Third down situations and two-minute drills got work Monday. Again, the defense got the better of it, despite having only 10 men on the field for about three consecutive plays during third down drills.
In the two minute drills, the first string defense got a three-and-out on the offense on the first possession, then stopped the offense on downs when redshirt junior Jake Medlock underthrew a 5-yard slant to T.J. Lowder on fourth and 8. The offensive line had a problem blocking Greg Hickman and Isame Faciane and the receivers had trouble getting open. In the Twos vs. Twos, sophompre E.J. Hilliard got the second string offense to the defense's 30 and Serge Sroka nailed a 47-yard field goal.
Sroka also hit from 32 and 37 earlier. Freshman Karson Dietrich was wide right from 42, rang the left upright from 47. Freshman Cody Hodgens hit from 33 and was wide left from 37 off the right hash mark. Freshman Austin Taylor hit from 43 and was wide right from 47 in the middle of the field.
Fifth-year senior Rocky Vann got behind the defense in 11-on-11 and 7-on-7 drills to catch three bombs from Hilliard and freshman Israel Paopao. Paopao's clearly the No. 3 quarterback. His throws have hummingbird zip. Freshman Travis Wright's passes remind me of the E runner rating in Statis Pro Baseball: Slow. Painfully slow. Almost never gets there. (Among the 1979 season players in my college pal's set, I think only Pittsburgh's Willie Stargell had that rating). He's got time to improve that, but it's a tad disappointing based on his consensus rating and statistics.
All the quarterbacks, from Medlock to Wright, need to work on firing more quickly. Short to medium routes with short drops form the nucleus of the West Coast Offense.
"Our five step drop stuff, we try for two, three (seconds) and under," FIU coach Ron Turner said. "Some things if we go play action, seven-step drop and trying to get downfield, the low threes. That's the hardest thing for a young quarterback or a quarterback in a new system to do is get the ball out of their hands. We're constantly saying "get it out, get it out, throw it, throw it.'
"It's improving. It's not anywhere close to where we need it to be."
Transfer running back Anthon Samuel took second team reps in the two-minute drill. Perhaps FIU wants to be sure Samuel gets adequate work in case the NCAA grants his transfer waiver. Freshman running back Silas Spearman also got second team work. Behind sophomore Lemarq Caldwell, who again showed Monday he needs to work on holding onto the ball, it looks like the pecking order is redshirt sophomore Shane Coleman; freshman Alfonso Randolph; and Spearman. An eligible Samuel goes to No. 1 on the charts like he was sung by Jay-Z.
Those catching punts in punt return work: senior Glenn Coleman, junior Richard Leonard, sophomoore DeAndre Jasper, senior Sam Miller.
Turner said Vero Beach freshman offensive lineman Chris Flaig had "a health issue" and might not join the team until classes started. Or, possibly, until next semester.