March 31, 2010
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Throughout his first spring at the helm of the Florida State football program, Jimbo Fisher has made it abundantly clear that he will not settle for anything less than the best effort every day. He’s stressed that point on a snap-to-snap basis and isn’t shy when it comes to displaying his disappointment or recognizing outstanding effort.
Wednesday’s practice – the ninth of 15 this spring – included a little of both from Fisher.
“There was not enough consistency with the way they practiced,” Fisher said at the conclusion.
Fisher and the Seminoles’ coaching staff don’t miss a beat. Every snap is filmed and reviewed by the entire staff. Practice is structured so that players are constantly put in positions where their physical and mental skills are challenged.
“That’s what separates guys – the ability to learn and process information,” Fisher said. “We’re not a very situation-smart football team. That’s why we constantly put them in (situations) and educate them as to what to do.”
From minute details, like defensive linemen using their hands properly, to reads by quarterbacks and routes by receivers, no stone is left unturned. Competitively, the Seminoles have mixed and matched starters and reserves in an effort to draw out the best efforts against the best competition. For example, veteran cornerbacks Ochuko Jenije and Dionte Allen have been rotating daily between the first and second units with youngsters Greg Reid and Xavier Rhodes.
“They’re getting to go against everybody,” Fisher said. “It’s good for everybody. It lets the other guys know if you’re not playing well, somebody else is going to take your job. That’s the greatest motivating factor in the world. Everybody here can be replaced; coaches, players – everybody. Stick your hand in a bucket of water and pull it out. The hole that’s left is how much people will miss you, at any job.”
“I think (the coaches) did the rotation perfect, because nobody has a position (secured),” Reid said.
That’s not to say that some players on defense have not stood out. Fisher specifically cited the improvement of defensive tackle Everett Dawkins and defensive end Brandon Jenkins this spring, especially in the area of using their hands more effectively.
“Brandon (Jenkins) is really doing a good job shooting his hands and some of the other guys are getting better at it,” Fisher said. “The inside guys have got to get better at it. Everett is doing a pretty good job using his hands. Jacobbi [McDaniel] has got to get better at it.
“It’s a whole different scheme than putting your head down and running up-field.” Grasping the concept of developing from a physically superior high school player to a solid college defensive lineman, demands that attention to detail.
“I don’t think we were using are hands too well in the past, as individual players,” said rising senior defensive end Markus White. “We are using our hands a lot more and we know that is keeping us on our feet. Great players stay on their feet, so that is one way we are trying to get better.”
Dawkins remembers how difficult it was for him not that long ago.
“My freshman year was real hard,” he said. “I was getting knocked back off the ball all the time. Now that it’s my third year, I’ve learned how to use my hands a little bit and it comes natural to me. …
“You can tell the difference. When you grab your hands on the offensive lineman they can’t just run off away from you and get on the linebackers.”
Ultimately, Fisher and his coaching staff want the opposition to be able to tell the difference in the Seminoles when they hit the field in the fall.