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2009 Florida State Football Practice Central
Tuesday, September 1, 2009
Dekoda Watson Interview
Taiwan Easterling Interview

'Noles Honing In On Game Plan For 'Canes

Florida State isn't winding down its preparation for the Labor Day night clash with rival Miami inside Doak Campbell Stadium. If anything, the 18th-ranked Seminoles are ratcheting up the intensity with the anticipated season-opener less than a week away.

"Anytime you go into a season it's always exciting because you've been practicing against each other all spring and fall," FSU coach Bobby Bowden said after Tuesday's 23-period practice. "You just want to see what you've got."

Tuesday's feisty practice atmosphere was indicative of a team that is anxious to finally hit someone else. The challenge for the coaching staff at this point is to get the players to focus and practice with intensity and efficiency.

"We're doing better on our assignments, but we're still busting some," said Bowden, who had not been happy with the team's overall execution the past week. "I hope we get it straightened out."

The Seminoles closed the 2 1/2-hour practice session with 10 minutes of 11-on-11 scrimmaging in the red zone, which produced a handful of productive plays, then finished with the goal line drill.

Sophomore wide receiver Jarmon Fortson collected touchdown receptions from quarterbacks Christian Ponder and EJ Manuel, while freshman tailback Chris Thompson scooted around the right side on a touchdown run. Manuel also raced - untouched - into the end zone from 10 yards out after executing a brilliant play fake to Thompson.

The defense, however, got the best of the goal line drill with three stops in four snaps - two from the 3-yard line and two from the 1-yard line.

Noteworthy

Defensive ends coach Jody Allen praised the efforts of walk-on Craig Yarborough, who has earned the right to start at left end with his hard-nosed, smart play. "It's not a motivational ploy," Allen said, explaining his decision to start Yarborough over senior Kevin McNeil. ... Freshman Dustin Hopkins has got the early nod to handle all of the Seminoles' place-kicking duties. Allen, however, said the battle between Hopkins and walk-on James Esco if "far from over" and will likely continue throughout the season.

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Saturday, August 29th, 2009
Free Practice Photo Gallery
Patrick Robinson Interview
Jermaine Thomas Interview
Jimbo Fisher Interview

Seminoles Complete Final Scrimmage of Pre-Season

 

 

Quarterback Christian Ponder completed six of 11 passes for 65 yards and one touchdown in the Seminoles' final scrimmage of the pre-season Saturday at Doak Campbell Stadium. The second-year starter completed five of his last seven passes including a 12-yard scoring strike to wide receiver Richard Goodman. He completed his longest pass of the morning (a 22-yard pass) to wide receiver Jarmon Fortson.

The scrimmage came only nine days before the Seminoles open the 2009 season against Miami on Labor Day night at home in a nationally televised game on ESPN. The game is set to kick-off at 8:00 p.m.

"We had a rehearsal today; we didn't tackle," said head coach Bobby Bowden. "It's hard to evaluate ... because the (running) back will get hit and he'll keep running which is what we want him to do."

Running back Jermaine Thomas ran the ball well as he accumulated 41 yards on five carries for an 8.2 yards per carry effort. In addition, Ty Jones gained 11 yards on two carries and Tavares Pressley gained 11 yards on four carries. Freshman Lonnie Pryor had two catches for 52 yards including a scrimmage-high 49-yard reception from quarterback Will Secord.

"My first criticism would be too many yellow flags; penalty after penalty after penalty," said Bowden. "But that's why we practice. That's why we do things like this. We tried to work on seeing if our field goal team could get on the field, seeing if our punt team could get on the field and seeing if our kickoff team could get on the field and be out there with 11 (players) instead of ten. Yeah, it was a rehearsal. The hitting wasn't bad."

Florida State's defense played well with safety Jamie Robinson leading the team with four tackles. Linebacker Dekoda Watson, safety Korey Mangum and cornerback Dionte Allen recorded three tackles each. Mangum also recorded a pass break-up. Junior safety Chad Colley recorded the only interception of the day for the defense.

Freshman kicker Dustin Hopkins impressed the coaching staff as he was a perfect four-of-four on field goal attempts. He made field goal attempts from 44, 43, 34 and 26 yards and made his only extra point attempt of the scrimmage.

"I didn't see him miss one," said Bowden. "I don't think he missed anything. A few field goals and got his extra points. We'll decide (on the starting kicker) but he hit his today."

Secord, a true freshman, completed seven of nine passes for 80 yards. His morning of work included his long pass (49 yards) to Pryor. He also completed an 11-yard pass to Pressley.

The Seminoles will take tomorrow off before beginning Miami week and returning to the practice fields on Monday night. 

 

 

Friday, August 28th, 2009
Free Practice Photo Gallery
Rod Owens Interview

FSU Tunes Up For Saturday's Dress Rehearsal Scrimmage

 

Consider Friday afternoon's Florida State football practice a dress rehearsal for a dress rehearsal.

That's what FSU coach Bobby Bowden did, after the Seminoles hustled through a 2-hour workout in shoulder pads and helmets, working heavily against the scout team on both sides of the ball in preparation for the Sept. 7 home-opener against Miami.

The Seminoles will scrimmage Saturday morning in front of Atlantic Coast Conference officials, hoping to get a good look from its scout teams, but also a better feel for the nuances that - if not mastered - could prove costly Labor Day night.

"We cut practice down because our last scrimmage is tomorrow," Bowden said. "There was some good and some bad (Friday). I'm not going to feel good until it's all good."

Getting the offense, defense and specialty teams on and off the field will be a priority in the scrimmage. So will improving execution, which has been especially troublesome at times for the young team. Seldom does the scene lead to a change in the depth chart, though it could, according to Bowden.

