Sept. 15, 2010
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Brigham Young, who comes into Doak Campbell Stadium on Saturday to face Florida State, is a very tough team to prepare for according to Seminole head coach Jimbo Fisher. After the Cougars won their season opener against Washington, they fell to Air Force last week. That's where the problems begin in the Seminoles' preparation - Air Force runs such an unorthodox scheme that is difficult to scout their opponent (in this case Brigham Young) - and those problems have led to a couple of sleepless nights for the Florida State coaching staff already this week.
"It's hard," said Fisher. "That's a very hard film (BYU vs. Air Force) for us to evaluate and simulate because we are two different styles of teams. You can evaluate personnel and watch guys play and move and all that kind of stuff. You have got Washington (film from BYU's first game) and film they did last year, our films from last year and different films from all throughout last year and summer scouting reports on them."
Though Fisher and his staff are losing sleep in preparation for BYU, the first-year Seminole head coach is more concerned with preparing his team and his players to play their third game of the season.
When asked about practicing the fundamentals, Fisher said those are the kind of drills his team practices each and every day.
"You do (go back to fundamentals) all of the time," said Fisher. "The first part of your practices - the individual parts - are always fundamentals. You have to go back to that. When adversity strikes or things don't go your way in a game go back to your fundamentals. What did coach say? How did he say to do it? Trust to do it that way."
Fisher than thought back to last year's 54-28 victory by the Seminoles over Brigham Young.
"You approach the things you did well. That game for us was like the Oklahoma game last week. You have days when things go right and go well - it happens like that as far as on offense. We will learn from that (the game against Oklahoma). That's one of the films that you study and I'm sure they are studying it, too.
Through all of the film study by Fisher and his staff this week, he sees the upcoming game as a more important one to the process of building his team than last week's loss at Oklahoma.
"It's about how you come back and compete in a game; how you play in a game. It's an important game - it's the next game. When you are in this business as long as I have been you see some crazy things. These situations are going to happen in football; every team, every year and every situation. It always is going to happen until you can establish the program. There is still to be done here. We still have to establish how to win consistently."
Fisher would certainly love to see that consistency begin this Saturday at home against Brigham Young.
Hopkins Proves To Be An Outstanding Athlete
Hopkins, who led the Seminoles with 97 points as a freshman, is on the way to duplicating that feat with 16 points through two games. The Houston, Texas native has converted all 10 of his point-after attempts and is 2-for-2 on field goal tries, including a personal best-tying 52-yarder in last week's loss at Oklahoma.
Perhaps more importantly, given FSU's young and still developing defense, Hopkins has been a valuable weapon in the field position game. Of his 13 kickoffs this season, nine have gone for touchbacks. That's a staggering rate (.692) when it comes to leaving opposing offenses staring at a long field.
Hopkins, who FSU coach Jimbo Fisher said was probably the finest athlete among kickers he's been around, isn't completely surprised by his kickoff prowess.
"I'm not sure surprising is the word," Hopkins said. "Just like everybody else (on the team), if a linebacker lives in the weight room and is watching film, he expects to do well. I expect myself to do well. Sure, it has been a pleasant event with kickoffs going through the end zone."
After finishing fourth nationally with 24 touchbacks last season, Hopkins is currently ranked second to Oklahoma State's Quinn Sharp, who has knocked 14 of 18 into the end zone. Sharp led the nation with 35 touchbacks last season, a pace both he and Hopkins are ahead of at this juncture.
Hopkins' career has been on the upswing since last season's game at BYU, when he drilled seven kickoffs for touchbacks and began his current active streak of 43 consecutive point-after conversions. A year later, he's stronger and better suited to handle the responsibilities that come with his job. The ease with which he converted his 52-yard field goal at Oklahoma is a pretty good barometer.
"Sometimes your best hits are when you're just trying to take it easy and smooth it through," Hopkins said. "I was feeling good in pre-game. I was seeing it well and hitting it well. Shawn (Powell) put it right there. Dex (Dallenbach) snapped it right there. I just tried to (be) smooth and it went."
Easterling shows the way with final play score
Easterling may have set the best example of what FSU coach Jimbo Fisher expects from his team when he reeled in an EJ Manuel pass and weaved his way into the end zone on the final play of the Seminoles' 47-17 loss at Oklahoma. The 47-yard catch-and-dash was the longest of his career and also the longest scoring pass play by the Seminoles since Christian Ponder's 49-yard hookup with Lonnie Pryor last season at Clemson.
"[Coach Fisher] emphasizes that we're never going to quit, never going to back down," Easterling said. "We're going to go about every play the same way, even if we're up by 40 (points) or down by 40. You've just got to go out and play. You can't worry about the scoreboard. You've got to play every snap like it's your last. That's basically what we're trying to do."
Beyond making a statement with his final-play score against the Sooners, Easterling also understands that it is his responsibility to help bring FSU's younger receivers - like sophomores Rodney Smith and Willie Haulstead - along developmentally.
"We're just trying to get them comfortable while we're on the field; just talking to them and making sure they know the plays and exactly what to do," said Easterling, who along with Bert Reed is the senior member of the receiving corps. "We're really just trying to loosen them up while they're on the field."
Ultimately, Easterling said, it will come down to the youngsters taking time to study additional film and focus on the looks they get from the scout team defense daily in practice. He has no doubt that Smith and Haulstead, in addition to a trio of true freshmen who have already played, will continue to improve as the season develops.
When they do?
"It's going to be big, because it's going to open up the passing game even more; being able to spread the ball around to different receivers," Easterling said. "It's going to help out a lot, even the running game."