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6 posts from April 11, 2013

04/11/2013

Not Many Running Backs Left Standing Headed Into Garnet and Gold Game

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Ryan Green, get here soon.

Florida State fans aren't likely to see a ton out of the running back position in Saturday's Garnet and Gold game, the Florida State backs have been beaten and battered over the course of the Spring and there aren't many left standing.

Devonta Freeman, the team's leading rusher the past couple of years, has been sidelined with a high ankle sprain after getting stepped on during a tackle earlier during Spring camp.

Then there's Mario Pender who missed all of last season with a sports hernia after enrolling early so he could go through Spring a year ago. He got dinged up in the scrimmage on Monday and was held out of practice Wednesday. He participated on Thursday but with head injuries you can never be too sure and it isn't a given he goes on Saturday either.

James Wilder is definitely out for the Garnet and Gold game. His Spring finale was Monday's scrimmage where he displayed some toughness and brutality on the goalline. Unfortunately it came at a price. Wilder re-aggravated a rib injury that had been nagging him and will be held out so he can rest and be healthy for camp at the end of the Summer.

But that leaves the backfield relatively empty for the Spring game.

Chad Abrams is the lone back who is anywhere close to completely healthy. He will likely get a number of carries potentially opposite Mario Pender. But the two backs of note for next season, Wilder and Freeman, are both out for the Garnet and Gold game.

That's disappointing, but ultimately wise considering how vital the run game will be come next season.

With the three backs healthy Florida State should have a nice three-headed backfield with Pender serving as a home-run threat to compliment the balance of the Wilder-Freeman attack. 

But this also underscores concerns that Florida State coaches and fans will have about depth all season. Highly touted St. Pete Catholic RB Ryan Green will likely find himself in a position to see carries as a freshman should anything happen to the other three. Green is extremely fast and very talented, but given the kind of program Florida State is trying to become, I doubt they're thrilled he may be thrust into action as a true freshman rather than be given a chance to come along slowly in the system.

Regardless, for the sake of the Spring game, with a QB competition playing out, having a pass-heavy offensive attack won't be the worst thing that could happen to the Seminoles.

They just better hope it doesn't have to be that way next Fall.

 

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

Casher Looking To Bounce Back From Blown Knee

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Chris Casher has had a bizarre couple of seasons.

After missing his entire senior year of high school over an eligibility issue, he decided to leave his home state of Alabama and enroll at Florida State.

“It was really important because they kind of stuck by me through my trials and tribulations and it just made me want to stay dedicated," said Casher.

But things didn't get much easier for him. Casher started the season under the impression he would redshirt before an injury to Brandon Jenkins changed that decision. Shortly after learning he would play as a true freshman, he blew out his knee and had to miss the season anyway.

“For my senior year, only one word really sums that up, I just had to sacrifice," said Casher. "As far as last year me getting hurt, stuff happens for a reason. I look at it like maybe that’s the Lord’s way of telling me I have to slow down, learn more technique, study more film and learn a little bit more.”

So Casher has gotten back to basics, refocusing on the fundamentals and techniques he feels will give him the kind of foundation he needs to be a good college player.

Keep in mind, Casher didn't come to FSU as a defensive end. 

“He’s showing the athleticism but you’ve got to remember in high school he was a wideout and an outside backer," said Jimbo Fisher. "He’s never put his hand in the dirt and taken those kinds of snaps.

“It’s good for Chris to get back out there and play. Chris has a chance to be a very good player he’s just got to keep coming and doing the right things, this will be a nice step for him.”

As Casher learns his new position, the 6-4 250-pound redshirt freshman also needs to regain confidence in his knee. Physically he's around 100 percent, but mentally, it's not all back.

“I try talking to him all the time," said DE Mario Edwards Jr. "Chris is a great athlete, he still like thinks about it with his leg but I try to tell him you’re 100% good otherwise you wouldn’t be out here so you just have to go back to the feel of it and just do what you normally do. He’s definitely getting back to his speed.”

