Redshirt sophomore quarterback Jake Medlock earned a reputation for toughness before he played a down for FIU. In training camp scrimmages last year, Medlock ran at tacklers as if empowered by the contact.
These days, Medlock tries to be more judicious about initiating contact, particularly with linebackers and defensive linemen. Though opponents don’t share Medlock’s reserve on collisions and he didn’t finish Saturday night’s 14-6 loss against Western Kentucky, it appears Medlock will be able to start next week at South Alabama.
In a text message after Sunday night’s practice, FIU coach Mario Cristobal said Medlock was “good to go.”
Freshman E.J. Hilliard played the final play Saturday after Medlock banged his right, throwing hand on a helmet after hurting his left shoulder earlier in the drive. He missed two games earlier this year with a broken foot.
After Medlock’s season-ending right shoulder injury last year occurred when taking on a Louisiana-Monroe linebacker and a safety, he began sliding to avoid unnecessary banging around. Ironic then, that his injuries have come as he’s been a standing target in the pocket gotten hurt.
His broken foot occurred against Louisville when he was hit as he threw. Saturday, Medlock’s left shoulder hung after Western defensive lineman Cole Tischer buried him on a sack. The hand got hurt on the follow through of a pass from the pocket.
Saturday, Medlock took eight sacks as FIU tried to work a quick passing game against a Western pass rush led by All-Sun Belt defensive end Quanterus Smith. Instead, Western’s coverage caused Medlock hesitancy in throwing and he wound up often staying a few seconds too long in a disintegrating neighborhood. Smith got four sacks of Medlock and one of Hilliard on the game’s final play.
“He’s trying, he’s a young quarterback, but you can’t hang onto the ball, not against a defense like that,” Cristobal said after the game. “If it’s not there, you’ve got to tuck and run. You can’t hang back there. That protection is not designed to sit back there.”
In record, the difference between Hilliard and Medlock isn’t much – 0-2 with Hilliard, 1-5 with Medlock, each taking half the Louisville game that Medlock left at halftime with a broken foot. But that’s why you don’t judge quarterbacks strictly on record.
With Hilliard at quarterback, FIU scored 47 points in two and a half games or 18.8 points per game. With Medlock, the Panthers have put up 174 points in six and a half games or 26.8 points per game. Hilliard threw three interceptions in 63 passes. Medlock’s thrown two interceptions in 216 passes.