The Prowl
For 24 years Rolando Casanova dispensed baseball and life wisdom from the FIU dugout. Hence, it was no coincidence that during the nearly quarter century that Casanova was an FIU baseball assistant coach the Sunblazers-turned-Panthers enjoyed their most success on the diamond. Casanova, who recently passed away at the age of 57, was an infielder on the 1977 FIU Sunblazers baseball team. However, it was his impact as an assistant coach that helped the FIU baseball program thrive. Casanova had two assistant coaching stints with the FIU baseball program under former FIU coach Danny Price. Casanova first coached at FIU from 1979-80 and again from 1982-2003. During his time at FIU, the Sunblazers/Panthers appeared in 10 NCAA regionals. Casanova was a part of the 2001 FIU baseball team that reached the only NCAA Super Regional in program history. In the 1990’s, Casanova was an instrumental part of the FIU coaching staff that led the Panthers to 1998 TAAC championship and 1999 Sun Belt championship, a ...
In three and a half months FIU will start fall camp to prepare for the 2014 season. Spring football is in the books. After 15 practices including the spring game last Saturday this is what we learned from FIU spring ball. There will be a legitimate quarterback competition when camp opens in August.Alex McGough had one of the better springs by an FIU quarterback that I've seen in the 13 years since the program began in 2002. Even with an offensive line that is improving but is still a work in progress and receivers that are still developing, McGough made plays all through spring and threw for 131 yards in the spring game with a touchdown. Although just a freshman, McGough has the pocket presence and poise of an upperclassman. As coach Ron Turner has said before about McGough, he has a "quarterback's demeanor". E.J. Hilliard showed improvement from last season this spring and he will battle to be the starter in Week 1 against Bethune-Cookman. Team speed improved with the return of Richard Leonard, Je ...
FIU spring football ends with the Blue/Gold Spring Game on Saturday at FIU Stadium. Kickoff for the spring game is at 11 a.m. but if you can’t be there or you are there but want to know what is going on during the game, then you can listen to the game on the FIU Sports Radio Network. CLICK HERE to access the FIU Sports Radio Network. Former FIU linebacker James Knapp will join me for the call of the spring game and we expect to have former FIU football players drop by the broadcast. Before you head out to the spring game to check out the 2014 Panthers here is a look an inside the FIU football offseason weight training program with FIU strength coach Chad Smith. The Panthers trained for eight weeks in the offseason. After the training was complete, Smith says that Shane Coleman, Richard Leonard, Jonnu Smith and Shug Oyegunle are “pound for pound the strongest guys on the team”. Smith explains that each of these four players can lift double their body weight. Running ...
FIU will hold its second scrimmage of the spring on Friday night from FIU Stadium. The Panthers completed their 10th spring practice this morning. To get you ready for scrimmage No. 2, which is open to the public, here are some things to look for that I've noticed this spring. E.J. Hilliard and Alex McGough have separated themselves a bit in the four-man quarterback competition. Hilliard has run the offense well this spring and you can tell he's more comfortable in his second year in the system. McGough is still learning the offense, however, he is so fundamentally sound and poised that he's operated the offense fine this spring. McGough also has some good touch on his passes. Shane Coleman has been a pleasant surprise out of the backfield. Coleman's leg strength (squats about 600 pounds) and compact size have made it difficult for the defense to get a hold of him this spring. Lamarq Caldwell continues to show he can produce in several ways whether it's running the ball, catching it out of the backf ...
  FIU conducted its first scrimmage of the spring on Friday morning. The Panthers scrimmaged for nearly 45 minutes with both the offense and the defense having their moments. The second team offense got on the field first against the first team defense. Although the first team defense would stop the second team offense on downs, the offense was able to move the ball. Freshman quarterback Alex McGough went 3 of 5 on the drive completing two passes to James Louis and another to Glenn Coleman, who continues to have a good spring.  On the next possession, the first team offense with E.J. Hilliard at quarterback took the field. Hilliard went 5 of 7 on the drive that would result in a 2-yard touchdown pass to tight end Jonnu Smith. Hilliard began the drive with two completions to Smith for 27 yards. Smith continues to be one of the most consistent receiving threats for the Panthers. Hard to believe that Smith is just starting his sophomore season. Defensive tackle Lars Koht is having a ...
