Aug. 27, 2012
Tallahassee, Fla. — Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher addressed the media for the first time this season during an afternoon press conference Monday — a weekly routine that will occur throughout the season.
Seminoles.com Managing Editor
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After commenting on No. 7 FSU’s game Saturday against Murray State, Fisher was immediately asked about the first depth chart of the season released moments earlier. Most notably, gathered media wanted to know about why Fisher ultimately chose Menelik Watson over Daniel Glauser for the starting right tackle job in a competition that had been the talk of fall camp.
“He played the best,” Fisher deadpanned. “He played really well. Was having a good camp and Daniel Glauser I think he has made tremendous strides; feel very comfortable putting him in the game. But I thought Menelik was definitely the most efficient and has very big upside. It’s amazing how quick he picked things up.”
Fisher is amazed because of Watson’s football background — or lack thereof.
A former college basketball player at Marist, Watson’s only football experience is the year he spent playing at Saddleback Community College. Despite his lack of experience, Division I coaches from across the country descended upon Mission Viejo, Calif. last year to see the 6-foot-6, 320-pound behemoth in person and offer him a scholarship.
Since enrolling at FSU this summer, Watson has been exactly what those coaches — Fisher and offensive line coach Rick Trickett included — thought he would be as an athlete and potential star. He also has a strong work ethic and desire to constantly improve.
“As he’s making a mistake he’s running back to his spot saying, ‘sorry coach, sorry coach’ as he’s getting down to do it again,” Fisher said. “Very focused, very mature and has tremendous, tremendous athletic ability.”
Erving’s background isn’t quite as diverse as his counterpart from Manchester, Great Britain, but he still took an unorthodox path to a starting job on the ‘Noles’ offensive line. A converted defensive tackle, Erving has been the team’s off-season star because of his ability to grasp his new position and play it at a high level.
But the fact remains that neither Erving nor Watson has ever played in a major college football game as an offensive tackle, let alone started one.
“They’ll both be nervous as crap” for Saturday’s season opener, Fisher joked, before reaffirming his stance that lack of experience shouldn’t prevent either from performing at a high level.
“Extremely athletic for big guys; I mean very athletic,” Fisher said. “Extremely big. Extremely long. There’s a difference in being big and long. They bring both of that. They’re both very intelligent. And the thing I love most about them is they both are very instinctive. Football makes sense to them.”
Manuel has seen the same thing from his two new bookends.
“It’s been good and I think the most important thing is that they were coming to me,” Manuel said. “‘EJ Am I doing this right?’ or ‘Are you feeling pressure off the right side or off the left side?’ Cam and Menelik have probably been doing it equally. That gives me a lot of extra confidence in that pocket.”
Not only does Erving and Watson give the Seminoles added athleticism and potential at the tackle spots, they also add further size to what has been a “growing” trend along the offensive line since Fisher came to FSU from LSU.
When Fisher joined the coaching staff as offensive coordinator in 2007, the average weight of Florida State’s five starters on the offensive line was 285.6 pounds. But with Erving and Watson on the ends and Josue Matias, Bryan Stork and Tre’ Jackson in the middle, FSU’s average on the scale has risen to 319 pounds — a five-year increase of just over 30 pounds.
“They are bigger,” Manuel said. “That’s the biggest thing all the fans will notice when we break the huddle this Saturday. We have some size.”
INTRODUCING Terrance Smith
The young linebacker played in two games as a rookie a season ago but was granted a medical redshirt after being injured.
The off-season move of Nick Moody from safety to strong-side linebacker, Christian Jones’ switch to the weak side and FSU’s addition of highly-touted freshmen Ukeme Eligwe and Reggie Northrup has drawn most of the attention in the linebacker corps but Fisher made sure to correct that Monday.
“I really like Terrance Smith,” Fisher said. “I think Terrance Smith is really starting to come on. I have been extremely pleased with him. I think he is doing some really nice things [as Moody’s backup] and showing up not only there but on special teams. Feel very comfortable getting him in the ballgame.”
Fisher added that he started to see signs of Smith’s development this past spring.
“He has kind of let it loose,” Fisher said.
WHEN WILL MCCLOUD RETURN?
Florida State has been without the services of starting defensive tackle Anthony McCloud the last few weeks after he sustained a pectoral injury during fall camp.
Fisher said Monday that the senior leader could be back soon.
“It’ll be close; Anthony may be this week it may be the next week,” Fisher said. “We think he’ll definitely be within the next two weeks. We’ve got to judge and see and make sure where his injury was. That can be one if you try to come back to early, you can really set him back but if you wait to make sure it’s healed you should be fine. So we’re making judgments on that daily right now.”