Sept. 2, 2009
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida State practiced in shorts Wednesday, but it would hardly be described as a walk in the park.
The 18th-ranked Seminoles earned a bit of reprieve from the physical pounding, but that did not lessen the intensity. Monday’s season-opener against Miami is fast-approaching, and improving execution – on both sides of the football – is critical to the Seminoles’ success.
“It was a pretty good practice,” Florida State coach Bobby Bowden said at the conclusion of the 2 1/2-hour workout.
It is obviously a pretty big game, even if it doesn’t carry the same weight as those legendary Sunshine State clashes of the 1980s and ’90s. For the third consecutive season, the Hurricanes enter the game unranked.
“It might not have the interest nationally that it did back in the power days, but to the kids it’s just as important,” Bowden said. “You’re playing a state rival. Many of the kids played against each other in high school – they know each other – so for the kids playing against each other it will be big.”
You can tell that the game remains equally important to both the players and coaches.
After hanging 41 points on the Hurricanes last season in a narrow, two-point victory, the Seminoles hope to be even more explosive offensively under third-year coordinator Jimbo Fisher. All signs point to improvement on that side of the football.
“I think our offense is ahead of last year,” Bowden said. “I think our defense is a little behind. The kicking game, of course, is inexperienced. We’ll find out about that in the game.
“I’d say it would be very much like last year with regard to the intangibles, because we haven’t played a game yet. The kids have done everything we’ve asked them to do. It’s just a matter of trying to get better at what we’re doing; trying to execute better.”
That aspect of the game has been the focus, as the Seminoles have implemented significant changes on both sides of the football.
“I’m sure it was less complex last year,” Bowden said of the offense. “We’ve added a lot. This is the third year with this staff and the boys are further along. … The offense is because they’ve got so many boys returning. The defense has still got the kids that haven’t been tested yet and we will not know until we play in a dang ballgame. We might be excellent. We might be lacking.”
The Seminoles spent much of the practice correcting mistakes, working in position segments and against scout teams. … Practice culminated with a goal line, passing drill and the first team offense scored on all four plays. Quarterback Christian Ponder chunked TD passes to Jarmon Fortson, Richard Goodman and Rod Owens, then scampered into the end zone for the final score. The lone touchdown from the second unit came on a nifty Chris Thompson run around the corner. … Defensive tackle Kendrick Stewart (knee) returned to the practice field for the first time this week.