  The Panthers put on the pads and have been tackling the last two days of spring practice (last Saturday and today). With the pads on we got a chance to see a more live version of football with players allowed to hit anyone except the quarterbacks. Practice with pads the past two days has shown that FIU has a pretty physical defense. On Saturday defensive end Giovani Francois powered through the offensive line for a sack and later made a stop in the backfield. The play of Imarjaye Albury and Lars Koht indicates that there is promise on the interior of the defensive line despite the losses of Isame Faciane and Greg Hickman to graduation. Cornerbacks Richard Leonard and Jeremiah McKinnon have been ballhawks in the first week of spring ball. In the last two practices Leonard and McKinnon have each recorded two interceptions. Safety Demarkus Perkins has had a solid first week both in pass and run defense. Linebacker Luis Rosado, who has never played middle linebacker before, seems to be c ...
  The sun baked FIU Stadium on Thursday morning for the Panthers' second spring practice and just as hot was the FIU defense, in particular the pass defense. Cornerback Randy Harvey had two pass breakups and stayed on FIU receivers on two separate deep passes. Later in the practice Harvey intercepted Alex McGough after Jordan Davis deflected the pass. Davis got the first interception of the day when McGough threw into double coverage during 7-on-7s. Richard Leonard also got in on the pass breakups, knocking down a pass. Of course, helping the pass defense was the pass rush provided by the FIU front seven. Giovani Francois got a sack. Denzell Perine had a pair of sacks. Darrian Dyson and Vontarius West got in the backfield to combine for a tackle for loss. On another disruption in the offensive backfield, linebacker De'Shawn Hazziez came away with a fumble recovery. Despite the two interceptions, McGough had another good day throwing the ball. For whatever it may mean on M ...
  Besides the practice-long soundtrack of various hip-hop songs and one country song playing over the FIU Stadium speakers, there were several other new aspects to FIU football as spring practice began Tuesday morning at FIU Stadium. Yes, there were some new Panthers on the field Tuesday and I'll get to those in a bit, however they weren't the only ones making their debuts. Both stadium scoreboards got makeovers with new lettering and new white lights replacing the old red lights on the scoreboard. Here is a photo.  The FIU quarterbacks also got new non-contact jerseys that remind a little of Ole Miss jerseys (photo below). But the biggest uniform news of the day is that the Panthers are bringing back the gold pants to their uniform scheme. They are jumping for joy in SouthPaw's home in Georgia. The new gold pants arrive in July and are made by adidas. When they are in later this summer I'll have a photo for you. FIU will still use the blue pants and the white pants. As f ...
  Tuesday morning at 9 a.m. FIU opens spring football practice at FIU Stadium. During practice I’ll be tweeting updates @PetePelegrin. Last week FIU coach Ron Turner talked about the offense and what he expects from that unit. CLICK HERE if you missed that blog. Now it’s time to check in on the defense. FIU loses two of its best players on defense in Isame Faciane and Greg Hickman to graduation. Hopefully both players end up playing in the NFL. However, the Panthers get back one of their top cornerbacks in Richard Leonard, who is eligible again. Despite the losses of Faciane and Hickman the Panthers return some talent on the defensive line. FIU also gets to see what West Virginia transfer Imarjaye Albury and Buffalo transfer Wonderful Monds can do after sitting out last season due to NCAA transfer rules. At 6-0, 295 pounds, Albury can plug in one of the spots vacated by Faciane or Hickman. Joining him on the interior of the D-line are Lars Koht, Darrian Dyson, Marque ...

 

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If you can't make it out to the FIU ballpark this weekend for the three-game series between No. 15 Rice and No. 19 FIU then you can watch on PantherVision for FREE. CLICK HERE TO ACCESS PANTHERVISION.

Here is the PantherVision schedule for the three-game series. 

Friday: 5:55 p.m. on the air. First pitch is at 6 p.m.

Saturday: 3:55 p.m. on the air. First pitch is at 4 p.m.

Sunday: 10:55 a.m. on the air. First pitch is at 11 a.m.

As always you can be part of the broadcast by tweeting me @PetePelegrin.

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