Veterans Stepping Up on Defense Early in Camp

By: FSU Sports Information
By: FSU Sports Information

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The Florida State football team is a week into fall practice and head coach Jimbo Fisher likes what he sees.

After a day off on Monday, the Seminoles hit the Al Dunlap Practice Fields hard on Tuesday, donning pads for the third time and completing their second two-a-day practice of fall camp. Following the 9:30 a.m. morning session, Fisher said he thinks the Seminoles are ahead of last season’s pace both on and off the field.

“I think we are much more physical up front (this year),” Fisher said. “I think we’ve been able to run the ball much better in camp. Our knowledge of what we are doing – getting in the system – not just the X’s and O’s part, but how we go about things. Things that are accepted in the program and practice habits, and things like that. I see the older guys reinforcing that. As coaches, we do not have to get on those guys. They do it, and we can stay with the coaching. Our leadership from that standpoint has been very good.”

Two veterans that have been standing out in camp are junior linebacker Christian Jones and junior safety Terrence Brooks.

Jones moved to weakside linebacker this season after starting all 13 games at the strongside linebacker position a year ago. The 6-4, 240-pound Winter Park, Fla., native is making a case that he can pick up where current Buffalo Bills rookie Nigel Bradham left off a year ago.

“I like what Christian is doing,” Fisher said. “He’s athletic. He flashes at you. He’s so athletic and long. He’s doing a better job in the box now taking things on. For the most part, Christian is having a good camp.”

Brooks is expected to take over the starting free safety job after serving as a backup and playing primarily in dime packages last season. He also has experience at cornerback, and Fisher said the 5-11, 196-pounder could play there if needed. Brooks is most valuable to the Noles right now at safety, however, as it’s one of the toughest positions for younger players to learn.

“There’s a lot to learn at safety,” Fisher said. “You are in the pass-game, you are in the run game. It’s a combination – where your fits are and where you are helping. Safety can be a very complicated position. (Brooks) is doing a nice job. He’s played the best going in. He’s probably played the most consistent. He’s a cover guy, he’s making some plays and he’s learning to be much more consistent.”

Brooks has donned a blue non-contact jersey for all of camp, but hasn’t missed a practice.

Moments after the Seminoles left the field following the morning practice, storms hit and lasted much of the middle of the day. The skies cleared later in the afternoon and the Noles returned for a 7:15 p.m. practice. FSU will practice at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday before gearing up for its first closed scrimmage of the preseason on Thursday at 12:30 p.m.

· SiriusXM College Sports Nation (Channel 91) will be on campus on Wednesday. Host Mark Packer will broadcast live from Noon to 3 p.m., as part of its “College Football Training Camp Tour.” The tour made a stop at Ohio State on Monday and Notre Dame on Tuesday.
· Redshirt freshman cornerback Keelin Smith participated in some individual drills during the morning practice, following a mild knee sprain last week. Fisher said he expects him back at full speed in a day or two.
· Fisher mentioned sophomore Nick Waisome, Smith, and true freshman Ronald Darby and Colin Blake as standing out in the battle for the starting cornerback spot opposite Xavier Rhodes.
Additional comments from Jimbo Fisher:
On depth at running back and James Wilder fighting for carries:
“I hope they all (fight for carries). Chris Thompson, Devonta (Freeman) and James (Wilder) will be the first three. And we can bring Lonnie (Pryor) in there. We say that, but there are going to be very few running backs getting through the season healthy. It never happens. They get beat on, they get pounded on. It’s like d-tackles. We thought we had all of these (defensive) tackles, now look where we are at. We are all banged up and bruised up. Those guys play a physical part of the game. They are going to get banged and bruised. They are all going to get their carries, but that’s the great thing. They have to fight for those carries because they have to develop that consistency and trust that they build in us to get on the field.”

On Wilder’s play in camp:
“I think he’s done a really good job… a really nice job on assignments. I think he had one missed assignment today. Occasionally, you’ll have one. The last three or four days he hadn’t had any. He’s been running very physical … catching the ball very well … pass blocking very well. One thing with his pass block – he’s a big, physical guy. I do not have any complaints with James right now.”

On Cam Erving feeling much more natural at left tackle each day he comes out:
“No doubt. He can displace you in the run. He can pass block. You play on that edge, you are going to get beat. Cam has enough athleticism to recover, and maybe not totally block, but run by you. Maybe get a hand on you so you don’t get a clean hit. And that’s the one thing he can do. Brandon (Jenkins) wins his share of them. Even when Brandon beats him a lot of times, Cameron will recover. Then, sometimes he’ll stone Brandon. It’s a battle every day. You see him fitting in much more. There’s certain calls – blitzes and looks. He’s getting much more comfortable with those things.”

On Greg Reid being accepted at Valdosta State:
“I’m extremely happy for him. I hope he does very well. I wish him nothing but the best.”

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