Aug. 30, 2010
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Anxiousness and excitement abound with Monday’s arrival of Game Week for the Florida State football team and first-year coach Jimbo Fisher, who will make his debut Saturday against Samford inside Doak Campbell Stadium, with kickoff set for 12 noon.
At the first of his season-long Monday press conferences, Fisher said if you don’t feel the anxiousness and excitement as a coach, it’s probably “time to get out of the business.”
Fisher, however, is just getting into it – at least as a head coach – after 22 seasons as an assistant and he likes what he has seen from his Seminoles leading up to this point.
“I am looking forward to playing somebody besides ourselves,” he said. “I think the players are too, but we have had a good camp and a productive camp. We still have some growth we need to make as the season goes on, but I kind of like where we are right now. We just need to play a game.”
The Seminoles won’t have long to wait, with Monday’s 2 ½-hour workout in the books.
“We still have to give 100%, but … right now it is just polishing up, practicing hard and having fun,” said sophomore cornerback and return standout Greg Reid. “Hopefully it will carry on to the game this Saturday,”
Still, there are questions to be answered as the Seminoles head into the season, beginning with their revamped defense under the direction of coordinator Mark Stoops. That unit has been a bright spot throughout the preseason after a disappointing 2009 campaign.
“The mindset changed because we knew we were going to get a new scheme,” said senior linebacker Mister Alexander, who will make his first career start against the Bulldogs.
When asked if the defense was capable of surprising some who may be skeptical, Alexander cracked a sly smile.
“You will see,” he said.
Fisher is certainly expecting significant improvement, after watching the unit grow together since Stoops implemented the new scheme in the spring. He said the greatest improvement he has seen is the players’ grasp and understanding of the new scheme.
“We have done a tremendously better job not giving up the big plays,” Fisher said, addressing one of last season’s bugaboos. “It is hard to find big plays on these guys. You have to really stick balls in holes or someone has to break a tackle and run hard. …
“They are being very sound in what they are doing, and that is the first thing. You have to get that foundation down first. But the way they have played with not giving up big plays and playing very disciplined has been the most impressive in a short amount of time.”
Reid ready for all challenges
After leading the nation in punt returns as a freshman, Greg Reid is ready to take his game up another notch – whatever that entails.
The Valdosta, Ga. native will make his first career start at cornerback against Samford, continue to handle punt return duties and likely team with freshman Lamarcus Joyner to form a potentially dangerous kickoff return tandem. Earlier this summer, Fisher said Reid could even see some action on offense.
“I am down to play anything,” said Reid, who doesn’t hide his passion for the game. “I will be ready to play at any position. They need help at kick returns, so I am willing to play. I did lead the nation in punt returns last year, so I feel like I can do well at kickoff returns, too.”
Reid actually averaged 25.5 yards on kickoff returns last year, but figures to benefit from the added emphasis placed on the special teams units by assistant Eddie Gran
“On punt returns if you just let one guy get by I can beat that one guy,” Reid said. “On kickoff returns I feel like it is me against everybody. I kind of look kickoff returns as just trying to help the offense. Not too many people score on kickoff returns, so I am basically just trying to get good field position.”
Spurlock back with the starters
The right side tandem has started side-by-side for the better part of two seasons and their familiarity with each other is comforting in the trenches. Of course, the same can be said for the entire offensive line, which returns 142 career starts, most of which have been compiled together the past two seasons.
“I pretty much know what (Spurlock) is going to do whenever he’s picking up twists or anything like that,” Sander said. “I know he’s going to have my back and I’m going to have his. (Bryan) Stork is great player, too and was starting to pick that up. Now with Spurlock, we’re picking up where we left off. It’s great to have him back.
Stork, a redshirt freshman, earned valuable practice time in Spurlock’s absence which will help add depth to line coach Rick Trickett’s starting quintet which is rounded out by Andrew Datko, Rodney Hudson and Ryan McMahon.