Aug. 26, 2010
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – For the first time this week the Florida State football team managed to get through Thursday’s 2 ½-hour practice without a weather interruption. That in itself was a welcome relief for the Seminoles, who had endured nearly six hours of practice delays over the two previous days.
The Seminoles did take the practice field 40 minutes late as a thunderstorm moved through campus earlier in the day, but from that point on it was smooth sailing.
FSU spent a large chunk of practice time working against the scout team, refining the game plan for the Sept. 4 opener against Samford, before finishing up with some 11-on-11 work.
Jimbo Fisher continues to be pleased with the way his team is preparing for the opener, which is only nine days away.
“The guys are still coming to work every day and doing a good job,” Fisher said. “It’s been the same and I kind of like it. … They have good work ethic every day.”
That has to be encouraging for Fisher, who has a great deal of respect for Samford coach Pat Sullivan’s Southern Conference squad. The Bulldogs are coming off a 5-6 season but return 15 starters- including star linebacker Bryce Smith and tailback Chris Evans – from a squad that played everyone close. Three of the Bulldogs’ six losses were decided by seven or fewer points.
“They are very well coached on both sides of the ball,” Fisher said of Samford. “They have their quarterback back, a good tailback. … If you look at their scores, they do a really good job on defense. They had Central Florida beat last year and they won a bowl game. Central Florida had to score late in the fourth quarter to go up 28-24 and they ended up 8-5 last year, I think. And they’ve got everybody back from that team.”
|Jimbo Fisher Interview|
G-Reid, Joyner figure in return plan
It should come as no surprise that sophomore Greg Reid, who led the nation in punt return average last season, and freshman Lamarcus Joyner will be used extensively in the return game by special teams coach Eddie Gran.
“They’re both dynamic; probably two of the most explosive players with the ball in their hands that we have on the team,” Fisher said. “That’s the greatest space you’re playing in, so why don’t you want to have your best players?”
Now imagine how much better the two instinctive return men might be with a healthy dose of front-line players blocking in front of them, which is a significant departure from last season.
“You’ve got to be sound and we’ve got a lot of good mid-skill level guys that can run with big bodies that can block,” Fisher said. “We ought to have a chance to be pretty good on that unit, I would think. Hopefully we don’t have to use it a lot.”
Allowing Gran to choose from nearly the entire roster isn’t exactly an upset for Fisher.
“All of the good teams I’ve been on, everybody played,” said Fisher. “The best special teams players I was ever around in my life (were LSU’s) Michael Clayton and Justin Vincent. The year we won the national championship (Vincent) was a freshman and an 1,100-yard rusher and leading tackler on special teams and MVP.”
How many FSU freshmen players in the rotation is too many when the Seminoles open the 2010 season? Fisher doesn’t really seem to care how many freshmen play, as long as they contribute. “We’re going to play a lot of them; as many as we can,” Fisher said after Thursday’s practice. “A lot of guys can help on special teams. They can get in the game as back-ups. It’s not where they’re at now. It’s really going to be games 4, 5, 6, 7. When you’ve got a 12-game regular season, a championship game and a bowl game – hopefully 14 games you’re playing in – that’s a long season, so you’ve got to develop these guys and have them ready. I don’t know if we plan on redshirting a lot of those guys. We’ve got to get them in the mix and get them playing.” The `Noles have 20 true freshmen scholarship players on the roster. Junior right guard starter David Spurlock took some contact work in practice for the first time in two weeks. “He didn’t miss anything,” Fisher said. “We didn’t give him the whole practice but we gave him about three-quarters of it and he looked pretty good.” Redshirt freshman Bryan Stork earned most of the repetitions in Spurlock’s absence. Fisher confirmed that junior receiver Taiwan Easterling has climbed ahead of sophomore Rodney Smith on the depth chart. Easterling, who sat out the spring to play for the FSU baseball team, is second on the team with 65 career receptions. “He’s playing good ball,” said Fisher. “He’s a veteran. You can move him around to different spots and different positions. He’s doing a solid job.” FSU’s defense has been raised for their significant improvement since spring practice, but Fisher said he was a bit concerned about the Seminoles’ run defense. “The last two days in a row we ran the ball really good on the inside and knocked them out; had some really big plays coming out of there,” he said. “They’ve got to tighten that up a little bit, but for the most part they’ve done really well. The secondary has been playing really well.”