Florida State's New Practice Methods Evidence of Changing Culture as the 'Nole's Offense Goes Deep

The Seminoles didn't go full pads Wednesday morning, but the practice was still a hit.  

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - After some deliberation the Florida State football coaching staff opted to delay the first day of practice in full pads until Thursday, which is also the first, two-session practice of the offseason.

If the Seminoles were disappointed about the delay, it did not show during Wednesday's morning session.

"We really tested them today," FSU coach Bobby Bowden said after the 2 1/2-hour workout on the Al Dunlap Practice Fields. "It was their third day in a row with no break - no day off - and they survived it pretty good."

Better still, the Seminoles appeared energized after a somewhat lethargic effort a day earlier.

"We improved today as a football team," offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher said. "Our attitude and effort was very good. Our work ethic and approach was good."

That's a big improvement from Tuesday when Jimbo Fisher could be heard yelling at Jarmon Fortson from the parking garage.  The 'Noles got back to the intensity they had in the first three days.  It seems that the new coaching staff will not accept anything less- from the players or the stubborn defensive staff.

And there's little doubt the team is getting ample work. By splitting the offense - and in some instances the defense - into two groups, the coaching staff is exposing more players to more repetitions, which is critical to development. Bowden signed off on the change in practice structure and likes what he's seen thus far with the new system, even though it's difficult to keep up with both groups simultaneously working on separate fields.

"From up high (in the tower) I can see both of them," Bowden said. "It's a lot more reps, which is really taxing on them. From what we've done in the past, this doubles it."

Double the work also means double the opportunity and both the offense and defense capitalized at various times.

You need to listen to this radio clip.  It's from 1270 The Team's Jeff Cameron Show.  Jeff played college football and he is one of the guys who really understands X's and O's.  He also understands organizational structure, and was one of the first to predict the debacle that was the nepositm era under Bobby Bowden (Jeff Bowden's tenure here).  

The clip is here.  I have taken some quotes and will go through them:

Also, Jimbo Fisher is now running practices and the old guard coaching staff has relinquished some control. Fisher has seized the control, and the practices are very different from 2007 and even 2008.  If you are someone who hasn't been out there in a while, say since 2004 or 2005, it is night and day.  You wouldn't recognize practice now.  Jimbo Fisher has won that war.  No longer are practices run by Mickey Andrews.  No longer will the practices feature guys standing around waiting their turn.  Maximum effort is not asked but rather demanded.  All three fields are utilized simultaneously.  Field Goals are contested in practice to simulate actual game-like conditions.  The kickers made every one of their kicks and they run to each spot to simulate getting off a last second field goal with no time remaining.  Guys are getting three times as many reps.  The players are absolutely dead after practice, both mentally and physically.  Everyone is in motion. It is efficiency personified. The coaching staff is demanding consistent focus and immediacy from each player.  It is the most encouraging thing I have seen from the program in a long time [Jeff has been around for over a decade].  This pace is frantic. FSU had 5 minutes to run 30 plays. They did it in 4. There is no wasted time or motion. This is evidence of the culture change FSU fans have longed for. Fisher and the new coaches who will be here when the program returns to greatness in 2010 or 2011. Backups are involved and held accountable. They are not learning by watching. Fisher said that every practice must be controlled chaos and every snap must be in preparation of a national championship. FSU is reaping the benefits of the improved strength and conditioning program. Under the old guard, this team was out of shape and weak and could not handle a practice structure like this. Kid's don't know it, but they desire discipline. But they have to believe in the messenger. They have to believe their sacrifices are worth it.

Fisher has showed the old coaches why their methods were obsolete.  Before Fisher and Coley got here, FSU was quickly falling behind the process, and the sad part was that Bowden and the older coaches were so complacent that they didn't even realize the things they were missing.  It has not been easy for Jimbo, but he will soon have Bowden and Andrews out of the program.  He's already phasing out their influence and asserting his own.  Bowden and Andrews' futures aren't at FSU.  Kids can sense that.  They know these two have a year left.  What Jeff alludes to with the "belief" comment is absolutely correct.  The kids don't trust those coaches because they can tell they are not fully invested in the program in the way that Fisher and Coley and others are.  Other changes to expect when Fisher takes over include not having a vacation interfere with the ideal date to hold a recruiting camp.  

