August 9, 2011 - by
Day 2 Practice Observations

Aug. 9, 2011

Brandon Mellor
Brandon Mellor Senior Writer
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — It was day two on Florida State’s Al Dunlap Practice Fields Tuesday and unlike the day before, the lightning stayed away and the Seminoles football team was able to get to work on time.

As was the case yesterday, the crew and I and the rest of the Tallahassee media were in attendance for the first 30 minutes of practice. Before I get into some of my observations, I wanted to take this opportunity to answer a few questions about the ‘Noles from some FSU fans out there.

I posed a question on my Twitter account (@BrandonMellor) asking if there was anything specific that you, the fans, wanted to know from the practice fields.

Thank you for the tremendous response. I unfortunately can’t answer them all but wanted to pick out a few to talk about today. Tomorrow, I will ask the same question around 2 p.m. so if there’s something you want to know that wasn’t answered here, send them my way on Twitter.

Here are today’s questions:

@ketanrane asked, “How does Lamarcus Joyner look? Is Jeff Luc back to full fitness?

Through two days, Joyner has looked fluid and comfortable out there. You have to take into account that he and the rest of the team have yet to put on pads so the game is much different. But from the looks of things, it’s clear that defensive coordinator/secondary coach Mark Stoops is very high on Joyner, who has made the switch from cornerback to safety.

Lamarcus Joyner and Mark Stoops working together on Tuesday.

I call it a switch but technically it’s a return for him. Joyner became a Parade All-American in high school while roaming the defensive secondary for his high school team primarily in the safety spot. Stoops is now using him as the starter at strong safety while Terrance Parks are listed as co-No. 1s at free safety.

Because Stoops’ defense is built on zone schemes, the free- and strong-safety spots are essentially interchangeable. And from what I have witnessed through the first two days, it wouldn’t shock me to see the trio of Joyner, Parks and Moody on the field at the same time depending on the defensive call and offensive tendencies of FSU’s opponent.

The one constant in all of this is that I expect Joyner to be listed as the starter no matter what. He has tremendous ball skills and is arguably one of the fastest safeties that the Seminoles have ever had.

As for Luc, the second-year linebacker is showing no signs of the knee injury that cost him the entire 2011 spring-practice period. He was all smiles today at the start of practice and even jokingly took part in a few of the warm-up drills that the running backs were doing.

Luc is currently backing up entrenched starter Nigel Bradham at outside linebacker but that doesn’t mean playing time isn’t on the line. Right now is critical for him to show linebackers coach Greg Hudson that he wants to be part of what should be a very talented rotation.

@GaNole10 asked, “I’m always interested about the backup QB position. Any info or insight?”

That’s a good enough question that head coach Jimbo Fisher is also wondering the same thing. Fisher said yesterday after the first practice that determining the quarterback depth chart is right up there with shoring up the offensive line in terms of top priorities before the season starts.

Right now, redshirt freshman Clint Trickett is backing up EJ Manuel while redshirt sophomore Will Secord is No. 3 and true freshman Jacob Coker is fourth. Unfortunately for Secord, he missed the first day because he had a wisdom tooth taken out. He returned today but in such a tight and important battle, every practice is going to count.

I would think that Fisher hopes either Trickett or Secord firmly grasps the No. 2 job and therefore Coker can take a much-needed redshirt season while he continues to develop. But make no mistake about it, Coker will play if the situation calls for it and he earned it this fall.

This can obviously change once the pads come on and the defenders start flying around, but my best guess is that we will see Trickett claim the No. 2 spot outright before the Sept. 3 season-opener against Louisiana-Monroe.

@Majik336 asked, “Will James Wilder Jr. contribute in anyway this season?”

Let’s put it this way: FSU is absolutely stacked at the running back position with a game-breaking junior, two savvy seniors and an early-enrollee freshman that noticeably plays with a chip on his shoulder but he still has a legitimate chance to do so.

Wilder, Jr. is behind all four of them right now but I still expect him to contribute this season. He is too big, physical and naturally talented not to see the field at some point.

This fall is huge for him because he immediately came to campus at a disadvantage to fellow freshman Devonta Freeman, who was able to turn some heads during the spring after he enrolled in January. Freeman is the classic “diamond in the rough” type of prospect and you can tell he is out to prove he should have been more highly sought-after while in high school.

Wilder, Jr. on the other hand had every single college in the country courting him and he ultimately came to FSU because of the reputation of running backs coach Eddie Gran and because he loves competition. Gran will certainly get the best out of him and the competition will undoubtedly be fierce so Wilder, Jr. is getting exactly what he wanted.

I expect him to embrace that and do whatever he can to play.

Of note on Tuesday: Wilder, Jr. got an influx of reps because both Chris Thompson (sore back) and Jermaine Thomas (migraine) were held out of action.

@ricobert1 asked, “Is Josh Gehres practicing?

No, Gehres is not practicing after tearing his ACL. He will miss this entire season while he rehabilitates that injury. Through two days, Gehres has been at practice watching his position mates.

Day 2 Observations:

I noticed it last year during the few practices that I attended while working in the sports information department here at FSU and I again am noticing it this year: the emphasis on special teams is night and day since Fisher took over the program and brought in Gran to not only coach the running backs but to coach the special teams units as well.

After some positional work and stretches, the first major drill has been kick coverage yesterday and today. I won’t get into specifics on exactly what the drills are that they do but the attention to detail and timing that they work on is a pleasure to watch.

Nick O’Leary is all business on the football field.

I kept a close eye on freshman Nick O’Leary today and I would have to say that as of right now, he is the most impressive offensive freshman that I have seen. There’s really no better way to say it but the guy just looks angry when he is on the field. It’s almost like he’s upset that they don’t have pads on and he can’t go block someone or reel in a touchdown pass over the middle from Manuel.

O’Leary has a quiet, determined demeanor that I think is going to make him an instant threat for the Seminoles. He is the future at the tight end position for FSU and that future is going to be the present here very soon I would think.

Defensively, the most impressive freshman to me has been Timmy Jernigan. First off, he is built like a tank with this low center of gravity and powerful upper body that will blow up some offensive linemen this year.

Jernigan smiles a little more than O’Leary does out there but you can still see he is focused. The defensive tackle depth chart is going to be really fun to watch this fall and I can’t wait to see how Jernigan does once the pads are put on.

Defensive tackles coach Odell Haggins likes to rotate as many guys as possible in and out during games so playing time is there to earn.

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