Sept. 21, 2011
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The storm clouds held off throughout No. 11 Florida State’s Wednesday practice in preparation for Saturday’s ACC opener at No. 21 Clemson.
More importantly, Seminoles’ coach Jimbo Fisher was upbeat after a second consecutive day of solid practice in a week that could easily be gloomy, considering the attrition due to injuries.
“It was a good, hard day; a lot of third-down, red zone (work),” Fisher said, before dashing off to his weekly television show. “I was pleased with the day.”
Redshirt freshman quarterback Clint Trickett drew Fisher’s praise after directing the first-team offense in EJ Manuel’s absence. The `Noles were also down to four scholarship receivers, which didn’t appear to hamper preparation for the Tigers in the least.
“Clint had a good day,” Fisher said. “The back-ups [Will Secord and Jacob Coker] did a good job. Guys are getting healthier.”
With the practice absence of receivers Bert Reed, Scooter Haggins, Willie Haulstead and Kenny Shaw, a number of younger players have been thrust into expanded roles in practice. That doesn’t seem sophomore Greg Dent.
“I am going to be counted on,” Dent said. “Everybody’s got to step up and do what we’ve got to do – play multiple positions. As (for) me, I’m going to be all over the field.”
Like Dent, redshirt freshman Christian Green and true freshman Rashad Greene, have worked extensively with Trickett on the practice field with the second unit. That could end up paying dividends if Trickett is thrust into his first career start should Manuel sit out with his left shoulder injury.
“When I work with the twos, I get all the reps with Clint,” Dent explained. “… It helps me because I know how he throws the ball and the spots (on the field), so I already know how it’s going to be with him.”
“It don’t hurt,” Fisher said, of the chemistry that has been built between Trickett and the younger receivers.
“They’ve looked good so far,” he added. “They’ve done a good job; worked hard. They make a mistake here and there, but we clean it up.”
Junior wideout Rodney Smith, who leads the team with 12 receptions, will anchor the unit. The `Noles could well get a late-week lift as Reed and Shaw continue to make progress in rehab.
Wednesday’s 2 ½-hour practice session included the constant drone of crowd noise in an effort to prepare for the boisterous, sellout crowd at Clemson’s Death Valley.
“That’s a concentration thing,” Fisher said. “During practice you really have to focus at what’s going on; read lips. I think it helped practice, made it that much sharper.”
Fisher didn’t hedge when asked if Manuel could still play against the Tigers, even if he doesn’t practice this week.
“There’s no doubt he could it in a heartbeat,” he said. “He knows the offense inside and out. He could do it very easily.”
The Seminoles head to Clemson looking for their first win there since 2001. Kickoff is set for 3:30 p.m. on ESPN and ESPN3D.