Tallahassee, FL - It seemed like just yesterday the Florida State Seminoles were hoisting a Chick-fil-A Bowl Champion trophy and celebrating a big win over SEC East champion South Carolina. Fast forward 80 days and the Seminoles found themselves crossing the street headed over to the intramural fields for its first of 15 spring practices Monday.
The Seminoles worked in shorts and helmets for nearly 2 ½ hours on the intramural fields located across the street from Doak Campbell Stadium. It was day one of preparation for a 2011 campaign that is one of the most anticipated football seasons around the storied program in some time.
“We’ve still got miles to go,” FSU head coach Jimbo Fisher said after Monday’s first spring workout. “We’re getting where we need to go. For the most part understanding how well we did it. There were known assignments, not a lot of busted assignments which I was happy about. Our technique and that type of stuff needs to get a lot better. We have a lot of new guys out there. So for the most part, typical, average, solid first spring practice.”
Florida State returns 18 starters – eight on both offense and defense along with two of the top specialists in the country in kicker Dustin Hopkins and punter Shawn Powell. As Fisher reported last week, several players will miss spring practice and spent Monday’s practice rehabbing on another section of the fields.
Quarterback EJ Manuel completed his first successful spring practice since arriving on campus. He broke his finger on the first day of spring practice in 2009 and missed the spring of 2010 rehabbing his shoulder. Manuel worked with the first team offense all day Monday.
“It was fun,” said Manuel. “The weather wasn’t as hot as at the beginning as it was at the end, but it was definitely a good day. I felt really good throwing the ball. I think the team was bouncing around. One thing Coach Fisher wants us to work on is tempo as a team as far as getting used to practice, but it’s the first day so that’s kind of expected. I’m glad I didn’t have any injuries. My arm feels great so everything’s good.”
“He knew where he was going, had a couple of mistakes, couple of poor throws, but his decision making was good,” said Fisher. “His timing with some of those guys was off a little– a couple of those routes didn’t come out right. He let a ball fly or two, which for a first day wasn’t bad. His decision making and overall demeanor was great. He made some really nice throws, made some inside seam throws and threw the ball well down the field inside.”
Not only was Manuel getting used to making it through a spring practice, he also was getting used to who was snapping him the ball. With the departure of consensus All-American left guard Rodney Hudson and starting center Ryan McMahon combined with four offensive linemen – Andrew Datko, Zebrie Sanders, Rhonne Sanderson and Blake Snider – all out for the spring, FSU offensive line coach Rick Trickett mixed in a new group on the first team. Henry Orelus, Jake Fahrenkrug, Bryan Stork, David Spurlock and Garrett Faircloth spent time on that first team offensive line Monday. Spurlock started the first seven games of the season before missing the last seven games. Stork was inserted in the lineup during the middle of the season and started four games. Both rotated between center and right guard.
“He practiced every play because it wasn’t full contact,” Fisher said of Spurlock. “He did some center and did some guard. It was good to get him back out here for the first time in a long time. We had a couple of bobbled snaps here and there but that’s going to happen when you have a new center. Stork did a real nice job.”
Fisher said as the weeks roll on that the Seminoles are going to spend a lot of time getting the answers to several issues.
“We have some offensive line issues that we have to solve up at center and develop some depth behind the guys that are going to play, backup quarterback, receivers’ consistency level there, developing our tight ends – need to keep growing there, our backs to keep taking the steps they are taking, defensive line - develop some depth for those young guys there, linebacker – we got two new spots there and we’ve got some guys in the secondary moving around at safety and corner. We got a lot of issues going on. Hopefully, we’ll develop our top 22 guys out there. We know the guys that have started that won’t be in there, but develop some of these young guys and some depth.”
Florida State returns to the practice field on Wednesday and Thursday. The Seminoles are scheduled to hold their first scrimmage Saturday. All practices are closed to the public. Fans can begin counting down to the SunTrust Spring Football Weekend Presented By Kia Autosport which will be capped off with the Annual Garnet and Gold Spring football game at 4 p.m. at Doak Campbell Stadium. The game will be carried on ESPN3.com and replayed on ESPNU.
FLORIDA STATE IN A NUTSHELL
STARTERS RETURNING (18)
OFFENSE (8): Andrew Datko, Sr. (OT), David Spurlock, Sr. (OG), Zebrie Sanders, Sr. (OT), Beau Reliford, Sr. (TE), *Jermaine Thomas, Sr. (RB), *Chris Thompson, Jr. (RB), Bert Reed, Sr. (WR), Taiwan Easterling, Sr. (WR), Rodney Smith, Jr. (WR). DEFENSE (8): Brandon Jenkins, Jr. (DE). Jacobbi McDaniel, Jr. (DT), *Everett Dawkins, Jr. (DT), *Anthony McCloud, Jr. (DT), Nigel Bradham, Jr. (WLB), Greg Reid, Jr. (CB), Xavier Rhodes, So. (CB), Nick Moody, Jr. (S), Terrance Parks, Sr. (S). SPECIALISTS (2): Dustin Hopkins, Jr. (K), Shawn Powell, Sr. (P)
*Shared starting position
STARTERS LOST (6)
OFFENSE (3): Rodney Hudson, Sr. (OG), Ryan McMahon, Sr. (C), Christian Ponder, Sr. (QB) DEFENSE (3): Markus White, Sr (DE), Kendall Smith, Sr. (MLB), Mister Alexander, Sr. (OLB).
Date Opponent Location
Sept. 3 Louisiana-Monroe Tallahassee, Fla.-f
Sept. 10 Charleston Southern Tallahassee, Fla.
Sept. 17 Oklahoma Tallahassee, Fla.
Sept. 24 at Clemson Tallahassee, Fla.
Oct. 1 OPEN
Oct. 8 at Wake Forest Winston-Salem, N.C.
Oct. 15 at Duke Durham, N.C.
Oct. 22 Maryland Tallahassee, Fla.-m
Oct. 29 NC State Tallahassee, Fla.-p
Nov. 3 at Boston College (Thurs.) Chestnut Hill, Mass.
Nov. 12 Miami Tallahassee, Fla.
Nov. 19 Virginia Tallahassee, Fla.-hc
Nov. 26 at Florida Gainesville, Fla.
Key: f-Hall of Fame Weekend; m-military appreciation; p-Parents Weekend; hc-Homecoming
WHOSE OUT AGAIN
Last week, Fisher announced the players who will miss the spring to recover from surgeries:
OL Andrew Datko
LB Jeff Luc
S Nick Moody
LB Holmes Onwukaife
P Shawn Powell
CB Xavier Rhodes
OL Rhonne Sanderson
OL Zebrie Sanders
OL Blake Snider
Also, wide receiver Taiwan Easterling is playing baseball this spring and will not take part. Fisher said RB Jermaine Thomas and TE Beau Reliford are close to rejoining the team for practice.