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3 posts from March 19, 2013

March 19, 2013

Observations From Florida State's Pro Day

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Florida State's annual Pro Day workout came and went on Tuesday afternoon and with it over 30 players, new and old, attempted to help their stock in the upcoming NFL Draft.

For the print-coverage of Florida State's Pro Day, click here

But there was also plenty of other news coming out of Florida State's Pro Day that didn't make it into the recap, so here's a little late night bonus coverage...

-Four Seminoles were invited to New York for the draft. They are EJ Manuel, Xavier Rhodes, Menelik Watson and Bjoern Werner. Werner and Rhodes are undecied, Manuel will likely attend.

-A number of high profile assistant coaches were on hand for the Pro Day, Josh McDaniel, Todd Haley and Rob Ryan to name a few. More locally, the Dolphins sent OL Coach Jim Turner and QB Coach Zac Taylor to scout for them.

-This group of Seminoles players are as tight-knit as they come. As the focus turned to the bench, every single player crowded around to watch and shout encouragement to their teammates. As guys like Anthony McCloud and Tank Carradine started to strain at the end of their sets you could hear dozens of players chiming in with their support. Jimbo Fisher spoke often about how this was a special class of players and that was on display on Tuesday morning.

-Tank Carradine really helped himself, even in limited action. He put up 32 reps on the bench and managed to avoid doing any work that could present him in a less than favorable light to coaches and scouts. Rob Ryan even joked after Carradine finished lifting that he could have probably thrown Ryan himself up about 20 times he looked so jacked. All kind aside though, a number of coaches and scouts seemed to be taking an interest in Tank. He could be looking at a second day selection.

-The secret is getting out about Menelik Watson. While Dolphins OL coach Jim Turner did little to hide his interest in the prospect, several other teams also managed to get a little bit of one-on-one time with Watson too. He spent a good ten minutes talking with Bears staff as well as scouts from several other teams.

-One of the funnier moments of the day came when Bjoern Werner told us that one team wouldn't let him start his interview until he said, "Get on the Choppa" a la Arnold Schwarzenegger. Arnold however is Austrian, Bjoern is German and according to Werner his impersonation did not impress.

-Werner showed surprising agility in linebacker drills, he showed flexibility in his hips, a decent backpedal and above average ball skills. 

-Brandon Jenkins looks physically impressive, he's in solid shape is carrying around no extra weight. But he's not back from that Lisfranc injury and may have hurt himself by trying to complete a full workout. Jenkins told us after the Pro Day that he believes his film speaks for itself, but with the stigma around the Lisfranc and after his showing at the Combine and his Pro Day, he may have damaged his draft stock.

-Daniel Glauser may be in the best shape of his life. The offensive tackle looked almost unrecognizable slimmed down on Tuesday. He's attempting to generate some interest at tight end. He would be a project but showed some decent agility during drills.

-A number of former players looking for new contracts also worked out, including Alex Barron, Darren McFadden and Travis Johnson. Barron seemed to be generating interest from the Raiders.

-Jajuan Harley, a former FSU corner who transferred to Middle Tennessee State was back on campus to work out. He had a very good outing, including a very fast 40-time. He could sneak in to the back of the draft.

-Greg Reid was also back on campus after being booted from the team, transferring to Valdosta State and then tearing his ACL. He showed some lingering effects from the injury. 

-Xavier Rhodes, who many see as a solid round one guy, had a good day but several scouts did note that his footwork needs coaching. Rhodes is extremely athletically gifted, but could still refine his technique. 

-EJ Manuel had an excellent workout. The Bills seemed to take a keen interest in the fifth year senior signal caller. He looked sharp during drills, demonstrating good accuracy and excellent velocity on his throws. With the NFL's shift towards the read option and Manuel's mobility, he could find his way into the first round come April. Manuel's success actually running a read-option is another conversation, but he's seeing his stock continue to climb as the draft approaches.

-Vince Williams is starting to get the "hungry" label. He was a late addition to the Senior Bowl and made an excellent showing. He showed up in Indianapolis and did good work at the Combine. On Tuesday, he quietly impressed with a very good 40 while also looking fluid in coverage drills. Williams has slimmed down about 20 pounds since the season ended and looked very sharp at FSU's Pro Day. He should see his stock climb.

-Wouldn't be surprised to see the St. Louis Rams take a shot on Chris Thompson. He spent some time with Rams personnel on Tuesday. Thompson didn't participate in much, but was on hand to talk with coaches and scouts as well as to support his teammates. The senior tailback had a breakout season cut short by a blown knee, but could be an intriguing late round prospect for a number of teams.

