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61 posts from October 2013

10/24/2013

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...

10/23/2013

Seminoles Still Sick Over '12 NC State Upset

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"Everytime someone even says NC State it kind of turns my stomach a little bit still to this day," said senior safety Terrence Brooks last night. "Even the guys that all got drafted if you still say NC State to them they're still going to cringe up a little bit."

While Florida State's players have mostly stuck to their script this week and talked about how they look at every game like it's their biggest, to a man they'll also tell you that they haven't gotten over last year completely either. It might not be in the back of their minds come Saturday night, but it will be in the pit of their stomachs all week.

"I definitely remember," said senior LB Telvin Smith. "In particular, I feel like on the play they scored, I was on No. 10 and he caught the pass. I tried to jump it and get an interception. But he caught it and ran it in for the touchdown. That feeling, I felt like I let the team down when I didn't make that play."

Every player that was on the field on that fateful play remembers where they were, what they were thinking. 

"I was baiting the play, it wasn't my man but I kind of figured what was going on," said Brooks. "I kind of hesitated on it, but I didn't want to get off of my man and they throw it to my guy and he scores."

It's fair to say Florida State will come out of the tunnel angry on Saturday. Whether or not they can control that anger is another question all together, but harnessed or not the 'Noles are going to play with rage.

"I just want some payback, I hate losing and I still remember that," said Brooks. "I definitely owe them one. This whole team owes them one."

“It’s a bitter taste, you don’t want to be like that. Last year I felt like we were supposed to be in the national championship. We should have," said junior RB Devonta Freeman. "And the team that was in the national championship, I feel like we were better than them because we beat them the year before that in the bowl game. I feel like they stole our place, but with NC State we let it happen so it’s on us. And I just feel like we can’t let that happen anymore.”

“You always know what that feeling tastes like. I could tell you about all the losses that I’ve had. I don’t remember all the wins that I’ve had. But I remember that loss."

Jimbo Fisher has embraced that pain this week, using it to remind his team what a week of bad preparation can do to a season. And with the Seminoles ranked second  in the BCS and potentially in line to reach their goals if they can just win out -- that message is more important now, than ever.

“Feel that pain, pain is preparation," said Fisher on Monday. "You want that pain again? Don’t prepare. You want to eliminate that pain? Prepare and take care of business.”

Seems to be paying off too.

“I feel like we play the game in practice," said Freeman. "The game’s been played Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. And then Friday at the walkthrough. If we’re consistent that whole period of time the game’s going to take care of itself. The anger is just going to be there because that’s just in you.”

"I'm glad we're preparing like we are in practice," added Brooks. 'We're doing really good, we've got a good scheme going and I mean, the result's going to happen Saturday."

 

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

10/22/2013

FSU Practice Notebook: Seminoles Seeking Redemption Against NC State

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The rain pelted Tallahassee all day on Tuesday but that didn't stop the Florida State Seminoles from getting their work in at practice.

“A good Tuesday workout. A very physical day, tough day," said Jimbo Fisher afterward. "Guys grinded it out, got a lot of work done. Proud of the way we worked today. Got good work inside, glad we stayed inside. Looking forward to this weekend, but still a lot of work to be done between now and then.”

Florida State may be fortunate to have NC State where they are on the schedule, Fisher admitted as much on Monday. In another year -- coming off a big win over rival Clemson and looking forward to Miami in two weeks -- it would be easy to sleep on this weekend's game a little bit. Not with the NC State Wolfpack headed to town though. Florida State isn't about to overlook the team that ruined their national title hopes around this time last year.

“It’s a bitter taste, you don’t want to be like that. Last year I felt like we were supposed to be in the national championship. We should have," said Devonta Freeman on Tuesday evening. "And the team that was in the national championship, I feel like we were better than them because we beat them the year before that in the bowl game. I feel like they stole our place, but with NC State we let it happen so it’s on us. And I just feel like we can’t let that happen anymore.”

"Everytime someone even says [something about the NC State loss] it kind of turns my stomach a little bit still to this day," added Terrence Brooks. "Even the guys that all got drafted if you still say NC State to them they're still going to cringe up a little bit."

Florida State is determined not to let that happen again this year and a large part of that -- as Jimbo Fisher likes to remind everyone -- is preparation. 

"I mean we better get ready to play because NC State is going to be ready to play," said Fisher. "They have lost two games in a row. They are going to try and get their season back to where they want to go. They’re going to bring their ‘A’ game in here and come at us, so we better be ready to play.”

More From Practice:

##- As I reported earlier, Matthew Thomas is done for the season. The freshman linebacker will have surgery on his shoulder in the coming days. He may still be eligible for a redshirt though (per Fisher) because he's only played in four games this year.

“He is done," said Fisher. "He is going to have shoulder surgery. He has got to get that fixed.”

