Aug. 18, 2010
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The performance in the first of Wednesday’s two practice sessions provided Florida State football coach Jimbo Fisher with a reason to smile.
“I thought both sides had good days,” Fisher said at the end of the sweltering session. “It was the first time that both sides executed when the other side did it right. We didn’t stop a play because we busted a protection. … The offense didn’t have success because the defense missed an assignment. There was actually football being played; good football on both sides. We were doing it right, playing right and competing. That’s the way you have to beat good teams.”
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It was a positive response by the Seminoles following a less-than-stellar performance Tuesday.
“Now my challenge is how consistent can we get it?” Fisher added. “Dealing with failure is not hard. Dealing with success is harder. Are we content with that, or can we have another practice this afternoon that gets us in the direction?”
Wednesday evening’s second session will mark the final two-a-day of the preseason; yet another sign that the Sept. 4 opener against Samford is coming up quickly.
Count redshirt sophomore cornerback Xavier Rhodes among the majority when it comes to bidding farewell to the double practice sessions.
“We have been working hard, giving it our all, putting our bodies on the line out there,” said Rhodes, who will welcome the extra rest as the team prepares to get into regular season practice mode.
From good to great
Fisher is looking for a few good men among the 2010 Seminoles to make the transition from good player to great player; the kind that set the tone on outstanding teams.
“I think it’s the biggest challenge of all of them, because it’s a step and there’s a commitment you truly have to take,” Fisher said. “It’s not just based on ability. It’s based on everything you do on and off the field. … That’s the difference and the hardest step you have to take at this level.”
Ponder and Hudson prefer to lead by example, but each has stepped up their vocal leadership skills this preseason. In Ponder’s instance, he has taken to providing a stronger presence with the receivers and running backs. Hudson has been dispensing advice to a cast of young linemen who have been pressed into action due to a rash of short-term injuries.
“There are a lot of young guys that haven’t played yet in game, so I just have to help them out as much as I can to get them prepared,” said Hudson. “I tell them what I know to help them out on each play.”
Fisher, however, quickly admits that he pushes others toward greatness, often riding them the hardest because the team is counting on them the most.
“They’ve got to set a standard, too,” Fisher said. “If they’re not setting the standard we want – because all eyes on those young guys are on them and how they perform. The standard they set is generally the attitude of your football team.”
An A in chemistry
There have been a wide range of changes made in how the football program operates under Fisher’s direction and one of the most significant developments is how the first-year coach has gone about building team chemistry. That has been especially evident throughout preseason camp.
“Every night we have a guest speaker,” said junior tailback Jermaine Thomas. “A few nights ago we were all together watching a movie. It is just building team chemistry and like they say, if you get to know your teammates better you are more likely to go battle and go that extra mile for them.”
In addition to appearances by motivational speaker, comedians and the like, Fisher has made a point of taking the team to church together on Sunday’s. He has mixed up the locker assignments as well, forgoing the long-standing division of offense on one side and defense on the other. For instance, sophomore cornerback Greg Reid lockers alongside senior guard Rodney Hudson.
The team eats and lift weights together, as well.
“Team chemistry seems to be very good,” Fisher said. “Every now and then if you see an offensive player make a play, a defensive player will yell (something encouraging), or if defensive player make a play, an offensive player will yell. It’s not all split up. They’re competing like heck, but I like that part of it.”
Fisher announced that after meeting with Nigel Carr and his family, the junior linebacker has been released from his scholarship so that he can transfer to another institution to continue his playing career and complete his degree requirements.
Wednesday’s morning session concluded with a three-and-out stand by the first-team defense working against the first-team offense. Cornerback Xavier Rhodes had a big hit stop of Ty Jones to help the defense prevail.
Junior tailback Jermaine Thomas worked with the first-team offense for the first time, but isn’t taking that opportunity for granted. “I am still just going out there working hard, taking it one day at a time – just trying to stay consistent and keep doing what I have been doing,” said Thomas.