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39 posts from April 2013

04/12/2013

Florida State Clobbers Duke 16-2 in Series Opener

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The Florida State Seminoles (28-6, 10-5 Atlantic Coast Conference) hosted the Duke Blue Devils (21-15, 8-8 ACC) for the first of three games on Friday night at Dick Howser Stadium.

They were not gracious hosts.

Behind a dominant performance by starter Luke Weaver and a couple of four-run innings the Seminoles smashed Duke 16-2 in the series opener.

"Well that was just one of those that you look at the ballgame and you know that Luke Weaver is the story," said FSU head coach Mike Martin. "But we had some very very good at-bats, we scored a lot of runs obviously. It's a credit to our guys and the at-bats that they had. I'm just very proud of them."

Weaver was impressive in his second outing since taking over the Seminoles' Friday night spot in the rotation. The 6-2 170-pound righty picked up his 4th win of the season with seven strong innings and six strikeouts while giving up six hits and an earned run. 

The sophomore kept Duke's batters off balance all day, hitting his spots and using his full compliment of pitches. His lone mistake came on a 2-2 pitch to Duke 1B Chris Marconcini which got hit out of the park. Other than that Weavers was lights out.

"We were liteally going to use him more because he was less than 100," said Martin about the decision to pull Weaver after seven. "But then the [bottom of the] seventh inning got a little long and so we just decided to get him out of there then."

Behind Weaver the Seminoles battered Duke's pitching, plating 16 runs. 2B John Sansone lead the way, going 3-4 with 4 RBI's, RF Josh Delph was also 3-4 with a pair of RBI's. 3B Jose Brizuela and LF Marcus Davis each had three hits a piece too before leaving the game early to enjoy the final innings from the bench.

Florida State drew first blood when Davis singled to drive in Knief in the bottom of the first. With Jameis DH Winston up at the plate next, Davis attempted to swipe second and was gunned out but the throw let CF DJ Stewart score from third to make it 2-0.

The next inning, in the top of the 2nd, Marconcini hit his 8th homerun of the season, a solo shot to right. It was the first homer that Weaver had surrendered all season and it cut the Seminole lead to 2-1.

But Florida State broke things wide open in the bottom of the 4th.

After Winston started the inning by wearing an inside pitch and taking his base, Brizuela singled and 1B John Nogowski walked to load the bases with one out.

Sansone came up next and singled through the left side of the infield to drive in two and push the Florida State advantage to 4-1. Knief added an RBI on a sacrifice fly and DJ Stewart also singled in a run to help the Seminoles push four across in the inning before the Blue Devils could escape trailing by five runs.

The Seminoles chased Swart and tacked on four more the next inning too. After Brizuela singled to drive in Davis and put men on the corners for Nogowski, a single scored both runners to push the Seminole advantage to eight. Nogowski would later score on a throwing error to push the lead to 10-1.

Swart finished the day after 4.1 innings pitched, gave up 10 hits, nine runs, eight earned while both striking out and walking three. 

An inning later in the bottom of the 6th Davis made it 12-1 when he clobbered a ball well over the rightfield wall. It was Davis' 6th homerun of the season and there was never any doubt. Davis has displayed impressive power all season, but of the six he's hit out, none have left the yard as quickly as his homer on Friday night.

"I noticed the pattern of these guys throwing 1-0 fastballs," said Davis. "They were trying to get back into the count with fastballs so I saw one he just put it where I could handle it.

"It feels pretty good [to hit one that hard] because it doesn't happen often. It always feels good to get a hit but when you hit one that hard it just feels special."

The Seminoles kept tacking on more and more runs in the late innings too. Knief and Seth Miller both drove in runs in the bottom of the 7th to make it 14-2. In the bottom of the 8th- the last time the Seminoles would bat- Sansone drove in two more to make it 16-2 and all but empty the stands at Dick Howser Stadium.

Florida State plays a pair with Duke tomorrow. The threat of severe weather on Sunday has forced FSU to push game one up from 6 PM to 4 PM and game two will start 45 minutes after the conlusion of the matinee game.

 

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

The Miami Herald All-You-Need-To-Know Florida State University Spring Football Primer

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With the Florida State University Spring Game now less than 36 hours away it's time to roll out this year's Miami Herald All-You-Need-to-Know Spring Football Primer. 

