Aug. 11, 2011
Seminoles.com Senior Writer
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — The Florida State football team held its fourth fall practice of the year Thursday and just like the day before, the Seminoles donned pads on the Al Dunlap Practice Fields.
As I have been doing since Tuesday, I asked FSU fans to submit their questions about the ‘Noles’ fourth practice via Twitter. Let’s get to those questions before the rest of the day’s observations.
@teedoteop asked, “Who is looking most dominate of our 4 “Micks” at DT? [Demonte] McAllister, [Moses] McCray, [Anthony] McCloud, [Jacobbi] McDaniel”
@teedoteop also asked how McCray is doing after a torn ACL cost him all of last season and the spring so I will answer both of his two questions together. Let’s start first with McCray.
I wouldn’t call it a surprise because he worked his tail off to get back, but seeing McCray out there has been a good sight. Anytime an injury costs a season, there are going to be questions about the return and how much of an impact the injured player can have.
With the impressive recruiting haul at defensive tackle for the 2011 class and the development of depth at the position, it was easy to forget about McCray. Well, he’s doing his best right now to change that.
Through the first four days on the practice fields he has been moving around very well and doesn’t appear to have any lingering effects from the injury.
As for the rest of the “Micks,” McCloud is doing a nice job of being that run-stuffer in the middle he will need to be this season. McDaniel is right there with Everett Dawkins competing for a starting role. McDaniel has reshaped his body and is looking the most “cut” he’s been since he got to FSU. McAllister is a guy that had a quietly impressive freshman season last year and he should expect his role and production to continue to increase. Each of these guys — McCray included — are entrenched in the current rotation of defensive tackles.
Remember: defensive tackles coach Odell Haggins loves to rotate as many guys as possible. So in the end it won’t matter who the starters are on opening day. Everyone is going to play if they have earned it.
@Intergalactic_J asked, “How does EJ look? Ripped? Accurate? Fast?
EJ Manuel has been impressive thus far and I would expect that to continue. He knows it’s his team now and he has embraced what it means to be the face and leader of the Seminoles. He has been working very closely with new center Jacob Fahrenkrug to get their timing down and develop a comfort level on the quarterback-center exchange.
Wednesday, head coach Jimbo Fisher wasn’t pleased with the offense as I mentioned yesterday. Manuel had a couple of inaccurate passes that went incomplete but he also had some really nice throws in to tight coverage that found the receivers hands. He made this one throw to Willie Haulstead that was put in a place that no defender was to make a play on it despite the fact that his receiver was being double covered.
Thursday, the offense was much improved thanks to better execution and Fisher reiterated that fact after the fourth day on the fields came to an end. Fisher credited crisper routes, improved blocking and better throws as being the reason for the offensive turnaround. I saw Manuel slinging the ball around in live-action drills at the end of practice today and he was certainly on point.
On one play, he threw a beautiful deep ball that Jarred Haggins leapt and snagged put of the air over the defender.
Manuel is looking big and is in great shape. His quickness and speed are both there and I expect to see him running the ball quite a bit this season.
@tshackel asked, “How does the receiving corps look?”
From what I have seen over the course of the last few days, the wide receivers are still working out the kinks and they are continuing to work on getting their timing down with the quarterbacks.
That’s not to say that the receivers have underperformed. Veterans like Bert Reed, Willie Haulstead and Rodney Smith have set the tone for the unit. But think of it this way, the timing between receivers and quarterbacks is so important and it takes time for all of it to click into place.
The receivers worked with the quarterbacks all summer but it’s different when the pads (or shells as has been the case the last two days) get put on.
Day 4 Observations:
I touched on the wide receivers a little bit but I wanted to highlight two guys today that have really impressed me.
I was watching freshman Rashad Greene and redshirt freshman Christian Green today a little bit and it reminded me that they have been doing a great job so far this week.
Let’s start with the first Greene; the one with the “e” at the end. True freshman Kelvin Benjamin has been generating most of the hype so far this camp but Greene can’t be discounted. The first-year pass-catcher is smooth and super quick.
Fisher even singled him out for performing well. I asked backup quarterback Clint Trickett, who has had the most experience throwing to him thus far, about Greene.
“Rashad is one of the most polished receivers we have and he is just a true freshman,” Trickett said.
Green is a guy that I have been really waiting to see since he enrolled in school last summer. After redshirting last season, Green expects to be an integral part of the wide recover rotation and I think he has a legitimate shot to produce on the outside this season.
He isn’t as tall as Haulstead and Smith but he is thicker than both of those juniors. He has shown terrific speed out there and is focusing on running precise routes. I would watch out for him in the near future.
Another note on the receivers is from some of the one-on-one drills they were running with the defensive backs before the team gathered to stretch together. Nothing much to report from those matchups but it was still interesting to see All-America candidate Xavier Rhodes squaring off against Greene.
Don’t forget to check out our photo gallery of the day highlighting the wide receivers. Click here to check it out.
Yesterday, I wrote about Austin Barron in the day three observations. The true freshman has ascended up the depth chart to the second-string center position. It turns out that he isn’t the only first-year player running with the second unit.
Today, I saw that freshmen Josue Matias (LT), Tre Jackson (LG) and Bobby Hart (RT) were with the second-team offensive line along with Barron. Redshirt sophomore Garrett Faircloth was at right guard with that unit.
Late in practice, Jackson actually moved up and worked with the first team during live-action drills. He was put in that spot because David Spurlock is being held out of contact while the coaches ease him back in following the concussion problems that caused him to miss this past spring.
Fisher was very complimentary today of the job that Jackson has been doing.
Defensively, senior linebacker Nigel Bradham continues to be more vocal and it’s clear he is accepting his new leadership role. Bradham is quiet by nature so it’s been good hearing him barking out calls to his teammates.
On the injury front, Chris Thompson returned to practice after missing Tuesday and Wednesday with a sore back. Thompson was not in shells on Thursday while he works his way back into the mix. Fellow tailback Jermaine Thomas was in a blue no-contact jersey for the second day in a row after a migraine cost him Tuesday’s practice.
Fisher said he expects Thomas to be back to full contact on Friday.