tournament" phase when when coach Anthony Evans exuded an almost sanguine air after the Jan. 30 men's basketball home loss to Old Dominion. FIU did some things well, not enough or as many as Old Dominion and took a four-point loss. They're still trying to gain the cohesion and consistency of a team, which is where they seem to be at this point every year. Even in Evans' third year, there's still a chop shop quality to the roster -- this part from a Hialeah body shop, this piece from Sanford & Son's area, these pieces driven down from Tallahassee. There's not wholesale roster changes, but enough key players change each year that FIU seems perpetually trying to get past the dating stage.

The good news for the women's basketball team (3-19, 1-10)? Everybody makes the conference tournament. The bad news? FIU has to play with this year's team instead of next year's. This year's Panthers show about 72 times more pluck than they did last year. They're still tax refund light on talent and focus. Nobody's looked forward to next year like this since the Brooklyn Dodgers ("Wait 'til next year!") or 1960s Dallas Cowboys (Next Year's Champions).

Here's what FIU gains next year: a pair of three-star freshman forwards, 6-1 Sydney Fields from Lilburn (Ga.) Parkview and 6-2 Jamesia Amand from Dallas Skyline; three-star 5-7 point guard Alexis Gordon from Palm Bay Covenant Christian; point guard Kayla Rogers, who runs the show for Jacksonville Ribault, which has been nationally ranked this year; and 6-4 transfer Erin Garner, a former three-star recruit who transferred from Georgia Tech. Oh, and last year's CUSA Freshman of the Year, 6-1 forward Kiandre'a Pound, will be back from spending a redshirt season becoming a mommy.

Swim & Dive just finished its dual meet season at 8-5 by beating FAU 115-71 and the defending Conference USA champions enter conference meet prep. With the variation how much stress some programs put on earlier season meets, checking out top conference times can be like looking at a Kandinsky -- looks wonderful, but you might not be seeing what you think you're seeing. Still, FIU's got one of the top two CUSA times this year in the 50 freestyle, 100 free, 200 free, 500 free, 1000 free, 1,650 free (sophomores Kyna Periera and Naomi Ruele, take a bow); 100 back (Ruele), 400 free relay, 800 free relay, 400 medley relay; and sophomore Rebecca Quesnel could sweep the three diving competitions.

But FIU's owned the best individuals at conference meets before and been left to celebrate them while finishing from here to Hollywood from the team title. That changed in 2015 with FIU's depth burying second place Rice. The challenge is to repeat that feat Feb. 24-27 in Atlanta.


February 02, 2016

Quesnel Gets Another CUSA Diver of the Week Award

Sophomore Rebecca Quesnel's 1-meter dive scoring 286.65 and her 3-meter dive scoring 285.5 each qualified her for the NCAA Zone Championships. They were also enough for Quesnel to be named Conference USA Diver of the Week for the fifth time this season and fourth consecutive time the honor has been bestowed.

January 27, 2016

January 26, 2016

Periera Gets CUSA Swimmer of the Week (again)

FIU, ranked No. 20 among mid-majors by CollegeSwimming.com, got dusted by No. 29 Florida Gulf Coast 141-64 on Saturday. But sophomore Kyna Periera won the 500 freestyle (5:03.14) and 1000 freestyle (10:10.83), extending her winning streak in the 1000 free to five races.

For this Periera was named Conference USA Swimmer of the Week for the second time in the last three weeks and fourth time this season.

January 12, 2016

Water Women Sweep CUSA Weekly Honors (Again)


Men's basketball -- Thursday vs. Louisiana Tech, 7 p.m.

Men's basketball -- Saturday vs. Southern Mississippi, 7 p.m.

In Friday's three-way meet with No. 19 North Carolina State and Kansas, FIU sophomore from South Africa Kyna Pereira won the 500 freestyle in 4:56.21. Periera, the school record holder in the 1000 free, also came in second in the 1650 free in 16:52.70. She swam the opening legs of three relays in Saturday's FIU relays, one of which the Panthers won.

For this, Periera was named Conference USA Swimmer of the Week for the third time this season.

Sophomore Rebecca Quesnel's just short of getting the Diver of the Week award named for her after four wins this season and six as a freshman. She won the 1-meter and 3-meter events Friday and Saturday, scoring a career-high 330.5 Friday in the 3-meter.


