Reigning National Champions Begin Spring Practice

By: FSU Email
By: FSU Email
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The Seminoles return seven starters on both offense and defense.

Jan 6, 2014; Pasadena, CA, USA; Florida State Seminoles players celebrate after defeating Auburn Tigers 34-31 in the 2014 BCS National Championship game at the Rose Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

News Release: FSU

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The reigning national champions opened spring football practice on Wednesday at the Albert J. Dunlap Practice Facility and Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher was pleased with the results.

“We had a good practice today,” Fisher said. “For the most part, knowing what to do and being prepared, I was very happy. We had good energy. I would’ve liked to finish practice just a hair better. They got a little tired. We’ll get into better practice shape, but I’m very pleased with today. We have a long way to go – typical of this time – but I thought it was a good first practice.”

Wednesday marked Charles Kelly’s first practice at defensive coordinator and linebackers coach Bill Miller’s first session with the Seminoles, but Fisher said they didn’t skip a beat.

Kelly was FSU’s linebackers coach last year and was promoted to defensive coordinator and defensive backs coach in January. Miller was hired last month and brings 36 years of collegiate coaching experience to the Seminoles.

Florida State won its third national championship on Jan. 6 in a 34-31 victory over Auburn at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif.

The Seminoles will lose several key players from that squad, but they return seven starters on both sides of the ball, including the Offensive MVP (Jameis Winston) and Defensive MVP (P.J. Williams) of the National Championship Game.

Winston, a rising redshirt sophomore, became the youngest player ever to win a Heisman Trophy last season and will look to carry that momentum into his second season as the starting signal caller. For the second straight season, he will juggle spring football with baseball where he is the closer on the nation’s No. 1-ranked team.

Williams, a rising junior, will be one of the veterans of a defense that ranked first in the nation in points allowed (12.1) and passing defense (156.6).

Newberry Moves to Defensive Tackle
Rising redshirt junior Giorgio Newberry has changed positions to defensive tackle this spring. Newberry was the backup tight end last season, but saw action in 12 games as a defensive end in 2012. Newberry will give the Seminoles much needed depth in the interior defensive line as FSU must replace All-American Timmy Jernigan as well as two veteran contributors in fifth-year seniors Jacobbi McDaniel and Demonte McAllister.

Number Changes
RB Ryan Green – No. 6
DB Tyrell Lyons – No. 22
DB Jalen Ramsey – No. 8
FB Freddie Stevenson – No. 23
LB Matthew Thomas – No. 6
DB Nick Waisome – No. 6
WR/KR Kermit Whitfield – No. 8

Freshmen Early Enrollees
RB Dalvin Cook – No. 4
LS Stephen Gabbard – No. 49
DB Trey Marshall – No. 20

Quarterback Jameis Winston Spring Practice Press Conference Quotes

On finding chemistry with the new receivers:
“We trust all the guys we got. That’s why we come to Florida State – to win championships. We have great players. The guys we have are great. It’s going to be a fast adjustment with timing. We are going to get this thing rolling.”

On balancing his schedule between school, baseball and football:
“It’s the most fun part of my life right now because I’m busy. The busier I can get, the better for me. I enjoy doing both – going back and forth. Obviously it’s hard on the body, but it’s fun and I’m young.”

On playing with new center Austin Barron:
“The good thing is that Austin [Barron] has a lot of experience. Especially him getting into situations last year with the Wake Forest game and the Maryland game, and then him playing some his freshman year. The center is not a worry at all. We have our whole offensive line back with the guys around Austin. All around I have a great group of guys in front of me.”

On what he is working on this offseason:
“Holding the ball a little higher and my hips. I have to get my hips into the ball that I throw. Coach (Jimbo) Fisher being a perfectionist, Coach (Randy) Sanders is actually the one to bring that to my attention a lot. He is always on me and I know Coach Fisher is always on him about me. That is one thing about me, I always want to get better. Having coaches like Coach Fisher and Coach Sanders, I’m never going to be the type of guy that will sit back and let things go and I know that they won’t let things pass. I’m going to get better with my hips, get the ball up higher, and start throwing rockets.”

