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Fall Camp Questions Part 2

Aug. 17, 2012

Fall Camp Questions Part 2

You've got questions about FSU's fall camp and Seminoles.com Brandon Mellor has answers. Connect with him through Twitter at @BrandonMellor or on Facebook at Facebook at Facebook.com/BrandonMellorFSU

Storified by Brandon Mellor · Fri, Aug 17 2012 19:10:48

@BrandonMellor @Seminoles_com How's Bjoern Werner looking in practice with his reduced weight?Steve Mathews
Honestly, I haven't noticed much of a difference. Bjoern Werner still looks like the high-motor, disruptive defensive end he was last year when he was a little heavier. FSU's Menelik Watson and Daniel Glauser aren't just in a battle for starting honors at right tackle but they are in a daunting tussle with Werner every day on the practice fields. 
Defensive coordinator Mark Stoops said at media day that he liked Werner exactly how he was last year when he had a breakout sophomore season at his heavier weight. Werner thinks he can be even quicker off the edge after dropping a few pounds and he appears to be right. Brandon Jenkins gets a lot of the deserved hype for his abilities as a defensive end but Werner has the myriad of NFL scouts that continue to visit FSU's practices drooling. 
His unique blend of speed, power and athleticism (remember how many passes he jumped up and batted down last year?) are sure to create more nightmares for right tackles this year -- no matter what his weight is.
@BrandonMellor How has preparation for this season differed from past seasons?J L
We actually discussed this a little bit on today's Doak Insider Podcast. I don't think it has changed at all since Jimbo Fisher took over the program. Practices are still face-paced and meetings are still intense, structured and to the point. Each and every FSU player understands the pressure they are under this season with all the hype and it's a business-first approach every day.
FSU fans are thirsty for success and for a taste of the old days but the players are the same way, too. You see them at practice working hard and then staying after it's over on their own to get in some extra postion-specific work each day.
@BrandonMellor Is it clear yet who is gonna be replacing Greg at punt return?Zach Davis
@BrandonMellor who was taking majority of the punt returns in the scrimmage?Marco Hoffner
This is a popular question among all FSU fans because of the game-changing impact that Greg Reid had at the position the past few years. Florida State special teams coach Eddie Gran currently has Rashad Greene, Kenny Shaw, Ronald Darby and Greg Dent competing for the job and while I am not permitted to report on scrimmage specifics, I can say that "Gran's Plan" hasn't changed.
No matter who wins the battle for punt returner, the victor is going to be someone capable of making an impact. We all know what Rashad Greene and Kenny Shaw can do with the football in their hands and Ronald Darby is one of the fastest freshmen in the nation. Greg Dent is also having the best fall of his collegiate career.
@BrandonMellor out of Thompson, freeman, and wilder.. which RB will be the main go to guy?Jayden Staten
Right now a healthy Chris Thompson is the main guy but that doesn't mean Devonta Freeman or James Wilder, Jr. aren't going to have an impact. Whomever has the hot hand is going to play and be given the opportunity to serve as the 'Noles' workhorse in the backfield.
Thompson has looked tremendous during fall camp, showing that same blazing speed and cut-on-a-dime ability he flashed the last few years before his back injury at Wake Forest. FSU's senior leader has said he feels even better than he did before the injury and that's a scary thought for opposing rush defenses as Thompson can be a home-run hitter in the backfield. Freeman returned after missing all of spring and has looked great as well. Wilder, Jr. has continued to impress at practice by cutting down on his missed assignments.
@BrandonMellor @seminoles_com Do you feel the offensive line can drastically improve sack and running stats?Frank Samu
@BrandonMellor will we see any improvement in the run game?? We haven't had a 1000 yard rusher since Warrick Dunn :( its holding us back....john j. cooper iv
I fully expect FSU to experience a drastic improvement in the running game not just because Thompson, Freeman and Wilder, Jr. are all capable of being 1,000-yards 'backs but because the offensive line is that much better than it was a year ago. Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher has been singing the praises of his offensive line this fall and it has shown at the portion of practices I have watched.

FSU's front five are much more experienced and much bigger than they were a year ago. When asked yesterday after the scrimmage if the offensive line is better than it was last year a this time, Fisher said, "No, not even close. That line of scrimmage used to (get pushed) back there. It just kept moving back and back and back."

As for getting a tailback to the 1,000-yards plateau, that remains to be seen. So much goes into accomplishing that feat and FSU could have a resurgence in its ground game this season and still not see a player put an end to that streak. With a talented trio in the backfield with each one seemingly deserving of carries, the ball simply might be spread around so much that any single player wouldn't get the number of opportunities to accumulate that many yards.

Gran, who is also the running backs coach in addition to his special teams duties, has experience working with multiple talented tailbacks. Helping matters is the fact that Gran coached Carnell "Cadillac" Williams and Ronnie Brown at Auburn so he knows a thing or two about working different guys into the lineup.


"I always talk about Carnell and Ronnie their senior year," Gran said. "They averaged 14 touches for 14 games and one was the second pick and one was the fifth pick [in the NFL Draft]. I can't get better numbers than that. It was about productivity. That's what it was. It didn't seem to hurt their opportunity in the league. That's kind of what we are preaching here with Jimbo."


Thompson has been the primary runner with the first team but Freeman and Wilder, Jr. have also both been given their "at-bats" through the first week-plus of fall camp. It will be interesting to see how Gran works out the rotation once the season gets started.

@brandonmellor I read something yesterday about EJ Manuel being held out of practice. Why? And was this intentional?Mikey T
@BrandonMellor is our qb OK and who is our second qb backuptim
EJ Manuel was held out of Thursday's scrimmage for precautionary reasons because of a slight ankle injury he sustained the night before at practice. 


"If he had to play he would have played," Fisher said Thursday. "He just got fell on his ankle in the two-minute drill and was swollen up. He would have been out there hobbling and would have probably aggravated the heck out of it."


Manuel was back on the practice fields Friday afternoon showing no signs of the brief setback.
As for the backups, Clint Trickett has firmly entrenched himself as the No. 2 quarterback behind Manuel. Every time I see Trickett at practice he looks accurate, poised and in control of the offense. He's even much bigger now, too.

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