Aug. 25, 2010
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - It was just another August day on the Florida State football practice field as a lightning warning chased the Seminoles indoors, where they waited nearly three hours before returning to complete Wednesday's workout inside Doak Campbell Stadium.
"That's twice now, but how many rain delays do you get during the season?" said FSU coach Jimbo Fisher, whose practice was interrupted for a second consecutive day. "Last year we had three of them. We had to start, go back in, sit down. Now, these are long (delays) but you may have to do it for two hours. You prepare and you come back out. The attitude was good. Was practice perfect? No. But the work ethic and the energy level and the mindset was very good. I liked it."
The Seminoles have spent the last two days working extensively against the scout team on both sides of the football in preparation for the Sept. 4 opener against Samford. Fisher has been largely encouraged by the way his team has prepared for the better part of the last week.
"They understand that they're starting to get ready for a game and every practice they've got to do something to get better because it's time," Fisher said. "Football players usually have a switch about two weeks before they play. ... They know they've got to get ready."
And the same holds true for the coaches, who are spending more time fine-tuning when it comes to teaching. That's because the number of "mass missed assignments" is diminishing.
"It's technique and detail," Fisher said. "Effort isn't enough. We play with a lot of effort. But (it is) effort with execution. When you're tired and you're hurt, it doesn't matter. ... If you're not doing it right you might as well not be doing it."
Hicks making major strides
This time last season redshirt freshman defensive end Dan Hicks was buried on the depth chart and wondering how long he would have to wait for his chance to play.
"Last year I was like fourth on the depth chart and scout team," said Hicks. "That's probably as low as it gets right there. Now, coach has me projected for second string going into the season, which is a big step for me because I've yet to play in a live football game at Florida State.
That wait will likely end in the opener against Samford. Hicks made a number of plays rushing the passer in Saturday's scrimmage, solidifying his second-team status, but not quite satisfying his appetite to make a contribution.
The son of former FSU defensive line standout Dan Footman, Hicks has re-made his body over the last year and is just now learning to tap into the physical talent which made him a two-time Mississippi high school state hurdle champion.
"Getting that opportunity to get a chance to go out and play right now is big to me," Hicks said.
Hicks' improvement has not gone unnoticed.
"Dan's getting better," Fisher said. "He's got to learn to be more consistent, but he's learning to do it and come off the ball every time and compete. He's got great athleticism... Sometimes he thinks too much on his moves and that's just youth."
Fisher well remembers Footman, who starred on FSU's defensive front in the early 1990s and went on to play in the NFL.
"A man that could play the run and the pass and do about what he wanted to do," said Fisher, who sees some of the same physical qualities in Footman's son.
Hicks came to FSU at 250 pounds and now weighs in at 265, after dropping down to 235 as he reworked his body through diet and a heavy dose of weight room work.
"I feel like ever since I've gained weight it has made everything easier to me, because I can move linemen out of the way a little bit," he said. "I feel good. It's not like I'm out there winded."
More importantly, he is also beginning to grasp the nuances essential to playing the position.
"I started to be able to determine the difference this summer," he said. "In the spring we had new coaches and a new system so I had to adjust. Going through spring helped out a lot, because when summer came I said, `This really is easy. I can read (plays).' And I know the purpose of why I'm doing this. ... I'm more educated with the game now than I was last year."
Jones likes being healthy and in tailback battle
Junior tailback Ty Jones may still have a way to go in order to win the battle for the starting job, but by winning a bigger battle in an effort to control his diabetes, he has given himself a chance.
"I have just been making sure to keep my blood sugar in check," said Jones. "I am just doing all the right things and all the things that are asked of me. I am just happy to be on the field."
Jones has worked closely with nutritionist Erik Korem to get his health on track, which has led to more energy, strength and focus on the practice field. Consequently, he has performed at a higher level and made significant improvement in the area of blocking.
"It has really helped me a lot," Jones said. "They have helped me keep up with my weight and helped me eat the right things."
Beyond battling Thomas and Thompson for the starting job, Jones said running backs coach Eddie Gran's attention to detail approach has helped him hone in on his strengths and deficiencies.
"Coach Gran is a guy that really makes sure that you do things the right way," Jones said. "I look up to him. He expects a lot from you and for you to do the right things and that's what I am trying to do."