TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Shorts and shells – shoulder pads and helmets – were the order of the day Wednesday as the Florida State football team tuned up for Thursday’s final big scrimmage of the preseason.
The ‘Noles are clearly pointing their preparation for the Sept. 1 home opener against Murray State.
“We got a lot of things done; a lot of situations done – managing the clock at the end of the game,” FSU coach Jimbo Fisher said. “Getting the kids at ease with what we’re going to do and what we’re not going to do.”
While monitoring some still hotly contested position battles will be a part of Thursday’s scrimmage, Fisher will also focus on improved execution.
“It’s important,” Fisher said of the scrimmage. “The big thing we have to do is execute and know who’s going to do what, where, when and why. … There are some key things we need to look at.”
While the preseason has seen plenty of physical, spirited work – especially in the trenches – Fisher has seen the ‘Noles evolve to the stage that his preseason preparation is far more similar to the NFL camps.
That the ‘Noles finally have Fisher’s system in place, and the personnel to run it, certainly allows for that.
“You’ve got to be smart,” he said. “If Brandon Jenkins and Bjoern Werner go out and play 100 snaps, how much are we going to gain out of that? I want to get them to the race. I know what those guys are going to do. We’ve got to be real smart about how we’re going to scrimmage.
“This is one of the few times since I’ve been here that we’ve got some guys that are really established … that we need to have during that season. We don’t need to bang’em and bruise’em in these situations.”
Furthermore, each practice drill and period is videotaped every day. With the ‘Noles going live with starters facing off against starters, in scrimmage-like settings, the coaching staff has a pretty good idea of how those position battles will shake down in the long run.
When asked why he had seemed more upbeat when describing his 2012 team, Fisher joked that he might just be growing tired of the same questions. Then he offered a confession of sorts:
“You have more guys that understand the system. You have more depth. You have more guys in the system that you want – body types, styles – different things of that demeanor. You feel more comfortable.”
· The Seminoles spent the initial special teams segment working on onside kicks as they must adapt to new rules this season. The ball must bounce twice before the kicking team can recover it, which is geared toward limiting serious contact injuries. Fisher said kicker Dustin Hopkins was solid in his execution and he likes his “hands” unit;
· While the right tackle position is still up in the air, Fisher said the ‘Noles are “pretty close” to settling on a starting offensive line. “It’s getting much more comfortable, that’s for sure,” Fisher said of the group.
· Linebacker Christian Jones’ move to the weakside position should produce greater results. Fisher raved about Jones, saying “he’s one of the best” he’s ever seen in coverage. He also expects Jones’ tackle production to improve dramatically this season;
· Practice has changed in recent days with the assistant coaches now moving back to the sideline, providing a better game simulation for the staff to gauge. “They lost their pacifier four days ago,” Fisher said of the players. “They no longer have the coach standing behind them. … We’re on the sideline trying to simulate game situations.”