One week from today, the Florida State Seminoles will hold their annual spring game. At this point last year, the spring game was being viewed as an audition of sorts, as Jacob Coker, Clint Trickett, and Jameis Winston were considered equal competitors for the starting quarterback position. What a difference a year makes. Coker transferred to Alabama, Trickett left for West Virginia, and Winston won the Heisman Trophy.
Another major difference this year is that the ‘Noles are working through spring practices as defending national champions for the first time under head coach Jimbo Fisher. But Fisher showed today that he’s far from content resting on past accomplishments– and that he’ll not tolerate his players doing so.
At the beginning of practice this morning, a frustrated Fisher gathered his team around — within earshot of the media — and told them that he was done. That he was tired of them not listening– and doing whatever they wanted off the field. That he was fed up with their showing up late. And then he concluded, ominously: “you’ll get what you deserve come fall.”
The media was then dismissed (this is typical, usually occurring 15-20 minutes into practice), and practice continued. The Seminoles evidently took Fisher’s words to heart, as his mood shifted dramatically after practice. He described it as
A really good, physical practice. It is getting much better. I like the progress of our wideouts the last couple of days. Some guys are really starting to make plays. We are playing faster and improving. Defensively, the secondary guys are still doing a great job. It was a very competitive practice. We did a lot of situational work: two minute drill, goal line, no huddle stuff. Tons of different looks. In the last three days the tempo and stuff is back to where I expect it to be and we are playing football the way we should be playing. It wasn’t that we were playing bad, but we weren’t playing with an edge. The last three or four days we are playing with an edge, getting physical and nasty. I’m very proud with the way we have been doing things.
Fisher spoke particularly enthusiastically about the offensive line and its versatility:
I’ll tell you what, Cam Erving in there at center is scary good because of how athletic he is. He can bend, run and move. Austin Barron has been doing a nice job also. It gives you a lot of opportunities. Josue Matias at tackle, wow. He is doing a really nice job out wide.
This flexibility is facilitated by the FSU coaches’ method of cross-training the offensive lineman, a practice upon which Fisher elaborated:
It is critical. One, a guy can get injured and you always have a guy that knows what to do. Two, you get a greater appreciation when you are playing your position in what the other guy has to do with certain looks so you know when to give him extra help. You get a better knowledge of the game and with what the other guys are trying to do beside you because sometimes you get caught up in your own little world. I think it is very critical. It is a big thing that we always do.
Fisher also spoke highly about play on the other side of the ball– especially defensive tackle redshirt freshman Keith Bryant (6-2, 308):
He is getting better and better. Keith had a good offseason. He is learning how to take on blocks and not getting overwhelmed by the whole scheme of things. He is learning his assignments and developing. He has a way to go but Keith is going to be a good player. Keith is going to be a really good player.
It will be interesting, given his pre-practice message, to see how Fisher speaks to his players’ approach as spring practice wraps up this week. But given his change of tone today, a corner of sorts seems to have been turned.