Over the course of the past few weeks the FSU football team has been back to work as they prepare for the 2013 season. Last year the Seminoles finished 12-2, won the ACC and beat Northern Illinois in the Orange Bowl. But the offseason brought a multitude of coaching changes with it and Florida State will also have to reload after losing a number of players to graduation and the NFL draft. 

Fortunately for Florida State fans, solid recruiting and good coaching connections seem to have the team headed in the right direction, though a lot is still undecided heading into Saturday's Spring finale.

From the Quarterback competition currently taking place to the adjustments being made under new defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt, there's been plenty going on in Seminoles camp. That's why I've got your primer. Below you can find everything you need to get you ready for the Florida State Garnet and Gold Game. Click around. Read. Become an expert on all things Florida State as the Seminoles prepare to put the finishing touches on the Spring.

2013 "Garnet and Gold" Spring Football Game Preview

QB Competition a Four-Man Race
Profile: Clint Trickett
Profile: Jameis Winston
Profile: Jacob Coker
Profile: Sean Maguire 

 

Run Game: Seminole Run Game Depleted Heading Into Spring Game
Run Game: Mario Pender Looking to Break Out After Lost Year

 

Offensive Line: Two Years Later Offensive Line Looking Veteran 
Offensive Line: Bobby Hart Feeling Hungry Again After Sitting Most of 2012

 

Wide Receivers: Receivers Finding Themselves in a New Role
Wide Receivers: Kenny Shaw Happy to Fly Below Your Radar
Wide Receivers: After Taking His Lumps in Year One, Kourtzidis Ready for Year Two

 

New Coaches: Jeremy Pruitt is Implementing an Attacking, NFL-Style Defense at Florida State
New Coaches: Sal Sunseri Brings Lunch-Pail Approach to Florida State Defensive Line

Defensive Line: Mario Edwards Ready to Live Up to the Hype
Defensive Line: Tim Jernigan Ready to Lead
Defensive Line: Jacobbi McDaniel Aiming to Take Out His Frustration on Opponents
Defensive Line: Chris Casher Bouncing Back After Blown Knee
Defensive Line: NCAA Has DeMarcus Walker Caught in the Rye

 

Secondary: Lamarcus Joyner is On His Own Now
Secondary: PJ Williams Making Most of His Opportunities

 

Linebackers: Telvin Smith Enjoying New Role as Leader

 

Special Teams: Berto and Beatty, Seminole Kickers Ready to Toe the Line in 2013

 

Scrimmage Reports:
Scrimmage 1
Scrimmage 2

 

Pro Day:
Recap from Florida State Pro Day
More Observations from Florida State Pro Day

 

Schedule:
Seminoles 2013 Schedule Leaves Something to Be Desired

2014 Could be Brutal

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

2013 Garnet and Gold Spring Football Game Preview

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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.

QB Competition a Four-Man Race
Profile: Clint Trickett
Profile: Jameis Winston
Profile: Jacob Coker
Profile: Sean Maguire 

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.

 

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

NCAA has DeMarcus Walker Caught in the Rye

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In JD Salinger's classic 1951 novel, protagonist Holden Caulfield finds himself caught in that precarious stage of life between adolescence and adulthood. 

Over 60 years later Florida State defensive end DeMarcus Walker finds himself caught in a real-life Catcher in the Rye situation. But unlike with Salinger's fictional narrative, Walker's reality has him caught between stages of life in an actual sense and his plight is no where near as well-written.

After committing to Alabama as a senior in high school, Walker made waves just hours after the BCS title game when he chose to follow former Crimson Tide DB's coach Jeremy Pruitt to Florida State where his intention was to enroll early.

So Walker sacrificed the last semester of his senior year and left Jacksonville for Tallahassee where he planned to enroll in classes and participate in Spring football.

Then things hit a hitch.

There's currently a question about one of Walker's courses at Sandlewood High School, the NCAA Clearinghouse is yet to give the OK for Walker to begin official team activities with the Seminoles. As of right now the most he can do is sequester himself on the practice field for some unsupervised drills. Beyond that, he's "extremely limited," as per NCAA regulations.

As one of the top recruits in the country, the 4-star defensive end had hoped to try and win some playing time as a true freshman. That will have to wait.

FSU has already completed all of their Spring practices, all that's left is the Garnet and Gold game. Aside from physically being on campus, the NCAA has more or less wasted Walker's early enrollment.