On after winning a National Championship, if there is more of a buzz to get back out there for spring practice:
“Yeah. We actually were talking about that the other day – me and Rashad (Greene). We actually want to be out there and play football. We want to go out there and keep the crystal ball in Tallahassee. That is the most important thing. That is one thing that we had last year – we had a chip on our shoulder. We had the hunger and the greed for that trophy. Now that we got it, we still have a chip on our shoulder. We are trying to keep it. We don’t want anybody to take our prize.”

On if this spring is different from last year after fighting for the starting quarterback job:
“Nah. Its football and that is what I love to do. Nothing feels different for me. In the Pitt game and the Auburn game, the atmosphere was different but it was still a football game that we had to go out there and win. Coming into this spring, I’m going to have the same mentality – trying to lead my team to another National Championship. Obviously it is a little easier on me because I feel that I have the spot. Sean (Maguire) is a good quarterback and I’m going to keep working. Sean is good enough to know that I know that I’m going to keep getting pushed. I promise you Coach Fisher isn’t going to let me become complacent.”

On having tight end Kevin Haplea back from injury this season:
“I cannot wait to open the packages for (Kevin) Haplea because he is special. He is one of those guys that can make an impact. He is one of the silent assassins on our team. The year before with E.J. (Manuel), he was a great asset to our team. Now with Nick (O’Leary) having help and having somebody on his side that we can do different formations with, we can spread the ball around to anybody. It makes me smile especially on our offense – to give me more weapons.”

Head Coach Jimbo Fisher Spring Practice Press Conference Transcript

Opening Statement:
“It’s great to see you all. (We’re) ready to kick off spring ball, very excited, very pleased with the way our kids have had the Fourth Quarter (workout) program, with our attitude and work ethic in the field, and seeing new faces take on new responsibilities on the field, and some of these older guys taking a greater responsibility for the things in which they have to do to provide leadership for the younger guys. This team has to develop its own identity and its own personality and I’ve been pleased so far, but again we have to take it to the field and show some consistency. (I’m) very excited to see how that begins and it starts today and these coaches are extremely excited to get back on that field doing the things we do. I like where we are at, I just hope we can go back to being fundamentally sound, finding the best players, putting them in the right positions to be successful and those guys keep that same selfless attitude and demeanor we had last year – still staying aggressive and playing great team football and that’s going to be very critical and not worrying about the past. Last year is last year. Learn from what we did last year, don’t revel in it because we have to go do it again and become our own successful team this year. Learn from our mistakes but also learn from our successes and remember how you had success and why you had success to repeat that. Hopefully we can take that into this season. It is a big critical month right now when we go onto the field and see how we can go apply those principals to each other and I’m looking for a lot of consistency and very anxious to watch our team play.”

On quarterback Jameis Winston juggling spring football and baseball:
“Yes, exactly the same (as last year), only one practice he will miss which is this Saturday because getting able to get access back to Clemson is such hard travel during a Saturday that is a critical series for them and he is playing such a critical role for them that he can do that, other than that he will be at every practice except this Saturday will be the only one he will miss.”

On John Franklin III’s development at quarterback:
“He is going to get a great shot, and the way we practice he is going to get as many reps as anyone else and I am very anxious to see John. John is a very athletic guy, tremendous athleticism as far as speed, throws the ball very well, very intelligent guy so we will see how he can process and make decisions within an offense and lead an offense. But to me that is one of the critical positions we need to develop and open that backup role because I think Sean (Maguire) would be very comfortable and John pushes him and how we go into things. I’m anxious to see how he handles his responsibilities. I think John has tremendous, tremendous upside.”

