Aug. 31, 2010
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Florida State's preparation for Saturday's opener against Samford continued Tuesday afternoon with a 2 ½-hour practice that first-year coach Jimbo Fisher described as solid.
"They're just going about their business and doing their job," said Fisher, who continues to be please with the Seminoles practice efforts leading up to the 2010 season.
There's a tangible buzz building around campus as game day approaches.
"I have noticed a little vibe where a lot of people seem excited," said senior defensive end Markus White. "I see a lot of surge for football and ... how proud they are. Even though Bobby Bowden is gone, they still want to support the program so that's always a good thing."
Tickets remain available for Saturday's 12 noon kickoff and can be purchased by calling 888-FSU-NOLE or 850-644-1830. They can also be purchased online at firstname.lastname@example.org or in person at the ticket office located in University Center C.
Count White among the Seminoles who are anxious to show the new season will bring different results for Florida State's defense. More important than erasing the memory of last season, he believes the defense should take advantage of the opportunity to make a statement by showing how much improvement has been made under new coordinator Mark Stoops.
"We're not going to go off last year," White said. "We're just going to prove what we have now and we've been out there looking forward to what their offense is going to show. We're looking forward to showing what our offense has done and what we can do (on defense). It's all about us right now."
One area where the Seminoles appear to have improved dramatically is along the defensive front. While the unit - beyond White - features sophomores and freshmen, they have added bulk and improved technique, without forfeiting FSU's signature quickness.
"They're getting better every single day;" said FSU junior guard David Spurlock. "People like Big Amp (McCloud) and Jacobbi (McDaniel) and Everett Dawkins. People don't know that much about Everett, but I think he'll put on a show this year."
Spurlock said it's the best defensive front he's seen in three years.
"I'm anxious to see how they'll play on Saturday," Fisher said. "I'm hoping they'll play like they've been practicing."
White said the improvement made along the front since Stoops began installing his new defense in the spring is quite noticeable.
"From the spring to now, everyone has made huge strides," White said. "From like person to person, you can see big differences in players. I personally see big differences in the (defensive ends). ... The linebackers are taking care of their own and (defensive backs), they've come up, too."
Among newcomers, McCloud has stood out
Fisher has repeatedly said that he plans to play as many of the 15 freshmen newcomers as he thinks will be able to help the Seminoles down the road. Yet one of the newcomers who could make the biggest impact early on is redshirt sophomore defensive tackle Amp McCloud. The Thomasville, Ga. native who came to FSU via Itawamba (Miss.) Community College, is battling Jacobbi McDaniel for the starting spot.
"He's providing a lot of depth and getting a lot of playing time," Fisher said of McCloud. "He should be an impact guy. He's got a chance. ... He'll play a bunch. He'll see a lot of snaps - and has to - but he's ready, too."
Among the other, non-freshmen newcomers, cornerback Mike Harris continues to impress in practice and is currently running with the second-team defense and playing in several passing-down schemes.
Spurlock's return provides lift
For the first time in several weeks, Florida State's returning starting five along the offensive line are back on the field together. Junior guard David Spurlock's return to practice Monday made the unit, with 142 combined career starts, whole again.
And it does make a difference.
"I think giving him the right amount of time off really paid off," Fisher said of Spurlock. "He looked really sharp in there, as a matter of fact. It's good to get everybody back out there."
Spurlock is equally happy to be back on the field, after spending the past couple weeks studying more film, maintaining his cardio fitness and working on his technique.
"If you miss two weeks of anything, you're going to miss a beat," Spurlock said after Tuesday's practice. "It's like knocking the rust off, but I'm getting back good. I wouldn't say it was like riding a bike. It is way easier when I come back with people like (center Ryan) McMahon and Zebrie (Sanders at tackle), but it's still going to take a while to be back to 100%."