"It is frustrating because those classes have been used at other schools and been OK," said Fisher a couple weeks ago. "Now all of a sudden, they aren't. I don't know why. It was just one class anyway. For one semester."

If the NCAA doesn't clear Walker soon, then Florida State does have some recourse- just not in time to get Walker on the field this Spring.

"There would be a whole process," Fisher said. "It can become appeal, appeal, appeal. There's all kind of things, so it'll have to wait."

In the meantime the 6-4 275-pound defensive end is stuck. He's not a high schooler anymore but he's not quite in college yet either. Not until the NCAA.

Until further notice DeMarcus Walker is caught in the Rye.

 

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

Jeremy Pruitt Implementing an Attacking, NFL-Style Defense at Florida State

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Florida State is lying about its defense.

They tell you that it's not a new defense. It's the same one with new terminology. And it may not look much different to the untrained eye.

But this isn't your older brother's Florida State defense. This one has more teeth.

“It’s a totally different defense as far as no more reading, it’s more just like see it and go," said DE Mario Edwards.

“I feel like with this defense we’re around the ball all the time, I feel like. Like I don’t know how, but I mean, I feel like it’s unstoppable," joked CB Nick Waisome. "There’s always an answer for something. I feel like if a play is made on us it’s because of a miscommunication or something like that, but I like it.”

“Just the look of the defense overall is a lot different, we still cover just as much, I can’t really explain it you’ve just got to see it," said S Terrence Brooks. "But we definitely switch it up a lot, we got a lot of different guys coming, we got Christian Jones playing some D-End at some point, got D-Ends dropping into coverage, it looks real good to me.”

Does that sound like what you've been seeing the past few years under Mark Stoops?

There are a lot of similarities between the two defenses, but also a lot of differences.

“A lot more blitzes, I mean I’m blitzing a lot more coming off the edge. Just our blitz schemes, I feel like I like it a lot, it gives us a chance to make more plays," said Brooks.

“It’s a very complex defense but it’s really good for us I feel, we’re still just as aggressive but I feel like it does mix a lot of things up and confuse the quarterback a lot.”

The team will use different personnel groupings, give lots of different looks and make calls and changes at the line. It's an evolved, highly complicated defense that's going to take some time to get completely comfortable in.

But so far things have been going well as the teams transitions into it.

“It’s been OK, it’s not been too bad because everybody’s got the work mentality, everybody’s on the same page wanting to learn the defense," said LB Telvin Smith. "I feel like there’s no selfish guys, everybody’s putting in time, so when you’ve got that attitude out there, there’s always great things that’s going to happen.”

One of the biggest differences between the two defenses, is the approach to teaching it and what is expected of the players in terms of knowledge of the defense.

“Stoops made it really, really simple," said Brooks. "I mean somehow he did it. I feel like he was a genius for the defense to be that good but so simple.

"This defense is very complex but we’re actually getting it down really good. Pruitt teaches a lot of the in's and out's of the games as of like how to run to the ball, how to be in our stance, what to look for in linemen and and anything like that and I feel like we’ve been doing a lot better just by picking up those little things.”

Perhaps the biggest paradigm shifts in terms of the teaching that's being done though is that now the team is teaching the players the why, and not just the what. Players aren't just learning their assignments, they're learning why they have those assignments and how it all fits together with the rest of the defense.

"You learn more of the concepts of the defense versus just an assignment," said DE Dan Hicks. "Like you know your assignment now and why you’re doing it and where your help is and where your help is not and where you’re supposed to be so they just really break down so you just understand the defense yourselves."

“Most of our defensive plays if you understand the concept of it, it clicks together," said LB Christian Jones.

“Actually it kind of helps you predict what the play should look like on the opposite side of the ball because you run these certain plays [and looks] and if you understand the concept you know why they’re running it so you know what to look for,” added Hicks.

That knowledge gives the defenders more confidence and allows them to be more adaptable. It also prepares them better for the NFL.

“Nothing against the defense from last year but this system makes you feel like a football player," said DT Eddie Goldman. "You’re making all these checks, if you see something you’re going to change it, we get a little bit of freedom as a D-Lineman too.

"It makes you feel like a real football player.”

 

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

Berto and Beatty, Seminole Kickers Ready to Toe the Line in 2013

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Florida State has an extremly interesting relationship with its kickers.

Nationally, football fans are quick to recount Wide Right, or any of the variations on that theme which has cost Florida State football games (and national titles) in the past.

