Aug. 11, 2009
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The dog days of preseason football camp are clearly underway, but the prospect of donning full pads for the first time Wednesday morning is something the Florida State football team is looking forward to with anticipation.
“Everybody is looking forward it,” said FSU senior defensive tackle Budd Thacker. “It gives everybody more of an incentive to go out and hit somebody. We’ll get in some goal line, which is always a tough thing for the guys.”
Tuesday’s 2 1/2-hour workout seemed to take a toll on the team, as it battled sweltering temperatures and the raised expectations of the coaching staff.
“It was very obvious we weren’t as peppy today as we were yesterday,” said FSU coach Bobby Bowden, who for the fourth consecutive workout spent significant time on the practice field, rotating between different segments. “The kids have handled everything good so far. I hope they can keep it up.”
That will be especially challenging over the next two days. After getting their first taste of full pads Wednesday, the Seminoles are scheduled for their first two-a-day session on Thursday.
It is the kind of drain that will test the resolve of the team, which the players insist in stronger and more unified than ever.
“It’s hot, but when it comes down to it, it’s all in your head,” said Thacker. “You’ve got to do it and help each other out.”
Quarterback Christian Ponder said practicing in full pads provides a better look and barometer of exactly where the team is at this juncture.
“You put the pads on and really play football,” Ponder said. “It’s different going in just helmets and shoulder pads. You don’t get a real look. When you put the full pads on it really shows where we are right now.”
It may also serve to heighten focus while under duress; something that waned at times Tuesday.
“Toward the end of practice (focus) definitely plays a role,” Ponder added. “That’s better for us because it will help us out in the long run.”
Bowden looks forward to the full pads contact because it is often the best gauge to determine which freshmen may be most prepared for action early on.
“Sometimes a guy that has been looking OK, but not outstanding, when he puts the pads on he becomes outstanding,” Bowden said. “Those are things we find out as we watch kids play.”
While Tuesday’s practice provided a limited number of highlights during 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 team drills, Bowden did cite a pair of players for outstanding plays.
Sophomore tight end Beau Reliford, more accomplished as a basketball player in high school, stretched out to make an outstanding catch during 11-on-11 work. It was one of many on the day for the raw-boned, 6-foot-7 youngster, who has been impressive throughout the early stages of camp.
“(Reliford) is coming along,” Bowden said. “He came in here with outstanding talent and he’s really becoming a football player.”
At the other end of the experience specter, senior free safety Jamie Robinson had an interception return for a touchdown near the end of the practice session. It was Robinson’s second in as many days, on the heels of an outstanding spring by the one-time cornerback.
“Those were the two biggest plays out there today,” Bowden said.