With less than two weeks until the 2011 season kicks off, we continue our Football Summer School series that takes a first look at the Panthers' opponents this season. Game 4 brings the Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns to FIU Stadium. FIU has won the last two meetings against UL with both games involving some dramatic moments. In 2009, the Panthers rallied with less than two minutes to play to force overtime where FIU won 20-17. Last season, the FIU D made four consecutive goal line stands from the 1 to snatch the momentum and open up a 38-17 win.
Game 4: Sept. 24, 6 p.m., FIU Stadium (ESPN3).
Last Season: The Cajuns fell to 3-9 and 3-5 in the Sun Belt Conference. The 2010 struggles cost coach Ricky Bustle his job and UL hired Mark Hudspeth, the former receivers coach at Mississippi State, as its new head coach for 2011. After starting 2-2 in 2010, the Cajuns lost seven straight games. UL did salvage the season finale against cross-state rival ULM with a 23-22 win that prevented the Warhawks from becoming bowl-eligible. The Cajuns did have some tough road losses during their skid, including a touchdown loss at Troy and a one-point setback against the Hooters at Del Boca Vista, Phase II.
Series: The Panthers and Cajuns began playing each other in 2003 with UL winning 43-10 in Lafayette. The Cajuns won the first six games of the series until 2009. That year at FIU Stadium, Paul McCall rallied the Panthers in the final two minutes with a touchdown pass to Greg Ellingson (right, No. 82 celebrating the TD with Rockey Vann) in the back of the end zone to send the game into overtime. In the extra period, Tyler Clawson sparked the FIU D with his play. Dustin Rivest kicked the game-winning field goal and Tourek Williams blocked a Cajuns field goal attempt to seal the victory.
Fresh Cajun Cooking: Louisiana has 10 freshmen at the skills positions (four running backs and six receivers), but don't be fooled because some key veterans are back in Lafayette. Among the offense's returners are senior quarterback Chris Masson, senior All-American tight end Ladarius Green and sophomore running back Aaron Spikes. The Cajuns have a couple of big freshmen running backs in the mold of UL's all-time leading rusher Tyrell Fenroy, who gave FIU fits over the years. The first-year backs are 5-11, 225-pound Qyendarius Griffin and 6-1, 205-pound Alonzo Harris. With Hudspeth as head coach, look for the Cajuns offense to become more dangerous than in years past. The Cajuns finished seventh among nine teams in the Sun Belt with 22.3 points per game.
Swamp Things: The Cajuns D in 2010 was like the swamp creatures in the movies. In the "Swamp Thing" movies, the creature was a good guy. In the old horror flicks, swamp creatures were usually the bad guys. The UL run D was good last season finishing second in the conference. The UL pass D finished next to last and the UL scoring D was dead last allowing 37 points per game. With six freshman DBs, opponents might be able to throw on UL again. The Cajuns (just 17 sacks in 2010) need to get more pressure on the quarterback.
It IS How You Start and How You Finish: Last season, the Cajuns were late-risers and certainly not related to Mariano Rivera. UL was outscored 85-34 in the first quarter and when they needed to close out a game, the Cajuns, usually got a blown save, and were blown out 136-40 in the fourth quarter in 2010.
Six Degrees of Coaching: The coaching ties that FIU and UL had for a while with former Panthers assistants joining the Cajuns staff are over. Former FIU defensive coordinator Kevin Fouquier and former FIU defensive backs coach Hurlie Brown were not retained by Hudspeth. In fact, the only Kevin Bacon-six degree types of ties between the two coaching staffs are Hudspeth came from Mississippi State to UL and former FIU defensive coordinator Geoff Collins left to MSU. However, you can add to that tie that Wesley Carroll came from Mississippi State so FIU breaks even with MSU.
Next up on The Prowl's Football Summer School series -- Duke Blue Devils
*Thanks Richard Lewis photo (Ellingson, Vann)
Continue reading for the Panther Pawse
They started working on the roof of the expansion to U.S. Century Bank Arena. Here's a look:
If you're a fan of the TV show Burn Notice on USA Network, then you probably saw FIU in Thursday's episode. The SIPA (School of International and Public Affairs) building (right) was used as the headquarters of a pharmaceutical company in the episode. What does this have to do with FIU Sports? Nothing, I just thought I would mention that FIU was on national TV last night. Burn Notice has been on campus several times over the years shooting scenes at FIU. The Burn Notice episode featuring FIU's SIPA building airs again on USA Network at 9 a.m. on Saturday, Aug. 20 and at 11 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 24.
ChiaPanther: Hurry up with the tweeting! Can't wait to see how you start your morning or spend your free time. Pete, Any word on the Official Tailgate party for away games?
PP: I should be on Twitter by next week. I have some other fish to fry right now, but I will get to it. Nothing official yet on official FIU away game tailgate parties. When I have a location I will post it on here.
Blue&GoldHeart: Pete, I haven't really followed the story about the Basketball Arena. What are they doing? Pete, have you talked to GE about how he is doing with the Jags?
PP: The arena is getting a brand new entrance with a new lobby. There are also two suites being built on the east side of the arena overlooking the court. CLICK HERE for details and CLICK HERE and CLICK HERE. I've traded text messages with Greg. He keeps working at it every day trying to make the Jaguars team. You can catch him tonight on FOX (Channel 7) as the Jags play the Atlanta Falcons.
Quijote: Pete, Is there an archive somewhere of Pete Garcia's interview on 1210 ESPN Deportes? Can someone please provide a link to the SI FIU article? I can't find it on CNNSI.com, it only talks about SEC preview.
PP: Unfortunately, that radio station does not have a webpage or archives, yet. Sports Illustrated's magazine projections for FIU are only in the actual magazine. But here is ANOTHER SI PREVIEW WHERE FIU is 1ST. This one is on SI.com.
The Point: Pete, I was just thinking about some of the big plays you've mentioned: pick 6s, 70 yard td passes, etcetera. Did you happen to notice or have an opinion as to whether these were blown coverages/mistakes or just great execution on one side of the ball?
PP: With the picks, Richard Leonard stepped in front of the receiver and no one was going to catch him. T.Y. wasn't on the field for that play. No. 4 is probably the only offensive player that can catch Leonard. Tevin Blanchard made a nice read for his pick 6. Glenn Coleman beat the defender on his TD. Jairus Williams used his 6-5 height to haul in his TD.
PP: It should be out by mid-September.
roary: no word on the "ocho"?
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