Aug. 13, 2009
By Rob Wilson, Seminoles.com
Florida State’s football team hit the field for the first time in pads this morning. There are coaches who will tell you under their breath that you cannot tell a thing about a football team until they put on pads. And if you subscribe to that theory then today was a very important day at FSU. I can tell you from being out at that first practice for the 24th consecutive time that the unusually cool morning was not the only change that could be seen.
Starting in temperatures closer to October 13, the Seminoles lined up for their first real shot at each other. I’ve got to be careful not to put too much into a single practice because we all know that you play in September and not in August. And stars on the practice field can turn into disappointments in the stadium. One must also allow for injuries, crafty opposing coaches and dumb luck to take their not insignificant roles in the season’s final outcome, but having said that this was a different football team than I have seen in the last couple of years.
Like anyone else I tucked a numerical roster into my back pocket to help me spot the young guys. A practice can send you to the sheet for two reasons; either to check who just got beat or to reaffirm who is looking good. Today’s practice sent me to the cheat sheet for a third reason, to discover just who it was that made the play and I’m talking about returning guys. There can be no argument that this Seminole team looks better on the hoof than we have in the last several years, but that just wins you the “who looks good on the team plane award.” This practice featured players standing taller, sidelines with reserves riveted at attention and chomping to get in, big hits that finished with smiles from both the offender and defender. In short – attitude.
I’ll hear it this afternoon from colleagues in the building that think I’m painting too rosy a picture and that’s not necessarily my intent. I’m not ready to predict anything and I intentionally didn’t bounce my impression of the practice off any of the current coaches or former stars Corey Fuller, Dan Footman, Kelly Lowrey, Talman Gardner or Nick Maddox who watched intently. I didn’t want to be influenced by the press who watched the workout or even the Seminole baseball staff watching every play from on high. Make no mistake, we’ve got a long way to go, but there is a difference in starting the trip with an enthusiastic and determined group. There is a difference in starting the trip with a well stocked vehicle that may be capable of completing the journey. There is a difference in pulling away with a clear plan that includes options should things pop up along the way.
There will be awful practices ahead where Jimbo Fisher will look like he’s going to explode and when Mickey Andrews will question the manhood of even his most trusted stars. We will get bad medical news as early as today and throughout the season. Some players may have peaked this morning after feeling for the first time the difference between being hit by Dekoda Watson and the 210-pound high school junior who tried to tackle him nine months ago.
Distractions and challenges lie in the path of every football team. But I can tell you this; from where I was standing it was a new day in Tallahassee this morning.