TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – No. 1 Florida State opened fall camp Monday at the Albert J. Dunlap Practice Facility officially on the hunt for its second consecutive national championship.
“It’s good to be back out there on the practice field,” Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher said. “You could tell we hadn’t been out there in a while, but there were a lot of good things. There was good effort. Guys flashed out there on both sides. I liked the intensity. Guys were getting after each other and competing with each other. There’s a lot of work to do, but we are very encouraged by what we’ve seen.”
As Fisher has said the Seminoles are not defending anything. Instead, the 105 players who reported to camp on Sunday night are continuing to develop the 2014 Florida State football team’s own personal identity.
The Noles started honing their new identity this summer during voluntary workouts and 7-on-7 drills where FSU’s fierce competitors battled to get better. On Monday, that competition was on display.
“Our 7-on-7s in the summer, there were blood-lettings,” Fisher said. “There are some competitors on both sides of the ball. There is a tremendous competition level around here and expectation. Sometimes I have to say, ‘Whoa.’ They enjoy it, but I’m going to tell you this, it’s never done disrespectfully.
“I have liked what’s gone on so far with our spring and summer. (I’ve) been very happy with the attitude and the work ethic – a lot of the intangibles.”
Fisher said Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston sets the standard for that kind of competition. He returns along with 14 starters from the offense, defense and special teams from the undefeated 2013 national championship squad.
Still, the Seminoles must replace veteran leaders such as All-Americans and NFL Draft picks Bryan Stork, Lamarcus Joyner, Devonta Freeman and Timmy Jernigan. Several players must evolve into the veteran roles those players were trusted with as the weeks progress.
“Every year it’s always like that,” Fisher said. “It always takes an adjustment period. You really miss those guys but you also see a lot of other guys here stepping up. You remember when they weren’t the guys and then they became the guys. It’s all just a cycle.
The Seminoles welcomed 28 scholarship freshmen to the practice field as well on Monday. The wildly-talented class was ranked the nation’s third-best by ESPN and will undoubtedly add depth and competition to each position group.
“I’m very excited,” Fisher said. “Everyone talks about wanting to see the young guys, which we all do because some of those guys as we’ve found in the past, we use all of those guys. If one emerges or is going to emerge and how he can handle all the things that go on. I’m also excited to see some of the upperclassmen and how some of their roles expand.”
The Seminoles practiced in helmets and shorts on Monday and will wear the same on Tuesday before donning shoulder pads on Wednesday and Thursday and full pads on Friday.
Florida State’s first game of the 2014 season is just 26 days away. The Seminoles open the season on Aug. 30 at 8 p.m. (ABC) against Oklahoma State at the AdvoCare Cowboys Classic in Arlington, Texas.
Head Coach Jimbo Fisher
On what can be accomplished in practice without pads
“Execution, alignment, assignments. We’re still playing against each other and doing drills and going one-on-one. Pass-blocking and all those things that you see us do in camp.”
On the feeling of being in practice without some of the seniors from last year
“Every year it’s always like that. It always takes an adjustment period. You really miss those guys but you also see a lot of other guys here stepping up. You remember when they weren’t the guys and then they became the guys. It’s all just a cycle.”
Redshirt Junior Linebacker Terrance Smith
On the feeling of getting back out to practice
“It felt real good (to be back). The intensity was real good. Everyone was flying all around to the ball and making plays. It felt pretty good for it being the first day.”
On the team’s new practice uniforms designed by Nike
“It’s what Deion (Sanders) says: ‘You look good, you play good.’
On the mentality of FSU as it approaches practice
“We’re still hungry. Everybody is still hungry. We’re out for another national championship. We’re not defending one; we’re going to hunt another one like Jimbo says. Everybody still has that same mentality like we didn’t even win – everybody is still hungry and going hard. It’s a new season. What we did last year is in the past and we’re not really dwelling on that right now. It’s 0-0 and we’re coming into a new season.”
On the development of the team through just the first day
“It’s getting back in the groove of things, but we’re also a lot further along. We’ve got a lot of returning starters. We’re pretty good for the first day.”
On FSU’s execution in today’s practice
“For the first day we were pretty good. Everybody was more or less on point and we had a lot of energy. The first day is usually sluggish but that wasn’t the case.”
On the size of the freshmen
“This is probably the biggest group of freshmen we’ve had in a long time. Me as a linebacker, I’m not complaining because we got some big D linemen in front of me.”
Senior running back Karlos Williams
On how it felt to be back out at practice:
“It went pretty good. It’s exciting. It’s nice to be back to football coming off a tough summer of conditioning. It’s fun to touch a football again and be out there with your teammates. It is just exciting I would say.”
On being the number one running back this year compared to last year:
“It’s a little weird. I switched in the middle of the season, so I got some time to learn the offense and really get a grasp of it. I had a lot of guys surrounding me and pushing me to help learn the offense. After having a good spring, coming in now is definitely a lot easier. I have a bigger leadership role, being the head running back, but I am also learning myself. I’m just trying to perfect my game and hopefully that will reflect during the season.”
On trying to defend their National Championship:
“We are still hunting something we’ve never had. There is a new trophy – a new championship. There is something brand new that we have never had, and nobody in the country has ever had. We are definitely hunting. We are not defending anything. We are chasing and we are hunting. We are going after it.”
Redshirt junior safety Tyler Hunter
On how it felt to be out at the first day of practice:
“It is amazing just to be back out there. I’ve been waiting for this for a long time. I am like a kid out there. I am just loving it.”
On how his neck felt after practice:
“It feels good. I feel normal. It’s like it never happened. I am back to normal. I am ready to hit somebody.”
On if he is ready to hit somebody with pads on after his neck injury:
“I’ve been waiting on this moment for a long time. I am ready to put some pads on and hit somebody.”
On how the team looked at the first practice:
“I think it went really good. It was a lot better than the first practice last year. Everybody pretty much knows what to do. Now we all get to come out here, fly around and make plays.”
Senior wide receiver Rashad Greene
On the wide receiver competition:
“The key component of getting better is being competitive. If no one is competing hard, no one is getting better. That was one of the good things about this summer during 7-on-7 drills. It was fun most importantly and we were getting better.”
On how the young receivers are doing:
“They definitely came in and wanted to learn. The older guys like myself were willing to teach. We need everybody on this team to contribute. They did a great job of coming in, fitting in and wanting to learn.”