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October 24, 2013

FSU Injury Report: Week Nine (NC State)

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James Wilder Jr. is out this weekend. After suffering a concussion in the second quarter of Florida State's 51-14 win over Clemson last week, Wilder will not be active against NC State on Saturday.

"Wilder is going to be out.  He was close.  He was very close," said Jimbo Fisher on Thursday. "They really like it.  That’s why they reexamined him today and thought there might be a chance but just a little close and you can’t risk those things.

Fisher said that Florida State would utilized Karlos Williams more in Wilder's absence.

“Karlos took a ton [of reps this], Ryan Green took [reps too] along with Devonta [Freeman] and [FB Chad] Abram and those guys and they did a great job," said Fisher.  "I thought they had a really good week.”

FSU Injury Report vs. NC State  

Out for Game

TE      Jeremy Kerr (knee)
LB      Matthew Thomas (shoulder)
RB      James Wilder (concussion)  

Out for Season

OL      Ira Denson (shoulder) 
TE      Kevin Haplea (knee)
WR     Jarred Haggins (knee)
DB      Tyler Hunter (neck)

 

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

Full Disclosure: 'ESPN gonna ESPN'

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By now pretty much everybody has seen Jameis Winston's inspirational pregame speech. You know, the one that ESPN gave fans a glimpse of right before the Seminoles trucked the Tigers in Death Valley?

If you don't rembember, ESPN showed Winston telling teammates to smile because they were going to win before the Clemson game on Saturday night. It fed into a narrative that presented the young signal-caller as the singular leader of this Florida State team.

And while that is largely true -- up and down this team the players will tell you how much faith they have in Winston, how they look to him for direction -- it's not the whole story.

"A lot of guys talked in the locker room," said senior LB Telvin Smith on Monday. "They just happened to show Jameis, but we love it. Put the camera on him and keep it going. If he can embrace it, we can, too."

As the famous line from The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance goes, "When the legend becomes fact, print the legend." And that's largely what's happened since Saturday night. That was the better story.

And it is a sexy narrative isn't it?

Rather than a coach or a senior, a redshirt freshman gives the pregame speech and the Seminoles win 51-14. Sadly it's only partially true. Jameis Winston is one of the leaders of this team. Devonta Freeman said on Tuesday that he'd never been around a player that earned the trust of a team so quickly.

But there are other leaders too -- on both sides of the ball.

That gives way to another storyline though -- perhaps not as dynamic, but more accurate -- about how Winston's rising national profile really plays in the Florida State locker room.

“In a sense I’m happy that’s on him, because he’s playing with it," said Telvin Smith last week, before Clemson. "It’s going to come, it’s going to probably get even worse as he goes along here so let him get it now, let him get as much as he needs right now and then keep that pressure off the defense."

Keep the pressure off of the defense.

Quick thought exercise: without the Winston storyline what is the dominant narrative in regards to this Seminoles team?

The atrophy of six assistant coaches -- chief among them former-defensive coordinator Mark Stoops -- and the implementation of a new defensive system.

That means the magnifiying glass -- moreso than it already was -- is on 200 rushing yards against Boston College or a slow start at Pittsburgh or getting off the field in the first half against Nevada. Sure, with a program the profile of FSU you're always going to get scrutiny on some level, but without the jaw-dropping performances Winston has turned in so far this FSU team probably would have had a much different kind of story being written about it heading into the Clemson game.

'How is this new defense going to hold up at Clemson?'

That equates to pressure.

"You know a lot of times last year were were put in situations where -- NC State you know a lot of people were hyping on the defense -- and then things happen," said Smith. "So just keep the pressure going as long as he can maintain it and continue to perform -- I have no problem with it.”

The other positive is how Winston handles the praise and attention. 

"He understands the game and that he can’t do what he does without everybody else," said Jimbo Fisher. "That’s what the guys who make an impact on this game and last a long time truly grasp. [His teammates] know he is getting attention but at the same time they know he gives it back to them. When he is with them, he’s one of them. He doesn’t look at himself above them and I think that’s very critical.” 

