Sept. 16, 2009
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Every minute of preparation is critical to the Florida State coaching staff and its players, as Saturday's game at No. 7 Brigham Young draws nearer. So when the foul weather threatening Wednesday's practice stayed to the west of the Al Dunlap Practice Fields, there was a small sigh of relief.
"We got through it and thank goodness," Florida State coach Bobby Bowden said, after the 'Noles wrapped up Wednesday's workout without interuption. "Tomorrow we'll go out in shorts and go over our game plan; see if we can't be sure we've got all of our assignments lined up."
To that end, FSU appeared to smooth some of the bumps out from Tuesday's work. The opportunity to get a second full dose of practice against scout teams emulating the Cougars seemed to make a difference.
"You know how practice goes," Bowden said. "You put in new stuff and look a little ragged trying to put it together. Then you go in and get it corrected and the next day it works a little bit better. It was a little bit better execution today.
Bowden has always contended that Thursday workouts, at least during traditional in-season weeks, are geared toward polishing those assignments. That will be the plan when the 'Noles return to the field for their final tune-up before Friday's noon departure for Salt Lake City, which will be followed by an hour-long bus ride to the BYU campus in Provo.
The Seminoles are tentatively planning a walk-through at LaVell Edwards Stadium Friday afternoon. That will give the team a chance to get acclimatized to the altitude and get their first look at the field where the host Cougars have rattled off 18 consecutive home victories.
Bowden said that it appears that freshman kicker Dustin Hopkins will handle all of the duties in the game, despite missing two PAT's and a field goal in Saturday's 19-9 win over Jacksonville State. That was enough for the coaching staff to take a closer look at Hopkins and back-up James Esco.
"We worked with both of them together this week and Dustin hit all of his extra points right down the gut," Bowden said. "It didn't stray left or right. I think he got his problem worked out.
"What happened was, when he (Hopkins) was hitting long field goals he really rips it. Then when he got up close he tried to punch them in there. ... He leaves them all hanging out to the right."
The first-team offense closed out practice with a 65-yard touchdown march, working against the clock in a 1-minute drill. Quarterback Christian Ponder completed all five pass attempts - not counting a spike to stop the clock - capped by his 15-yard touchdown strike to Rod Owens as time expired. ... The defense had plenty of highlight moments, creating a half-dozen or so, turnovers. Cornerback Patrick Robinson had an interception working against the scout team offense. ... Senior rover Korey Mangum, who returned to practice Thursday, and linebacker Nigel Bradham recorded interceptions of Ponder, while Kevin McNeil collected an interception off the foot of receiver Josh Gehres, then jumped on an EJ Manuel fumble the very next play. ... Freshman cornerback Greg Reid wrestled the ball away from Taiwan Easterling for an interception as well.
Senior rover Korey Mangum returned to practice Wednesday and split some time with freshman Nick Moody on the first team. ... Bowden said that it appears Ty Jones will retain the starting tailback slot, but was quick to add that Jermaine Thomas has "looked good again this week." ... Wide receiver Avis Commack and defensive end Toshmon Stevens were excused from practice to attend to family matters.