 

 

Practice highlights

Friday's action culminated with an 11-on-11 drill, with both the first and second units getting a four-play series, beginning at the 12-yard and moving closer to the end zone on each snap. Quarterback Christian Ponder, who overcame a slow start on the day threw a pair of t ouchdown passes, capped by tight end Caz Piurowski's leaping, short-yardage grab in the end zone.

Not to be outdone, reserve quarterback EJ Manuel drilled a pair of scoring strikes - one to wideout Taiwan Easterling and a second to freshman Rodney Smith.

Both quarterbacks received high marks from Bowden, who watched Ponder and Manuel take turns riddling the defense during 7-on-7 drills with pinpoint accuracy. Ponder went up top for 30-yard scoring strikes to senior receivers Rod Owens and Richard Goodman. Manuel countered by hitting Easterling and Rodney Smith for scores.

Veteran defensive tackles Kendrick Stewart (knee) and Budd Thacker (foot) sat out practice, but are expected back next week. ... Linebacker Dekoda Watson collected an interception off a deflected pass. ... Freshman cornerback Xavier Rhodes borke up a touchdown pass intended for Rodney Smith in the end zone. ... Free safety Jamie Robinson added an end zone break-up of a pass to towering Cam Wade.

 

 

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Thursday, August 27th, 2009
Louis Givens Interview
James Esco Interview

'Noles Get Wet Weather Work In Prep For 'Canes

After three weeks of ideal practice weather, Florida State's football coaching staff embraced Thursday's rain, which provided the Seminoles with their first significant, wet-ball workout of the preseason.

It was just the preparation the coaches were hoping for leading up to the Sept. 7 opener against Miami.

"We needed at least one day in this," FSU coach Bobby Bowden said. "We contemplated going over there to the (artificial turf) band field, but we felt like we needed to go ahead and work with a wet ball on a wet field. I think that's good. Now if we get that (Labor Day) Monday for that game, at least we've had a day in it."

While the heaviest rain fell before practice, a constant drizzle and saturated ground, failed to produce an overabundance of turnovers. In fact, quarterbacks Christian Ponder and EJ Manuel, played as if they were oblivious to the conditions.

 "I saw more drops today, but it wasn't bad.," Bowden said. "(Ponder) threw like it didn't affect him. It didn't look like it affected either (quarterback)."

Ponder was especially sharp with deep throws against FSU's scout team defense, connecting with Jarmon Fortson and Rod Owens on 40-yard strikes in pass skeleton work. Manuel also had a 40-yarder to Willie Haulstead.

Offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher was largely pleased with what he saw from his quarterbacks and receivers.

"The balls were wet, the field was wet and you've got to learn how to play," Fisher said. "We had a few slippings, and we needed to take care of (the ball) a little bit better in the beginning. Then we got used to it and adjuste d, and I thought that it went pretty good."

In actuality, the practice ended on a high note for the defense, as free safety Jamie Robinson picked off another Ponder pass to end an 11-on-11 series. It was Robinson's second interception in as many days, continuing his strong preseason.

Chop talk

Senior cornerback Patrick Robinson swatted away a touchdown pass intended for Jarmon Fortson in the end zone during 11-on-11 work. ... The best collision of the day came when linebacker Kendall Smith buried tailback and lead blocker Jermaine Thomas on a running play. ... Tight end Beau Reliford shook off the doldrums from several long afternoons with a 30-yard grab. ... With senior defensive tackles Budd Thacker (toe) and Kendrick Stewart (knee) held out of contact work for a second consecutive day, heralded freshman Jacobbi McDaniel continued to receive significant snaps alongside Moses McCray with the first-team defense. Fellow freshman Demonte McAllister is also getting a load of repetitions. "They are getting a lot of work, which is what they need," Bowden said of the youngsters. "They look like they can handle it."... Redshirt freshman Everett Dawkins, who began the preseason at defensive tackle and moved out to defensive end, was moved back inside to bolster position coach Odell Haggins' under-manned unit. ... There are quite a few position battles still being waged as the Seminoles head into Saturday's closed scrimmage, including cornerback, rover, defensive end, offensive guard, tailback, wide receiver and kicker. The competition is a welcome sign, reflecting the team's improved depth. "We let (the players) know those scrimmages are so important because they are game-like," Bowden said. "We've got ACC officials out there, so it's time to show your stuff if you've got it." ... The Seminoles will practice Friday afternoon.

 

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Wednesday, August 26th, 2009

Free Practice Photo Gallery
E.J. Manuel Interview
Markus White Interview

Offense Responds To Challenge; Kicking Battle Continues

 

The Florida State offense had a response to challenges from head coach Bobby Bowden and coordinator Jimbo Fisher, to sharpen their execution and understanding of the playbook.

Wednesday's 2 1/2-hour practice sailed along behind the accurate passing of quarterbacks Christian Ponder and EJ Manuel and some sure-handed receiving.

 

"It's never been like that around here before," Fisher said, after his top two quarterbacks and receiving corps breezed through one five-minute segment without allowing the ball to hit the ground. "They were throwing completes, running routes, playing full speed, doing what they're supposed to do. That's the way it should be. That's what a team looks like when it's executing well.

"Now the challenge is how many days in a row can you do it? Can you do it every day? Cany you hold yourself to that standard every day?"

The offense maintained that standard throughout much of the day. In one 7-on-7 drill, Ponder hooked up with Louis Givens and Jarmon Fortson on pin-point deep throws, while Bert Reed and Givens laid out to reel in mid-range passes from Manuel.

 "We did a little better today - not 100 percent - but it was better," Bowden said. "Now it's got to get better the next day, the next day and the next day."

Practice wound toward close with a period of situational, third-down plays; one of the last of which produced an A.J. Alexander interception, after a Manuel pass slipped through the hands of Willie Haulstead.