January 05, 2016

How Does FIU Compare to Its Conference USA Peers? (Part 1)

Curious about how FIU ranks among its Conference USA peers since moving from the Sun Belt Fun Belt in 2013, a curiosity prodded by several people inside and outside the athletic department asking the same thing, I did a little record hunting.

Now, obviously, the best answer to the above would be found by compiling the records of each CUSA school in each sport that FIU plays, weighting for things like missed conference tournaments, NCAA runs, conference tournament runs, individual brilliance (such as FIU's Meghan MacLaren tearing up the 2015 conference golf tournament). But all that would take up way too large a portion of whatever time I have left on this plane of existence. So, here's what I did:

I ranked the schools on overall and conference records since 2013 in football, men's basketball, women's basketball, baseball and then a wild card sport -- each school's best sport in which FIU also participates.

You play to win championships, so when ranking in conference play, the title winners eat first. When I assign point values later to determine an overall ranking, conference play will get greater weight. You get more credit for beating your peers than you do gorging on lesser punks.

I see the obvious flaws. With a relatively small sample size, one great or abysmal season can swing the results too hard in one direction. That's even more the case with schools that entered CUSA after the Great Sun Belt Migration of 2013 brought FIU, FAU, North Texas and Middle Tennessee State to the league. But, outside of Intelligent Benevolent Dictatorship, no perfect systems exist. 

Here's the rankings for each sport:


1. Marshall – 33-8, three bowl wins

2. Western Kentucky – 20-7, two bowl wins.

3. Rice – 23-16, two bowl appearances, one win.

4. Louisiana Tech – 22-17, two bowl wins.

5. Middle Tennessee State -- 21-17, two bowl appearances.

6. Old Dominion – 11-13

7. North Texas -- 14-23, won one bowl game.

8. UTEP – 14-23, one bowl appearance

9. UTSA – 14-22 (ranked behind UTEP and North Texas despite a smidge better record because UTEP’s extra loss came in a bowl game and North Texas’ extra game was a bowl win).

10. Southern Mississippi – 13-25, one bowl appearance

11. FAU – 12-24

12. UAB – 8-16 (loses tiebreaker with FAU on, you know, the program being dead, then revived to two-season coma).

13. FIU – 10-26

14. Charlotte – 2-10


1. Marshall -- 20-4, one conference title

2. Western Kentucky -- 12-4, one conference title.

3. Rice – 15-9, one conference title.

4. Middle Tennessee State – 17-7

5. Louisiana Tech -- 16-8

6. UTSA – 12-12

7. Old Dominion – 7-9

8. Southern Mississippi – 9-15 (gets the tiebreaker over UTEP, North Texas and FAU based on a Conference USA West Division title.)

9. UTEP 9-15 (gets the tiebreaker over North Texas and FAU on combined head-to-head record)

10. North Texas -- 9-15 (head-to-head tiebreaker over FAU)

11. FAU -- 9-15

12. UAB – 5-11

13. FIU – 7-17

14. Charlotte – 0-8


1. Louisiana Tech – 68-19

2. UTEP – 55-27

3. Old Dominion – 53-32

4. Middle Tennessee State -- 51-31

5. UAB – 49-32

6. Western Kentucky -- 28-18

7. FIU – 38-40

8. North Texas 36-42

9. Charlotte – 17-28

10. Marshall – 27-52

11. UTSA – 25-50

12. Rice – 24-53

13. FAU – 21-53

14. Southern Mississippi – 41-36 (placed down here for two years of self-imposed postseason bans after fundamental NCAA violations, such as completing homework assignments for recruits).


