FIU football players keeping the faith

Although FIU has started the season 0-3, the Panthers’ players and coaching staff still have faith that the team can turn it around.

09/16/2013 12:01 AM

09/16/2013 12:07 AM

FIU football lies at 0-3 after three blowout losses, most recently Saturday night at home to FCS Bethune-Cookman, 34-13. And next on the schedule: a trip to No. 7 Louisville and Heisman Trophy candidate quarterback Teddy Bridgewater from Northwestern High.

Some would advise prayer for FIU. Fifth-year senior linebacker Markeith Russell, one of those charged with keeping the team from splintering, spoke of faith late Saturday night.

“There’s a lot of guys who have been through this uphill battle already,” Russell said. “This is my third season starting off the season with a 0-fer. It’s very hard to believe because we have no evidence right now. Our veterans, our leaders, those guys like [redshirt sophomore wide receiver] T.J. [Lowder] have got to make sure we get around the team, especially the young guys because we’ve got a lot of young guys playing. We have to make sure to get in their ears to make sure they understand this won’t be possible without faith. You have to have faith before you have evidence.

“That’s one thing [FIU] Coach [Ron] Turner always harps on. That’s one thing the coaching staff always harps on. That’s one thing me as a leader and the rest of the team have to get these guys to understand. So faith without evidence is the key.”

Three games into his FIU coaching life, the 59-year-old Turner spoke less of faith, none of hope or charity, but much about unity when it comes to keeping this spinout from developing into a full-scale crash.

“Keep working hard, doing what we believe in,” Turner said. “If someone’s not with us, get him out. Get him out. Now, there’s only a handful. There were more. Some of them aren’t here. Obviously, we’ve still got a couple. So get the guys in this room that believe in what we’re doing, are going to do it our way.

“We’re not going to change what we do because what we do works,” Turner said. “We’ve got a hell of a staff. Our systems work. We’ve got a good plan, and we’re going to stick with it. It will work. It will work. When, I don’t know. When everyone buys in — the three things we talked about: accountability, toughness, discipline. We haven’t been accountable to one another, 100 percent. We haven’t demonstrated the kind of toughness, physical or mental, that you have to have to win at this level. And our discipline on the field and off the field. It’s never going to be good on the field until it’s good off the field. We’ve still got some issues there. We’re going to get it right, but it’s not there yet.”

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