Added Smith: “We’re happy to have a guy getting that much attention around the college world because obviously he’s going to bring a lot of attention to this team so as long as he continues to perform and we continue to back him up and perform and be there for him, man, we’ll be phenomenal.” 

 

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

FSU Defense: "You Don't Know the Sacrifices They've Made"

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Every now and then you go into an interview expecting to write a story one way and by the end of it the narrative has gone a completely different direction.

That happened this week when I spoke with FSU Hall of Famer Willie Jones Sr. 

The story I'm referring to will be in the paper on Saturday, but suffice it to say talking to Willie Sr., the father of current Florida State linebacker Christian Jones, provided more than a few valuable pieces of insight -- not all of which could make it into the article.

So here's perhaps the best out-take...

"During the first three years [Christian] was there I think [FSU was] more simplified in terms of -- not so much one dimensional -- but I think they had a more simplified [defensive] system," Jones Sr. said about the defense Florida State ran under Mark Stoops.

That's a break from the Florida State party-line. If you ask almost any Seminole defender (or Jimbo Fisher) they'll tell you the Seminoles are still running essentially the same defense as they have run the past few years.

That's not exactly what it looks like on film, but it hasn't stopped the Seminoles from continuing to say it. 

"The system itself, you look at the Pruitt system compared to the system before, there’s a lot more complexity involved in it," Jones Sr. said.

He would know. Jones Sr. was at Florida State a year before Bobby Bowden, playing his freshman year under Darrell Mudra. He notched 17 sacks over his junior and senior seasons -- four alone his senior year against UF -- and got drafted by the Oakland Raiders in the 2nd round of the '79 draft. Jones Sr. is an FSU Hall of Famer who also made coaching stops at FSU, Alabama A&M, UCF, Temple and in NFL Europe. He knows his X's and O's.

Jones Sr. played in a different era though. 

"You keep talking about all those defensive ends back in the day, I’m not sure Willie ain’t the best to ever play here," Jimbo Fisher said on Monday. "[In his era] it was playing the dive, playing the quarterback and playing the pitch on the option, do all three of them -- I mean he could do all that and rush the passer. In today’s time turning him loose -- his sack numbers would have went through the roof too. That guy was a heck of a football player."

Added Christian: "Even back in the [90's] when some of these great defensive ends were here he’d be like, ‘these guys line up in a 9-technique and just run up the field. [He always says] if I played in [this era] I’d probably have about 40 sacks.”

Now that you've got a concept of Willie Sr.'s credentials to make this sort of commentary, here's the salient stuff:

"It’s a great system and I know the guys there playing for Coach Pruitt in the system have had to make great sacrifices, not only during the Spring but during the Summer, to learn all the details of that system. So right now you’re seeing those guys -- they’re still evolving," Jones Sr. said.

"They’re still evolving, I don’t think they have it yet. What we’re seeing now is just a glimmer of what we’re going to see as far as the greatness in that system. But there is a learning curve and the way I’ve seen Christian -- and I’ve seen some of the other guys -- struggle early on to pick it up they’re good enough athletes to make some mistakes and still come off pretty good.

"But as time goes on I saw -- starting with the Maryland game -- a big turnaround there. And I saw a glimmer of greatness in the Clemson game."

There's been a lot of talk about the chemistry this team has forged. Jimbo Fisher, Lamarcus Joyner and Terrence Brooks -- just this week -- have all talked about how much this team loves each other. Well that can come from long hours spent together learning a new defensive scheme. This isn't Mark Stoops' scheme, this is a pro-level defense and this has been a challenge to implement. 

Of course FSU isn't going to advertise that there have been growing pains, but that doesn't mean they don't exist.

"They’re under construction -- put it like that -- that defense is still under construction," said Jones. "And I know the coaches and the assistant coaches they’re all doing a great job and they’re working hard to tweak everything that needs to be tweaked. So as we go on to the second half of the season to the bowl game -- to the championship game -- we’re going to see the defense [blossom]."

As for Christian -- who has come on since moving back outside -- Willie Sr. thinks the best is yet to come: “I’m beginning to see him get comfortable in it now and not think too much. In the beginning of the year he was thinking a lot, playing a little slower.

"As we evolve and move forward from this point on I think they’re going to get better."

 

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


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