The day ended with the Seminoles working their 1-minute offense, with the first- and second-team units going head-to-head. The first-team offense's possession ended when senior free safety Jamie Robinson came up with yet another preseason interception - this one off the chest of Fortson. Manuel drove the second unit down the field with first-down completions to Rod Owens, Haulstead and Bert Reed, but freshman kicker Dustin Hopkins' 53-yard field goal attempt with time expiring came up short.

Chop talk

Senior defensive tackles Kendrick Stewart (knee tenderness) and Budd Thacker (toe injury) were held out of Wedensday's workout while receiving treatment. Neither is expected to miss substantial practice time. ... Sophomore Moses McCray and freshman Jacobbi McDaniel worked with the first team defense up front and more than held their own during the inside drill portion of practice. ... Freshman safety Gerald Demps was held out of practice due to illness. ... Junior cornerback Ochuko Jenije was working with the first team opposite Patrick Robinson, as he appears to have overcome a tender led. Rover Korey Mangum ran with the starters in a blue, non-contact jersey.

 


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Tuesday, August 25th, 2009

Free Practice Photo Gallery
Jarmon Fortson Interview
Bert Reed Interview

It's Back To Work With Semester Underway

Classes began Monday at Florida State, but Bobby Bowden's football team went to work in earnest preparing for its Labor Day clash with rival Miami Tuesday afternoon, following a two-day break.

With just 13 days separating the preseason from the Hurricanes' arrival at Doak Campbell Stadium, nearly a full complement of Seminoles took the practice field, including a number of players previously nursing minor bumps and bruises.

 

The heightened intensity of the coaching staff provided yet another signal that the preseason has drawn to an end.

Few coaches seemed pleased with the team's execution as the Seminoles spent considerable time working against scout teams in preparation for the season-opener.

"The offense had a hard time getting kids lined up in the right place," Bowden said, at the conclusion of the 2 1/2-hour workout. "We would have had a hard time playing and beating someone today. But we've still got time to get that working if the kids will just listen and make those corrections.

"We've got to improve on that. I'd like to see that tomorrow."

Defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews had a full complement of secondary players at his disposal, as cornerback Ochuko Jenije and safeties Korey Mangum, Terrance Parks, Gerald Demps and Justin Bright all saw action on the field. Offensively, tailback Chris Thompson made it through his first full practice in two weeks after suffering an ankle sprain.

Thompson is running behind Jermaine Thomas, fellow freshman Lonnie Pryor, sophomore Ty Jones and junior Tavares Pressley, according to Bowden. Pryor's rise to No. 2 on the depth chart has been the result of Jones, Pressley and Thompson missing valuable practice time.

 

Noteworthy

Senior walk-on linebacker Daniel Parvin (Palm Harbor University High) has been awarded a scholarship for his final season of eligibility. A fifth-year member of the program, Parvin carries a 3.8 cumulative grade point average and will be an officer in the Navy's Civil Engineering program upon graduation in. ... Senior linebacker and recently-named defensive captain Dekoda Watson has earned one of 35 spots on the preseason watch list for the Butkus Award, presented to the nation's top linebacker. ... Junior offensive guard Rodney Hudson was selected as the nation's No. 1 player at his position by College Football News. ... Wide receivers Jarmon Fortson, Bert Reed and Rod Owens all collected long passes in 11-on-11 work near the close of Tuesday's practice. ... The practice ended with a four-play goal line period. The first-team registered one touchdown on Christian Ponder's 3-yard strike to Fortson, while Pryor slammed home a 1-yard TD run behind a Ja'Baris Little block for the second-team's lone score. ... Friday's scrimmage has been moved to Saturday morning inside Doak Campbell Stadium, and it will be closed to the public.

 

 

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Saturday, August 22nd, 2009

Free Practice Photo Gallery
Mickey Andrews Interview
Rod Owens Interview
Jamie Robinson Interview
Jimbo Fisher Interview

Goal Line Shutout Caps Improved Day For Defense

Florida State closed out its final scrimmage before the start of the fall semester with just enough feel-good plays to be encouraged, yet enough mistakes to understand there is much work ahead before the Sept. 7 opener against Miami.

Quarterback Christian Ponder completed 12 of 16 passes for 233 yards and two touchdowns against the second-team defense, while back-up EJ Manuel went 7 of 13 for 112 yards and two touchdowns. Despite those impr essive offensive numbers, the Seminoles were hurt be penalties and los t three fumbles over the course of Saturday's 2-hour scrimmage.

"Their youth and inexperience showed today as a group," FSU offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher said. "It was just very, very inconsistent. What did I tell you was going to happen? I rubbed that crystal ball. ... Then all of a sudden we started making plays.

"(Ponder) played real well today. I was really proud, because we were having some penalties and weren't making plays early and he kept his poise and kept making plays. When he had an opportunity to make plays, he made them."

Ponder tossed touchdown passes to Jarmon Fortson (5 yards) and Rod Owens (27 yards). Manuel's scoring tosses to Josh Gehres and Willie Haulstead covered 49 and 26 yards, respectively.

"The defense started off pretty strong, but it seemed as the game went further they gave up more touchdown passes," FSU coach Bobby Bowden said. "They weren't giving up a lot of long runs."

FSU's running game was virtually non-exsistent as Jermaine Thomas led all rushers with 24 yards on six carries. The defensive toughness was especially impressive as the scrimmage drew to a close with both the first and second units keeping the offense out of the end zone in both red zone and goal line drills. James Esco did kick a 20-yard field goal for the first-team offense in red zone.

The offense failed to generate a single positive yard in four goal line plays. It marked the first time this preseason that the defense pitched a shutout in the goal line drill.

 

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Seminoles Check In At No. 18 In AP Preseason Poll

For the 30th time in Florida State football coach Bobby Bowden's 34 seasons, the Seminoles will open the season with a national ranking.