“There’s times where sometimes I feel like I still do favor it but I still have a long way to fall so it will come around," said Casher.

For now, Casher has plenty of time to keep focusing on learning the defense and learning to trust his knee again. As he said, the Fall is a ways off. The next thing he's worried about is the Garnet and Gold Game

“I’m really looking forward to it man," Casher said on Thursday night. "When I leave here I’m going to go study my playbook and make sure I’m ready.”

 

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

Jameis Winston Turning Heads in Seminole Camp

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He's all over the place.

One minute Jameis Winston is on campus taking a class. The next he's lining up under center at Florida State's Spring practice taking snaps with the first team. Then he's jetting to Coral Gables where he's striking out Canes with a mid-90's fastball.

The legend of Jameis Winston grows by the day.

Coming out of high school the two-sports star was part of ESPN's Elite 11, considered to be one of the top recruits in the country. Since coming to Tallahassee all he's done is catch the attention of teammates in not one, but two sports.

“He works at it, he works at both sports," said Jimbo Fisher after Florida State's most recent scrimmage. "He’s not the guy who has the talent and goes back both ways, he’s spending time in the film room and he’s spending time at baseball and he goes and gets treatment on his arm and then he comes back out. He wants to do it, it’s in him and he’s doing a good job. But it really doesn’t surprise me.”

“I don’t have a social life anymore," joked Winston. "It’s hectic but I’m a kid, you know? That’s fun. Everyone dreams of doing multiple things, doing as many things as they can, possibly and this helps me stay out of trouble. You know I’d rather play multiple sports than get involved in stuff I don’t need to be involved in.”

It's a lot for anyone to handle, even a high-energy 'kid' like Winston. Between classes, studying, learning a football playbook, team meetings, practice, baseball practice and ballgames, Winston rarely has a free moment. 

But he's not worried about burnout.

“That’s mental, that’s from the mental part of everything. So I don’t think it can," said Winston. "Well, I know it probably will be on my body, on my arm and everything but as long as I’m out there having fun that’s the last thing on my mind.”

The only thing on the 6-4 215-pound redshirt freshman's mind these day (when it comes to football, at least) is winning the starting quarterback job. Something he has already made progress towards.

Winston's rare blend of arm strength and athletic ability are impressive enough in and of themselves, but he's also demonstrated leadership on both the diamond and the practice field. Whether it's being the last guy off the field to work with teammates after a bad practice or calling the team together before a rally when the baseball team is trailing, Winston is already demonstrating his leadership ability.

He's also shown off an "it" factor to some of his teammates.

“I mean that boy's good, he puts the ball on the money, even his deep balls," said S Terrence Brooks. "He throws that ball right as they come out of the breaks so it makes it a little bit harder for us, he does a great job of looking us off and just having us on the edge at all times.”

“[He shows it with] just the ability to escape dangerous situations when the rush comes, his ability just to work with you," said WR Kenny Shaw. “He shows some signs that EJ had shown, that’s probably where his “it” factor comes from is his feet and ability to make decisions.”

If Winston plays the game a little bit like EJ Manuel did, thats with good reason. Manuel played a major role in mentoring Winston last season.

“EJ helped me a lot his first year just because he liked the fact he was my mentor and stuff like that," Winston said. "So he knew he had to do his job but he also knew ‘ok I got a little brother right here, let me help him out, fill him in on some stuff.’ He helped me a lot last year.”

Winston and Manuel worked together on a lot of things, but more than that Winston credits EJ with showing him what to expect at this level and how to handle it with dignity. After watching Manuel handle his own trials and tribulations all freshman year, Winston has already begun to apply those lessons to his own career.

For instance Winston really doesn't care about hype or pressure.

“EJ didn’t care either," he said. "You see where EJ’s going to finish up now. He’s going to get drafted. He didn’t care. He was just out there doing his job the whole time.”

“It’s easy to ignore because last year I sat the bench the whole year and didn’t see the field. So that was real easy to get over. I just really worry about winning, all that hype and all that other stuff that’ll come when you prove yourself.”