1. UAB -- 20-15, one Conference USA title

2. Louisiana Tech – 31-6

3. UTEP -- 27-9

4. Western Kentucky -- 12-7

5. Old Dominion – 23-12

6. Middle Tennessee State – 22-13

7. FIU – 16-19

8. North Texas -- 17-21

9. Charlotte – 7-12

10. UTSA -- 13-23

11. Marshall – 12-23

12. Rice – 10-26

13. FAU – 7-27

14. Southern Mississippi -- 17-18 (See above)


1. Western Kentucky – 40-7

2. Middle Tennessee State – 60-20

3. Southern Mississippi – 60-22

4. UTEP – 52-25

5. UAB – 41-33

6. Old Dominion – 44-37

7. FAU -- 38-34

8. Marshall – 38-37

9. Charlotte – 22-22

10. UTSA – 34-40

11. Louisiana Tech – 33-42

12. Rice – 24-49

13. North Texas -- 23-48

14. FIU -- 20-54


1. Western Kentucky – 17-2, one conference title

2. Middle Tennessee State 30-5, one conference title

3. Southern Mississippi -- 27-8

4. Old Dominion -- 21-14

5. UTEP – 21-15

6. Charlotte – 10-9

7. UAB – 18-17

8. Louisiana Tech – 15-20

9. UTSA -- 15-21

10. FAU -- 14-21

11. Marshall -- 11-24

12. Rice – 11-25

13. North Texas -- 11-25

14. FIU – 6-29


1. Rice – 79-42, one NCAA at-large bid

2. Southern Mississippi – 71-43-1

3. FAU – 70-44, one NCAA at-large bid

4. UAB – 68-46

5. UTSA – 68-51

6. FIU – 66-51

7. Old Dominion – 63-54

8. Middle Tennessee State – 63-54

9. Western Kentucky – 24-28

10. Louisiana Tech – 40-62

11. Marshall – 40-63

12. Charlotte – 38-60-1

North Texas & UTEP – No team


1. Rice -- 45-15, one conference title

2. FIU – 29-31, one conference title

3. Southern Mississippi – 38-21

4. Middle Tennesse State – 37-24

5. UAB -- 35-25

6. FAU -- 33-26

7. UTSA -- 33-28

8. Old Dominion – 30-30

9. Marshall -- 22-37

10. Charlotte -- 21-38

11. Western Kentucky – 10-19

12. Louisiana Tech – 13-46

North Texas & UTEP – No team


1. Western Kentucky – Volleyball. 62-10, 30-2 in conference, two conference tournament titles.

2. UTSA -- Men’s Track & Field. Two outdoor conference titles.

3. Charlotte -- Men’s Soccer. 37-16-7 overall, 16-5-4 in conference, one conference title, two other at-large NCAA tournament bids.

4. UTEP – Men’s Cross Country. One conference title, one conference runner-up (tell me I was the only one who thought the Miners won this every year).

5. Old Dominion -- Men’s Soccer. 32-18-5, 14-8-3, one conference title (a men's soccer championship is worth more than any other conference title because it's Conference USA’s best sport, by far).

6. FIU – Swimming & Diving. 22-3 in dual meets, one conference title (2015), one conference runner-up (2014).

7. Rice – Swimming & Diving. One conference title (2014), one conference runner-up (2015).

8. North Texas -- Women’s Soccer. 49-16-3 overall, 22-5-3 in conference, one conference tournament title.

9. Middle Tennessee State – Women’s Golf. One conference title.

10. UAB – Softball. 64-46 overall, 30-15 in conference, one NCAA at-large bid (gets close nod over FAU softball on incrementally better conference record).

11. FAU – Softball. 72-41-1, 31-16 in conference, one NCAA at-large bid.

12. Marshall -- Women’s soccer. 32-18-11, 14-9-7 in conference.

13. Southern Mississippi – Volleyball. 61-39 overall, 26-21 in conference.

14. Louisiana Tech -- Women’s soccer. 34-24-3 overall, 14-14-2 in conference.

As this is a multi-part post, the master of the multi-part hit...



Water Women Sweep CUSA Weekly Honors

Despite finishing second in the FIU Sprint Invite to Purdue (we'll pause so you can wash your mouth out after saying that word...all fresh now? Good.), FIU took both Conference USA's Swimmer of the Week and Diver of the Week awards.

Sophomore Skye Carey won the 50 backstroke in 26.93 and was third by a blink in the 100 back behind winner, teammate and fellow sophomore Naomi Ruele (58.15) with a 58.21. Carey also came in fifth in the 200 freestyle (1:53.10).

The diver is, of course, sophomore Rebecca Quensel, who won the 1-meter (283.90) and the 3-meter (290.15) events.

It's the start of a new calendar and FIU's best program is back on the blocks.


November 12, 2015

Pregame Friday

Roast pig. Free stuff. Games. Swimmers. Divers.

Aw, now you know it's serious at FIU when they bring out the swimming & diving team, the best team in FIU athletics. Is there any other campus that uses the water women or men to draw a crowd for football and basketball?

Friday's occasion, of course, is the season-opening basketball doubleheader for FIU women's and men's basketball, tipping off at 5 p.m. with the women's game against Florida A&M. The men's game versus Trinity Baptist is scheduled for 7 p.m., but that never holds. Bet more 7:20 p.m. 