Jamie Robinson looks very natural, instinctive, and very fast.  

Very happy about Jamie Robinson.  

Jermaine Thomas had a really long run for a touchdown.  He was untouched.  He hit the edge on the toss sweep and was gone.  Play was well blocked and Thomas appears to be a special playmaker.  

Starting last year, we were telling people Thomas was better than Antone Smith and has a chance to be special.  

Make sure to listen to the clip.  Jeff runs a great show.

More Inside!

Cornerbacks Patrick Robinson and Xavier Rhodes had pass break-ups of balls intended for wideouts Richard Goodman and Rodney Smith in a two-defender, skeleton session. Cornerback Dionte Allen, working opposite A.J. Alexander with the second-team defense, had a break-up and an interception in pass skeleton.  "By schedule, it's time for him to step up," Bowden said, when asked the progress of Allen, a redshirt sophomore who saw little action due to injury last season.

The progress of Allen and Alexander is very encouraging.  Rhodes is extremely physical for a freshman corner.  Robinson is the #1 rated corner by CBS Sports' draft site. 

Quarterbacks Christain Ponder and EJ Manuel were on target much of the practice, which included small group work, a down-and-distance period, plus 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 work.

Ponder completed 3 of 4 attempts during a third-down conversion drill, including a 9-yard strike to tight end Caz Piurowski, who made a leaping grab. Ponder zipped a sideline pass to Bert Reed for a 12-yard gain, then connected with Rod Owens for 10 yards and another first down.

Allen prevented Ponder from a perfect period, riding wideout Avis Commack out of bounds on a well-contested pass.

Manuel, after going 5 for 7 during 7-on-7, wasn't quite as sharp during the third-down drill. Linebacker Nigel Bradham and safety Justin Bright sandwiched a pair of pass break-ups around Manuel's sideline dart to Josh Gehres for a 30-yard gain.

It is amazing what good pass protection can do for a passing attack.  Andrew Carter has more:

-Good day for the offense today. Lots of long passes. Both Christian Ponder and E.J. Manuel looked impressive today, and each completed their share of deep balls. I wasn't in the group that interviewed defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews after practice, but those that were said he was a bit upset. To put it lightly.  Orlando Sentinel.

Jarmon Fortson, Beau Reliford, and Chris Thompson all had good days today.  Fortson did not get chewed out apparently, which is a plus.  His athleticism is off the charts.

The productive day by the secondary was no small coincidence.

"After watching film on practice (Tuesday) night ... one of the things that kept popping up was we really weren't flying to the ball," senior free safety Jamie Robinson said. "We really weren't as active as we should be. We came out and wanted to focus on that.

"Whenever you've got guys flying to the ball you know good things are going to happen."

For the second consecutive day Robinson came through with an interception near the end of practice, which hardly went unnoticed.

"Jamie had another interception and that's a good sign," Bowden said. "We haven't had much of that back there. We need takeaways."

On a third-down play with Ponder looking to go deep, Robinson hawked down the ball.

"They were going deep and Korey (Mangum) was protecting the post and I just broke down on it," Robinson said, adding that the pass was intended for Taiwan Easterling. "The ball came in there and I just went down and got it."

The secondary will be fine.  It is the front 7 that must step up and provide pressure.  FSU always puts a tremendous amount of pressure on their defensive backs- probably too much.  Robinson has had 4 picks so far in 5 days and is continuing his impressive spring.

"Jacobbi McDaniel has extremely rare physical maturity for a freshman. I am typically very reluctant to forecast anything from a freshman interior defensive lineman, but McDaniel will see the field and see it often." 

Some have even told me that McDaniel is the 'Nole's best defensive lineman.


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