Before two weeks ago, FIU quarterback Jake Medlock hadn’t experienced being benched either at the high school or college level. Yanked from a game, yes. But never told early in the practice week he had lost his starting job.
“It’s a learning experience,” said Medlock, a redshirt junior who once again is the starter as FIU faces Texas-El Paso on Saturday night.
“It made me more mature as a man, in dealing with adversity through life,” Medlock said. “I was angry at myself because I haven’t been playing well this year, and it’s totally my fault. I needed to learn how to evolve myself better. I’ve made mistakes throughout this entire season.”
Medlock pointed to the safety at Southern Mississippi, when a bad snap almost flew out of the end zone. Instead of booting the ball out of the back of the end zone to take the safety, as he said he should have, Medlock picked it up and made a quixotic attempt at a pass. Southern Miss still got the safety and Medlock sustained his second concussion of the season.
Sophomore E.J. Hilliard came in to lead the Panthers to their only win this season. After Medlock went 11 of 26 for 128 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions in a 23-7 loss to Louisiana Tech, FIU coach Ron Turner swapped Medlock and Hilliard’s spots on the depth chart for the East Carolina game.
In a 34-13 loss to East Carolina and last week’s 48-0 loss at Middle Tennessee State, Hilliard was 31 of 46 for 327 yards, two interceptions and no touchdowns. Not helping Hilliard were a fumble by redshirt sophomore Clinton Taylor on his way to the end zone, freshman Silas Spearman fumbling on fourth-and-1 at the Middle Tennessee State 15, and a missed field goal.
FIU coach Ron Turner said even had FIU gotten those 17 points in the first half before the game became a blowout didn’t swing his feeling on Hilliard’s two games.
“I look at the performance,” Turner said. “We’ve got to play better at that position. ... We knew what we were going to run right from the start. And we had mistakes at that position on those plays. And several during the course of the game. I don’t expect anyone to be perfect. But something we script and practice Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, work on it, still not execute it … there’s no excuse for that.”
Turner said he told both quarterbacks this week the same thing he told them when he benched Medlock.
“I told both of them this is not a long-term deal,” Turner said.
“I’m not saying you have a short leash, anything like that. But everything in life is production.”