Florida State earned a No. 18 ranking in the Associated Press preseason poll, released Saturday. This time last year the Seminoles were unranked for the first time since 1982, though they finished at No. 21 after authoring a 9-5 record capped by their Champs Sports Bowl romp of Wisconsin.

Bowden didn't hesitate when asked if the preseason ranking - on the heels of last season's finish - reflects the direction the program is headed.

"I hope so and think so," Bowden said, during a break from watching film of Saturday's scrimmage. "If we can stay healthy and the kids continue to get better, it would be hard for 17 teams to be better than us."

No program in the country has made more appearances in the AP preseason poll than Florida State under Bowden, dating to inaugural season in 1976. Not even Penn State. Joe Paterno may be one-up on Bowden for the all-time victories lead (383-382), but his Nittany Lions are one preseason poll appearance behind the Seminoles with 29 over the past 34 seasons.

"I had never thought about that stat," Bowden said of the 30 preseason poll appearances. "It's not bad. Of course we always want to be better."

 

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Friday, August 21st, 2009

Free Practice Photo Gallery
Recardo Wright Interview
Dekoda Watson Interview

Spirited Practice Follows Kickoff Luncheon

Feted at Friday's annual Kickoff Luncheon, the Florida State football team spent the evening dodging rain-dropsin a spirited, 2 1/2-hour evening practice in shells. From the opening whistle to Dionte Allen's diving, practice-ending interception, defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews' unit provided plenty of highlights after several practice performances that drew his ire.

"We're on the trail," Andrews said.

As has been the case throughout the preseason practice, which culminates with Saturday's scrimmages, the Seminoles spent the first half of practice working within their position segments before getting down to team work.

The intensity was high as the team went to work down close the goal line in a 1-on-1 drill between wide receivers and cornerbacks. Freshman corner Greg Reid set the tone by with an early interception while defending Rod Owens on a pass from Christian Ponder. Reid had a second break-up of an EJ Manuel pass, while corners A.J. Alexander and Patrick Robinson also batted away balls.

The offense had its moments as well, with Manuel hooking up with Taiwan Easterling on a well-run route and a precisely-placed pass. Third-team quarterback Will Secord also connected with Cameron Wade and Josh Gehres on scoring passes before Ponder capped the session with two scores - a well-thrown strike to Rodney Smith over Reid in the back of the end zone, and a bullet to Richard Goodman.

The defense later registered three sacks in a 12-play series of 11-on-11, third-down work, as the offense managed just one first down on a Ponder-to-Goodman hook-up for 13 yards. In a similar down-and-distance drill, Goodman went up high to snare a 25-yard pass from Ponder, and tailback Ty Jones broke off a long run. Practice concluded with FSU working its 1-minute offense, which produced just one first down - a 49-yard Ponder-to-Goodman pass - as the defense applied ample pressure. Allen's practice-ending theft brought things to a close.

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Thursday, August 20th, 2009

Free Practice Photo Gallery
Moses McCray Interview
Mickey Andrews Interview
Jermaine Thomas Interview

Andrews Challenges Defense To Step Up

 

The education of Florida State defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews' unit continued Thursday morning on the practice field, during a three-hour practice in f ull pads.

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FSU's veteran offensive line and aresnal of skilled-position players has made for some long preseason practices for a defense that has at least a dozen freshmen or sophomores with limited experience running with the first- and second-team units.

"We've tried to tell our freshmen from day one that we're not going to coach them like they're freshmen ... like you have a redshirt year," Andrews said. "We can't do that. We've got to get you ready to play.

"We've still got some maturing we've got to do. And we've got some juniors and seniors that have got to mature, too."

So while Andrews is trying to teach a host of players expected to see their first significant action, he's also trying to evaluate personnel needed to fill at least five new spots in the starting lineup, not to mention implement scheme and game plan changes.

"We're not as fundamentally sound as we need to be," Andrews said. "We'll make a play or two and you couldn't ask for more. Then, all of a sudden, you look around there and nobody's feet are moving toward the line of scrimmage on a running play. We don't play a read-and-react defense. We play attack and we don't have 11 people doing that every time the ball's snapped right now."

While Andrews acknowledges the Seminoles have "some time left" to pull things together before the Sept. 7 opener against Miami, he's pushing every button to hasten the pace of development. As a result, the first-team defense "earned" the opportunity to get additional repetitions Thursday after the first- and second-team offense moved the ball efficiently coming off the goal line, and in its 3-minute offense drill.

"The offense has not come to us a single time and said, 'You all are too tough on us. You're playing too hard,'" Andrews said. "Until we start doing that, we're not playing tough enough.

 

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Wednesday, August 19th, 2009

Free Practice Photo Gallery
Shawn Powell Interview
Kendall Smith Interview

Run Game Is The Focus On Wednesday

When the full pads go on, Florida State's running game seems to come to life. At least that continues to be the case throughout preseason practice.

With tailbacks Tavares Pressley and Ty Jones getting their first extended work since returning from hamstring strains, the Seminoles moved the ball effectively on the ground throughout the second half of Wednesday's afternoon practice.

 

"We ran 'ol Pressley a lot today just to see what kind of shape he was in," FSU coach Bobby Bowden said. "He ran good but he gave out."

Pressley was the primary ball-carrier for the first-team offense during 11-on-11 work, when the Seminoles started at the 50 yard line. He repeatedly ripped off runs between 6-12 yards, displaying power and speed, though he did lose a fumble downfield. That fumble proved costly when Pressley landed on the football, knocking the wind out of him, and ultimately ending his day prematurely.

Still, it was the first significant contact work Pressley has had in more than two years, since transferring from El Camino (Cal.) Community College. He missed all of last season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament, suffered early in preseason camp.

"(Pressley) did some good things and some bad things," offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher said. "When you hit it up in there now, this ain't junior college. There are men on the other side."

