The pads were popping, and Jake Medlock was slinging.
It was FIU’s first full-contact practice under new coach Ron Turner on Saturday, and Medlock, the clear No. 1 at quarterback, was successful throwing downfield several times against the Panthers’ secondary. Medlock, a junior from Jacksonville, said there is still much work to be done, though.
“I made a few errors,” he said. “But by watching more film, I can get that fixed quickly.”
Medlock should have some top weapons this fall, including senior receiver Willis Wright, who scored five touchdowns last season and averaged 25.3 yards per catch, and senior running back Kedrick Rhodes, who is 39 yards from the FIU career rushing record.
“I don’t just have one guy,” Medlock said. “I have Glenn Coleman and Wright at receiver, [ Ya’keem] Griner and [ Zach] Schaubhut at tight end and Rhodes and Jakhari Gore out of the backfield. It’s nice to have six great [targets] instead of just one.”
Turner, who spent last season as quarterbacks coach for the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers, said he watched film of FIU from last season, but there is only so much that can be learned from tape.
“I wanted to come out here and see for myself,” he said. “It’s a different system, and you don’t know what they were being told technique-wise and on schemes.
“On film, you can see their athleticism, but these 15 days [of practices] are going to be huge for us in terms of evaluating [players].”
FIU will have five new starters on the offensive line, while the receivers, as a group, are more established. Yet Turner said the blocking wall will be easier for him to figure out.
“We have like 100 receivers, and we only have eight offensive linemen,” Turner said. “We have some talented linemen, and I like the way they are working. We just have to build our numbers.”
As for the receivers, Turner is taking his time.
“We have to find out who the top players are,” he said. “I think they are thinking too much [because of the new things they are being taught], but they are making some plays.”
This and that
• Medlock, on whether the offense has changed since last year, when Mario Cristobal was the coach: “It’s basically the same. We want to get the ball in the athletes’ hands and let them run. We are going to be pro style. We’re not going to do a lot of five-wide [receiver] spread.”
• Sophomore quarterback Loranzo Hammonds is not with the team. Turner would not say if he expects Hammonds to return. “I don’t know,” Turner said. “I just focus on the guys who are here.”
• Turner praised senior receiver Rockey Vann, saying: “I like his speed and quickness.”