Aug. 12, 2011
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Lightning in the area chased the No. 5 Florida State football team from the practice field twice on Friday, but it did not put a damper on the Seminoles’ spirits as they worked in full pads for the first time this season. In fact, FSU head coach Jimbo Fisher could not have been more pleased with the way his team handled the potential distraction and performed at a high level.
“I really enjoyed today,” Fisher said at the end of the 2 ½-hour workout. “Today’s practice word was consistency. I liked it – on both sides of the ball. I thought we were both making plays when the other guy was doing well, and that was encouraging. We had less missed assignments. … We had a little rain delay, came back out focused; it didn’t bother them.”
Despite being decked in full pads, the Seminoles still refrained from taking runners and receivers to the ground. That’s a philosophy that the FSU coaching staff firmly believes in as a way of taking precautions against lower leg injuries. In Fisher’s mind, there’s very little difference between practicing in shells (shoulder pads and helmets) and full pads.
“It’s the exact same deal.” Fisher said. “We ain’t tackling – we will at some time – but we do everything we do in shells that we do in pads and we do it the same way. You’ve got a little more protection on your knees. We’ll do it [practice in fulls pads] because they’ve got to learn to wear them.”
Starting tailback Chris Thompson was back in action after missing a couple days with a tender back, albeit he worked in a blue, non-contact jersey. The junior standout’s presence, however, was noticeable.
“It was great to see him out there,” Fisher said. “He’s a sharp kid. It’s good to have him out there.”
Fisher and the FSU staff will see plenty of the players tomorrow. The Seminoles are scheduled for the first two-a-day session of camp, with the morning workout set to begin at 9:15 and an evening session set for 7:15.
More than anything else, Fisher would like to see a repeat of Friday’s drill, when their effort and execution drew praise.
“The perseverance of coming through it,” Fisher said is the thing he’s looking for. “Can they come out and do two in a row and what goes with being in a long practice and still get things done and execute?”
Free safety competition drawing best from Moody, Parks
Starters together at safety in last season’s lineup, veterans Terrance Parks came into camp competing for the free safety position, now that Lamarcus Joyner appears to have the strong safety starting spot locked down.
There’s been no brooding by either player through the first five days of camp, as they continually push each other to be better. That’s not really surprising.
“It’s not that it’s going to hurt our friendship at all,” Moody said. “We are close. We have been close since freshman year. It doesn’t have any effect on it.”
In fact, Fisher sees the competition as drawing the best of both players, who have played well since camp began.
“I’m sure (starting) matters to them, and it matters to us,” Fisher said. “It shows the competition level. They’re razzing each other and the good thing is they’re handling it very well. They’re handling it as a team because they know both guys are going to contribute, both guys are going to have a big role and we’re going to need them both to go where we need to go.”
Faircloth’s development provides boost
On an offensive line that is heavy on seniors and freshmen, redshirt sophomore Garrett Faircloth is positioned to step in and play an instrumental role. Faircloth, who entered camp as a back-up to senior right tackle Zebrie Sanders, worked extensively Friday at right guard.
“I really like Garrett’s development,” Fisher said. “He really did a nice job and he’s learning and starting to become a good football player.”
Faircloth’s versatility, especially with senior right guard David Spurlock limited to non-contact work, is even more valuable since the Seminoles lost linemen Blake Snider and Rhonne Sanderson to medical disqualifications. Though primarily a tackle, he has been getting practice snaps at guard under line coach Rick Trickett’s direction since last season.
“It’s huge,” Fisher said. “To have that versatility to move back and forth, that’s why we move those guys around up there.”
Rhodes getting back in the groove
Playing cornerback is hardly as easy as riding a bike. Playing it at the level Xavier Rhodes did last season, when he earned ACC Defensive Rookie of the Year and Freshman All-American honors, after sitting out the spring following lower abdominal surgery is even more challenging.
“Right now it is taking me a while,” Rhodes said. “With the tempo (of practice), I haven’t been through that for a while. I’m getting used to it now. Each day I feel myself adjusting.”
While Rhodes understands that there’s going to be an adjustment period before he returns to top speed, he’s confident that he’s fully recovered from the injury – near his hip area – which nagged him throughout much of last season. Fatigue and soreness from inactivity come with the turf.
“I know it’s going to take time,” he said. “I can’t get frustrated. I was ready for it.”
Fisher quiets talk of FSU conference move
Over the past two days several media outlets have reported that Florida State is a potential candidate to move to the Southeastern Conference, which began when word leaked that Texas A&M was considering a jump from the Big VII to the SEC.
Amid rampant speculation that the `Noles could join the Aggies to form a 14-team SEC, Fisher was to the point:
“There’s no offer on the table. I have not spoken to anyone about it. We love the ACC and we love the conference we’re in.”
Florida State celebrated its 20th anniversary of ACC membership in July.
Odds and ends
Tailback Jermaine Thomas, who returned to practice Thursday after missing two days with a migraine, was on the shelf again Friday…safety Gerald Demps (head) was also held out of practice…The Seminoles held up nicely in the heat for a second consecutive day…Fan Day is set for Sunday at 12 noon in the Donald L. Tucker Center. Admission is free. Sunday’s practice, set for 4 p.m. inside Doak Campbell Stadium, is open to the public.