Sept. 14, 2009
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Monday night’s steady rain was not a lot different from the early deluge that engulfed the Florida State football team on Saturday against Jacksonville State. The Seminoles’ attitude, however, was decidedly different.
After escaping the grasp of a near-upset with a 19-9 victory, the Seminoles set out to prepare for No. 7 Brigham Young with a purpose. FSU’s first road trip of the season provides Bobby Bowden’s 1-1 team with the opportunity to make a statement.
More than anything, the coaches and players were both excited about the challenge and the opportunity to put in a full week of preparation for the talented Cougars (2-0), who defeated No. 2 Oklahoma 14-13 in the opener and followed with a road rout of Tulane.
“They’ve got two games under their belt and had to show everything against Oklahoma,” Bowden said, from under the cover of his golf cart. “At least we’ll have a much better feel of what they do.”
That wasn’t the case in the Labor Day Monday opener against a Miami team with two new coordinators. And it certainly wasn’t facing Jacksonville State with just two full days of preparation.
“This is the week that kind of gets us back in the regular routine of how the season goes preparation-wise,” FSU senior free safety Jamie Robinson said. “It’s going to help, having extra time to prepare for a team. It doesn’t matter who you’re playing. … These four days or five days that we’re going to have to prepare are really going to help.”
There was a brisk pace to the 75-minute practice in shorts and helmets as the coaching staff wasted little time going over mistakes that occured against the Gamecocks and went right to work on the BYU game plan against the scout team. The Cougars, led by talented quarterback Max Hall and a veteran defense that thrives on the blitz, will present considerable challenges.
Picking up the blitz out of BYU’s 3-4 defensive front – the same base defense as Jacksonville State – is a point of emphasis among FSU offensive players.
“Today was a little bit challenging at the beginning, but as we finished going through practice we were able to pick and see where they were coming from,” sophomore tailback Jermaine Thomas said. “We’ve got to be prepared for Saturday.”
On the opposite side of the football, FSU’s defensive front must get ready for one of the biggest lines they will face all season.
“We’re definitely going to have to use our speed and our strength to our advantage, because they have great athletes; real big, kind of like Wisconsin,” said senior defensive tackle Kendrick Stewart. “We are going to have to stay low, use our hands and use our quickness.”
In short, the Seminoles will have to have all aspects of their game – physical and mental – working in sync when they take the field at LaVell Edwards Stadium in Provo, Utah.
“They are a hard-nosed team,” said Robinson. “They play hard. They’ve got a lot of guys that just go real hard. I know they’re very physical. It’s going to be a very physical ballgame and we’re going to bring our A-game, toughness and discipline.”
If nothing else, those points were driven home in the aftermath of Saturday’s narrow escape.
“As a team, went through a little adversity and overcame it,” Thomas said. “I think we’re going to be able to put this thing together and go out there (with) everybody on the same page. We’ve worked so hard, so we just hate to see that go to waste. We’ve just got to come together and get the job done.”