 

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

Jacobbi McDaniel Ready to Take Out His Frustration on Opponents

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Jacobbi McDaniel came to Florida State amid considerable hype. He was a top recruit who was supposed to help turn the Florida State defense around and bring the Seminoles back to respectability.

Then in the middle of 2011 he got hurt and ended up missing all of 2012 on a redshirt. In that time the Florida State defensive line has rocketed back to respectability, the Seminoles have climbed back to the top of the ACC and a number of other highly-touted recruits have come to FSU and pushed McDaniel to the back of the fanbase's collective memory.

Now he's ready to change that. And he's hungrier than ever.

"I feel like I have something to prove to coming off a devastating injury like that," said McDaniel. "I just have to go back out and just prove myself and play football.”

McDaniel suffered a badly broken ankle against Duke and hasn't played since. He's been through a lot the past two seasons, but now he's just happy to be back out on the field.

“It’s been a blessing, you know, it’s been a real joy," said McDaniel. "I’ve been out two years and you really don’t know how much you enjoy something until something like that happens to you. It was a scare man but just to get back out there in Spring practice is a blessing. I didn’t miss any practice, I’m proud of that, that shows my ankle has come a long ways and just going out there and practicing every day and getting better."

McDaniel is battling for time at defensive tackle where he feels he can contribute a lot this year. 

“Big time man," he said. "I’m going out every day taking pride in myself, taking pride in my craft, not going down, not going out there with my head held down because I just came off this injury I’m going down there to get reps, practice and do what I have to do to better myself and get more confidence in my ankle.”

“He’s back. He’s stronger than before when he got hurt, he’s quick as a cat," said DT Tim Jernigan. "He’s going to play a lot for us this year.”

It didn't always seem like McDaniel would get back to this point though. He admits he went through some pretty dark periods but credits his family for always sticking it out with him and giving him a new purpose to play for throughout his recovery.

"My family was there the whole time to keep my head up, to keep me motivated, to keep me strong," said McDaniel. "So anytime I went into rehab, I thought about my family. I don’t want to do this only for me, I want that purpose, I had a purpose during my rehab. My purpose was I don’t want to let my family down. And they were there the whole time so I don’t want them to feel like there time went unnoticed, it’s just that motivation man, your purpose.”

On Saturday that will come full circle when McDaniel takes the field for the Garnet and Gold game and plays football competitively for the first time in two years.

And the people who have been their supporting him through his rehab will be in the house to see it.

"Everybody’s coming this Saturday," said McDaniel with a massive smile. "I think it’s the first time they’ve come to a Spring game.

"It’s going to be big, man.”

 

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

Kenny Shaw Happy to Fly Below Your Radar

The Florida State fanbase loves its wide receivers.

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After all Fred Biletnikoff himself, the namesake of the trophy given annually to the nation's top receiver, was a Seminole. Peter Warrick is perhaps one of the most well-remembered Seminoles of all-time. Florida State loves its receivers and they gravitate to certain ones as if they're magnetic.

Kelvin Benjamin. Rashad Greene and lately Greg Dent have all received considerable hype and attention from the Florida State fanbase.

All the while Kenny Shaw just keeps on producing consistently.

But the lack of attention doesn't really bother him.

"As a player I just want a championship number one, and then number two I just want to be the best guy I can be to my teammates," said Shaw. "When you hear things like that I just throw it to the side because there’s always going to be little things like that to throw you off your game.”

Shaw has been on his game pretty consistently over the course of the last two seasons. He had 34 catches in 2011 followed by 33 in 2012. His receptions dropped by one, but his average improved. Over his career he's got 70 catches for 986 yards and 8 touchdowns.

Now headed into his senior year Shaw is looking to break out and finally claim some of the hype and acclaim that seems to find his teammates so often.

Shaw is one of the better technical route-runners on the team, he gets in and out of his cuts well and is very smooth catching the football. But more importantly he's good with making his reads at the line, he's open a lot.