As for the rest of the linebacking corps, Fisher feels good about his depth there.

“I like our linebacker group. They have played well," Fisher added. "We have a good group in there. And we got plenty of guys to play in there.”

##- Roberto Aguayo has had a tremendous start to his career. As in, he has not missed a kick through his first six games and is on pace to crush Dustin Hopkins' NCAA career points record for kickers by the end of his junior season.

“He’s doing a great job. He’s got a lot of poise and composure. He’s doing it in practice. It doesn’t surprise you if he is doing well because that’s the way he kicks in practice," said Fisher. "I mean he misses very few kicks in practice. He has just been very consistent. He has a good head on his shoulders, he works very hard. He has a chance to be a very good player. He is very mature, he handles things very well. I’m sure he is nervous inside and he admits it every now and then but he is relaxed and has had a very nice year. He has been very key for us [on] kickoffs and everything.”

##- And here's your obligatory Jameis Winston quote, this time on how he handles himself with poise even during an interview:

“It is easy to be genuine and say things that you truly believe. And I think that is where his sincerity comes from. That’s the way he looks at the game. He understands the game and that he can’t do what he does without everybody else. 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.” 

 

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

Devonta Freeman: "Come on, I'll Block You"

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Devonta Freeman is a jack of all trades. The 5-9 203 lb back is leading Florida State in rushing (as he did as a freshman and nearly did again as a sophomore), he can catch the ball out of the backfield, he can stay in and block and he even talks a little trash.

Those last two things came together quite memorably last Saturday as Florida State played Clemson.

If you haven't seen the play I'm referring to, take a look below (h/t Mike McGourty). Freeman appears to be taunting a blitzer before the snap.

I talked to Devonta about it on Tuesday and asked him if he likes to talk a little bit of trash.

“Not really I just know when the team -- sometimes, it depends. But I try to focus on my assignment," said Freeman, then he thought about it for a second and changed his tune a bit.

"I do talk trash sometimes. It was a blitz, I knew he was blitzing and I was just like ‘come on, I’ll block you,’ and he came and I blocked him, easy. It was obvious.”

So you know the play I'm talking about?

“Yeah I know exactly what you’re talking about,” he said, laughing.

I also asked Devonta what the trash talk was like in last weekend's matchup. Prior to the game Clemson WR Sammy Watkins had said that the smack talk between the 'Noles and Tigers was always on another when the two play. A few of the Seminoles I spoke with confirmed that, but given that it was before the game they weren't really willing to go into too much detail.

But on Tuesday -- after FSU won 51-14 -- Freeman was willing to recount how the trash talking had gone on Saturday.

“It was a good game, at first they were talking trash, we were talking trash back, but they stopped talking trash," said Freeman. "It was like they shut up [when] we started hitting them in the mouth."

 

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

Former Booker T. Washington Standout Matthew Thomas Done for the Season

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Matthew Thomas' season is over. 

The freshman linebacker has had a tumultuous past six months. Last summer reports surfaced that Thomas had requested a release from his letter of intent. Six months earlier, per Thomas, he had rushed his decision to sign with the Seminoles and after several months passed started to have second thoughts. That saga continued for a few weeks before Jimbo Fisher and his staff were able to make a trip and smooth things out.

Thomas enrolled on time and quickly made it on to the field as reserve DE/LB -- notching four tackles, two tackles for loss and a sack -- before a shoulder injury sidelined him.

"He's done, he's going to have surgery," said Jimbo Fisher on Tuesday afternoon. "He's got to have surgery and get that fixed."

Asked if Thomas could still redshirt Fisher said, "yeah, I think so, [because] he only played in four games."

The 6-3, 215 lb freshman will likely have surgery in the coming week.

"He's fine, he understands it's part of football," said Fisher. "He's disappointed but I mean not devestated or anything, he's growing, but he handled it pretty well."

Fisher also said moving forward he still feels good about the team's depth at linebacker.

 

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

Jameis Winston's Pregame Speech Like You Haven't Seen it Before

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If you had the television on for Saturday night's Florida State-Clemson game, chances are you caught a glimpse of Jameis Winston standing in the center of the lockerroom giving FSU a pregame speech. But you probably haven't seen it like this. Seminoles.com has a better angle of Florida State's dynamic quarterback's inspirational pregame pep talk. 

If you had any question as to how a redshirt freshman could possibly be the unquestioned leader of a top five team just a little over a year after arriving on campus -- this might help answer those.

 

 

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

A Glimpse Behind the Scenes of FSU-Clemson (Presented by ACC Digital Network)

Looking for a fantastic retrospective on last Saturday's FSU-Clemson game? The ACC Digital Network has put together an excellent behind the scenes look at FSU's 51-14 win in Death Valley. If you didn't have a chance to make it up to Clemson, SC or if you just want to get a sense of what the atmosphere was like -- or just want to kill eight minutes at work -- check this out.