But amongst the fanbase the talk is much more favorable. Guys like Sebastian Janikowski and Graham Gano are Groza award winners and amongst the most well-regarded of former Seminoles. Recently Dustin Hopkins, the all-time leading scorer amongst NCAA Division I kickers has joined that group.

In Hopkins place this season is Robert Aguayo, a redshirt freshman with a big leg and a big personality who is more than ready to make his own name.

"I like the transition in, I have to fill the number one spot so I’m willing to take that over," said Aguayo. "I’m doing good in Spring ball right now. I keep everything the same, the difference is Dustin’s gone but I still practice exactly the same as I did in the fall."

Both Hopkins and Aguayo are out-going, well-spoken guys with big personalities. There are similarities, but also plenty of differences.

"Dustin and me kind of have the same personality, I wouldn’t say I’m more outgoing because Dustin was outgoing too but I like to joke around a lot, laugh a lot, I don’t take stuff seriously, you never see me mad and stuff, you always see me smiling," said Aguayo. "Growing up a lot of people were always like 'oh you’re always laughing, you’re always smiling, nothing ever gets to you.' And that’s how the mindset of a kicker has to be. You miss a kick, ‘oh well, you missed it,’ you can’t do anything, just learn what you did and move on and that’s how I carry myself.”

But whereas Hopkins was the walking definition of humility, Aguayo radiates confidence. Don't believe it?Just get him going about his range.

“My farthest was a 68 last Fall in practice, but that was with the wind at my back, I hit the ball good," said Aguayo. "I’d say 55-60 yards, maybe on a good day with the wind at my back 63. But anything under 55 I can hit it.”

Aguayo's partner in crime, punter Cason Beatty is developing confidence after a freshman year that saw its share of highs and lows.

“It was a good year to start, I think I had ups and downs of course but my main focus after the Maryland game- where I struggled with two or three punts- was just to finish strong," said Beatty, who is entering his sophomore year. "I went into the Florida game and I hit a few good balls, I know one got returned but it was just a good hit, and I finished the ACC championship game really well and I finished the bowl game really well with five inside the 20. So I'm just coming through the end of my freshman year on a high just coming into Spring ball knowing that I know I struggled a little bit and it was just good learning.”

Beatty relied on another former FSU kicker for guidance after he struggled against Maryland at the end of the season. He reached out to former Florida State (and current Buffalo Bills) punter Shawn Powell.

“When I first committed up here the day I worked out he was on the field with me, so he happened to be out there and from then we hit it off so I did reach out to him after the Maryland game just to talk to him, just to get another perspective," said Beatty. "He just told me to calm down and just take care of everything because you’re there for a reason. They wouldn’t have you there if they didn’t want you.”

Now Beatty is preparing for his sophomore season with a year's worth of lessons under his belt and the confidence that comes with having gained that experience. 

So far new Special Teams coordinator Charles Kelly and the two kickers have formed a good working relationship too. 

“I feel like we’ve been working with each other for a few years already," said Beatty. "We’re very comfortable with each other, he knows how I’m going to punt every time, he knows when I do one small thing wrong and he can say one word and I’ll fix on my next punt and hit it well.”

Kelly and Beatty will still need to work to shore up some issues with protection on punts, but Beatty feels his best kicks are ahead of him. Now it's just a matter of smoothing everything out.

“I’m not going to put it on my blockers at all, we’re a team, we’re all together. We got those punts blocked as a unit," said Beatty.

“I just want to hit the ball well and get a good net out of it and let my guys cover, I’m looking for a fair catch and anything over 40.”

Beatty will continue to utilize his Aussie punt to try and pin teams inside the 20. Neither him nor Kelly prefer directional punting, especially when they trust the gunners will be able to down the ball if the hang-time is there.

As long as the blocking holds, Beatty is very good at burying teams deep. He should have plenty of chances to do just that in 2013.

Meanwhile Aguayo is just trying to make the most of practice and save his leg for the games.

"You try to minimize the reps because you’re going to get tired, plus you know what you’re doing," said Aguayo. "You’re trying to save yourself for the games.

"It’s quality reps, not quantity.”

 

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

After Taking His Lumps in Year One, Chris Kourtzidis Ready for Year Two

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At 6-4 235 Christo Kourtzidis looks the part of a college tight end.

