FIU Roundup 8/20/04

( - FIU head coach Don Strock put the final touches on the 2004 playbook Thursday as his Golden Panthers practiced the two-minute drill and even dabbled with the shotgun formation during a two-hour workout in full gear.

Afterwards, Strock said he was pleased with practice on both sides of the ball and that his team was, "getting better."

One area that must get better this season is the offensive line. Injuries took their toll there last season and some of those have carried over to this camp. Junior Tim Dierks (Clewiston) sprained his left knee last week and is out. Sophomore Johnathan Taylor's (Yulee/Fernandina Beach H.S.) right shoulder still hasn't allowed him to practice, and juniors Ed Wenger (Coral Springs/St. Thomas Aquinas) and John Shanahan (Brandon) have been slowed in the early going.

That has given Strock and his offensive line coach Leon Searcy, the former NFL Pro Bowl lineman, plenty of opportunities to observe young freshmen like Dustin Gibson (Quincy/Lincoln), Xavier Shannon (Miami/Coral Gables) and JaMarcus Green (Fort Wayne, Ind.) along with the continued progression of converted defensive lineman Ronny Silva (Miami) and sophomore Mike Alvarez (Miami/Hialeah Miami Lakes).

"Over the first week, we gave the young guys a lot of reps to see what they could do and, for the most part, we were pleasantly surprised," said Strock. "Then, as we were putting more things in, their heads started spinning a little bit. But they are all working hard and like I tell them before every game, if you work hard, good things will happen."

Strock believes Dierks and Taylor could return to practice in the next week to 10 days and as the youngsters gain experience and improve, the offensive line will be more talented, and deeper, than at any other time in the history of FIU football.

Yesterday's practice hero was kicker Adam Moss (Coral Springs/American Heritage) who ended the day with three straight field goals from 47 yards, including one that hit the right upright and bounded over. Moss, who converted 14-of-22 field goal attempts last season, and his teammates were rewarded by having to run just one gasser to end the day.

The Golden Panthers appear to be getting healthier. There were no new injuries to report Thursday and running back Adam Gorman (St. Petersburg), defensive back Greg Moss (Miami/ Norland), tight end James Williams (Ft. Myers) and linebacker James Black (Rockledge) were cleared to return from hamstring injuries to at least limited practice.

The Golden Panthers are back on the FIU Stadium practice field Friday morning at 9:15 a.m. and open the 2004 season on Thursday, Sept. 2 at home against Jacksonville. For ticket information, call the FIU Ticket Office toll free (866) FIU-GAME, (305) 348-4263 in Miami-Dade County or on line at

By The Source
Aug 20, 2004
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