On if spring practice has a more relaxed feel:
“Definitely not. Nothing is ever relaxed. When you’re relaxed, you’re in trouble. We will keep the same intensity, the same focus and again this team has to develop some identity and the coaching staff too. That’s the thing you don’t want to relax because you can become complacent. We will do things exactly the same way and hopefully we evolve as coaches and continue to evolve as a staff to get things better and what we’re doing and from that standpoint we definitely won’t be thinking in that mentality. “

On the returning running backs:
“I’ve been very pleased with their performances so far in the offseason. I think Karlos (Williams) has done a great job accepting a leadership role. I think he is really stepping up. I always say leaders aren’t just leading themselves but you’re affecting the guys on the team. He’s been very vocal from his talking and the way his actions he’s done a tremendous job. Ryan Green also has tremendous upside and has really developed. He may be the fastest, quickest guy on our football team. I mean he was off the charts. I thought Mario Pender had a tremendous offseason. All of those guys that we are very excited for, and of course Dalvin (Cook). Dalvin will not be in spring ball. When Dalvin was in our workouts he looked like he had been here for three years. I am telling you he jumped right in there so did Trey Marshall and Stephen Gabbard. I’m telling you those guys all came in early and did a great job, but Dalvin actually going up stairs, stumbled put his hand down and tweaked his shoulder and we went ahead and fixed it so he will have three full months of rehabilitation after he gets out of the sling so he will be ready to go by the fall and he will be in all of our meetings and we hate to see that but he will be ready to go, but I was very pleased with him also.”

On if Dalvin Cook’s injury will put him behind:
“It doesn’t. I mean you want reps, but he’s still going to be there in the offseason. He is going to be in all of the meetings he just won’t get all of the reps on the field, but I still think he will be ahead of where he will normally be as a freshman anyway so I don’t think it will put him behind. He learns pretty quickly, he’s a sharp guy.”

On the speed of the running back group:
“We probably are faster, we probably are with Pender back there and Dalvin Cook back there and we have Ryan and Karlos, but we have explosive guys. They can catch a ball in the backfield, they can split out and run routes like wideouts. They can do a lot of things we have to be very creative about how we get them the ball and the packages we use.”

On how it is an advantage to have seniors at the wide receiver position:
“Very much so. You got Rashad (Greene) coming back and then Scooter (Haggins) and Christian (Green). Scooter – having sat out with injuries, he’s chomping. You worry about a guy who has a knee issue and when you go into those conditioning drills and the wear and tear it will have on them, but his knee held up, I was shocked I was, he went through it and he looked faster, he seemed faster than I remember. I think Christian Green had a good offseason, so those guys are experienced being in games, catching balls are critical because those young guys are coming and they are very talented. “

On replacing wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin:
“I’ll stack Bobo (Wilson) and Kermit (Whitfield) on top of each other. They will be as tall as one Kelvin. We will see if we can get the best people on the field, and also you can jump or you can run there are two different avenues or throw it short and then they have to tackle him. Scooter, Christian and Rashad can do that. Bobo and Kermit – those guys get the ball short and it’s hard to get them on the ground. I’m looking forward to Isaiah (Jones), he had a very good offseason too, but you know we will have to do things different ways and we’ll see some of the freshman come in when they come here.”

On if defensive back Tyler Hunter will practice this spring following his neck injury last fall:
“Yes he will. He is going to practice every day, he’s going to be in a blue jersey so it’s not, he can get hit, but we’re not going to have him have contact. He will go through every drill, tap off on everybody. If he gets bumped into that’s fine, he has a healthy body. By summer he will be cleared so he will be in every practice, every rep and he has had a very good offseason running extremely well. Just in a blue jersey.”

On if it will be a challenge replacing receivers to compliment Rashad Greene:
“It is and I think that’s also you keep forgetting we have (tight end) Nick O’Leary still. Guy got seven-to-eight touchdowns, 30-something balls. You can do a lot of different things with Nick, he’s grown into this offense. I think he will be critical too, but those other guys are going to have to step up now. You know the ability of Bobo returning punts and a little bit of playing time he got and Kermit returns and getting those balls he touched last year will be very critical and you got Christian and Scooter coming back and Isaiah got hurt in the middle of it but those guys are all going to have to step up. That’s going to be one of the things that we have to develop. We will be finding the other two starters when we go three-wide to when we have another starter going two-wide or the third starter when we go four-wide. Then the depth behind them, that’s going to be one of the critical things we have to develop this spring.”