He's also tough. Fans rememebr the shot he took in the Oklahoma game in 2011, one which could have ended another player's season. Shaw was taken to the hospital and made it back to the sideline by the end of the game. Two weeks later he was going over the middle again, getting blown up again and there wasn't a glimmer of hesitation in him.

That's a fearlessness that can't be taught.

At 5-11 170, Shaw is neither the biggest, nor the fastest receiver on the Seminole offense, but he's got a good combination of skills and consistency and he's blue-collar. So far that's helped him this Spring to lead the team in receptions at the scrimmages as well as to develop a good relationship with the quarterbacks currently vying for FSU's starting job.

Come Fall that could mean big things for number 81.

 

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

Clint Trickett Is Shutting it All Out

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You can cruise Florida State message polls for hours or search high and low on Twitter, there's not a ton of Seminole fans openly pulling for Clint Trickett to win the team's starting quarterback job.

“I thought the fans liked me, everytime I’ve gone in I’ve heard cheers," joked Trickett. "Coach Fisher deals with it, if the fans don’t like me I wish they would."

As the backup to EJ Manuel the past two years Clint Trickett is used to hearing the cheers when he came into the game. His arrival typically meant the Seminoles had blown the doors wide open and created enough space to warrant getting the back-ups some time.

But as a starter? A lot of Seminoles fans haven't bought into that quite yet.

"That comes with it," said Trickett. "I’m a three-star guy out of high school, there’s nothing I can do about that I just have to go out there and play.”

In a football city where the back-up quarterback is all too often the most popular guy in town, Trickett could soon find himself the victim of a role reversal. This time finding himself as a starting quarterback with a highly-recruited quarterback prospect sitting behind him.

“I know how Ponder and EJ both dealt with it and I’ll deal with it the same way," said Trickett confidently. "I hear the stuff that’s being said and I try to be oblivious to it but it’s a different world we live in now with the social media and everything and with my dad being on staff I knew that it would be even worse but you just have to deal with it and leave it behind you. I’m a tough-skinned kid, that’s the way you have to be one you grow up with my father.”

Trickett's father is Florida State's offensive line coach, a fiery, curse-loving, hard-nosed coach. But in many ways that sort of upbringing will likely be Trickett's biggest blessing as he attempts to be the Seminole starter.

Trickett has several advantages already. Aside from the thick skin, he's the only guy who's actually taken competitive snaps in a game.

“I have had some experience but I haven’t had a lot," admitted Trickett. "I don’t want to think I’m a veteran or anything, I’ve played in like six games. To some point I am but to some point I’m not. I’ve got a lot to learn but I do have that experience in my back pocket.”

But regardless of how much experience, the fact Trickett has started and won at Florida State in the past gives him the respect of his teammates. That's been obvious this off-season as it was Trickett who organized offensive team activities opposite Telvin Smith.

Trickett is one of the players who has been instrumental in helping the younger players get comfortable in the Florida State offense since last season ended. That even extends to the other quarterbacks he's competing with.

“I help them, I’m not going to be that guy who holds anything back," said Trickett, doing his best to channel Brian Piccolo. "If I’m going to win, I want to win being the best. If they need something then I’ll let them know and then I’ll still try to beat them.”

Trickett entered Spring as the starter, the job isn't necessarily his to lose, but he also may have the best shot. He knows the offense, he makes good reads, he understands the concepts and he's won before.

In other words he's the safest pick. If it's Trickett he will run the Florida State offense efficiently, even if it never hums on all cylinders under him. He will be steady.

“I had a time where I was once the first guy so that was good experience," said Trickett. "It is a little different [competing this Spring] but it’s still football. You’re still playing for coach Fisher, every day it’s a battle. I’m competing against them but the way I like to look at it I’m just competing against Coach Fisher. If he believes in me and he wants me to be the guy alright, and if not, well, hopefully he will.”

Whether or not Seminoles fans will want him to be is another story. But not one Trickett or Fisher are likely to lose much sleep over.

 

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


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