Jones also received significant work with the second-team offense and was largely effective running between the tackles.

While Jermaine Thomas earned a break throughout a large chunk of scrimmage work, 212-pound freshman tailback Lonnie Pryor continued to rip off yardage after initial contact and earn the coaching staff's praise.

"The guy that keeps looking good is Pryor," Bowden said. "Sometimes he looks like he's the best back we've got. He just does better than he's supposed to do. He's supposed to faint every now and then, but he ain't fainted yet."

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Tuesday, August 18th, 2009

Free Practice Photo Gallery
Jimbo Fisher Interview
Dekoda Watson Interview
Ochucko Jenije Interview

Focus Turns To Trenches In Morning, Full Pads Workout

There was no shortage of contact work Tuesday morning, when the Florida State football team hit the practice field for the first of two practice sessions.

After spending the first portion of the 2 1/2-hour workout in position segements, the Seminoles tuned up for the team contact work with "board drills" - 1-on-1 skirmishes between offensive and defensive players battling over 2x8.

The second half of practice featured a heavy dose of work on the running game and the play-action pass; a setting that really emphasizes the work in the trenches.


FSU coach Bobby Bowden, who characterized Monday's practice as a "ho-hum" effort, liked the way his team responded.

"I thought they picked it up a little bit today," Bowden said. "I thought they responded pretty decently."

The central figures along those battles are offensive line coach Rick Trickett's young-but-seasoned unit, and defensive line coach Odell Haggins' youngsters, behind seniors Kendrick Stewart and Budd Thacker. Sophomore Moses McCray and true freshmen Jacobbi McDaniel and Demonte McAllister are getting a lot of work, now that Justin Mincey (knee injury) and Everett Dawkins (moved to defensive end) aren't in the mix.

"They're getting a good dose of good football," Haggins said of the youngsters. "Jacobbi's holding up. Demonte is a little undersized, but he's coming on. He's just got to keep focusing. They've never done anything like this. When their legs are tired, they've got to keep pushing and look into the backfield. They've got to keep doing the little things."

The McTrio - McCray, McDaniel and McAllister - represents the future of an interior defensive front, but could also figure in this year's effort to improve the FSU defense against the run. All three have the size or frames the coaching staff wants to make in-roads in that area.

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Monday, August 17th, 2009

Free Practice Photo Gallery
Kendrick Stewart Interview
Christian Ponder Interview

Seminoles Get Back To Work Under Cloudy Skies

The Florida State football team welcomed the return of a handful of nicked up players for Monday's 2 ½-hour practice.

Working out in shells (helmets and shoulder pads), the Seminoles spent the first half of the practice working with their specific position segments, before focusing on team work of the 11-on-11 and 7-on-7 variety.

 


Tailback Jermaine Thomas broke a pair of long runs (17, 18 yds) and Lonnie Pryor added an 18-yard scoring jaunt during two periods of inside drill work before the defense rallied to a strong finish.

Thomas and Pryor, who had been getting the bulk of the snaps, were rejoined by tailbacks Tavares Pressley and Ty Jones. Pressley and Jones, had missed several days of work tending to tender hamstrings. Tailback Chris Thompson (ankle sprain) also returned to the practice field, but was limited to straight-line work.

"That's scary," FSU coach Bobby Bowden said of rash of minor injuries that depleted the running back corps. "If you get down to one, it's hard to scrimmage. (Pryor) has really picked up the slack."

Linebackers Dekoda Watson and Mister Alexander recorded two sacks each in the later stages of practice, when the Seminoles went to work against the clock in 4-minute and 1-minute drills.

Freshman defensive end Brandon Jenkins leaped into the air to intercept a pass while rushing walk-on quarterback Ryan Becker. Displaying outstanding focus and body control, wide receiver Rod Owens hauled in a pass from Christian Ponder that was initially deflected by Ochuko Jenije. Owens stumbled out of bounds just short of the goal line. Pryor had three carries for 20 yards to lead the second unit.

Practice concluded with the first- and second-teams locking up in a 1-minute drill. Sacked by Alexander and Watson early in the series, Ponder caught a break when Richard Goodman came down with a Hail Mary pass that the secondary deflected, but failed to knock to the ground. The reception set up freshman Dustin Hopkins' 42-yard field goal.

Second-team quarterback EJ Manuel and wide receiver Taiwan Easterling worked their magic in a 49-yard drive, culminating with James Esco's 39-yard field goal. Manuel completed five consecutive passes in the drive, managing the clock with precision.

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Saturday, August 15th, 2009

Free Practice Photo Gallery
Jimbo Fisher Interview
Jarmon Fortson Interview
Nigel Bradham Interview

Ponder Shows Precision; Defense Makes Plays, Too

Picking up where he left off following spring practice, junior quarterback Christian Ponder displayed poise in the pocket and accuracy through the air, highlighting the play in Florida State's first preseason scrimmage Saturday inside Doak Campbell Stadium.

While the Seminoles successfully balanced the run and the pass in the situational scrimmage, Ponder excelled, completing 15 of 20 attempts for 287 yards and four touchdowns. FSU quarterbacks Ponder, EJ Manuel, Will Secord and Ryan Becker spread the wealth, as 14 different players collected receptions, though no one player had more than three.

 

"I think the best thing about it was we came out with the right attitude," Ponder said of the scrimmage. "We're willing to work and compete, and I thought that was good. Obviously, we had some big plays. A lot of guys, when their number was called, came up with the big play which is something we need."

Best of all, the success of the passing game came in the face of an active pass rush.

"The defense put a little more pressure on (the quarterbacks) than they had in the past," said FSU coach Bobby Bowden, who liked what he saw from the passing game. "The pass rush was better."

FSU's defense made its share of plays as well. Free safety Jamie Robinson added another interception to his stout preseason performance. Robinson had a second interception erased by a defensive penalty.

