The other side: Florida International

6 10 2010

Pete Pelegrin of FIUsports.com was kind enough to take some time out to answer five questions about this week’s WKU-Florida International game.

Thanks so much to Pete for the help. Check out his stuff HERE

1) FIU seems to be getting closer to turning a corner every year. Its been competitive in each of its first four games against a relatively tough slate. Is this another Golden Panther mirage? Or are they about to turn the corner.

I think they are about to turn the corner and here’s why: the Panthers are a year older as a team and they have taken to another year in the new state-of-the-art weight room under strength coach Rod Moore. It is still a relatively young team, but as you have seen in their first four games FIU is getting closer. I think the major reason FIU did not pull out one or two of those first four games was because they don’t have the depth yet to finish off BCS teams. FIU’s No. 2s & 3s on the depth chart do not have the experience or size that BCS teams No. 2s & 3s have. I do think the Panthers will fare just fine in the Sun Belt this season.

2) How has SEC transfer Wes Carroll fit in at FIU?

Wes is getting better each week. He was a little rusty the first two games of the season, but that is to be expected considering he had played a down of football in two years (he was benched his final year at Miss. State and had to sit out last season at FIU due to NCAA Transfer Rules). Wes might have had his best game at Maryland two weeks ago and again improved at Pitt last week. The spread offense FIU runs will fit Wes just fine, because he is a mobile QB and a smart one.

3) What’s the team’s overall strength this season?

The team’s strength has to be the aggressive, relentless defense under new defensive coordinator Geoff Collins. They will blitz at you anytime and from anywhere. Collins is from the Nick Saban coaching tree and you see a little of Alabama’s schemes in FIU’s D. Plus, FIU has gotten faster as a team as well and as you may know that Florida athletic speed is like none other in the country.

4) Mario Cristobal is in his fourth year at FIU, is it a now or never situation for him? Or is he not feeling much pressure from the administration?

Mario is doing a good job considering the type of program that he inherited. He took over a program coming off an 0-12 season in Don Strock’s final year. At the time FIU was and still is on NCAA probation due to academic issues under Strock and using ineligible players. Plus the NCAA took away a bunch of scholarships. Only next year in 2011 will Cristobal have for the first time the max allotment of 85 scholarships to use on his team. It will be FIU’s first full roster in the 9-year history of the program. I think you are seeing progress in the way the team is competing against BCS teams. Just a couple of years ago, FIU was blown out by Kansas, Iowa and Penn State. This year they have led or taken Rutgers, Texas A&M, Maryland and Pitt into the fourth quarter.

5) Your prediction for Saturday?

This will be a much closer game than many think. I see WKU being a much improved team from last season and Bobby Rainey is the real deal at RB. Plus, Jakes is a dangerous dual-threat QB. I think being at home, an ever-improving Wes Carroll and a tough D will carry FIU in a close one: FIU 27, WKU 23.

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