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September 7, 2011
Most coaches like to get into a set routine—play on Saturday, training room for injuries on Sunday, off Monday, begin game day preparations Tuesday and continue Wednesday, ease up on Thursday and travel (or go over the game plan again) on Friday.
But the usual “routine” is going to be anything but for Florida International, at least in the early going.
The Panthers opened their season with a Thursday night win over North Texas and now have a Friday night affair at Louisville next on their schedule.
They then will have another eight-day break before back-to-back Tuesday night games in October.
“I was a little concerned originally when the schedule came out,” FIU coach Mario Cristobal said.
But Cristobal sees the value now that he has had extra practice time over the Labor Day weekend and without concerns about players missing class or other time issues.
“We’ll have an extra day this week and an extra day next week,” Cristobal said. “I think the true challenge will come—from a scheduling standpoint—will be the Tuesday night affairs. That’s going to be a little bit different.”
Senior quarterback Wesley Carroll took the opportunity presented by the quirky schedule to watch as many games as he could over the weekend, including ones involving future opponents.
He also liked the extra day of “rest” the eight days between games presented.
“We talked before the season started that we definitely will have a weird schedule from what it has been in the past,” he said. “The way that we adjust to it will help determine how well that we’ll do.”
• FIU QB Wes Carroll didn’t throw an interception in his 22 pass attempts against North Texas, but he will be up against a dangerous defense at Louisville. The Cardinals had three interceptions and recorded two sacks in their win over Murray State.
• With Louisville next, the Panthers are looking for their first win over a Big East team after losses to South Florida in 2006 and 2008, Rutgers each of the last two seasons, and Pittsburgh last year.
• FIU has announced it will fill in the north side of its on-campus stadium by completing the grandstands around the field. Currently, there are stands on the south side and the east and west end zones. Capacity will go from 18,000 to between 20,000 and 25,000.
Series History: This is the first meeting between FIU and Louisville.
Scouting The Offense: FIU has one of the top playmakers around in WR T.Y. Hilton, who had 283 all-purpose yards in receiving, rushing, and returning both punts and kickoffs in the win over North Texas. QB Wesley Carroll was very efficient and didn’t turn the ball over. The Panthers rushed for 208 yards against North Texas led by a stable of running backs.
Scouting The Defense: Though the scoreboard showed 16 points for North Texas, the defense actually pitched a shutout. The visitors’ scores came on a fumble return and a recovery of an errant snap in the end zone, plus a safety. The Panthers gave up only 97 yards rushing to the Mean Green, which has one of the league’s top running backs in Lance Dunbar.
Quote To Note: “It’s definitely an advantage with him coaching in the Big East. He’s familiar with Louisville and is familiar with a lot of their players, a lot of their plays, after coaching against them the last couple of years. He’s been able to give us insight on what they like to do.”—DT Joshua Forney, speaking of FIU defensive coordinator Todd Orlando, who coached the last 12 years at Big East member Connecticut.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
This Week ‘S GAME: FIU at Louisville, Sept. 9—Louisville is coming off a ho-hum 21-9 victory over Football Championship Subdivision foe Murray State in its opener on the same night the Panthers romped in their opener. The Cardinals figure to be a rushing threat after gaining 159 yards on the ground against the Racers, but QB Will Stein threw for 226 yards as well.
Keys To The Game: Get pressure on the quarterback. QB Will Stein threw for two touchdowns and 226 yards in Louisville’s opening win over Murray State. The Panthers want to pound the Cardinals with the running game.
Players To Watch:
WR T.Y. Hilton—Hilton returned the opening kickoff 62 yards and later scored on a 60-yard reception against North Texas. Look for him to take advantage of Louisville’s man coverage.
TB Kedrick Rhodes—The sophomore got the start over senior Darriet Perry and responded by rushing for 77 yards on 16 carries to Perry’s 94 on 15. Rhodes gives the Panthers a little change of pace with his speed and breakaway potential.
LB Winston Fraser—Fraser was all over the field on defense, leading the Panthers with 11 tackles. He didn’t have a sack but did get credit for a quarterback hurry.
• Senior FS Chuck Grace is questionable with an undisclosed injury.