"I did have some high expectations for myself (last season), wanting to make some big plays," said Robinson, who finished with four tackles. "It didn't really pan out like I thought last year, but it's really starting out pretty good this year."

Cornerback A.J. Alexander also collected an interception, but his touchdown return of the theft was wiped out by a defensive penalty. Defensive end Markus White had a 30-yard return after scooping up an errant pitch.

Defensive end Toshmon Stevens had two sacks among his three tackles for loss, while linebacker Mister Alexander was in on two tackles for loss and also forced a fumble.

 

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Friday, August 14th, 2009

Free Practice Photo Gallery
Jimbo Fisher Interview
Budd Thacker Interview
Rod Owens Interview

Defense makes its stand during two-minute drill

One day after the Florida State offense peppered the defense with a wide range of big plays, veteran coordinator Mickey Andrews' crew got a small measure of revenge - at least in Friday's practice-closing 2-minute drill.

Under threatening skies, the Seminoles worked out for 2 1/2 hours in shells - shoulder pads and helmets - in preparation for Saturday's first scrimmage of the preseason.

Andrews' first- and second-team defensive units yielded too many yards, but salvaged a pair of shutouts, in part due to a quality pass rush and a handful of crucial plays in the secondary.

 

"Defense wins and that ain't all that bad," FSU coach Bobby Bowden said, summing up the 11-on-11 work to close the day. "I nearly hate for one of them (offense or defense) to dominate right now. It makes you feel good about the one that's dominating, but you've got to be wondering how you're going to do on the other side of that ball. I'm glad to see (the defense) picking it up."

Quarterback Christian Ponder completed 3 of 7 attempts for 34 yards while directing the first-team offense against Andrews' patched-up first-team defense. Starting from its own 20 with two minutes set on the clock, the starters managed three first downs in eight plays - one on a defensive penalty - but failed to get beyond the defense's 35-yard line. Linebacker Mister Alexander came up with a key third-down sack, while safety Nick Moody and defensive end Markus White kept Ponder on his toes with strong pass rushes.
Tailback Jermaine Thomas turned a screen pass from Ponder into a 20-yard gain; the longest of the series for the offense.

Andrews' second unit was forced to defend 12 plays by the EJ Manuel-led offense, but came up with a handful of key plays. Linebacker Nigel Carr sacked Manuel for a six-yard loss on the first play and cornerback A.J. Alexander closed for a break-up of a Manuel pass, intended for freshman receiver Rodney White. Alexander's deflection came one down after Manuel broke off a 14-yard run for a first down.

"(Terrell Buckley) told me when they sprint out to just get ready because they were going to throw it quick," Alexander said. "When I saw them running out, I just ran towards the receiver."

 

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Thursday, August 13th, 2009

Free Practice Photo Gallery
Jimbo Fisher Interview
Caz Piurowski Interview
Nigel Carr Interview

Pads Pop, Offense Rolls As 'Noles Get Real

Cloud cover kept the temperature from climbing Thursday morning as the Florida State football team donned full pads for the first time this preseason. It didn't take long, however, for the action to heat up as the Seminoles' offense made the lion's share of big plays.


Of course, a big day for the offense also comes with drawbacks.

"The hitting was pretty good, but too many big plays popped out of there," said FSU coach Bobby Bowden. "As a head coach you don't know who to root for, your defense or your offense. It scares me when big plays come out of there."

 

Quarterback Christian Ponder connected on long passes with wideouts Jarmon Fortson, Rodney Smith and Taiwan Easterling, as well as tight end Caz Piurowski, during the first five-minute period of 11-on-11 work.

"A lot of that came against the blitz and we've been working on that all week," Ponder said, offering a hint at the developing mindset on offense. "The blitz for us means big plays and that's what we've been working on and things opened up.

"We definitely didn't have enough big plays last year and stretch the field as much as we wanted to. Things are starting to open up and that's a good thing."

It should come as no surprise that Ponder had ample time to step up in the pocket created by the seasoned offensive line and deliver the football. Improving pass protection has been a point of emphasis since the conclusion of last season.

Junior center Ryan McMahon, who helps anchor the unit along with guard Rodney Hudson, was encouraged by the performance of the unit in its first real test of the preseason.

"Overall we felt we had a better practice today than we did the other day, but I'm sure there's plenty of room for us to improve," McMahon said. "Everybody's attitude was good and it was fun."

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Wednesday, August 12th, 2009

Free Practice Photo Gallery
Jarmon Fortson Interview
Jamie Robinson Interview
Beau Reliford Interview

Full Pads Can Wait; 'Noles Get After It

After some deliberation the Florida State football coaching staff opted to delay the first day of practice in full pads until Thursday, which is also the first, two-session practice of the offseason.


If the Seminoles were disappointed about the delay, it did not show during Wednesday's morning session.

"We really tested them today," FSU coach Bobby Bowden said after the 2 1/2-hour workout on the Al Dunlap Practice Fields. "It was their third day in a row with no break - no day off - and they survived it pretty good."

Better still, the Seminoles appeared energized after a somewhat lethargic effort a day earlier.

"We improved today as a football team," offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher said. "Our attitude and effort was very good. Our work ethic and approach was good."

And there's little doubt the team is getting ample work. By splitting the offense - and in some instances the defense - into two groups, the coaching staff is exposing more players to more repetitions, which is critical to development. Bowden signed off on the change in practice structure and likes what he's seen thus far with the new system, even though it's difficult to keep up with both groups simultaneously working on separate fields.

"From up high (in the tower) I can see both of them," Bowden said. "It's a lot more reps, which is really taxing on them. From what we've done in the past, this doubles it."

Double the work also means double the opportunity and both the offense and defense capitalized at various times.

Quarterbacks Christain Ponder and EJ Manuel were on target much of the practice, which included small group work, a down-and-distance period, plus 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 work.

