Aug. 27, 2009
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – After three weeks of ideal practice weather, Florida State’s football coaching staff embraced Thursday’s rain, which provided the Seminoles with their first significant, wet-ball workout of the preseason.
It was just the preparation the coaches were hoping for leading up to the Sept. 7 opener against Miami.
“We needed at least one day in this,” FSU coach Bobby Bowden said. “We contemplated going over there to the (artificial turf) band field, but we felt like we needed to go ahead and work with a wet ball on a wet field. I think that’s good. Now if we get that (Labor Day) Monday for that game, at least we’ve had a day in it.”
While the heaviest rain fell before practice, a constant drizzle and saturated ground, failed to produce an overabundance of turnovers. In fact, quarterbacks Christian Ponder and EJ Manuel, played as if they were oblivious to the conditions.
“I saw more drops today, but it wasn’t bad.,” Bowden said. “(Ponder) threw like it didn’t affect him. It didn’t look like it affected either (quarterback).”
Ponder was especially sharp with deep throws against FSU’s scout team defense, connecting with Jarmon Fortson and Rod Owens on 40-yard strikes in pass skeleton work. Manuel also had a 40-yarder to Willie Haulstead.
Offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher was largely pleased with what he saw from his quarterbacks and receivers.
“The balls were wet, the field was wet and you’ve got to learn how to play,” Fisher said. “We had a few slippings, and we needed to take care of (the ball) a little bit better in the beginning. Then we got used to it and adjusted, and I thought that it went pretty good.”
In actuality, the practice ended on a high note for the defense, as free safety Jamie Robinson picked off another Ponder pass to end an 11-on-11 series. It was Robinson’s second interception in as many days, continuing his strong preseason.
“I bet he’s got eight or nine (in camp),” Bowden said.
Not to be outdone, cornerback Ochuko Jenije intercepted Ponder in the end zone on the day’s final play, which came on a desperation toss.
Senior cornerback Patrick Robinson swatted away a touchdown pass intended for Jarmon Fortson in the end zone during 11-on-11 work. … The best collision of the day came when linebacker Kendall Smith buried tailback and lead blocker Jermaine Thomas on a running play. … Tight end Beau Reliford shook off the doldrums from several long afternoons with a 30-yard grab. … With senior defensive tackles Budd Thacker (toe) and Kendrick Stewart (knee) held out of contact work for a second consecutive day, heralded freshman Jacobbi McDaniel continued to receive significant snaps alongside Moses McCray with the first-team defense. Fellow freshman Demonte McAllister is also getting a load of repetitions. “They are getting a lot of work, which is what they need,” Bowden said of the youngsters. “They look like they can handle it.”… Redshirt freshman Everett Dawkins, who began the preseason at defensive tackle and moved out to defensive end, was moved back inside to bolster position coach Odell Haggins’ under-manned unit. … There are quite a few position battles still being waged as the Seminoles head into Saturday’s closed scrimmage, including cornerback, rover, defensive end, offensive guard, tailback, wide receiver and kicker. The competition is a welcome sign, reflecting the team’s improved depth. “We let (the players) know those scrimmages are so important because they are game-like,” Bowden said. “We’ve got ACC officials out there, so it’s time to show your stuff if you’ve got it.” … The Seminoles will practice Friday afternoon.