On senior Austin Barron replacing departed senior Bryan Stork at center:
“That’s very critical, a guy that has started maybe five or six games in his career already and critical games, on the road in different environments – that’s very big games. He’s a very intelligent guy and we got other guys around him but that center is critical because all of the calls, and Austin is a very intelligent guy and with playing experience it makes me sleep a lot better that I know that. We have to develop a guy behind him. That’s the other critical thing. We have to develop depth there.”

On making sure the program moves forward:
“I think you always have to be that way, and like I say, I always have something for them, I promise you. It’s like when my kids come to me, you know what I mean, when I see those kids coming, they go to their mom for everything else, and they come to me when they want money. So it’s the same way when they see me coming. But I believe if you’re standing still then someone is passing you up. We have to always look for the future development of our organization and program and our administration has been very good about that and (Athletic Director Stan Wilcox) and I have a great relationship and he has been very approachable and very understanding. We talk through these situations and I feel very comfortable where we are going.”

On the athletic department as whole making sure the program moves forward:
“I definitely hope so and I think that is the plan of our booster club and our AD and everyone else. I think we are getting ourselves that way with the money situation and it’s going to be a lot of hard work and they understand that, and us having continuous success is going to be very critical because if the football program of any school is successful that helps all the other athletic departments and helps the money come in, helps the students come to the school and I think it brings more awareness to your program which is what you have to have to bring the revenue.”

On if Winston will have the same reps as last year:
“Without a doubt because Jameis had a tremendous year and won the Heisman, but there are still a lot of things we have to work on fundamentally to get better knowledge of our offense and the only way you do that is to take reps and you play fast and make your mind play fast and your feet and arm can play fast because you have to process it from the mind down to the body and transition.The only way to do that is to do it, and he will take the same number reps and because it’s going to be very important for him to learn and hold a new set of receivers and people around him too as far as developing another one or two receivers that we have to play with and keep that great bond with Rashad and Nick.”

On how defensive tackle Keith Bryant has looked this offseason:
“I have been very pleased in the offseason. Keith is an athletic guy. In the fall he came in as a normal freshman, redshirted, but I was very pleased the last three weeks of Fourth Quarter Drills, ran very well and changed direction, did a great job staying in the front of the groups and you saw the athleticism. He’s still weighing about 315 pounds right now, but ran extremely well so I was pleased with his offseason. I am excited to see how he takes it to the field.”

On how to improve Winston:
“I think you are always learning as a competitor different situations, different scenarios, how you impact your teammates in different ways consistently, even more guys than on offense, maybe even more of the defensive guys or special teams guys and I think fundamentally, I think the knowledge of this offense and the things that he can do and make those decisions that much quicker and see reads that much quicker, or recognize defense that much quicker, even recognizing coverage’s and blitz. People are always going to blitz you, and always recognizing those scenarios so you can create those big plays there, and fundamentally with his footwork, balance, and body control can approve his accuracy. I think in all of those areas he will continue to grow, and he must continue to grow.”

On how Tyler Hunter stayed involved following his injury:
“I think again once he got over the shock of the injury, Tyler is a competitor and he still cared about his teammates and thought about this is how I can help and he helped them study film, he helped them look at film, he made comments to them from the sidelines, he was like having another coach out there that our players respect him for that very much so and that was, to me, a selfless act on his part to be able to be a part of this team anyway he could.”

On talking with Tyler Hunter after the injury:
“I did a little bit, we had some meetings, and talked about how it’s not the end of the world. With injuries, they say the physical part is never as great as the mental part. The things you face mentally, and I say the ghosts you chase and the not knowing is the toughest part, and we had to help him through that and I think when he did it he was back to being Tyler and helping any way he could.”