-Finally, Dustin Hopkins demonstrated some of his ingenuity when he basically forced coaches and scouts to take notice of his kicking late in the workout. Without much fanfare Hopkins started hitting kicks from the 20, and slowly backed into the large group standing out near the 35. When a kicker asks you to move out of the way so he can pound 50+ yard field goals through the uprights, you tend to take notice. Hopkins is the latest in a line of great Seminoles kickers dating back to Graham Gano and Sebastian Janikowski. He leaves school as the all time leading scorer amongst kickers in NCAA history and hopes to be drafted in the late rounds in April.

 

For all the latest Florida State news and updates follow Patrik Nohe on Twitter...

Seminoles Lose to La. Tech 71-66 in NIT First Round, Can't Send Snaer Out a Winner

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The lone silver lining in Florida State's disappointing National Invitation Tournament bid was that it gave the Florida State faithful one last chance to see senior guard Michael Snaer in action.

And the 6-5 former McDonalds All-American did not disappoint, playing all 40 minutes and scoring 24 points in his final appearance at the Tucker Center.

But much as was the case all season, Snaer's best effort wasn't enough on Tuesday night. The Seminoles lost to Louisiana Tech 71-66 in the first round of the NIT.

"Since I've been here we've never been put in a situation where we've had to put so many inexperienced guys on the court at one time," said head coach Leonard Hamilton. "Michael didn't have to worry about that [as a young player] because he was surrounded by veterans. 

"I think that all the way back to the beginning of the season it became obvious to me that this was going to be a tremendous learning experience for this team. We've had some good moments and we have shown that we have a lot of growing up to do."

The first half was a perfect illustration of that. Michael Snaer was really the only offensive bright spot for the Seminoles, he hit four three-pointers and had 14 in the opening period. Between the Snaer threes and the 7 blocks Florida State had defensively, the crowd at the Tucker Center had plenty to get on their feet for.

But the Seminoles also had plenty of issues facing them in the first half too. Devin Bookert, typically a very sound distributor, played 11 minutes and committed four turnovers without recording a single assist, for instance. The Louisiana Tech defensive pressure also caused plenty of issues for the Seminoles at the outset. FSU had 11 turnovers and scores of other possessions ended when FSU mishandled solid passes or succumbed to poor shot selection.

Despite their offensive issues the Seminole defense was stout, swatting shots left and right and limiting the Bulldogs to just 26% shooting. At the end of the first half it was 28-24 with both teams searching for offense.

"In the second half after we get up eight, we turn the ball over three, four times," said Hamilton. "They were just playing at a high level of energy that we just didn't seem to match."

After allowing Tech to start a run, Bookert's rough game continued when he capped Tech's run by getting the ball stripped under his own basket after an in-bounds pass, and then letting the layup in to tie the score at 35.

The game would stay tight from that point on with both teams using a full court press (Louisiana Tech all game, FSU intermittently) to frustrate the other offense while each team's star shouldered the load.

For every basket Snaer was able to throw down, Louisiana Tech G Raheem Appleby was there to match it. Appleby ended the night as the game's leading scorer with 27 points.

"When we went into half-time my coach told me to use the pump-fake or try not to go see deep because they were blocking so many shots," said Appleby after the game. "So I just came out and tried to do that with the floaters and the lay-ups."

At the final media timeout Florida State trailed 60-59. The two teams traded possessions coming out of the break but some sloppy play from the Seminoles allowed the Bulldogs to take control on a 6-0 run.

FSU was forced to resort to fouling as the final seconds ticked off the clock. They did manage to get the ball back with just over 30 seconds remaining, with three points separating them from Tech, but their best offensive efforts failed to produce anything and the ball was turned over again after Snaer's attempt to drive from the wing and lay it in off the backboard failed to connect.

Tech hit two more free throws at the other end to make it 71-66 before a last desperation three point attempt from Snaer rimmed out inside of five seconds.

As the final buzzer sounded, Florida State's senior leader found himself walking off his home court one final time- but at the receiving end of a loss.

Now Snaer will turn his focus to his NBA ambitions and the rest of the Florida State team will turn their attention to what could be a promising 2013-14 season.

"I think from a talent standpoint it's here, but I think from a maturity standpoint it's lacking," said Hamilton when asked about his team heading into next year. "I really think that because we've been put in this situation we've had enough good moments that we can learn from and we've had too many bad moments where I think we also can learn from those.

"But I also think these guys have been put in a situation where some of our teams in the past have not have the opportunity to grow, to learn by fire. I think [with solid off-season work] I'm hopeful that we will learn from the challenges we faced this year, but I'm also hopeful the things that we did positively we can learn and grow from too. It's obvious this teams still has some growing up to do.

