Sept. 20, 2011
By Bob Thomas, Seminoles.com
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Jimbo Fisher emerged from Tuesday’s practice encouraged by the way his Florida State football team began earnest preparation for Saturday’s Atlantic Coast Conference opener at Clemson.
“Coming off a long physical, hard game like we did, the kids bounced around had good heat,” Fisher said. “We had a good, hard work day today.”
Saturday’s matchup marks the first time since 2000 that the Seminoles (No. 11 AP) and Tigers (No. 21) have both been ranked when they meet.
The Seminoles were still without a number of players nursing injuries, including EJ Manuel, Bert Reed, Kenny Shaw and Greg Reid, who either participated in a limited capacity or continued rehabilitation.
As for Manuel, the Seminoles’ starting quarterback who injured his left, non-throwing shoulder against Oklahoma, Fisher seemed upbeat.
“He’s progressed very nicely; loosened up and moved around pretty good,” Fisher said. “We didn’t want him working today. We’ll see how it goes tomorrow. … I’ll be really anxious to see him tomorrow.”
One of Fisher’s concerns entering the game is dealing with the noise at Clemson’s Memorial Stadium – aka, Death Valley. The coaching staff has already implemented steps to prepare for the always-raucous crowd without the benefit of piped in crowd noise.
“We’ve just got to make sure on the noise factor,” Fisher said. “We just do a couple little things that deal with noise. … As far as the rest of the practice, it’s the same.”
Preparing Coker is part of the plan
FSU freshman quarterback Jacob Coker will make his first road trip this weekend, continuing a pattern Fisher has long endorsed with young quarterbacks. It’s something Fisher did with Christian Ponder in 2007, EJ Manuel in 2008 and Clint Trickett in 2010.
As it turned out, all three ended up playing early in their careers in pivotal road games.
Fisher said the chance to be in the game environment is an invaluable tool, which allows him to mark one more thing off the checklist in preparation for playing at a later date.
“Watching it, going through the whole environment; watching what it’s about, how it goes on, what the preparation is in all phases and how serious it gets in the meetings,” Fisher said, rattling off the benefits. “All of the positions are great, but the quarterback is different. You can sit in the meetings all week, but when you get to those last couple of days and how the meetings get – dotting the I’s and crossing the T’s – I think it’s a great learning experience…
“You don’t wait to play. You prepare to play.”
While Trickett has been getting all of the snaps with the first team the last two days, third-team quarterback Will Secord has also shared some snaps with Coker.
“You’ve always got to carry three, just to have them ready,” Fisher said.
Ideally, Coker will take a redshirt this season, behind the three veterans, but Fisher said he would not hesitate to play the Mobile, Ala. native if it could help the Seminoles win a game.
“You have to because the team is the most important thing,” Fisher said. “Remember, there (are) 105 guys (on the roster). That’s what part of being a team is. You’re responsible for the guy beside you and you make sacrifices.”
Fisher followed by telling the story of LSU cornerback Travis Daniels, who had not played a down in 2001 entering the SEC Championship game. When injuries hit the unit, Daniels told Tigers’ coach Nick Saban he would rather play than protect a redshirt season.
Daniels played in the title game, and then in the Sugar Bowl, knocking down a pair of passes while covering future NFL standout Donte Stallworth.
“That’s one of the greatest stories of unselfishness I’ve ever had (experienced),” Fisher said.
Beyond the record crowd on hand at Doak Campbell Stadium for Saturday’s game against Oklahoma, the Seminoles and Sooners were a big hit among television viewers as well. According to ABC Sports the game drew a 5.8 rating with 6.6 million households tuning in and 9.3 million viewers. The ABC Saturday Night Football game was the No. 1 show for the day among viewers and adults, ages 18-49. It was also the highest-rated, most-viewed Saturday Night Football game since the 2009 Big 12 Championship (7.5 rating, 8.6 million households and 12.6 million viewers.
Sophomore wide receiver Scooter Haggins underwent successful right hand surgery to repair a broken bone. The surgery was performed by team orthopedic specialists William Thompson and Steve Jordan at the Tallahassee Orthopedic Center. Haggins actually made a brief appearance at practice. He is expected to return in 4-6 weeks.