Aug. 12, 2013
Seminoles.com Managing Editor
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Jimbo Fisher knows something important. And no, it’s not who his starting quarterback is going to be — at least not yet anyway.
But that’s the point. What Fisher knows is that his eventual and highly anticipated final decision on Florida State’s new starter under center — Jameis Winston or Jacob Coker — cannot and will not be rushed.
“I am trying to keep an open mind on that and I have made myself do that because I don’t want to have prejudices and think things,” Fisher said. “I’ve learned over time in coaching [that] one day is one thing; one week is another. … I want to see more consistency before I [make a decision].
“That’s the thing you start to look for because that’s the thing you have to have.”
While fans and the media would prefer to have an official announcement regarding EJ Manuel’s replacement for FSU’s Sept. 2 season-opener at Pittsburgh sooner rather than later, Fisher doesn’t plan on obliging.
As part of the evaluation process that Fisher and quarterbacks coach Randy Sanders are putting Winston and Coker through during fall camp, both young ‘Noles are being given the same amount of snaps with the first-team offense. Not only are they evaluated on how they perform personally, but a keen eye is also placed on how their teammates — namely a veteran returning group of running backs, receivers and offensive linemen — respond.
“Did Jacob do that better? Did Jameis do that better? Who fits our team better?” Fisher asked rhetorically. “It’s also how they fit the personality of our team. Sometimes a quarterback decision can be made of the surrounding cast because you’ve got who you’ve got. Well, one guy’s strengths is this and the other guy’s strength is this. He can be a great player but doesn’t match up to the people you have.
“The good thing about these two guys [is that] they are much more similar than they are different in their physical skills. Much, much more similar than they are different.”
Physically they may be similar with Coker’s 6-foot-5 frame and Winston’s 6-foot-4 measurables and their strong arms and athleticism. But personality-wise, they couldn’t possibly be any more different.
Winston stole the show at Florida State’s annual football media day Sunday as his charm, humor and one-liners went viral across the Internet seemingly as quickly as he was able to deliver them from his brain to the gathered throng of reporters’ recorders. Then, well after an out-of-context quote about reigning Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel made its way to every corner of the web, Winston unveiled his best MC Hammer impression during team and positional photos.
If the nation’s interest in FSU’s redshirt freshman quarterback hadn’t already taken off thanks to his recruiting hype, his baseball prowess and his spring-game performance, the country’s first taste of his goofy personality and quick wit certainly did the trick.
Meanwhile, Coker, as he always does, went about his interviews and media-day responsibilities with his own trademark quiet, speak-only-if-spoken-to persona.
“Being yourself is the key thing, and that’s why I’ll never take that away from any of our quarterbacks,” Fisher said. “There’s not a cookie-cutter quarterback, to me, out there.”
“I think if you’re a leader and you’re fake, people won’t follow you,” Fisher added.
FSU’s two potential starting quarterbacks are far from fake, no matter how different they are off the field or how similar they are on it.
What’s also real, is their support for each other despite the reality that each is battling one-on-one against the other for one life-changing opportunity.
“I hope he does as good as possible every day at practice,” Coker said. “It pushes me and it helps the team. When we are playing well, it helps the team play well.”
Added Winston: “Every day we go into practice with our team. We’ve got our team. We’ve got the same reps [and] everything is going smooth. … When we’ve got these guys around us, it don’t matter. We could have ‘Johnny Two-Shoes’ in at quarterback when we’ve got the guys we’ve got at o-line and wide receiver.”
Fisher told the media that it only takes him “five or 10 minutes” upon first meeting a quarterback during the recruiting process for him to know whether that prospect has the presence necessary to be a leader and face of a program.
And no matter how similar or different they are, Fisher knows that both Winston and Coker have that “it factor” he’s looking for — whether its shared with a smile and quip or an indifferent southern drawl.
“I think all the great ones have confidence without arrogance,” Fisher said. “I think they can get that across to the guys that they are leading. And sometimes when they have to be authoritative they can be authoritative — that comes with time and maturity. There’s a presence about that. EJ [Manuel] had it. Christian [Ponder] had it.”
Winston and Coker have it, too. And just like Manuel and Ponder, one of them will one day soon be the starting quarterback at Florida State University — we just all may have to wait a while longer for the official announcement on which of the two it will be.
-I mentioned this on Twitter earlier but there has been a subtle change to FSU’s uniform pants. Take a look at this photo for example. If what they wore is any indication, it looks like FSU’s pants this season will be lighter and with more of a matte finish than the traditional shiny tint.
-That same photo above shows something else that’s also interesting.
I wrote last week about some FSU defenders that have been doing position drills with different groups throughout practice as a way of cross-training. But do media-day photos indicate permanent position changes?
In that photo, junior-college signee Desmond Hollin is featured with the defensive tackles. He signed as a defensive end but has been working with assistant coach Odell Haggins’ group during camp. Freshmen linebackers Ukeme Eligwe and Ro’Derrick Hoskins also had their pictures taken with the defensive ends.
Fisher said after Sunday’s practice that the cross-training continues but perhaps these photos indicate where we’ll see each of these inexperienced players primarily competing at this season.
-Florida State’s first two-a-day practices of the year were Monday.The team’s ninth practice of fall camp is Tuesday at 4:30 p.m. before a Wednesday scrimmage in the afternoon.
FSU is off Thursday before another two-a-day Friday. The final day of fall camp is Aug. 24.