On the depth at defensive back:
“Well we are going to put them all in different positions and try to find out how to get the best guys in each position and we will cross train them, we are going to multiple train them because of injuries and different scenarios and give them each an opportunity to do different things. You see Jalen (Ramsey) and I think he may be playing a lot of nickel where Lamarcus (Joyner) was. You are going to see him in those nickel situations in there with a big body who can play corner and can rush and be physical. You got Tyler (Hunter) back at safety. You have a lot of scenarios you can put people in. We are going to move around and try to cross train those guys until we have the best guys on the field.”

On players switching from offense to defense:
“Giorgio (Newberry) is on defense. Giorgio will be playing inside a three technique and a five technique and he is 287 pounds right now – big body can take on the run plays the run very well, gets his hands up in the passing lane. He had a very good offseason so Giorgio will be playing on defense”

On senior defensive lineman Desmond Hollin:
“He’s show leadership. He is carrying his weight, 290 pounds, running extremely well and running as well as any of our guys and leading. You see the urgency of being a senior. I have been extremely pleased with his offseason. Extremely and I mean having that weight and carrying it has been awesome.”

On Junior College players:
“I think it all goes in waves as you say, sometimes you have them, sometimes you don’t but guys are making an impact, a lot of guys are graduating early and getting an extra semester in which I think is very critical in your junior college development or they are coming with three years, so I mean one year there, getting a redshirt year and having three years because sometimes they have a tough transition year. You still have two years left so you see more of that which I think has a big impact on how much they have impacted programs, and we have had some good success with those guys lately.”

On reloading on the defensive line:
“Exactly. You have Nile (Lawrence-Stample), Eddie (Goldman) and Desmond (Hollin). Now we will have Ro’Derrick (Hoskins) and Keith (Bryant) – all of those guys will be very critical in that development and where they are at and sometimes on passing down if you want to Mario (Edwards, Jr.) can be an outside guy but he can also be an inside guy because of how big and powerful he is in different scenarios on third down and nickel downs. Speed pass rushers – we have a lot with (Matthew) Thomas and (Ukeme) Eligwe), you know different guys you can do things. All of those guys are good pass rush guys. Ro’Derrick had a great offseason. I’m anxious to see him.”

On replacing departed senior linebackers Telvin Smith and Christian Jones:
“I think this is who is going to be the guy making the calls? Who is going to initiate the calls and how we have things set up, because you’re going to see Eligwe back at linebacker in the beginning, their backup (Reggie) Northrup and Terrance (Smith), and Eligwe, Thomas, Ro’Derrick. There is going to be a lot of really good players in my opinion. (Who will) have the leadership like Telvin had and getting the calls and making sure people get on the same page?”

On the Seminoles entering spring healthy:
“I think (head strength and conditioning coach Vic Viloria) does a great job in the training room and I think being able to manage practice and our GPS system, and how we train with that thing year round, has taken a lot of guess work out of how tired the team is –
where your pulls, your tears, our soft tissue tears were down 88 percent last year – and being able to apply that and use it full time to gain that information. It’s on my desk the first thing we do every day. So how we practice the adjustments I make we all base off, I live off that thing and how we do things and it takes a lot of the guess work out of it and you’re going to have surgeries because you’re going to get a knee or ankle or leg and you can’t help that but a lot of the wear and tear on the body we’re able to take out the guess work and just practice and individual practices to individual players you know how we do things and I think it has been very critical to our development since it keeps guys on the field.”

“Low injuries are very critical to team success.”

On how critical it is for an offensive line to stay healthy:
“It’s very critical, the shoulders, people don’t realize the wear and tear the shoulders take – I mean it’s just very critical and you have to make sure the amount of hitting you do and we wear pads a lot but that doesn’t mean we are killing each other. You have to learn how to practice. The body only has so many collisions and you can’t beat it to death but keeping that cohesion is critical especially in the offensive line.”


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