But from 3-5 p.m., in front of FIU Arena, there's a tailgate with food, which I hear will include a roast pig (it'll already be roasted, so it won't be exactly like your uncle in the backyard). There will also be an autograph session with the last year's Conference USA champion swimming & diving team around 4 p.m. The women's hoops team will be signing autographs between games in the FIU Arena lobby.


November 10, 2015

Football Hits & Giggles; FIU Water Women Take Weekly Honors (Again)

You can "Next Man Up" it all you want. Few college teams pack the talent so there's not a "where's my Cialis?" performance dropoff from the injured guy to the next guy on the depth chart. Some schools wind up stacked at a certain position or do so by design while sacrificing at other positions. But from Alabama to Appalachian State, you take all-conference players away, you're taking a big step back at that position.

That's why my first question to Ron Turner each Tuesday concerns the medical report. Some guys' clearly won't be seeing the field again for a while, so I stop asking. But, then, sometimes, I don't update them here to let you know, essentially, they're still hurt.


Here's a broad injury update as FIU preps for Marshall.

Junior tight end Jonnu Smith -- FIU coach Ron Turner admitted Smith and his sprained knee are "in NFL terms, probably Doubtful" for the last two games of the season. Turner said Smith suffered the injury in the second quarter against Old Dominion. Smith's been working out separate from the team, never a good sign.

Senior tight end Ya'Keem Griner -- Out for the season, foot injury. Remember what I wrote about seeing "The Boot" in an Oct. 20 post? The Boot is bad. The Boot is evil. I'd rather see Rover than The Boot.


Redshirt sophomore linebacker Vontarius West -- Turner said he'd be fine. Some FIU birds said West's practice participation was limited.

Fifth-year senior running back Anthon Samuel -- Questionable for this week with his bum ankle.

Junior linebacker Treyvon Williams -- No longer on crutches, but I wouldn't expect to see him either of the final two games. His replacement, senior Jephete Matilus, gives good effort and actually played well for a guy with probably less than 60 minutes worth of college game snaps playing time at linebacker. But take Williams and sophomore linebacker Anthony Wint away from this defense and it's just not the same. 

Redshirt junior safety Jordan Davis -- Now on crutches. Knee injury. Done for the season.

Junior safety Wilkenson Myrtil -- Out for the season. Concussion.


Told you so. Though FIU's dual meet streak got broken by Illinois, don't blame sophomores Kyna Periera and Rebecca Quesnel.

Periera won the 200 freestyle, 500 free, 1,000 free and anchored the 200 medley and 400 free relays. Quesnel swept platform, 1-meter and 3-meter in the diving.

For this, as predicted, Periera was named Conference USA Swimmer of the Week for the second time this season. Quesnel shared her second Diver of the Week award of the year with Marshall's Megan Wolons. Quesnel won it six times as a freshman.

November 07, 2015

Gameday X: Quickie Afternoon Delight


Swimming & Diving -- Saturday vs. Illinois, 10:30 a.m.

Volleyball -- Sunday vs. North Texas, 1 p.m. (Senior Day)

Women's Basketball -- Friday vs. Florida A&M, 5 p.m.

Men's Basketball -- Friday vs. Trinity Baptist, 7 p.m.

Before we get to what FIU needs to do Saturday at La Cage against Charlotte, let's give a quick update on the two fall sports mentioned above.

The water women keep doing what they do, leading Illinois 100-85 after the first of a two-day dual meet. Sophomore Kyna Periera won the 500 freestyle, 200 free and anchored the winning 200 medley and 400 free relays. But FIU owes its lead in the meet to the 16-2 advantage in platform diving. Illinois entered only one diver and FIU Sophomore Rebecca Quesnel, junior Lily Kaufmann, Laura Coronado and Natalia Coronado all beat her.

That meet resumes at 10:30 a.m. or one hour, 15 minutes before cops bike around the FIU Stadium parking lots and politely tell the few tailgaters to pack it up.

Everybody around FIU in the fight to make the volleyball tournament turned into Johanna Gustafsdottir and backstroked Friday. The top eight teams get into the tournament, but only No. 22 Western Kentucky and UTSA had clinched spots doing into Friday. FIU was tied with FAU, but with the head-to-head tiebreaker.

The Panthers, 7-6 in conference, lost to Western. And FAU beat North Texas. But Marshall, sitting behind FIU, got swept by Southern Mississippi, which clinched a tournament spot. With a chance to pull even with eighth place Marshall, Middle Tennessee State stumbled over Charlotte.

