March 22, 2010
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida State spring football practice is officially one third complete following Monday’s work on the Al Dunlap practice field, the first time the Seminoles have gone at it in full pads.
“We’re getting there,” said FSU coach Jimbo Fisher. “The attitude was pretty good. … What they’ve got to understand is bringing that effort and enthusiasm every day.”
Five days in, Fisher said he’s beginning to see progress from the defense, which is undergoing a complete overhaul in scheme under coordinator Mark Stoops.
“I think the defense is really starting to make some strides,” Fisher said of the unit, which will rely heavily on zone coverage schemes. “You start to see it click; breaking it down in pieces and pulling it more and more together in the end.”
Fisher specifically cited a handful of players as standing out to this point, including free safety Terrance Parks, defensive tackles Amp McCloud and Everett Dawkins and a host of linebackers, including veterans Nigel Bradham and Kendall Smith.
“Nigel Carr has come far,” Fisher said of the rising junior strongside backer, who is challenging to replace graduated standout Dekoda Watson. “His demeanor and attitude – he’s jumping around, making plays – has really changed.”
And it goes without saying that continued improvement is expected from that side of the football.
“The more you know the road, the faster you go on it,” Fisher added.
A year ago, cornerback Ochuko Jenije was the lone underclassmen in the starting secondary. Now he’s the veteran, although learning an entirely new system has kind of leveled the playing field in terms of knowledge. Still, Jenije is trying to lead by example while maximizing his abilities.
“It’s been a little bit tougher,” said Jenije. “I was under Coach [Mickey] Andrews for four years, so I got to the point where you knew pretty much what he was going to call. It’s been a transition. … It’s definitely more difficult because of the scheme.
“I like the challenge (of learning a new scheme), but I’d like to see me succeed a little more. I’m confident that I’m coming along.”
Jenije has been amazed by the level of energy and omnipresence of Stoops, his new position coach.
“He’s everywhere,” he said. “He’ll be with the D-line, the linebackers, the secondary. He’s a great teacher, but you’ve got to focus and learn. He’s got all kinds of terminology. You’ve just got to know football to play in this defense and I’m learning.”
The Seminoles are set to return to the practice field Wednesday afternoon, and again Friday, with Saturday set aside for the team’s first spring scrimmage. Fisher and the coaching staff will also host their annual football clinic for high school coaches this weekend, beginning Thursday evening.
On improved leg strength as a result of the off-season program:
“I think so. My leg is feeling really good. Hopefully I can get a few more yards on field goals and a few more yards on kickoffs. Power-wise last year, I didn’t feel I was lacking, but I’m definitely looking to get stronger.”
On replacing long snapper Zach Aronson and how that affects the process with the return of holder/punter Shawn Powell:
“Chris Revell is the new snapper and he’s doing a good job. He was here last year and worked with Zach (Aronson), so he knows what he’s doing. Me, Shawn and Chris, we connect well.”
On where he hopes to pick up in 2010 after setting the FSU mark for most points scored by a freshman kicker:
“I will definitely pick up closer to where I left off than where I started. The game experience definitely helped me in the long run. That’s why later in the season I felt a lot more comfortable.”