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Tuesday, August 11th, 2009

Free Practice Photo Gallery - 100 pictures
Tavares Pressley Interview
Jimbo Fisher Interview
Markus White Interview

Seminoles Look Forward To First Full Day In Pads

The dog days of preseason football camp are clearly underway, but the prospect of donning full pads for the first time Wednesday morning is something the Florida State football team is looking forward to with anticipation.

 

"Everybody is looking forward it," said FSU senior defensive tackle Budd Thacker. "It gives everybody more of an incentive to go out and hit somebody. We'll get in some goal line, which is always a tough thing for the guys."

Tuesday's 2 1/2-hour workout seemed to take a toll on the team, as it battled sweltering temperatures and the raised expectations of the coaching staff.

"It was very obvious we weren't as peppy today as we were yesterday," said FSU coach Bobby Bowden, who for the fourth consecutive workout spent significant time on the practice field, rotating between different segments. "The kids have handled everything good so far. I hope they can keep it up."

That will be especially challenging over the next two days. After getting their first taste of full pads Wednesday, the Seminoles are scheduled for their first two-a-day session on Thursday.

It is the kind of drain that will test the resolve of the team, which the players insist in stronger and more unified than ever.

 "It's hot, but when it comes down to it, it's all in your head," said Thacker. "You've got to do it and help each other out."

 Quarterback Christian Ponder said practicing in full pads provides a better look and barometer of exactly where the team is at this juncture.

"You put the pads on and really play football," Ponder said. "It's different going in just helmets and shoulder pads. You don't get a real look. When you put the full pads on it really shows where we are right now."

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Monday, August 10th, 2009

Free Practice Photo Gallery
 Justin Mincey Interview
 Louis Givens Interview

Seminoles Don Shells For First Time In Preseason
Returning to the practice field following a 45-hour, weekend reprieve, Florida State donned helmets and shoulder pads - commonly known as shells - for the first time this preseason.

The clacking sound of pads was prevalent during Monday's 2 ½-hour morning workout, as the Seminoles got their first taste of contact.

"We call it thud, so it's not tackling," FSU coach Bobby Bowden said. "You just don't leave your feet. We've done a pretty good job of that. You don't want it to become a scrimmage, (but) if you don't throw them something, they're going to start tackling each other."

Naturally, the players seemed to embrace the contact opportunity, after months of out-of-season conditioning in shorts.

"It felt good to get a chance to get back in the pads and bang into each other," said junior middle linebacker Kendall Smith, who will sport his old high school jersey number (29) this season.

For senior wide receiver Richard Goodman, who sat out last season due to injury, putting on the pads came as a welcome relief.

"I've always been a guy that gets after it, no matter what we're doing," said Goodman, who relished the opportunity to mix it up with the secondary. "Being able to be myself old self felt great."

Noteworthy

Dawkins moves to defensive end


Redshirt freshman Everett Dawkins participated in the first three games last season as a defensive tackle. On Monday, he was back at the defensive end position where he starred in high school.

"He can always go back inside if he has to," said Bowden, noting the move helps bolster the Seminoles' numbers at the end position. "The whole thing is does he have the quickness to play out there, and that's what we'll find out."

Praise for Trickett's line

Tailbacks Jermaine Thomas and Tavares Pressley have found ample running room during inside drills, which should come as no surprise, given the return of five starters on coach Rick Trickett's offensive line.

"I think (Trickett) has done everything we've hoped he would do," Bowden said, who hired the veteran coach three years ago to bolster the Seminoles' sagging run game. "They've still got some more to go. There's a bunch of sophomores and juniors, so they're still young; still got some football ahead of them."

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Sunday, August 9th, 2009

Media Day Photo Gallery - Free

Florida State Hosts Media Day
Just two days into the start of fall practice the players and coaches took the day off to meet with the media Sunday.  

The players started the morning by having new photo and video headshots taken.  Selected players were then brought in to speak with members of the print and electronic media.  The entire team, coaches and support staff then gathered inside Doak Campbell Stadium for their annual team picture before heading to the Tucker Center for Fan Day.

Saturday, August 8th, 2009
Free Photo Gallery
Ryan McMahon Interview
Dekoda Watson Interview

Seminoles Tackle Heat, Short Turnaround

Just 12 hours after leaving the practice field for the first time this preseason, the Florida State football team was back at it in the heat Saturday morning.

Coping with a heat index approaching 100 degrees, the Seminoles came through the 2 ½-hour workout in relatively good shape.

"It didn't look like they had any trouble with (the turnaround) and that was a good sign, because we did go at a pretty fast pace again," said FSU coach Bobby Bowden. "They didn't get much time after a night practice and then got back up early in the morning, but I thought they handled it pretty darn-gone good."

The players will welcome a 45-hour reprieve from the practice field, before resuming action Monday morning, though it will hardly be idle team.

"The seniors will come out to my house and they'll have supper (tonight)," said Bowden, who has made the Senior Dinner a staple to the schedule throughout his tenure.

Coaches and players will gather at Doak Campbell Stadium to meet with the media Sunday and have their pictures taken, before busing over to the Donald L. Tucker Center for Fan Day, where they will sign autographs. The popular Seminole ISP Sports-sponsored event begins with doors opening at 12 noon and autographs set for 1 p.m.

Still, Bowden, his coaching staff and the players came away from the second day feeling good about the progress that has been made.

"We've upped the tempo a little bit at practice this year and it's been going good," said junior center Ryan McMahon, a preseason candidate for the Rimington Award. "Everybody's excited. We've been working all summer for camp and to get ready for our first game against Miami and you can tell that our tempo is a little bit faster than it's been around here for awhile."

Saturday's practice brought to the fore the usual ebb and flow exchange between the offense and the defense. While the offense clicked Friday, the defense countered by making more noticeable plays.