 

 

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

10/21/2013

Mondays With Jimbo: NC State Week Edition

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Every Monday Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher holds his weekly press conference to discuss the week's opponent, the previous weekend's film and whatever else he feels like talking about that afternoon. We cover it in a weekly piece called, "Mondays with Jimbo."

Jimbo Fisher stopped by this morning to discuss the Clemson game, the BCS, Jameis Winston and he even mentioned NC State a couple of times. Not much though. Ironically, as Florida State enters this week trying to get payback for last year's upset -- a game many around the program say FSU overlooked -- the Wolfpack was largely overlooked at Jimbo Fisher's Monday press conference. 

Not completely though. Fisher said he plans to remind his team of how much last year's loss hurt.

“Feel that pain, pain is preparation. You want that pain again? Don’t prepare," said Fisher. "You want to eliminate that pain? Prepare and take care of business.”

That was about the extent of it though, he also talked about NC State's quarterback and the benefit of having a significant opponent -- after all, there is a revenge factor this weekend -- sandwiched between big games against rivals Clemson and Miami.

“I don’t think any of those things hurt, I really don’t," said Fisher. "I think it’s how you handle them and put them in perspective. You have to know that after you play that there’s another game. You have to know that these guys are very capable and you have to -- if you don’t want to feel the pain you felt a year ago you have to prepare and play well -- and that’s the key. It’s the next game, that’s the most important game. It’s a one game season. You want to play well for coach Bowden but at the same time, you’ve got to make sure if you’re the players -- coach Bowden’s celebration is for him and the fans and things -- you can’t let that be part of your thinking, that’s clutter too. I don’t mean that in a negative way, I mean I love coach Bowden to death. Again I think it’s another growing stage for our program to learn to handle situations and things that will hopefully be around for a long time.”

But mostly he discussed Clemson and the BCS.

On Saturday ESPN gave fans a rare glimpse inside the Florida State lockerroom. Fisher admitted on Monday his confidence in his team's maturity was the reason he ever allowed that to happen.

“No, I wouldn’t. I think this team understands that," said Fisher. "And I think it’s part of, if we’re going to be able to play games of that magnitude, we have to learn to deal with that, that’s part of that growing process. I felt, at this stage, the program was able to handle those things. Our kids obviously showed that.”

He also said that the execution is better this year as a result of the maturity.

“It’s experience, you had a sophomore offense last year, you’ve still got a junior offense -- there’s only three seniors -- but guys understand the system, understand what’s going on, able to do the little things better and be able to be more," added Fisher. "The thing is consistency, I say it all the time, consistency is performance over a long period of time. They’re able to sustain, be more consistent and there’s still a lot of things I’m not happy with that we can do better and the players, they come off the field and say it too. I think it’s knowledge of your job. And then the focus, the ability to focus and understand when you’re older that there’s times to play and there’s times to get serious.”

Clearly, on Saturday the Seminoles knew when to get serious.

As for the BCS, Jimbo now loves the computers. But also continued to reiterate his point about how the human element needs to be weighed more heavily. As for how it affects his team? He considers it clutter.

“I don’t think it changes any," said Fisher. "Clutter is clutter, no matter what it is.”

More from Jimbo: 

##- On the adjustments teams are making against them defensively each week:

“We get different looks every time, we got a lot of things in that game we hadn’t [seen] that had been different, you know, different blitzes. But we have rules and things that are set in place and chance that hopefully you have somewhere to go with the football. It’s built into the system.”

##- On Cam Erving, who was named ACC OL of the Week:

“I think he took a huge step forward in his development as a player. He’s developed into a great player. He had great ability and has really gotten consistent every week, but I think he started trusting in himself, and let his ability show.”

##- On the Heisman race:

“If you want to be in the Heisman race, win games. As much as it is about great play, it’s about your team winning games and being successful.”

##- On James Wilders' status:

“We’re day-by-day, we’ll see how that goes. … He took a pretty good shot, right on the chin. …like a boxer, right in the sweet spot.”

##- On whether or not FSU has the best secondary in the country:

"I think we have a chance to be. We have good players, we like our players. We’ve got guys that are very multiple, that can go corner-safety, safety-corner. They have ball skills, have length, have size, have quickness. It’s a very good group."

"The thing about it, they love ball. They’re all very natural football players, not just athletes. I think that’s what makes them so good, they can dissect information, process it to be able to make the right decision."

##- On Florida State changing the way it teaches tackling in regard to the new targeting rules:

“We did. We emphasized how we tackled, our landmarks, on points, the coaching emphasis on stepping on the toes. See, I think the thudding we do in practice helps us in tackling. You get in trouble when you’re launching.”

 

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


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