August 20, 2011 - by
Doak Insider Notebook: Day 12

Aug. 20, 2011

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — It was day No. 12 of practice Saturday as the Florida State football team hit the two-week countdown for its 2011 season opener. The Seminoles will welcome Louisiana-Monroe to Doak Campbell Stadium on Sept. 3.

Saturday’s afternoon practice was highlighted by the return of senior running back Jermaine Thomas. FSU’s active leader in rushing yards had been sidelined with migraines.

Head coach Jimbo Fisher said that Thomas looked fresh and ready to go. Thomas is part of a depth chart that is five deep at the tailback position along with Chris Thompson, Ty Jones, Devonta Freeman and James Wilder, Jr.

The Seminoles will hold another two-a-day practice session on Sunday.

Brandon Mellor
Brandon Mellor Senior Writer
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The first AP Poll of the year was released Saturday and the Seminoles boast a No. 6 ranking. 

At No. 6, the Seminoles earned the highest ranking in this particular poll since the 2004 season. It also means that FSU is in the top 10 in both major polls; the ‘Noles are No. 5 in the preseason USA Today Coaches Poll.

The early rankings are high for sure. But after a 2010 season that saw Florida State get back to 10 wins, earn a state championship and take out the SEC East Champion South Carolina Gamecocks in the Chick-fil-A Bowl, the excitement and respect for the Seminoles warrants such lofty expectations.

I asked FSU fans on Twitter what they thought of the lofty ranking and here are some of the responses I received:

@jhrem23 said, “Fine by me. Time to earn it now.”

@CollyMack1 said, “About time!!! We are back!!! Go #Noles”

@haysc said, “As long as we play like it.”

@FSUSpiritDrum said, “Um. Awesome!”

@erock0579 said, “As big of a fan as I am we still need to do it on the field. Like the way we are heading though. GO NOLES!”

@gilallensworth said, “I like it. Will like it better after week 3!”

The excitement is there but ‘Nole Nation agrees that the Seminoles have to go out and play like a top-10 team now, too. Luckily, the FSU players and coaches understand that as well.

“As a team we don’t pay attention to that,” senior safety Terrance Parks said Saturday. “We try to look past it and focus on the main goal. All of that it good, but when the season kicks off we have to go out there and take care of business. That’s our main focus. “


The Florida State defensive ends underwent a renaissance of sorts last season.

Led by Brandon Jenkins and his 13.5 sacks, FSU’s pass rushers started to look a lot like the defensive ends of Seminoles’ past. They were relentless, seemingly getting to the passer at will on many occasions.

DEs coach D.J. Eliot brings energy to the FSU practice fields.

Leading that charge has been defensive ends coach DJ Eliot, who was the final piece of the coaching-staff puzzle Fisher when he took over for longtime football boss Bobby Bowden last year. Eliot came from Rice where he built his name as a tireless coach and recruiter.

It’s that same energy that he brought to Tallahassee in 2010 and one that — according to up-and-coming defensive end Dan Hicks — helps set the tone at FSU’s fast-paced practices each day.

“What I like about Coach Eliot is his energy,” Hicks said. “He has lots of energy. He can turn a dead practice into a live one because he brings so much enthusiasm at practice. I like his intelligence. He knows what’s going on. He knows how to make us smarter. What he does is, he just breaks down the game and informs us on stuff that we didn’t know to make us smarter on the field so we can make smarter plays.”


Like fellow-first year defensive back Tyler Hunter, whom I wrote about yesterday, freshmen Lamarcus Brutus and Keelin Smith were recruited by the FSU coaches because of their skill level, upside and versatility.

Smith and Brutus were teammates in high school and joined former Treasure Coast star Jeff Luc when they arrived in Tallahassee this past June.

While both newcomers could play any of the positions in the secondary, the 6-foot, 188-pound Brutus is working with the safeties and the 6-foot-3, 190-pound Smith is running with the cornerbacks. Two weeks from their first game as Seminoles, defensive coordinator/secondary coach Mark Stoops has been pleased with what he’s seen from the two.

“I have seen two young guys that are willing to work and they are willing to correct the mistakes that I go over with them each day,” Stoops said. “They have great attitudes and they are going to be great football players. They are very versatile guys and the more versatile we are, the better.”

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