Ahhh, something new has been added.
Or, as a later generation might say, And now for something completely different.
Watching redshirt freshman quarterback Jake Medlock (I can’t help but think, “A Quinn Martin Production”) in camp scrimmages and earlier in the year against Louisiana-Lafayette, his advantages on fifth-year senior Wesley Carroll couldn’t be more apparent: bigger, stronger, better runner. As a passer, Carroll’s still better but with the gap closing. Carroll carries his real advantage on his shoulders. He’s played more, takes more practice reps, knows the offense better. When running the spread option, which relies so much on rapid quarterback reads, that’s like being a near-equal martial artist to your opponent, but having the Iron Fist.
Cristobal said the decision to go with Medlock got made early in the week. I’m going to bet it got made last Sunday or even late Saturday night as coaches went over film from the Western Kentucky loss.
Early in the week, when I talked to Cristobal about the offense over the last three games, his first answers seemed very confined to the Western Kentucky game. Carroll threw a bad interception in the end zone right after a fumble recovery in Western territory with FIU up 3-0. Cristobal lamented that a touchdown there really changes the game, especially with Western’s one-note, ground-bound offense.
But I’m thinking the 13-yard sack on FIU’s last possession clinched it. You can’t take that sack late in the game, deep in your own territory, up by only two, doubly so against a team with a flabby passing attack that they trust more than their dicey kicker. A senior with Carroll’s experience shouldn’t take that sack. I can see some coach sitting around a table and saying, “Hell, if we’re going to get decisions like that, let’s get them from the more physically talented guy.”
So, enter Jake Medlock...
Cristobal admitted they threw some thought into the timing, that they’d be making the change on Senior Night. As to be expected, that didn’t override the consideration that the offense needed something.
Going back to the Lou-La game, when Medlock took over in the second quarter, FIU scored 56 points in the next five quarters. Now, there was a 97-yard T.Y. Hilton punt return and a one-play, 9-yard drive after Jonathan Faucher smothered a punt. Take those out and that’s still 42 points in five quarters or 33.6 per four quarters.
Allegedly, the job remains an open competition. Medlock, coached postgame as well as he was for the game, said all the right things in his postgame press conference about Carroll, who worked with Medlock during the week and during the game. Medlock also made sure to thank the offensive line, which managed to limit its penalties again and cleared the way for a zero-sack, 220-rushing yard night.
“When Jake puts his head down, it’s pretty effective," Cristobal said. "It keeps defenses from stacking the box. I think we’ve experienced the last couple of weeks being outnumbered in the box and being tough to get push and tough to run the football. Today, we broke out with over 200 yards and some of it was him. Some of it was just the threat of him running the football opening it up.”
Medlock did throw two balls that should’ve been picked off, just bad decisions. But that’s to be expected. It’s probably why he got kept in to the end. He needs playing time.
As Hilton settled under the punt, I thought not “What the hell is he doing fielding a punt on the 3?” but rather, “It’s 24-0, why not?”
Hilton blew through a gaping hole, yet stayed just far enough from the sideline to keep it from being used as another defender until he passed almost everyone but punter Mickey Groody. Hilton tried to signal up ahead for Wayne Times to take care of Groody. Instead, Times peeled back on FAU’s Damian Parms and, well…I don’t know what Parms spiritual beliefs were before, but he’s a Christian now because he got BAPTIZED by Times. FIU coaches came off the sideline to check on Parms while Hilton decelerated over the goal line. Parms stayed down for a bit, then made it back across the field.
I thought it was cool that Hilton owned up to crying four times Saturday. Nothing wrong with that. One of the most macho men in sports history, hockey Hall of Famer Mark Messier, surpasses former NFL coach Dick Vermeil as a weeper.
While discussing the emergence of safety Justin Halley (two interceptions), Cristobal reminded everyone that FIU still is working without a full complement of scholarships.
Honoring Kendall Berry during the pregame Senior Night ceremony counts as a class move. That almost caused me to weep.
Two fun lines of the night: fan next to the press box, not 10 feet from where Mike Biamonte sits behind me, saying, “We’ve got the Heat announcer. He’s not working right now.”
Member of the stat crew in the press box during the flag-filled third quarter: “That referee is going to need Tommy John surgery.”
I know this is a blog concerned with FIU, but I’m sorry, the longer that game went on and hearing FAU coach Howard Schnellenberger postgame, the more I felt this had to be said to some FAU players: someday, if you have any more sense than God gave my cats, age will grant you a greater idea of what longevity, stature and history means. And you will feel great sorrow at your performance Saturday.
Not the losing by 34. That happens. As they said in GoodFellas, everybody takes a beating sometime. You’re a young team playing a team with more talent and more mature talent. But to do so with 7 personal fouls or unsportsmanlike conduct penalties and an ejection, to embarrass your coach so badly, he apologized to coaches who molded him both living and dead, is an abomination. It goes to character. It doesn’t matter if some of you think Howard Schnellenberger should’ve retired a year ago, two years ago, whenever. You chose to play at FAU in a program of which he is head coach. And while, to you, “Shula Bowl” might be some appellation meaning no more than “GoDaddy.com Bowl” because “Shula” means steak house chain, expressway or some guy who used to coach the Dolphins when they used to really ball, it still means something to your coach. To him, Don Shula’s a great football coach who influenced his career. And putting Schnellenberger’s career in parenting terms, he took one program in South Florida off the streets, saved it and got it going to success, did the same for another program in Louisville. Later, he birthed and has been raising the program you’re in now. If not for him, the University of Miami program might be in the childhood of its rebirth, assuming there was a rebirth. FAU? FIU? Please. You owe it to him to play hard and come correct. According to Howard, you’d done that before Saturday. Behaving so shamefully in a game and stadium that wouldn’t probably wouldn’t exist but for your coach reflects poorly on you, your parents and your school.