August 21, 2011 - by
Grind Time

Aug. 21, 2011

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Nagging injuries have reduced the practice participation of starting Florida State senior offensive tackles Andrew Datko and Zebrie Sanders to mental repetitions in recent days. In their absence, true freshmen Josue Matias and Bobby Hart have been getting significant work with the first-team offensive line.

There’s clearly a long-term benefit to the crash course for Matias and Hart, as well as a number of other youngsters. Still, the increased workload – mental and physical – can take its toll.

“I saw the freshman in him starting to come out,” FSU coach Jimbo Fisher said, when asked about Matias following Sunday morning’s practice. “The monkey’s starting to jump on his back right now. I take that back. I think it’s a rhinoceros, but it’s on all those freshmen’s backs.

“Those freshmen haven’t been through what they’re (going) through right now. He’s not the Lone Ranger, put it that way. It will pay off for them. They’re in there getting some quality reps against great people, which will pay off for us down the road.”

While the Seminoles have endured some lapses in execution throughout the preseason, Fisher could not be happier with the way the team has approached camp leading up to a season of heightened expectations.

“The attitude’s great,” Fisher said. “… They’re getting coached hard. We’re on them and grinding them on purpose at times to see if we can break some of them; even the veterans, because those guys want to take that elite step.

“I cannot gripe one iota about attitude. They’re a fun group of kids to coach. … As far as coming out here to coach them, and them as people and their attitudes, it’s a great unit.”

Fisher said he hopes to have Datko and Sanders back in action shortly, but isn’t going to rush the pair, who have a combined 73 career starts. He added that it’s not unlike NFL camps, where veteran players will get a limited number of repetitions during camp and the preseason.

“When they can practice, they’ll practice,” Fisher said. “They’ll practice every second they can. If they’re hurt, you ain’t helping the cause if you’re playing them when they’re hurt. You’re making it worse. Injuries are part of ball. … Injuries have a huge effect on how your team reacts and what it does. But, everybody’s got them. That’s part of ball. Sometimes you get them more than others. That’s why you’ve got a team. That’s why it’s a team and not an individual sport.”

Players get a rare evening off the practice field

The Seminoles were initially scheduled for a two-a-day session Sunday, but Fisher and the staff decided to give the team a reprieve. FSU will practice again Monday afternoon and will scrimmage Tuesday afternoon inside Doak Campbell Stadium.

Scrimmage will play role in determining redshirt candidates

With the season fast-approaching and Fisher’s staff in the midst of closely evaluating the roles certain players may have, Tuesday’s scrimmage will have some bearing on which Seminoles may be redshirt candidates as true freshmen.

“It’s how they play, and I’ll tell you what, with how injuries are today it’s hard to redshirt guys,” Fisher said. “With depth issues, injury issues, you’ve got to get them ready to play. Here’s the thing, if you redshirt them and they don’t get to play at all this year – and they’re going to be starters next year – you better take and get them as many reps as you can during that season. If they walk out there clean as a whistle (next year), that’s pretty tough.”

Odds and Ends

One thing Fisher will be closely monitoring next week – the final week of camp – is which players are capable of overcoming mental fatigue and capable of executing in his search for “consistency” …Among eight players who have been held out of practice in recent days are a pair of promising freshmen – wide receiver Rashad Greene (hamstring) and tight end Nick O’Leary (shoulder). “Those two have shown enough so far that if they’ll keep progressing, they’ll be in the mix [to play].”…senior guard David Spurlock, whose workload has increased during drills, will be cleared for full contact Monday. He has been on a carefully-monitored recovery program after suffering multiple concussions.

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