Florida State Head Coach Bobby Bowden is preparing for his 32nd season on the Seminole sideline. The Hall of Fame coach brought in five new coaches in January and there is as much excitement surrounding this spring as any he can remember. This is the way the winningest coach in major college football history sees his team heading into spring practice.
How excited are you for spring practice this year?
Naturally any time you add as many coaches as we did the excitement level goes up for coaches, players and fans. There definitely is excitement. There will probably be as much interest in the coaching staff this spring as there will be in the players. Most of our players are coming back so it is going to be nice to see how our returning coaches and our new coaches blend and work and what kind of results they can get.
What are some of the big challenges this spring when you have five new coaches on staff?
Especially on the offensive side when you replace four of five coaches, you are not going to ask them to come in and do the same thing you were doing before. You are going to ask your new coordinator to come in and put in the offense he thinks is best, that he knows the best and that he thinks fits our personnel the best. That's going to be interesting to see. Our offensive staff with Jimbo (Fisher) heading it up, they will be in complete control of that offense.
What are the keys to spring practice?
The key to having a great spring is if we can stay healthy. It is sad when you go out there and someone gets hurt and misses the rest of the spring practices. The other thing that is tough about the spring is when players have to have surgeries if they need them. You can't wait until after spring or the summer. Last year we had a bunch of players who had surgeries and didn't go through spring practice. This year we don't have as many. It is very important.
We expect the competition there to continue. The advantage to the players at quarterback with a new coach coming in is he is trying to learn everything he can about them and how quickly they can adapt to his coaching style. They will have 15 days of practice to evaluate them. That is always exciting.
You lost (Lorenzo) Booker but you have Antone (Smith) back. Antone actually had moved up to a starter before injuring himself on the second play of the Western Michigan game. He missed the rest of the year. Booker did an outstanding job for us but we still have four tailbacks on scholarship. Dexter Carter, who was one of the best running backs we ever had at Florida State, brings a lot of knowledge and practical experience with him from the NFL and here. We only lost one player at this position so it should be a fight there.
We lost Chris Davis and Robert Hallback so we will watch what happens there. We have veterans coming back. I want to see how they respond to Lawrence Dawsey who again, like Dexter Carter, was one of the greatest players we ever had at Florida State. He was an All-American and a great professional receiver. We think we can do some good things at that position.
(tight end preview provided by position coach John Lilly)
Charlie Graham overcame some injuries early in the year to play really well for us as the year went on. Obviously we are going to depend heavily on him this spring. We also have Jonathan Persons who had some good springs for us before but hasn't had as much opportunity in the fall. D.J. Norris has moved to tight end and playing his senior year he wants to have a good year. Injuries may limit him in the spring.
We lost two starters in Mario Henderson and Cory Niblock. With coach Trickett, who is probably one of the best offensive line coaches in the country, it is going to be interesting to see how he can shape that line.
It will be a big boost to get Paul (Griffin) back. We lost him early in the season last year. We had to play so many young guys on defense, so many young guys that normally would not have played. Now at least those young players come in this season with experience. There will be some good competition there along the line.
We lost (Lawrence) Timmons, who looks like a first round draft pick in the upcoming NFL draft, and you lose Buster (Davis), who was a senior starter. Thank goodness we did play some younger guys there last season but I am sure we have a lot of work to do there.
We did not lose anybody in the secondary so the key there is to get better. We have to keep working hard and getting better because we have a lot of young players in that group.
We have the kickers back, the punter back, the snapper back, the holder. Those are positions you don't hear anything about until they do something bad. You don't hear about that snapper until he gets a bad one. Then you hear about it. We are so lucky we have them all coming back.