Defense shines bright as quarterbacks struggle

Brandon Wise/Asst. Sports Director

As the spring practice started to get under way, redshirt sophomore Jake Medlock began taking some shots behind the line of scrimmage, even though he was wearing the red jersey which signifies no hitting permitted.

Photo by: Philippe Buteau

Medlock picked himself up and ripped off his chinstrap in frustration, the sign of a long night, and eventually, a long summer, ahead for the Panthers.

The Jacksonville native knows that there is a long road ahead.

“The quarterbacks as a whole really struggled today,” Medlock said. “We got to bounce back and get ready for Duke.”

Medlock realizes he is being thrown into the leadership role and that he, among others; need to become the leaders of the team.

“They’re the type of group that likes it when someone steps up and talks to them. It’s something that the team needs. We’re missing it now losing Wes [Carroll] and T.Y. [Hilton]. Me as a person, Wayne Times, and Kedrick [Rhodes], we got to step up.”

But with being a leader means staying healthy and Medlock realizes that as much he wants to hit, he cannot continue to do it.

“I kind of wish I was in a white jersey to be honest. I understand I got to be healthy,” Medlock said. “If I’m not healthy, were in trouble I think. I need to be able to lead this team and be the leader they need.”

The rest of the quarterbacks on the roster got their chances to showcase their skills, and one in particular did not disappoint head coach Mario Cristobal.

“There were some flashes. I think Jake does have an edge,” Cristobal said. “You could see what Lorenzo [Hammonds] could do with his feet as well as his arm, which has improved. Jake still is the starter, [but] Lorezno has made tremendous strides, If not for a penalty, he would have probably had over 200 yards of offense on his own.”

That play that Cristobal mentioned was a 70 yard scramble by Hammonds where he made numerous cuts down the field until he eventually dove across the goal line for the score, however, a holding call on the offensive line erased one of the bright spots of the offense’s night. Cristobal noted that he would need to compete this offseason for a shot to play next year.

“He’s got to keep competing. He obviously has a lot of value to this football team,” Cristobal said. “I think a lot of people don’t realize he was the South Carolina Player of the Year a couple of years ago. He played in a spread system, which coach Cramsey has brought over here and he’s feeling real comfortable.”

A player that burst onto the scene last year and was expected to play a big part of the spring game, Kedrick Rhodes, saw limited action. Cristobal decided to hold Rhodes out of the game due to a bruised tailbone he sustained earlier in the week of practice.

As much as the offense seemed to struggle, the defense, however, did not have those same issues.

A swarming first unit that always had a nose around the ball carrier picked up right where they left off from last season, where they ranked 22nd in the nation against the run. Redshirt sophomore Justin Halley feels that having continuity is going to be a factor this year.

“I think that last year, scheme wise, we weren’t all the way there,” Halley said. “We have a new coach every year basically so it took us a little while to get the scheme down but having [another] spring and summer to learn everything is going to help us for next year.”

1 Comment on "Defense shines bright as quarterbacks struggle"

  1. Medlock can’t throw the ball. He was put in games earlier in the season and in the Beef O’ Bradys bowl he couldn’t get it done. 

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