March 16, 2010
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – From the time that Jimbo Fisher cross under the arched entrance to the Florida State football practice field the Seminoles seemed to jump to attention.
The first day of spring football practice marked the on-field changing of the guard – the first of its kind in 35 years – and the tempo was decidedly different as Fisher and his five new assistants pushed the `Noles for the next 140 minutes at a different pace on Tuesday.
“It was great,” Fisher said, at the end of his first practice as Hall of Fame coach Bobby Bowden’s successor. “The effort was good. The tempo was good and the attitude was good.”
It was also good to see quarterback Christian Ponder back under center for the first time since undergoing right shoulder surgery in November. Just four months into his rehabilitation, Ponder went the distance in practice, directing the first-team offense.
Ponder came away relatively pleased with his effort, fully understanding that he will continue to get stronger over the next 14 days of spring ball. Fisher also liked what he saw.
“I was pleased,” Fisher said of Ponder. “You could see he was tired at times, but he got the whole day under his maximum number of throws.”
While Fisher still spent most of his time working with the offense and the quarterbacks, he also jotted down notes as he looked over the work of his five new members of the coaching staff. At one point, he didn’t have to look too hard to find them. Defensive coordinator/secondary coach Mark Stoops, linebackers coach Greg Hudson and defensive ends coach D.J. Eliot – all on the field with the `Noles for the first time – were lined up end-to-end working with the defensive front seven.
“I liked them out of the field; their presence and command,” Fisher said.
So did the players.
“I feel like I’m starting all over,” said rising senior linebacker Kendall Smith. “With a new defense, I feel like a rookie.”
Ponder said he there simply wasn’t enough time to digest the idea that for the first time in 35 years, Bowden wasn’t watching over practice from his usual perch atop the tower in the middle of the fields.
“We didn’t have time to think about it,” Ponder said. “It’s non-stop. You don’t have time to think.”
One of the biggest differences is that the team is divided up with the first- and third-teams working together, and the second- and fourth-teams doing likewise. That leads to double the repetitions and twice the amount of work.
“You can’t say you don’t get a chance,” Ponder added.