TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida State’s second and final scrimmage of fall camp drew mixed reviews from coach Jimbo Fisher, who said that Wednesday’s session inside Doak Campbell Stadium was “Just OK, nothing special.”
Fisher lamented dropped passes, sloppy routes and missed coverages, but also noted that such issues were typical for this type of year.
The Seminoles still have nearly two weeks to clean up any rough edges before they open the season against Mississippi on Sept. 5 in Orlando.
“You hope that they’d be perfect,” Fisher said. “But I guess if they did, then we wouldn’t have a job coaching. I wouldn’t have to do anything the next two weeks.”
Fisher balked when asked if the players could be worn down after a stretch of grueling practices, but he did allow that some specific situations might have led to a few breakdowns.
For example, the coaching staff at one point subbed out All-American left tackle Roderick Johnson in an effort to simulate what might happen if Johnson were injured in a game.
The results might have been uneven, but better to prepare now than wait for adversity hit in September.
“We (tried) a lot of different scenarios and combinations of people,” Fisher said. “You’ve got to play that way, and it kind of gives these guys what I call, ‘sudden changes.’
“You have sudden changes of turnovers, but then you (also) have sudden changes of – ‘Somebody’s out, I’ve got to communicate differently.’ That probably led to a lot of (miscues on Wednesday), but you can’t use that as an excuse. You’ve got to perform no matter what.”
The Seminoles’ defensive line might not have helped matters.
Fisher said Derrick Nnadi was a disruptive force on Wednesday, and fellow linemen DeMarcus Walker, Josh Sweat and Brian Burns have all recently been praised by coaches and teammates.
“(Nnadi) has been a pain in our tail all of fall camp,” Fisher said. “He’s a lot of the reason why sometimes it might have been average.”
The news was hardly all bad, though. The Seminoles got a boost in the form of junior receiver Travis Rudolph, who returned to practice after missing a week with a hamstring pull.
And Nyqwan Murray also participated Wednesday after sitting out a few days with concussion-like symptoms.
Both receivers wore blue, non-contact jerseys. Fisher said that Rudolph was limited to about 50 or 60 percent of his usual workload, but that he likely could’ve done more if necessary.
“We’re trying to heal him all the way up,” Fisher said.
Perhaps the biggest praise – and surprise – Wednesday was reserved for another receiver, sophomore Da’Vante Phillips.
A groin injury limited Phillips as a freshman, and a knee injury suffered on the first day of this year’s camp cast doubts on how much he’d be able to practice in August.
Instead, the knee injury turned out to not be as bad as initially feared, Phillips returned quickly and, according to Fisher, has started to emerge this week.
“He runs great routes and catches the ball. He’s strong,” Fisher said. “I like what I’m seeing out of him right now. I really am. Phillips is becoming a real good player. He has flashed the last two days, probably as much as anybody.”
Leonard makes his case at right tackle, Boselli gets a look at center
Junior right tackle Rick Leonard turned heads a few weeks ago when he arrived to fall camp 30 pounds heavier than when he left for the summer.
Two weeks later, Leonard, who only transitioned from defensive end to offensive tackle in the spring, appears to be the frontrunner to take over for the departed Chad Mavety.
“Yeah he is,” Fisher said. “He’s still got some things to work out, but he’s OK. He’s getting better and better every day.”
Elsewhere on the line, freshman Andrew Boselli got extended action as the team’s first-team center while junior Alec Eberle continues to recover from concussion-like symptoms.
Eberle was dressed out Wednesday and Fisher said he should be back for Fridays’ practice. In his absence, Boselli, the son of former NFL All-Pro Tony Boselli, held his own.
“He did pretty good,” Fisher said. “Here and there had a (problem), but I’m going to tell you what, he’s going to be a good player.
“He’s very, very intelligent. Understands ball, too.”
Freshman cornerback Levonta Taylor missed the scrimmage while tending to a thigh bruise suffered when he collided with another player’s knee. Fisher expects him back in a couple days. Receivers Bobo Wilson (foot) and Ermon Lane were sidelined as well.
Quarterback Sean Maguire was once again in attendance, and even threw a few casual passes on the sideline before the scrimmage began.
“Great attitude, boy,” Fisher said of Maguire. “He wants to be out there and he’s trying to get back.”