So FIU's alone in seventh, one game behind Rice, North Texas and FAU, but a game and a half ahead of ninth place Middle and two games up on 10th place Charlotte.

The regular season ends at Charlotte next Saturday.

As to Charlotte and FIU on the football field this Saturday, FIU's favored by 18-19 points, depending on your oddsmaker. That's the largest since kicking off the 2012 home opener a 23-point favorite over Akron, which took FIU to overtime before losing 41-38. That's No. 2 behind "a loss" on the Last Thing FIU Needs list.

Charlotte's a third-year program in its first FBS season and playing like it. If FIU's the bowl team it believes itself to be, then the Panthers come out intense and focused Saturday to do one thing: get in, get out, hit it and quit it.

Do to Charlotte what they did to UTEP in the other noon game, and get the starters out as soon as you can. That's a common sense move late in the season anyway. Doubly so for a team with a whose injury report sounds longer than the Warren Commission Report. Triply so for a banged up team that's got to get a win from one of a hard final pair of regular season games for bowl eligibility.

(And I'm sure FIU would like to thank Conference USA for making the Panthers bye week the final week on the overall schedule. That's like having a driver switch in the 24 Hours of LeMans after the checkered flag.)

Get sophomore running back Alex Gardner out of the game the week after he played every snap. Get sophomore quarterback Alex McGough, who was the pinata last week with FAU a bunch of Coke-bottle baby five-year-olds with bats looking for their sugar. Get the linemen out. Get whoever's playing tight end out because they've been dropping like leaves up north.

UTEP allows 9.7 yards per pass attempt in conference games, second most behind Rice's 10.0. Charlotte allows 8.6. Translation: FIU should be able to hit Charlotte with similar big plays to that which they hit UTEP. Charlotte will try to run the ball, as UTEP did. Well, they'll try to run the ball as Middle and FAU did on the Panthers. The run defense needs to show up this week or Charlotte will have a chance to shorten this game. Or just keep FIU's starters involved longer.

FIU's got mountains to climb the next two weeks. They need to stomp on the molehill, not stumble over it.

FIU 45, Charlotte 13

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



October 20, 2015

Sweeping CUSA Swimmer & Diver of the Week

Told ya'.

Sophomore Kyna Periera's weekend, as perfect individually (8-0) as FIU's collectively (3-0 in Dual-A-Palooza), included Conference USA season-best times in the 1,000 freestyle (10:06.76) and 200 free (1:50.38). The 1,000 free time was 23 hundredths of a second off Periera's school record, set last January. For all this, she was named Conference USA Swimmer of the Week.

Sophomore diver Rebecca Quesnel won the 3 meter, 1 meter and finished second in platform. So she collected another CUSA Diver of the Week Award, her seventh.


October 17, 2015

Gameday VII: Stuck in the Middle with Blue; Saturday Swim Dual-a-Palooza moved


Today's last two FIU meets in Dual-A-Palooza, FIU vs. FAU at 10 a.m. and FIU vs. Hurricanes at 3 p.m., have been moved from the Biscayne Bay campus to Gulliver Prep, 6575 Kendall Drive, in the lovely suburb of Pinecrest.

Pool malfunction, says an FIU source. Will it be fixed by the next home meet, Nov. 6 and 7 vs. Illinois? "Hope so."

Anyway, when I talked to FIU swim & dive coach Randy Horner last week, he downplayed the significance of Friday's meet against Conference USA's second best swim team, Rice. Some of the events aren't regulation NCAA events, it's early in the season, etc.

Bet Horner still puts that 133-90 win against Rice, however, with the other feelgood wins on the shelf. On the FIU whole, that almost balances out women's soccer losing 1-0 in double overtime to Western Kentucky and volleyball losing in 3-2 (21-25, 25-21, 11-25, 25-17, 15-8) to Southern Mississippi.

Now, then...

Middle’s first two Conference USA seasons, the Blue Raiders averaged 240.1 rushing yards per conference game. Bunches of running backs coming into the game to steadily move the ball in 4 to 8-yard cracks. Now, with head coach Rick Stockstill's son, Brent, at quarterback, they throw it for over 300 yards per game, 307.2 to be exact over their first six games. The run game's getting only 3.5 yards per crack, 3.9 under my Real Rushing stat, which discounts quarterback sacks.

