April 12, 2013
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- It won't be anything like what they'll face at Pittsburgh to start the 2013 season but the spring game will be the closest thing to that pressure-packed situation to date for Florida State's quarterback quartet.
Sure, Clint Trickett has started on the road at Clemson and Wake Forest in his career -- but he's never done so in the heat of a nationally scrutinized quarterback battle. Jacob Coker has only ever thrown five passes and Jameis Winston and Sean Maguire have never taken a snap in front of FSU fans.
So Saturday's 2 p.m. Garnet and Gold game inside Doak Campbell Stadium won't just be the next step towards determining the 'Noles' new starter under center, it will also provide a new opportunity for the quarterbacks to show head coach Jimbo Fisher what they've learned and how much they have improved this spring.
"How does a guy handle the situation? Does he execute?" Fisher said. "... It's nothing like a real game but it's as close as you can get."
The Seminoles are lucky that the intra-squad game isn't a "real" one because they'd have a major issue at running back.
James Wilder, Jr. has already been ruled out for the spring game with a rib injury and fellow 'backs Devonta Freeman (head) and Mario Pender (ankle) have both been nursing their own injuries that could limit them -- or even sideline them completely -- Saturday afternoon.
What those injuries means is two fold: For one, FSU may have just one healthy scholarship runner in the backfield in senior fullback Chad Abram. And two, it means that the quarterback competition may feature a whole lot more spring-game throwing than had originally been expected.
"You may put a lot more pressure on them because you may not be able to run the ball as much," Fisher said. "You may have feature receivers and tight ends and throw the ball more so that puts more pressure on them. It will be good put pressure on them early in the scrimmage in a situation like that and see how they react.
"Give them lots of opportunities."
While Fisher evaluates those increased chances, the quarterbacks will orchestrate the offense under the direction of a pair of assistants. Quarterbacks coach Randy Sanders and wide receivers coach Lawrence Dawsey will serve as play callers for the garnet and gold squads.
Unlike last year when the team held a players' draft before the spring game, this year's contest will feature the first-team offense and second-team defense versus the second-team offense and the first-team defense.
The coaching staff elected to go with this format in large part because of the number of injuries across the roster. Like Freeman and Pender, sophomore defensive tackle Eddie Goldman, redshirt sophomore cornerback Keelin Smith, redshirt senior wide receiver Willie Haulstead and junior tight end Nick O'Leary have all battled injuries in the past week and could possibly be out Saturday.
Already missing Demonte McAllister, Nick Waisome, Robald Darby and Tyler Hunter since the start of spring practices, sophomore tight end Christo Kourtzidis and junior defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan went down with spring-ending injuries in recent weeks.
With injuries, though, comes opportunity. And FSU has a myriad of young players that have stepped into new, important roles this spring. From a new-look defense working in different personnel to an offense that is breaking in a new leader, Fisher will be keeping a keen eye on how his players respond to the atmosphere.
"How you handle going out there in front of people with the clock on and the lights on," Fisher said. "Your composure. Can you execute and do the same things you were doing them at practice? Carry them to the field. Even though it's a simulated game for those guys, some of these guys this is the first time they've been asked to do action where they're actually being counted upon."
As always, admission and parking for the spring game are free with lots opening at 8 a.m. and gates opening at 1 p.m. If you can't make it to Doak Campbell Stadium, there will be a live broadcast of the game on ESPN3.com.
Schedule of Events
Friday - April 12, 2013
Saturday - April 13, 2013
Spring Game Parking Map
Sunday - April 14, 2013