"But the good thing is I'm going to add some pieces."

Notebook: There were some positives to take away from the rest of the Seminole team too. Montay Brandon for instance had ten points, including two impressive finishes after getting good penetration and driving to the hoop against the Bulldogs. Where that was all season is anyone's guess, but heading forward if he can continue making those plays next year he'll be a quality component of the Seminole offense... The team struggled agaisnt a full-court press all evening, turning the ball over 18 times against Tech... Ian Miller had his foot casted to try and help him heal from his foot injury, he was not available. Leonard Hamilton said he was not encouraged by Miller's progress though because the injury had not improved despite a drastically reduced workload in practice... Bookert finished with five turnovers and no assists... Eight of the ten Seminoles that got minutes committed a turnover, Turpin and Whisnant were the lone players without a giveaway... Okaro White had three blocks against the Bulldogs, he finished with 11 points and six rebounds in addition to the blocks... Hamilton said he felt his team didn't respond appropriately to the intensity of La. Tech, he chalked it up to inexperience... "I felt the officials let the game be played physically, and we should never complain about allowing a game to get physical," said Hamilton.

 

For all the latest Florida State news and updates follow Patrik Nohe on Twitter...

Seminoles Win Bizarre Game Over Stetson 5-3

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The Seminoles improved to 19-1 in bizarre fashion on Tuesday afternoon. After a flubbed ball in left field let Stetson take a 3-1 lead in the top of the 7th, an error-filled bottom of the 8th let the Seminoles steal a win from the Hatters without plating an earned run. 

“As a coach, you have to be very pleased and proud of the way our guys kept fighting,” said FSU manager Mike Martin. “I am proud that we won the ballgame, yes we were fortunate there is no question, but it’s still the bottom line that I am proud of those young men for getting the job done.”

The game began as a pitcher's duel. 

Stetson starter Kevin Fagan went 7 strong for the Hatters. His lone issue came in the second when Casey Smit singled in Stephen McGee for what would be the only run surrendered by either team in the first six innings. 

Other than that Fagan was excellent on Tuesday, giving up just three hits in his seven innings while striking out six.

His counterpart for Florida State, Luke Weaver, was solid himself, working 6.2 innings while striking out four and giving up just two earned runs. But he ran into trouble in the top of the 7th inning when Stetson LF Robert Bruce singled with one out to start a rally for the Hatters.

After 2B Tyler Bocock doubled to left, freshman DJ Stewart booted the ball, allowing Bruce to score the Hatters' first run of the game.

Weaver struck out the next hitter before Martin opted to go to the bullpen for Kyle Bird to try and exploit a pitching matchup.

“I thought Luke pitched extremely well,” said Martin. “It was one of those that I kind of wish he could have gone longer but he was at 100 pitches and it was time to get him with a lefty coming up.”

Bird gave up a single to Fagan (who hits for himself in Stetson's lineup) that scored Bocock. An error on Jose Brizuela the next batter let another run cross before Bird was able to get out of the inning with the Seminoles now trailing 3-1.

But Florida State continued to battle.

After seven strong innings Fagan started the bottom of the 8th by giving up a single to Giovanny Alfonzo. He was promptly replaced on the hill by LHP Cameron Griffin who received absolutely no help from his defense and took the loss despite not giving up a single earned run. 

Griffin faced PH Marcus Davis (a healthy scratch from the day's lineup) and induced a towering fly ball to deep center field.

Which was dropped.

LF Josh Delph loaded the bases with a single the very next hitter, and Jose Brizuela kept them loaded and spun the carousel with another single to bring home Alfonzo and make it 3-2.

Stewart followed by grounding into a double play which scored Davis and left FSU with two down and a man on third base. The Hatters opted to walk C Stephen McGee to put men on the corners and pitch to Seth Miller, who was replaced by John Nogowski for the at-bat. Griffin was able to induce a towering fly ball to right field from Nogowski.

Which was dropped.

Delph scored on the error, giving FSU a 4-3 lead, and McGee advanced to third. A wild pitch would score McGee the next batter before Stetson could escape the four run inning with just three outs to make up a two-run deficit.

It didn't happen.

Jameis Winston was lights out on Tuesday. After a 1-2-3 8th inning, he also worked a 1-2-3 ninth to pick up his first win of the season.

“We pretty much made our minds up before the start of the game that we were going to give the ball to Jameis,” said Martin. “Today, he goes out; he doesn’t walk anybody, strikes out one and retires all six that he faced. It was a credit to him, a good performance by Jameis.”

FSU hosts Stetson for one more game tomorrow at 4 PM.

 

For all the latest FSU news and updates, follow Patrik Nohe on Twitter...


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