By Joel Delgado ’12, MS ’17
After five days off, the football team held its first practice at Riccardo Silva Stadium on Friday morning in preparation for the upcoming bowl game against Temple.
For the players, coming back to practice after the emotional highs of winning their final game of the season and finding out their bowl game destination was a welcome return to business as usual.
The Panthers and Owls will face off in St. Petersburg on Thursday, Dec. 21, in the Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl. The game kicks off at 8 p.m. and will be televised on ESPN, shining the national spotlight on FIU.
Tickets are now available and FIU has created a series of bowl travel packages for fans planning on going to the game.
“It was fun coming back here after a few days off and confidence is high,” said senior quarterback Alex McGough. “It was good for us to get back out here and get back into the swing of things.”
Senior linebacker Anthony Wint added: “This is the most excited we’ve ever been. This is what you live for, what you come to college for, what you signed to come to FIU for. We’ve been waiting our whole careers for this.”
The Panthers ran drills at Riccardo Silva Stadium focusing on technique and fundamentals. Before hitting the field, the team took a yoga class, which has been a part of the Panthers’ regiment of pre-practice activities throughout the season; today it was mandatory for the whole team.
“It’s not as easy as it sounds. It’s kind of tough,” senior linebacker Anthony Wint said. “You get stretched out real good, though, and your body appreciates you after you do it. It’s good for everybody, and it’s fun to do.”
Head Coach Butch Davis and his staff spent the past few days recruiting and visiting high schools around Florida before an official Gasparilla Bowl team press conference in St. Petersburg on Dec. 7.
Davis said that the impact of this season’s success and the buzz around the bowl game is already being felt on the recruiting trail.
“Winning and going to a bowl game has been unbelievably important,” Davis said. “Kids can see the rise and the direction of the program. They love the excitement and the way our kids compete. All of that is infectious and winning makes a huge difference.”
Now the focus is on getting the team ready for the Gasparilla Bowl, which will the be the first bowl experience for any of the players on FIU’s roster.
“Today, we were just getting back into practice habits and it’s fun to get back around these kids,” Davis said.
For up-to-the-minute information about the Gasparilla Bowl, including ticket prices and information about attending the game, visit Bowl Game Central.