Oct. 7, 2009
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – While much of the conversation regarding Florida State football Wednesday centered on coach Bobby Bowden, it was business as usual on the practice field.
The Seminoles got a heavy dose of work against the scout teams, offensively and defensively, in preparation for Saturday’s game against No. 22 Georgia Tech. FSU is looking for its first Atlantic Coast Conference victory of the season and second win of the 2009 campaign against a nationally-ranked opponent.
Being physically and mentally prepared for the Yellow Jackets is enough to prevent the players from worrying about off-field issues that have dominated the news in recent days.
“I don’t think the kids pay any attention to that stuff,” Bowden said, after the team completed a 22-period practice session. “They’re out there to play football. They think about Georgia Tech.”
Georgia Tech presents enough issues to occupy the Seminoles’ attention, with running threat Josh Nesbitt directing the spread option alongside ACC rushing leader Jonathan Dwyer. Yet handling the Jackets’ run game isn’t the only concern. Nesbitt passed for a career-high 266 yards in Tech’s 42-31 victory at Mississippi State last weekend and there is no debate as to the identity of his favorite receiver.
Senior Demariyus Thomas has collected 24 of Nesbitt’s 33 receptions on the season, good for 536 yards and three touchdowns. He leads the ACC in yards per game (107.2) at a clip of 22.3 yards per catch. Last week at Mississippi State the two hooked up for eight pass plays, covering 174 yards and three touchdowns.
One bit of good news emerging from Wednesday’s workout was the return of senior cornerback Patrick Robinson. Robinson suffered a left ankle sprain in Saturday’s loss to Boston College, but said he thinks he will be able to go against the Yellow Jackets.
“If he keeps getting better the next day as he was today, there’s a chance he’ll be able to play,” Bowden said. “You’d like to have your best cover man on (Thomas). Pat covered him last year and had that interception that set up our supposed winning touchdown.”
The Seminoles lost 31-28 at Georgia Tech, fumbling as the ran into the end zone for the would-be winning touchdown with seconds remaining. It was the first FSU loss to the Jackets since joining the ACC. The ‘Noles, however, are 6-0 against Tech.
Of course stopping the run in Tech’s spread option must be the top priority. Bowden and defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews acknowledged that the defense got a little better look from the scout team on Wednesday. Now it’s a matter of executing; an area where the ‘Noles have struggled at times.
“Missed tackles against them will kill you,” said Bowden, whose team was gashed for 36 and 66 yard touchdown runs from Dwyer last season. “I’m sure (the players) learned. I’m sure our coaches learned. They saw things they better not do and they better do.”