August 16, 2011 - by
Doak Insider Notebook: Day 9

Aug. 16, 2011



Photo Gallery: Tight Ends


Brandon Mellor
Brandon Mellor
Seminoles.com Senior Writer
bmellor@fsu.edu
Follow me on Twitter

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — It was another hot day in Tallahassee and another day of Florida State football camp Tuesday afternoon.

The Seminoles powered through their ninth day of practice today and now the attention turns to Wednesday’s scrimmage, which we will have full coverage of here at Seminoles.com.

BRIEF OBSERVATIONS

The experimenting on the offensive line continues.

Because David Spurlock has not yet been cleared for full contact, FSU offensive line coach Rick Trickett has been moving various players in and out of the lineup.

Tuesday provided a new look on the offensive line as true freshman Austin Barron took snaps with the first team at center while starting center Jacob Fahrenkrug slid over to guard.

With Zebrie Sanders still out because of a groin injury, true freshman Bobby Hart took reps with the ones at right tackle.

Garrett Faircloth, Tre Jackson and Trey Pettis were also held out because of minor injuries. FSU head coach Jimbo Fisher said after practice that the team moved its scrimmage from Tuesday when it was originally scheduled to Wednesday because he wanted to allow the offensive linemen more time to get healthy.

The experimenting is also taking place on special teams where true freshman Rashad Greene once again fielded kickoffs along with Greg Reid and Lamarcus Joyner. Freshmen Karlos Williams and Christian Green also worked as kick returners.

The FSU coaches are expecting big things out of sophomore LB Christian Jones this year.

JONES ON THE STRONG SIDE

Starting strong side linebacker Christian Jones is not only looking to replace former FSU ‘backer Mister Alexander, he is looking to avoid the dreaded “sophomore slump as well.”

Nearly a week and a half into his first camp as a starter, it appears as though no such slump is on the horizon for the Orlando, Fla. native.

“There’s a guy we don’t talk about a lot but boy he’s a good football player,” Fisher said. “To play in space for a big guy. He can bend and he’s long too. He always gets his hands on the ball and is tipping the ball. Even if he don’t get it he makes you miss because of his height and jumping ability. He can blitz. We even move him in the middle for some nickel situations.”

Jones’ versatility makes him a hot commodity on an FSU defense that operates under a zone scheme under coordinator Mark Stoops. 

At 6-foot-4 and 240 pounds, he looks like a defensive end but moves in space like a defensive back. With those measurements and intangibles, hopes are high in Tallahassee for Jones this season.

“I think he can be an excellent, excellent football player,” Fisher said. “For some reason we don’t talk about him a lot but I do. I notice him a bunch.”

THOMPSON TAKES OFF THE BLUE JERSEY

He’s been out there working with his team but Chris Thompson was finally able to shed the blue no-contact jersey for Tuesday’s practice.

After missing a few days in the middle of last week, Thompson — FSU’s starter at running back — had been wearing the blue jersey as an extra precaution ever since.

NOT TOO MANY SENIORS

If Florida State is going to live up to the lofty expectations that have been placed on the program for the 2011 season, the Seminoles will have to rely heavily on the underclassmen.

FSU enters this new year with just 12 seniors on scholarship.

Already this fall, a host of sophomores and freshmen have been making moves on the depth chart. Jones is a starter at linebacker as mentioned above. Second-year men Joyner (S) and Bjoern Werner (DE) are also starters. Sophomore offensive linemen Bryan Stork and Faircloth are both vying for a starter’s role at guard.

True freshmen Timmy Jernigan (DT), Devonta Freeman (RB), James Wilder, Jr. (RB), Barron (OL), Tre Jackson (OL), Hart (OL), Greene (WR), Karlos Williams (S/KR) and a host of others are in the mix in the two-deep depth chart.

“We are an experienced team but we are still a young team,” Fisher said.

The seniors that are returning are important ones. Starters Nigel Bradham (LB), Spurlock (OL), Beau Reliford (TE), Andrew Datko (OL), Shawn Powell ( P ), Bert Reed (WR) and Sanders (OL) are all seniors. Senior cornerback Mike Harris essentially is a starter even though he is listed as the third cornerback. 

Senior safety Terrance Parks is battling with junior Nick Moody for first-team honors as well.

TWEET TWEET: ANSWERING YOUR TWITTER QUESTIONS=

Thanks for all the Twitter questions. If I did not get to yours today I will do my best to answer each of them in the next notebook. Make sure to check the Doak Insider here at Seminoles.com for the daily notebook throughout camp to see when your question gets answered.

He may be a hulking figure at 6-foot-6 and 242 pounds but Kelvin Benjamin has the skill-set of a wide receiver.

@stillmattic asked, “Do you think it’s a possibility Kelvin Benjamin will get moved to TE?”

Anything is possible but I would say it is very, very unlikely. The FSU coaches are pleased with the depth they have at tight end right now and have even more to work with at wide receiver.

Because the ‘Noles are some deep at wide out, Benjamin has time to master the offense and keep his weight in check. He is too gifted as a pass catcher to not play on the outside where he can use his incredible size against much smaller defenders.

@Faxlanger asked, “What is gonna be our weakness this year?”

It’s hard to pinpoint a specific weakness because the Seminoles are deep and talented at each position. Having said that, there are real question marks on the offensive line.

As I mentioned above, it has been a bit of a revolving door at the guard spots because of Spurlock being out and the fact that Hudson graduated. FSU has to shore up the line because it all starts there.

The talented stable of tailbacks needs blocking and EJ Manuel needs time to throw. It’s on the five guys up front to provide those things and they have to be healthy.

@CoryMc9 asked, “What has the FSU defense done in the off-season to prepare for the OU offense that returned 9 starters from last year?”

While that game really wasn’t a fun one for FSU fans to watch and the coaches and players to take part in, the Oklahoma loss last year proved to be a wake-up call for the program.

Defensive coordinator Mark Stoops talked at length at Media Day this past Sunday about that game. He said his players weren’t prepared for the environment and the speed at which Oklahoma was running their patented hurry-up offense.

But the defense looked much better after the defeat and showed real signs of improvement thereafter. Stoops has said that each member of the defense has learned from the many mistakes in that loss and they have built off that experience.

They will be better prepared this time around because the players better understand the complexities of Stoops’ defense. That game in Norman, Okla. last season was the first true test with a brand new coordinator calling the shots on defense.

Stoops’ defensive schemes aren’t new to the FSU players this time around.

Remember, Seminoles.com is your ultimate stop for all things Florida State football. As the only official athletics website of FSU, nobody gets you closer to the team than we can. Keep checking back frequently. There are only 18 days until the home opener against Louisiana-Monroe. If you haven’t gotten your tickets for that game yet, call the FSU Ticket Office at 1-888-FSU-NOLE today.

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