That's why Middle's thrown 10 more passes than they've run, 21 more subtracting sacks and kneeldowns. That's also why FIU's most worried about wide receivers Ed'Marques Batties, a fifth-year senior, and redshirt freshman Richie James, each of whom has 49 receptions. Expect a bubble screen bath from Middle and the usual Lawrence Welk Show of bubbles and 5-yard Stop-and-Pops from FIU, too. Safe passes, get elusive or strong players in space and see what happens.

If FIU uses 6-5 senior wide receiver Juwan Caesar, it would make sense to use his big body not only as a chain mover, but a people mover. Run the edges to his side, run bubble screens with him making the 3-or-30 block (the block that determines whether the play goes 3 yards or 30 yards). When FIU’s run bubbles using sophomore wide receiver Dennis Turner or sophomore Thomas Owens as the blocker, you can see the play’s potential right before the block gets shed and the receiver upended. 

Middle’s defensive backs didn’t look good against Western. Yeah, I know, Western could make the Seahawks secondary look confused and pregnant. But tackling’s tackling. Or, rather, not tackling is not tackling, in the case of Middle. That's a problem when if you have to deal with El Dorados with acceleration like tight end Jonnu Smith, Ya'Keem Griner, Caesar and Thomas Owens.


As far as the defense Middle runs, FIU coach Ron Turner said, "Very similar to ours -- 4-3, quarters coverage, like a lot of people. They're fairly basic on first and second down, as most people are. But they've got a very good third down package that schematically presents a problem."

Middle's picked off 10 passes this season already. Could be some jumpy defensive backs, especially if they start to think they can time FIU's Stop-and-Pops. With some patience and time, quarterback Alex McGough could find himself with some receivers running relaxed through the secondary like a cigarette ad couple strolling by a country pond.


For what it's worth, this game’s at 11 a.m. Murfreesboro time. Middle looked sleepy for its 11 a.m. start against Western Kentucky last week. FIU had UTEP down for an afternoon nap by noon. Temperatures should be a little nippy for FIU, low 60s, but good football weather.

Both teams, on both sides of the ball, do their job in the red zone partially because both defend the run better than the pass. Both teams also have shown vulnerability to the big play. And I think we'll get several of those. As noted in today's advance story, things tend to get weird when FIU and Middle get together.

Middle's at home. Alabama, Vandy, Illinois and Western in-conference might make the Blue Boy Group a little more competition tempered than FIU. 

Middle Tennessee State 30, FIU 24.

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


October 13, 2015

Swimmer Gets CUSA Love; Tuesday Afternoon Football, Not Moody, No Blues


Swimming & Diving -- Friday vs. Rice, 4 p.m.

Swimming & Diving -- Saturday vs. FAU, 10 a.m.

Swimming & Diving -- Saturday vs. University of Miami, 4 p.m.

Men's Soccer -- Saturday vs. Old Dominion, 7 p.m.

Against North Florida last week, senior Jessica Chadwick won the 100 backstroke in 1:05.91, the 200 breaststorke in 2:22.63 and 200 individual medley in 2:07.85. That earned Chadwick her first Conference USA Swimmer of the Week award.


Not much to report other than the medical.

Of the three players who went down in the second half Saturday, freshman defensive end Fermin Silva looks the worst. He was on crutches Tuesday. FIU coach Ron Turner called him "questionable" for this week. Two redshirt freshmen, offensive lineman Chris Miller and defensive lineman Anthony Johnson, were in the Home Depot-colored injury jerseys, but in pads as were sophomore wide receiver Dennis Turner and senior tight end Ya'Keem Griner.

I wouldn't look for junior middle linebacker Treyvon Williams back any time soon. He still had his crutches. Redshirt junior safety Jordan Davis wasn't in pads. 

One of those sporting coincidences that FIU ran an old-fashioned option like you used to see out of an I-formation Saturday afternoon and Florida State did the same several hours later for the first time this season. FIU's wound up a 2-yard gain by quarterback Alex McGough. FSU's wound up a 72-yard touchdown by running back Dalvin Cook when Hurricanes defender Dion Bush blew his assignment to stay with the pitch man.

I thought it was the first time I saw FIU run that kind of option this season. 

"We've been running some of it off other action. We've had it in game plans before. totally their defense dictated that. And we didn't execute it very well -- Alex should've pitched it," Turner laughed. "It looked like we just put it in that week. We didn't."

Seeing those option runs caused a Fireman's Fund Flashback...




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