Florida State Tuesday 08.18.09 Practice Update: Seminoles Counting on Promising Youth

Florida State is the favorite to win the Atlantic Division, but do people realize how young they are? Only 30% of the roster is comprised of upperclassmen! (23 of 75).  If FSU is to have the season some expect them to have, the young talent of the past two recruiting classes will have to make up for the recruiting failures of 2006 and 2007 under the previous coaching regime (aka before Jimbo Fisher).  Only 12 of FSU's projected 22 starters are upperclassmen (and only 10 of those 12 were recruited before 2007).  Almost half of the 'Nole's starters will be Jimbo Fisher's guys- young kids who were recruited in the last two years.  So far, the results have been encouraging.  Here's the press release

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - There was no shortage of contact work Tuesday morning, when the Florida State football team hit the practice field for the first of two practice sessions.

After spending the first portion of the 2 1/2-hour workout in position segments, the Seminoles tuned up for the team contact work with "board drills" - 1-on-1 skirmishes between offensive and defensive players battling over 2x8.

The second half of practice featured a heavy dose of work on the running game and the play-action pass; a setting that really emphasizes the work in the trenches.

Moses McCray and Jacobbi McDaniel were both impressive against FSU's elite offensive line group.

FSU coach Bobby Bowden, who characterized Monday's practice as a "ho-hum" effort, liked the way his team responded.

"I thought they picked it up a little bit today," Bowden said. "I thought they responded pretty decently."

The central figures along those battles are offensive line coach Rick Trickett's young-but-seasoned unit, and defensive line coach Odell Haggins' youngsters, behind seniors Kendrick Stewart and Budd Thacker. Sophomore Moses McCray and true freshmen Jacobbi McDaniel and Demonte McAllister are getting a lot of work, now that Justin Mincey (knee injury) and Everett Dawkins (moved to defensive end) aren't in the mix.

"They're getting a good dose of good football," Haggins said of the youngsters. "Jacobbi's holding up. Demonte is a little undersized, but he's coming on. He's just got to keep focusing. They've never done anything like this. When their legs are tired, they've got to keep pushing and look into the backfield. They've got to keep doing the little things."

The McTrio - McCray, McDaniel and McAllister - represents the future of the interior defensive front, but could figure in this year's effort to improve against the run. All three have the size or frames the coaching staff wants to make in-roads in that area.

"I think we're gaining on that," Bowden said. "We're still not as big and as strong as we want to be, because they're so doggone young. I do see some good talent out there. ... I can see something good to work with."

That the youngsters can get that work against All-American offensive line candidates Rodney Hudson and Ryan McMahon, should help hasten their development.

"It helps a lot, but I expect them to go out there and play football," Haggins said. "I know they're young, but I expect them to go out there and compete hard."

McCray, McDaniel and McAllister all registered tackles for loss Tuesday morning, flashing their potential to disrupt offenses. McDaniel drove freshman tailback Lonnie Pryor into the ground for a 5-yard loss with a tackle that could have come from an instructional rodeo manual.

Pryor, however, continued to demonstrate the toughness that has drawn praise from the coaching staff by piling up yardage after first contact. The Okeechobee (Fla.) native broke off one long touchdown run during an inside running drill. Jermaine Thomas added a couple big runs between the tackles.

Tuesday's practice concluded with the offense going 11-on-11 from the 15-yard line. Quarterback Christian Ponder and wideout Richard Goodman collaborated on a 10-yard touchdown pass. Quarterback EJ Manuel scrambled for 7 yards and Pryor powered for 5, setting up Manuel's 3-yard touchdown pass to walk-on fullback Danny Gard.

Practice culminated with eight goal line plays. The first- and second-team offenses were each 2-for-2 from 3 yards out, but the defense won all four battles from the 1-yard line. Linebackers Nigel Bradham and Nigel Hard came up with big hits on Thomas and Pryor, respectively. Kendall Smith and Markus White stopped Thomas for a 2-yard loss, while walk-on safety Chad Colley teamed with freshman JaJuan Harley to drop Pryor for a 7-yard loss on the final play of the morning session.

Inside, we'll break down what this release means.

  • First, it's great that Moses McCray and Jacobbi McDaniel are getting good reps against the excellent FSU defensive line.  Their importance to FSU cannot be understated, particularly with Mincey likely to miss the first half of the season.
  • FSU's coaches read Tomahawk Nation and personally, I'm very happy that Bobby's comments are finally acknowledging FSU's lack of size on defense.  
  • FSU apparently worked on the run game today, and did very well.  That should be expected, because their run game was already excellent.  I'm glad to see freshman running back Lonnie Pryor is getting reps, because Jermaine Thomas should be held out.  He's already proven that he can run and risking an injury at this point is silly.  Just in the past week, Miami and USF have lost their 1st oir 2nd string running backs.  

Speaking of Pryor, Andrew Carter reports that he is doing well:

Freshman RB Lonnie Pryor continues to impress. He's running exceptionally well, especially after contact. He has definitely taken advantage of the reps he is receiving while Ty Jones (hamstring) and Chris Thompson (ankle) nurse injuries.

Chris Thompson was seen not wearing his boot/brace, so that is encouraging.  I don't expect much our of Jones or Pressley early int he year.  Pryor has a long ways to go before he can see meaningful game action, but he is a tough runner.  These injuries have been setbacks.  Can Thomas carry the load?  We shall see, but he was gassed at times last year and took huge "kill-shots" at times, leading to concussions.  When healthy though, he is fantastic.  

Also from Carter, it's good to see Nigel Carr getting reps at middle backer.  He is a serious talent  with superstar potential.  If he outplays Kendall Smith, who had an excellent spring, he could start. In any case, it will be tough to keep Carr in the garage.  (haha, puntastic).

Steve Ellis of the Democrat reports that Bowden acknowledged the lack of size in the front 7, and the need to depend on youth.  Also says that Korey Mangum was banged up today, so the defense had to use Nick Moody at rover.  No word yet on how he played.



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