March 14, 2010
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – For the first time in 35 years, a new man will be at the helm when Florida State spring football practice opens Tuesday, March 16. Jimbo Fisher, who succeeds Hall of Fame coach Bobby Bowden, will lead the Seminoles on to the field for the first of 15 practice sessions culminating with the April 10 spring game.
“We’ve had a great offseason so far,” Fisher said. “The guys have worked hard. Everybody’s in great shape. They’ve made some strides in the weight room. I can’t wait to see how it carries over into the field. Let’s get ready to roll. I’m looking forward to it.”
Fisher won’t be the only new face on the practice field. Five new assistant coaches – defensive coordinator Mark Stoops, Eddie Gran, Greg Hudson, Dameyune Craig and D.J. Eliot – will also make their first on-field appearances in the program.
One familiar face who will be back on the field for the first time since November is quarterback Christian Ponder, who is well ahead of schedule as he returns from shoulder surgery. Ponder, who is projected as one of the top quarterbacks in the country and a Heisman Trophy candidate, has progressed to the point that he’s making 125 “quality throws” a day according to Fisher.
Installing an entirely new defense will be one of the top priorities of the spring, which will also provide a number of younger players with a chance to shine. Only six starters from the 2009 defense will be going against an offense that returns 10 starters and ranked among the best in the country last season.
“That will be good (for the defense) because they’ll be going against guys who know what they’re doing,” Fisher said. “It will only increase their ability to learn and (speed up) the timetable that’s going to happen.”
Fisher likes the progress the team has shown during the offseason program under the direction of new strength and conditioning coach Vic Viloria and his staff.
“I don’t know that anybody jumped out, but nobody lagged behind,” said Fisher.
As the coach-in-waiting the past two seasons, Fisher has a familiarity with the team he takes over, and vice versa.
“I feel like I know the players and they know what I’m going to demand,” said Fisher, who will continue his hands-on coaching approach with the offense and quarterbacks, but become more involved on the defensive side.
Florida State director of athletics Randy Spetman confirmed Monday that the Seminoles are no longer contracted to play football against Air Force in 2011 and 2012. Consequently, there have been several changes to the future schedules.
FSU is still trying to fill single-game scheduling voids for the 2011, 2012 and 2013 seasons. Here are the current contracted out-of-conference opponents by year:
Sept. 10 vs. Charleston Southern
Sept. 19 vs. Oklahoma
Nov. 26 at Florida
Sept. 8 vs. West Virginia
Sept. 29 at USF
Nov. 24 vs. Florida
Sept. 14 at West Virginia
Sept. 21 vs. Nevada
Nov. 30 at Florida