After 15 practices- including one of the most grueling scrimmages in Jimbo Fisher's tenure as head coach- the Florida State Seminoles are finally ready for their annual Garnet and Gold Spring game.
This year things will be a little bit different than they have been in the past. The Seminoles have scrapped their draft format (where captains pick teams) in favor of putting the one's and two's together so the first-team offense and defense and second-team offense and defense square off agaisnt one another. One's against one's, two's against two's.
“We’re going to put guys into position and we’re going to try to win the game but I’m also going to make sure so-and-so gets so many chances to run it or throw it at him or you try to direct some balls to see how each guy handles those situations in there," said Jimbo Fisher. "It will still be more that way, but the guys will call the game, [WR Coach Lawrence] Dawsey will call one side and [QB Coach Randy] Sanders will call the other and we’ll try to make some plays and we’ll get a plan of what we’re going to try to do to see how some guys react.”
This isn't going to be all that informative in terms of schemes and play-calling. It will be vanilla. It will not give any of the secrets away.
The team has installed most of its offense and defense. Fisher said the plan in Spring is to throw as much as they possibly can at the players to see what sticks. Then to go back over and iron out the details over the Summer and heading into Fall.
Despite the full installation though, things will be dialed back for the sake of the Spring game.
“These things to me are like NFL exhibitions, your offense is your base stuff, you’re looking how does the guy handle the situation," said Fisher. "You want to throw and catch and win the game, play good defense and tackle and do those kinds of things, the lights are on, people are out there. It’s nothing like a real game but it’s still as close as you can get.”
More than stats or touchdowns, Fisher is looking to see how his players respond to being on the stage at Doak. It's not a real game, but you can still gain quite a it of insight into the make-up of a player by seeing how he responds to certain situations you create in the context of the Spring game.
“Can you execute and do the same things you were doing in practice and carry them to the field?" asked Fisher. "It’s the first time, even though it’s a simulated game for those guys, it’s the first time they’ve been asked to do action or they’re really being counted on, so you like to see how that atmosphere does it bother them, does it not bother them, and then their execution.”
One thing you will not see done much is rushing. With James Wilder and Devonta Freeman out for the Garnet and Gold game, and with Mario Pender questionanble, this will be a very pass-heavy exhibition.
That's fine with Fisher though. With a QB competition currently playing out, Fisher wants to see as much as he can out of each of his four quarterbacks.
Clint Trickett and James Winston will play with the one's. Sean Maguire and Jacob Coker with the two's.
Thus far Trickett and Winston seem to have separated themselves from the rest of the pack, though the coaching staff has been silent about who the leader is and where the other quarterbacks currently rank in the competition.
Defensively, don't expect to see too much from the aggressive new defense that Jeremy Pruitt is installing. Reports from camp are that the defense has less reading and more attacking. Players are being schooled in the concepts behind the defense instead of just learning their assignments. Players like Christian Jones and Chris Casher are working all over the place as hybrid-style players who can line up standing or with their hands down.
"There’s not much you can do because they hide and disguise a lot of the things that they do," said LT Cam Erving, who admitted the defense has made it difficult to run the offense at times this Spring.
This is going to be a very exciting defense to watch in 2013 and a very scary one to try and play against.
But fans aren't likely to catch much of a glimpse of it on Saturday.
It's likely the defense will run a fairly vanilla shell version of itself to give the offense some room to compete, as well as to try and save some of their more exotic looks for when the games actually matter.
The biggest thing for fans to look for defensively is how certain players look as they try to fight back from injury. DT Jacobbi McDaniel is back on the field for the first time since the Duke game in 2011. Casher is fighting back from a blown knee. And guys like CB PJ Williams are making names for themselves with starters like Nick Waisome and Ronald Darby on the shelf with injuries.
The game is slated to start at 2 PM inside Doak Campbell Stadium. It will be carried like on ESPN 3.
Afterwards you can read all about it on here. I'll have plenty of coverage for you.
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