But looking the part and playing the part are two entirely different things, as Kourtzidis learned his freshman year- the hard way.

“Well the first D-End I had to block when I got here was Tank, so that was the moment where I was like ‘alright this is going to be different,’" joked Kourtzidis.

After starring as a pass-catching tight end in high school, Kourtzidis came to Florida State where his first assignment on the football field was to block Tank Carradine, the guy who tossed up 32 reps on the bench at his Pro Day and could potentially go in the first round of the NFL draft in a couple weeks despite tearing his ACL in Florida State's 2012 regular season finale.

How did it go?

“Not so well," he admitted. "I stepped down trying to cut him off and he just bench-pressed my chest with one arm and it was just like ‘ok, well, you know.’ And then you’ve got to learn the techniques and get around that.”

Kourtzidis admits blocking was not his strong suit when he arrived in Tallahassee.

“Especially in high school, you’re bigger than everybody else, faster than a lot of people so they want to get you out in space, get you the ball. So it’s different," he said. "Also just the size of the D-ends the size of the linebackers at this level is a lot different so it’s an adjustment but we’re getting there.”

With a year in the weight room and the experience he gained as a freshman, Kourtzidis feels he's ready to make the next step in 2013.

“I’d have to say so, a little bit of that comes from putting a little bit of weight on," Kourtzidis said. "Just being in the weight room, being in this program for a long period of time. But it’s always tough to work on, you’ve got to improve both aspects as much as you can.”

He's also made strides in the classroom and studying film where he feels he's begun to really pick up on Jimbo Fisher's offense.

“That’s the biggest difference I’ve felt is once you get a grasp of that offense, once you’re comfortable doing what you’re supposed to do, when you don’t have to think about that you can focus on the technique, focus on having a plan before the play as opposed to trying to figure out where you’re supposed to go.”

Kourtzidis played in eight games as a freshman, he caught one ball for 13 yards. He's hoping with him improved blocking, he'll have shown enough this Spring and in Saturday's Garnet and Gold game to earn a bigger role next season.

“I think what I took from that is you just have to take things in stride," said Kourtzidis. "Things aren’t going to go right every day, they’re also not going to go how you want or how you expect so you’ve just kind of got to move on your feet and go with the flow a little bit and not take things too hard and just keep your confidence up.”

He's also been working to improve his receiving skills, staying after practice to catch extra balls and working with Nick O'Leary to become a better all-around pass-catcher.

"I’ve actually learned a lot from him as far as route-running goes and stuff like that," said Christo. "He’s actually kind of a natural at it so I’ve picked up a lot of just little nuances from him that help a lot.”

Now number 83 just needs to put it all together on the field.

Saturday will go a long ways towards tell just how far he's come.

 

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

Four-Man QB Competition May Be Turning into Two-Man Race

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Profile: Clint Trickett
Profile: Jameis Winston
Profile: Jacob Coker
Profile: Sean Maguire 

Florida State's four-man quarterback battle has been one of the more well-publicized parts of team's Spring activities. After losing EJ Manuel to graduation (and the NFL), the team is looking for its next signal caller and every fan has a favorite.

Whether it's Clint Trickett, Jameis Winston, Jacob Coker or Sean Maguire, Seminoles fans are all hoping their next QB will be the next great one in Florida State history. 

You'd think the competition could drive a wedge between the four, but they all maintain that couldn't be any less true.

“We’re all friends, everybody’s trying to help each other out," said Coker. "They’ll get down on themselves sometimes but you’ve just got to learn to keep yourself up. Because there is a lot of pressure going into it, you don’t want to let anybody down. You want to be the guy. One bad practice you start thinking about it all day and you’re ready to get out there again but you’ve just got to realize we’ve got practice again tomorrow and it’s a new day.”

All four have stated that they don't view themselves as much in competition with one another as in competition with the defense and coach Fisher. Whether it's in the film room or on the field. 

“In a lot of ways it’s fun to have a quarterback competition," said QB coach Randy Sanders. "At the same time it’s kind fun to have the guy you know is going to be the starter so he can get most of the first group reps and you can start building some continuity. When I became the quarterback coach, the first thing my wife asked me was ‘Do they have a returning starter?'"

"It’s fun to watch them learn. I am excited about the abilities they do have. Who it is or when it happens, they will determine that. They’ll determine that by how they play. How productive they are. How well the team moves when they’re in there. How many points we score. When it happens, how it happens is up to them.”

