Barring an unexpected setback, it's looking more and more like Ereck Flowers will be starting at left tackle for the Hurricanes on Saturday.
Coach Al Golden said Flowers ramped up his workload Wednesday and took more reps than he did during Tuesday's practice. During the 20-minute portion the media was able to watch practice, Flowers was lined up at left tackle with senior Jonathan Feliciano at left guard and freshman Trevor Darling at right tackle.
"Everyday is a step. Hopefully we'll have good luck and not have any swelling or setbacks," Golden said of Flowers. "He's doing great. He's getting the best care he can get in college football and just doing what he needs to do."
Golden said Feliciano could play left guard or right tackle Saturday and was taking reps at all three spots -- left tackle included. Golden said Darling worked at tackle and guard. Freshman Nick Linder, who has started the past four games at left guard, was also working at center according to Golden.
Golden said the Hurricanes will end up rotating linemen against the Seminoles. UM hasn't done much of that in games thus far, usually playing its starting five from beginning to end in close games barring injury.
"This is a heck of an outfit we're getting ready to play," Golden said. "So we're going to need to rotate anyway."
FSU DROPS IN RANKINGS
Even though they're still unbeaten, the Seminoles (9-0) dropped from No. 2 to No. 3 -- behind one-loss Oregon -- in the latest college football playoff rankings released Tuesday night.
"They haven't lost in a long time," Golden said. "I can't imagine there's one, let alone two or three better [teams] than them in the country."
Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher, on the ACC teleconference call with reporters Wednesday, said he paid little mind to the latest rankings. His reaction? "Nothing," he said. "I kept watching film of Miami."
Still, one has to imagine the Seminoles will have some extra juice for Saturday's game considering the slight. "It can motivate you in that you want people to respect what you do," Fisher said of dropping.
"We've played a great schedule," he continued. "Oklahoma State had four straight years of 10 wins. Notre Dame is a great team. They had one bad game this past weekend. They played well against us. I'm very happy the way we've played. We're winning games and we're winning by significant margins also. You don't win games like we did last year. Nobody had done it in 68 years. But thing is we're very resilient. We're great in our way. Maybe, each team has a different style. But I love this team. They understand how to compete and playing extremely well -- especially when we're getting everybody's best week in, week out. Everybody plans for you in the off-season, studies you in the off-season when you're the champ. I'm very proud of this team and I think we've played well."
> Golden said freshman quarterback Malik Rosier has been playing the role of Jameis Winston in practice.
"We're wearing him out," Golden said. "He's had a tough week. He could be the MVP of the week though. Overall, he's getting better, doing a good job throwing the ball and running. He's athletic. Its a good fit for him. I really appreciate the kind of effort he's giving this week.
"There's only one Heisman trophy a year. That should give you an idea of how unique that young man [Winston] is. But we're getting what we need from [Rosier], which is great."
> Asked how many recruits will be at Saturday's game, Golden responded: "The max. I don't know what that is, but it's going to be a big number."
What would beating FSU mean for UM's recruiting efforts? "I say it to you guys every year, winning the game is great and it helps. But the recruiting is not seasonal anymore," Golden said. "It's year round. For a lot of these guys the relationships started two or three years ago. So, although it's a huge game and has great ramifications and all that, really from a recruiting standpoint we've identified who we want to go after and so have they. There may be some fence sitters. But other than that I'm not really thinking about that right now."
> Florida State hasn't returned any kickoffs for touchdowns this season and ranks 104th in kickoff return average this season (19.07 average). But that doesn't mean the Hurricanes aren't weary of their issues on kickoff coverage or the fact FSU's Kermit Whitfield led the nation last year with a 36.41 average and two scores. UM has surrendered seven kickoff returns of 30 yards or more this year (109th worst).
"We've got to get good kicks," Golden said. "It's hard to cover line drives when there's no hang. This group is going to test us here for sure. They got great returns and they got a lot of guys that block like crazy. It's going to be a challenge for us. But I hope we have the right mix."