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Friday, August 7th, 2009
Free Photo Gallery - Over 100 pictures
Christian Ponder Interview
Jermaine Thomas Interview

 

Seminoles Open '09 Camp With Crisp Practice

Florida State opened its 2009 football preseason camp with a crisp practice session Friday evening which drew praise from coach Bobby Bowden and the Seminoles' staff.

"We went faster with play," said Bowden, who begins his 34th season at the helm. "Instead of having one group over here working, we divided it into two, so two groups could get the same (repetitions) that one used to get. We got a lot of work today. They went double time and they held up pretty doggone good. It was a pretty good first practice."

Just over 100 Seminoles hit the field in shorts and helmets for the 2 ½-hour session, which was neither short on effort or highlights.

Offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher said the Seminoles practiced at a "championship tempo."

The players noticed the difference.

"I feel like our team has more enthusiasm," senior defensive tackle Kendrick Stewart said. "People want to come out to practice. I think in previous years we never really bonded as well as we did this summer. I really feel like this summer was the stepping stone we needed to get better."

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Noteworthy

Walk-ons no longer

A pair of former walk-ons, senior wide receiver Louis Givens and grad student long-snapper Zach Aronson, have earned scholarships for the 2009 season. Bowden made the announcement at the conclusion of the first practice.

"It's a great feeling," said Givens, a Jacksonville native. "I have always felt like I was a part of the team since I got here because the coaches and players treat you right. The staff is great at making you feel welcome. But now that it's official that I am on scholarship, it's a great feeling to not have to worry about paying for school. Now I can focus more on class and football and not have to worry about that in the back of my mind."

Givens caught four passes for 44 yards and rushed three times for 32 yards as a reserve last season. He also recorded 13 special teams tackles.

Aronson handled all the Seminoles special teams snaps last season - a job he's expected to hold - and was virtually flawless.

Adding to the graduate count

Cornerback Ochuko Jenije, a redshirt junior athletically, is the lone current Seminole who will participate in graduation ceremonies Saturday. Jenije, who has been accepted into Florida State's graduate studies program, has earned his undergraduate degree in sports management.

Former defensive tackle Emmanuel Dunbar, whose career was cut short by a back injury, will also graduate with a dual degree in criminal justice and sociology.

The list of former `Noles walking, does not stop there. It has been 30 years since Homer Thomas set foot on campus as a defensive back, but the successful businessman will graduate with a degree in rehabilitation services. Check out Seminoles.com for Thomas' heart-warming story.

Among the more recent former `Noles graduating are two members of the 1999 national championship team - wide receiverTalman Gardner and offensive tackle Tarlos Thomas - who have earned their degrees in social science and criminal justice, respectively.

Linebacker Kendyll Pope, and standout from 2000-03, is also graduating with a social science degree.

 
Seminoles.com provides complete coverage of 2009 preseason football practice.
September 2009
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2009 Practice Schedule
8/7 Practice 1 - Recap
8/8 Practice 2 - Recap
8/10 Practice 3 - Recap
8/11 Practice 4 - Recap
8/12 Practice 5 - Recap
8/13 Practice 6 - Recap
  Practice 7 - 6:15pm
8/14 Practice 8 - Recap
8/15 Practice 9 - Recap
  Practice 10 - 6:30pm
8/17 Practice 11 - Recap
8/18 Practice 12 - Recap
  Practice 13 - 6:15pm
8/19 Practice 14 - Recap
8/20 Practice 15 - Recap
  Practice 16 - 6:15pm
8/21 Practice 17 - 11:30am
  Practice 18 - Recap
8/22 Practice 19 - Recap
  Practice 20 - 6:30pm
All Access Video
James Esco - 8.27
Louis Givens - 8.27
E.J. Manuel - 8.26
Markus White - 8.26
Jarmon Fortson - 8.25
Bert Reed - 8.25
Mickey Andrews - 8.22
Rod Owens - 8.22
Jamie Robinson - 8.22
Jimbo Fisher - 8.22
Dekoda Watson - 8.21
Recardo Wright - 8.21
Moses McCray - 8.20
Mickey Andrews - 8.20
Jermaine Thomas - 8.20
Kendall Smith - 8.19
Shawn Powell - 8.19
Ochucko Jenije - 8.18
Practice Report #10
Jimbo Fisher - 8.18
Dekoda Watson - 8.18
Practice Report #9
Kendrick Stewart - 8.17
Christian Ponder - 8.17
Nigel Bradham- 8.15
Jarmon Fortson- 8.15
Jimbo Fisher- 8.15
Practice Report #8
Budd Thacker - 8.14
Jimbo Fisher - 8.14
Rod Owens - 8.14
Practice Report #7
Nigel Carr - 8.13
Caz Piurowski - 8.13
Jimbo Fisher - 8.13
Practice Report #6
Beau Reliford - 8.12
Jamie Robinson - 8.12
Free Photo Galleries
Aug. 29 Practice
Aug. 26 Practice
Aug. 25 Practice
Aug. 22 Practice
Aug. 21 Practice
Aug. 20 Practice
Aug. 19 Practice
Aug. 18 Practice
Aug. 17 Practice
Aug. 15 Practice
Aug. 14 Practice
Aug. 13 Practice
Aug. 12 Practice
Aug. 11 Practice
Aug. 10 Practice
Media Day
Practice #2
Practice #1
2009 Football Schedule
Sept. 7 8:00 PM
Sept. 12 6:00 PM
Sept. 19 7:00 PM
Sept. 26 TBA
Oct. 3 TBA
Oct. 10 TBA
Oct. 22 8:00 PM
Oct. 31 TBA
Nov. 7 TBA
Nov. 14 TBA
Nov. 21 TBA
Nov. 28 TBA

 

 

 
 

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