Aug. 28, 2010
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida State closed Saturday’s football practice with a slight deviation from a script that stretched the length of a full page, covering every possible scenario the Seminoles might encounter this season.
Sophomore kicker Dustin Hopkins was mobbed by his teammates after splitting the uprights from 43 yards as the Seminoles simulated the set-up and execution of a game-winning field goal.
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“It was basically just whistle, snap and kick,” said Hopkins, who looked up and saw about 80 of his teammates rushing the field in an impromptu celebration.
“I had no idea,” said Hopkins, who moments earlier had converted from 47 yards with ease. “I think some guys on the sideline were organizing it. I think Christian (Ponder) started it. … I was looking to give handshakes all around, but they weren’t having it. I tried to stay off the ground. I didn’t want any part of it, being on the ground.”
The reaction provoked a smile from FSU coach Jimbo Fisher at the end of the final practice before the Seminoles begin Game Week mode for the Sept. 4 opener against Samford.
“They’re happy,” Fisher said. “They are just in the mood to play. They enjoy coming to practice; enjoy being around each other and we had a great work day. And they had fun. They found out you can do both.”
Fisher said the practice-ending script covered “every situation you could possibly have,” and is part of what will become the team’s weekly Friday walk-through before each game.
“When the pressure comes you don’t think,” Fisher said, explaining the logic behind what might appear to be a tedious rehearsal. “You just react to your habits and what you know is going to happen, so you engrain them.”
In actuality, it was merely an extension of how Fisher and his new staff have approached practice each day. Saturday was very much a dress rehearsal of next week’s opener, beginning with a team breakfast and the pre-game meeting. After every rep an assistant coach would check his list to be sure all assignments were covered, assuring that checks and balances were in place for every actuality.
Special teams coordinator Eddie Gran meticulously noted every movement, substitution and segment grouping.
“We went over things that might happen only once in a year, just so we can be prepared,” said Hopkins. “I think coach Gran and coach Fisher, they are both a couple of organizers, and went over the most obscure situations imaginable today. That is pretty much what we went over from a kicking and special team’s standpoint today.”
So did the offense and defense, not to mention the coaching staff, which is responsible for a series of checks and balances to assure a smooth operation under the most extreme conditions.
“Everybody has different responsibilities,” Fisher explained. “Ultimately, I’m responsible for all of it. Everybody has a different responsibility and they (have) a sheet with checks and balances. We talk about them as they come up through the headsets. That way you try not to miss any, but occasionally, you do. Nobody’s perfect, but you try to be.”
Now it’s a matter of applying those practice situations in game settings.
“I feel very prepared,” said junior safety Terrance Parks. “I feel like the team is getting more prepared every day. I feel like our coaches have done a great job getting us ready for different situations. We practice different situations because, like coach Fisher says, you can play a great game, but if you are prepared for certain situations you will be more successful at this game.”
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