Let's take a stock market-like look at how the Panthers have done three games into the season.
BUY THE STOCK
DEFENSIVE FRONT SEVEN
Overall, the FIU D has looked much better than last season, but it has been the play of the front seven that has been the catalyst for the overall D's success thus far.
Take a look at some of the numbers between 2009 and 2010 where the D front seven is involved:
Tackles for Loss: FIU is currently No. 20 in the nation in this category. Last season, the Panthers had 76 total TFLs and through three games in 2010 FIU has 23 TFLs, which sets FIU on pace for 92 TFLs this season. An active Anthony Gaitor (right, thanks Sam Lewis photo) leads FIU with 3.5 TFLs and Little Canada and Greg Hickman are second with 3 TFLs each.
Sacks: FIU recorded just 20 sacks last season. In 2010, FIU (No. 34 in the nation) has already eight sacks and is on pace for 32 sacks this season. Hickman and Jarvis Wilson each have two sacks to lead the team.
One other reason for FIU's proficiency thus far on D has been the Panthers prowess on 1st and 3rd downs.
FIU is currently the No. 13 ranked D in the nation when it comes to 1st down defense. Even better has been FIU's 3rd down D. The Panthers are ranked No. 1 in the nation in 3rd down D allowing opposing offenses to convert just 20 percent of the time. In 2009, opponents converted 3rd downs on FIU 42 percent of time placing the Panthers near the bottom of Division I football.
Overall, FIU is No. 45 in total D so far. Last year, the Panthers finished No. 119 out of 120 teams in total D.
The result of the added pressure FIU D's has placed on opposing offenses has in turn helped the Panthers pass D.
FIU's pass D is currently No. 41 in the nation and has already picked off five passes -- which would give them 20 over the course of the season. The Panthers had 10 interceptions all of last season.
Despite their game last week at Maryland, there is no doubt new DC Geoff Collins's schemes have had an instant impact. Now the key is for the Panthers D to keep playing this way throughout 2010, especially when Sun Belt play begins Oct. 9 at home against Western Kentucky.
Did you know the FIU record for least sacks allowed occurred in the 2004 season when the Panthers went 3-7?
The Panthers O-line that season of John Shanahan, Ed Wenger, Victor Cernius, Ronny Silva and Tim Dierks allowed just nine sacks all year.
This season, FIU has a somewhat seasoned offensive front with seniors Brad Serini (left, thanks SL photo) and Cedric Mack among the upperclassmen. Thus far it has showed as the unit has allowed just one sack. That has FIU ranked No. 10 in the nation. Quarterback Wesley Carroll has helped with his ability to dodge would-be-tacklers, but again don't discount the play of the O-line.
Holding is never a good thing for an O-line and that's what you do with this O-line's stock when it comes to the FIU running game. You can't sell it yet, because we have to see what FIU's run game does against the Sun Belt. The Panthers are averaging 3.5 yards per carry and 133 rushing yards per game -- both numbers could be better.
HOLD THE STOCK
It's been two-and-a-half games now and WC and the FIU receivers are still getting used to each other. That should come along as the season progresses.
We have seen glimpses this season of how potent the passing game can be. WC hitting Greg Ellingson in stride vs. Rutgers and the TD vs. Maryland. Goodbye (far right with GE, thanks SL photo) leads the team with 16 catches, but has yet to have that breakout game in 2010. Wayne Times is also going to help the team after a solid freshman campaign.
A couple of receivers that we could expect to contribute this season are freshmen Willis Wright and Glenn Coleman. Both are still trying to grasp the offense, but are drawing closer each week to playing more. WW was in on eight plays vs. the Terps and should see more action.
Once WC gets the ball to these guys on a consistent basis, get out of the way and let them do their thing.
SELL THE STOCK
You want no part of this stock and unfortunately FIU has had enough of this yellow penny stock through three games.
The Panthers are No. 119 out of 120 teams when it comes to penalties per game. FIU is averaging 10.33 penalties per game. Only Troy (10.75 yellow hankies per game) has left more laundry on the field.
In contrast, FIU's first three foes have averaged 5.33 penalties per game. Through three games the Panthers have 31 flags for 267 yards.
Knowing how the coaching staff pays attention to detail, you can expect more disciplined and smarter play from the Panthers in 2010.
FIUJM: Pete, be honest, how was S Bar experience? Good food and service? And can they handle the passion 112 brings to any party?
PP: The S Bar for an FIU watch party was a good experience. The food, especially the wings were solid. The waiters and waitresses were consistently going around if you needed anything. Hell, they even have a valet in the bathroom. My only complaint was that the DJ has to shut down the music when the football game is playing. There were several times during the FIU/Maryland game telecast that the DJ kept playing the music. When the game is on people want to hear the ESPN announcers call the game.
Quijote: Soul Plane" is Pete Pelegrin's favorite movie. He has a promotional poster signed by the entire cast.
PP: My office at FIU is wallpapered with Soul Plane promo posters.
FIU Fan For LIfe: Pete, didn't answer my question. Will Willis Wright get a chance now that Mertile seems to be afraid to get hit?
PP: My apology for missing your question in the last blog. WW got in on eight plays last week and he should be seeing more action each week. I don't think JM is afraid of getting hit. He just had a bad game last week. JM will be back to his old self.
kjharris02: Pete.....I know its early but is Tropical Storm Nicole going to impact the team on leaving for Pitt friday?
PP: Nicole should not impact the team's departure Friday. The forecast here on Friday is for sunny skies and only a 10 percent chance of rain. As of today, the game time weather on Saturday for FIU/Pitt is sunny skies with 0 percent chance of rain and a high temp of 59 degrees. That's the weather report and now over to sports with Champ Kind.
blkpanther: Pete, Phil says that the team is more packed with size. But from the roster there are only 2 players over 6'7. I see us in the same position if one of them gets hurt.
PP: Yes, there are only two players over 6-7, but I asked Phil about that comment and what he meant to say is that the team is more athletic this season and there are more shot blockers than FIU has had before. But, you are correct, there is still not enough size on the team.