Tallahassee, FL - Wet conditions on the practice field sent the Florida State football team inside Doak Campbell Stadium for Friday’s bowl practice as the Seminoles began to implement their game plan for the Dec. 31 Chick-fil-A Bowl date with South Carolina.
FSU coach Jimbo Fisher has been increasingly pleased with the way his team has performed through the first week of bowl prep and was especially happy with Friday’s workout. He said the improved timing and execution, both offensively and defensively, was a sign the Seminoles were getting into “football mode” on the fourth day of on-campus bowl work.
“When both sides made plays it wasn’t because one side blew an assignment,” Fisher said. “It was because one side made a really good play. That tells you their mind was in the practice. …
“The kids were really responsive and did a real nice job.”
Players looking forward to matchup
A number of Seminoles are excited about the opportunity the Chick-fil-A Bowl presents on a number of fronts. A matchup with an SEC team, in a climate-controlled environment are enticing. So is the opportunity to score a 10th victory for the first time since 2003.
Scoring a victory over an SEC opponent would be huge for both the ‘Noles and the ACC in general. ACC teams were a combined 2-5 against their geographical out-of-conference rivals. FSU accounted for one of those with a 31-7 win over Florida, while Wake Forest defeated Vanderbilt 34-13.
“It really is important playing those types of teams, especially with the SEC being the big conference,” said junior wideout Bert Reed of the showdown with the Gamecocks. “You want to show in matchups like that – one-on-one matchups – that you can win.”
There isn’t a player on FSU’s roster that has had an opportunity to play in a domed stadium during their collegiate careers, so have the chance to play in the Georgia Dome provides a little excitement as well.
“It will be interesting,” said sophomore kicker Dustin Hopkins. “It should be good for kickers, (with) no wind.”
Though Hopkins hasn’t experienced indoor kicking, he said he would likely talk to a kicker who has, perhaps picking up some subtle nuances along the way.
Reed is eager to buy into the popular notion that playing on a turf field, indoors, makes everyone quicker. At least that’s how it looks from afar.
“I’ve never played in a Dome,” he said. “I’m really looking forward to it, especially playing on that field – the Falcons’ field.”
Most of all, Hopkins likes the idea that it he should be well-rested thanks to the 27-day break between the ACC Championship and the New Year’s Eve showdown. Handling all of the kicking duties can be a physical grind and he suspects his body has worn down over the course of the season, impacting his prowess on kickoffs.
“I think a lot of it is maybe my leg speed has gone down over the year; I’m not as fast,” Hopkins said. “Hopefully it will be fresher. I’ve jumped into the weight room a little harder than I was during the year, because you’re kicking so much you don’t want to make it weaker during the year. … Hopefully I’ll have a little more pop.”
The Seminoles will return to the practice field Saturday and will work out on campus through Dec. 21 when Fisher will release the team for a short break. FSU players are expected back in time for the flight to Atlanta on Dec. 25 at 5 p.m.