So far it's been close, with Fisher refusing to give much insight into how things are playing out. But based on discussions with players and what has been on display, it's beginning to look as though some separation is beginning to form.

“You get the right ones – two of them or one of them that step up and become the guy, you’ve got to get there, but I think we are getting there," said Fisher after the Seminoles' most recent scrimmage.

"Now, you say that we feel comfortable putting guys in the game, if one guy gets hurt the other guy can go in and do the same thing. We’re getting much more comfortable that way.”

It looks as if Clint Trickett is still holding strong as the starter with Jameis Winston now pulling into second on the depth chart. Coker has been hurt, but Winston has begun to grab the attention of his teammates with his mobility and touch.

Clint Trickett is the safest bet because of his knowledge of the office. He's going to be efficient and make good decisions, but he's never going to to have the athleticism that Winston has, nor the high-end potential. 

As Florida State heads into Saturday's Garnet and Gold game there will be a lot of factors for Jimbo Fisher to consider if he's deciding between the two. 

Things like whether Trickett's consistency or Winston's potential for growth should be weighed with more importance, whether he has enough faith in the Jeremy Pruitt's new defense to put up with some freshman growing pains and how much leash he wants to give the starter with the other guy nipping at his heels.

By no means are Coker and Maguire out of the race, this is still a four-man competition. But so far through the Spring, Trickett and Winston seem to be laying the most claim to the starting job.

We won't know for a while though.

A lot could change on Saturday, but I still wouldn't expect a decision until August.

 

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

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Offensive Line Ready to Protect FSU's Quarterback... Whoever That Is

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Two years ago the Seminoles were forced to start four freshmen in the Champs Bowl against Notre Dame.

It was not one of the finer moments in recent Florida State history. Or at least that's how it seemed at the time. The Florida State offense struggled all evening and the defense and special teams more or less carried the 'Noles to a win over the Irish.

It's interesting how that looks now.

Notre Dame didn't lose again until the national title game last season. They went on to have one of the top defenses in the country. And that beleaguered offensive line? It churned out one of the nation's top rushing attacks on its way to a conference title and an Orange Bowl win.

Suddenly, heading into 2013 the offensive line is one of the strengths of the Florida State team.

For starters, the line has gotten comfortable. After moving around and trying to find the right grouping, it seems that things have finally settled save one or two positions. Cam Erving, for instance, was new to the offensive line last season. This year he returns as a veteran left tackle.

“I feel a whole lot more comfortable, I feel like I can actually help other people who don’t know what’s going on whereas last year I didn’t really feel as comfortable with the position as I do now," said Erving. "It feels pretty good, I feel like I know what’s going, I’m just trying to be more consistent.”

Opposite Erving, Bobby Hart is coming into his own as both a player and in terms of maturity.

“Bobby’s doing great," added Erving. "Even when I first came to the defensive line, I mean I said this a million times before Bobby really helped me. He’s an intelligent young man and it’s just getting back in the flow of things. You know you don’t play a lot of football for a year and then you come back it’s going to be different. Bobby’s been working really hard, we’ve done a lot of things together. I’m confident in what he can do, it’s just all about what the coaches want.”

“I just take every rep like it’s the last rep like it’s a game rep with just trying to do better with everything I do out there," said Hart. "I’m always progressing.”

Hart has a chance to win the starting right tackle job after losing it to future NFL-draftee Menelik Watson last year. Hart will be 19 next season and may be the youngest junior in the country, but many believe his ceiling to be just as high as the much older, more developled Watson's.

At guard Tre Jackson and Josue Matias continue to develop and should see plenty of action in each of their second full season as starters. They have both grown considerably since that Champs Bowl.

The anchor of the line is center Bryan Stork. With Watson gone he is the unquestioned leader of the unit. 

"Stork’s always there to pick me up when I’m down," said C Austin Barron, who also played agaisnt Notre Dame two years ago. "He explains everything to me when I mess up, he’s just always there to back me up with the everything.”

If Hart cannot win the starting job, it's likely Stork will move out to tackle and Barron will play center for the Seminoles. That remains to be determined. 

With either configuration though, the Seminoles are confident their line will be the backbone of the offense.

“I definitely feel that we can make a great stride, but like I said we’ve just got to do it day by day. The chemistry is there we just need to lock in to what’s going on.”

 

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

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...


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