Aug. 21, 2011
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — The Florida State football team kicked off its final week of fall camp Sunday with a surprise from the coaches for the hard-working and tired Seminoles: an afternoon off.
FSU was originally scheduled to practice twice on Sunday before the change in schedule. Practice resumes Monday and there will be a scrimmage Tuesday in Doak Campell Stadium. Game-week preparations begin on Aug. 28.
Seminoles.com Senior Writer
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DATKO’S TOUGH TO GET BY WHEN HE’S HEALTHY
Senior offensive tackle Andrew Datko has the pressure-filled task of guarding quarterback EJ Manuel’s blind side. He must also be the leader on an offensive line that lost four-year starers Rodney Hudson and Ryan McMahon to graduation.
It’s a challenge that the fourth-year man is capable of handling because of his skill and experience.
“He has really good technique,” defensive end Dan Hicks said. “He’s always low. He doesn’t fall for any of the [defensive end’s] tricks. He can read the defense. Datko is just a smart tackle in general. It’s really hard to beat him and he communicates throughout the line. He makes sure everybody is on the same page.”
Keeping his teammates together starts by being on the practice field with them.
Unfortunately for the Seminoles, their leader on the left side has missed time recently with minor injuries. Fellow senior tackle Zebrie Sanders, who starts at right tackle, has also had the same predicament of being forced to watch from the practice-field sidelines.
While both Datko and Sanders are expected to return to full health in the near future, freshmen Josue Matias and Bobby Hart have had the early bonus of manning the book ends for the first team.
Head coach JImbo Fisher said Sunday that he has been impressed by the attitude of not only Matias and Hart but from the entire highly-touted freshman class.
“The attitude’s great,” Fisher said about the freshmen. “… They’re getting coached hard. We’re on them and grinding them on purpose at times to see if we can break some of them; even the veterans, because those guys want to take that elite step. I cannot gripe one iota about attitude. They’re a fun group of kids to coach. … As far as coming out here to coach them, and them as people and their attitudes, it’s a great unit.”
BOOT, SCOOT AND BOOGIE
Jarred Haggins — or Scooter as he is known amongst his friends, family, teammates and coaches — says there is one thing that defines him as a football player.
“I have a really good work ethic, said Haggins, a sophomore wide receiver for the ‘Noles. “That’s one thing I can say that I do have. I always want to do the best and be that guy that my teammates can depend on. When it’s time for somebody to step up and be clutch I want to be that guy.”
Thirteen practice days into fall camp and Haggins’ hard work has been easy to recognize.
After a freshman season that saw the Lakeland, Fla. native play primarily on special teams in seven games, Haggins has firmly entrenched himself in the wide receiver rotation for his second year in Tallahassee. He has even earned repetitions with the first team in the slot receiver position.
“Scooter is one of the hardest working guys we have on our team,” Manuel said. “I have worked a lot with him in the summertime going over routes and things like that. He has definitely advanced from where he was last year.”
The Seminoles lost their most productive wide receiver this past summer when Taiwan Easterling chose to forgo his final year of eligibility when he signed a professional baseball contract.
Easterling was a go-to guy in the redzone and on critical third-down conversion attempts. His loss means that Manuel will need a new trustworthy target in those situations and Haggins could very well become that player.
“He works really hard,” junior wide receiver Rodney Smith said. “He’s a great route runner and he likes to compete too. I think he’s going to have a really good year for us.”
13 DAYS AND COUNTING
It’s official, there is less than two weeks until Florida State’s 2011 season-opener against Louisiana-Monroe.
In celebration of the final countdown, the Doak Insider Notebook will now feature a “days left” photo. No. 13 is none other than FSU’s defensive leader, senior linebacker Nigel Bradham: