Sept. 3, 2009
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – As Florida State’s Labor Day clash with rival Miami draws nearer, the Seminoles are narrowing their focus in preparation.
Detailed situational work against the scout team, which mimmicks the Hurricanes, was the primary focus throughout Thursday’s 22-period practice session. With the Seminoles dressed out in shells – shoulder pads and helmets – it’s clear that execution is of greater importance than physical pounding.
“We’ll cut (the contact) down,” said offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher. “We’ve got to get alignments, execution and assignments; little details. Then we’ve got to get them hungry and ready to hit on Monday.”
With Fisher and defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews hammering away at the importance of execution over the past 10 days or so, the Seminoles seem to be responding positively.
“We’re getting a lot better than that,” Fisher said of the offense. “When you start to work on a situation … they’re getting a lot better.
“The closer it gets, they start to hone in and focus.”
Quarterback Christian Ponder connected with wide receiver Richard Goodman on a pair of touchdown passes as the offense worked against the scout team defense down near the goal line. EJ Manuel also hooked up with tight end Beau Reliford for a score.
The Seminoles closed out the practice working on their 1-minute offense from inside the 50-yard line. Ponder led the first unit to a score on a six-play drive, featuring a pair of completions to Rod Owens and Jarmon Fortson’s catch-and-run for a touchdown.
Senior cornerback Patrick Robinson also logged his last of three pass break-ups on the day, to temporarily slow the drive.
Manuel managed just three short completions before the clock ran out on his series at the helm of the second-team offense.
Getting a competitive look from the FSU defense in practice figures to better prepare the offense for a Miami defensive unit that returns a majority of starters from a young unit.
“It will definitely be a bigger challenge for us (offensively), that’s for sure,” said Fisher, whose offense rolled up 469 yards against the ‘Canes in last season’s 41-39 triumph.
Another encouraging sign for Andrews’ defense Thursday was the play-making ability of some FSU youngsters. A pair of freshmen – cornerback Greg Reid and free safety Justin Bright – came up with athletic interceptions during one pass skeleton period, while classmate Jajuan Harley and senior Jamie Robinson logged pass break-ups.