We haven't done a practice update piece in a while, so I figured with 12 days until the battle with the scUMbags from Miami, we should update. Now, we don't watch practice, so all of our information is second hand, and no, we won't reveal all of our sources.
Reading the Andrew Carter and Steve Ellis stories, and talking with others, it seems the coaches went out of their way to call out the offense after yesterday's practice. I'm not buying it. The offense has routinely worked the defense, both in practice, situational, and scrimmage settings. Let's take a look at what they told Carter:
-On offense, lining properly is still a concern for the coaching staff. There have apparently been a number of issues with personnel being in the right spots at the right time. A little disconcerting, given the start of the season is less than two weeks away. Andrew Carter- Orlando Sentinel
And Ellis' article talks about the offense not lining up correctly. FSU can't practice more than the NCAA mandate, but they damn sure can tell their kids to study their film and playbooks more. There's also some give and take here. You can't have all positive press or all negative press. Coaches are master motivators (or they try to be) and when you have one unit that is more talented, better coached, and just all around better, you have to find a way to keep them motivated. If it's not showing them how a defense beat them in practice (which isn't happening often), it's through use of the media. On the same token, coaches know what the defense is doing, but they are smart to alternate positive and negative press.
I have no concerns about lining up correctly. FSU is pretty much done with serious contact in practice and they have plenty of time to work on the finer points of alignment. This is something you know if you played football. In fact, I find it encouraging that the coaches are harping on alignment for the offense. It tells me there aren't serious other concerns. Sure, each unit has some question marks, but they aren't glaring. On the other hand, espousing concerns about the defense to the media might not do much to help them. They see in the film room how the offense is routinely ripping off 25yard+ plays.
But Fisher knows this offense has a lot of potential and once they reach a certain plateau, he has to point out the new goal and push them toward that new height. Part of that is mastering the expanded playbook, but a lof of this are these young players not realizing how good they can really be.
-Talked with offensive line coach Rick Trickett briefly after practice and he said the right side of his line is still undecided. There are some good position battles going on there for first-team spots. Zebrie Sanders is likely to win the job at right tackle, but he is getting challenged by Rhonne Sanderson. At right guard, Brandon Davis is challenging incumbent David Spurlock, Trickett said. Andrew Carter- Orlando Sentinel
Ditto Trickett. This David Spurlock v. Brandon Davis battle is real. Davis made good progress over the summer. When I first heard about that, I dismissed it, but Spurlock did have his arm surgery and Davis probably passed him for a time this summer. While I do think Spurlock has the higher ceiling, this is about who starts for the Miami game and for that game, ceiling be damned. Play the best current player (the same applies to the Greg Reid debate). I believe this Andrew Datko stuff to be just a motivational ploy. Rhonne Sanderson has a chance to be a good college player, but unless Datko has an injury I am not aware of, Datko will start at Left Tackle.
I wanted to comment on another excellent Andrew Carter article. Read it. We've been pretty steadfast in our contention that last year's passing game problems were mostly on the offensive line's inability to pass protect, and not Christian Ponder. While some will argue that it's easier to throw in a non-contact jersey in practice, I'll argue the opposite- if the QB is at all touched, the play is dead. How often is a QB brushed in the pocket in a real game before making a great play by stepping up and firing? Particularly a mobile QB like ponder. As AC says, the pass protection has improved, Ponder has time to throw, and the offense is making big big plays. Our 1st team passing game numbers have been insane, something along the lines of 70% completions, almost 18 yards per completion, and a near perfect QB rating, with no interceptions.
And Carter rightfully hypes the wide receivers, because they have had a lot of poor press over the past year. The most encouraging thing for me is the emergence (re-emergence?) of slot wideout (the Y) Rod Owens, who now gives another option than Taiwan Easterling, and Senior Richard Goodman, who has big play potential and has the demeanor of a grown man.
As for the defense, it is more talented this year than last, but I still have my concerns. They were destroyed in the 1st scrimmage, and in the 2nd scrimmage, the headlines read that they improved, but my take on them is that they did well on the goal line (4 plays out of 60), and they crowded the box to stop the run game, which they did, but they gave up 3 or 4 scoring strikes of 35+ yards! Stopping the run is obviously essential, and FSU's offense should again be the best in the ACC so their competition is pretty good here, but overall I think the secondary will take an inordinate amount of blame for some failures that are a result of being put in a poor situation. What situation? The defensive line and linebackers can't stop the run without significant help from the safeties, and when safeties are playing run only, the cornerbacks are hung out to dry. Failure by cornerbacks in this situation against modern passing games should be expected, unless the offense is vastly inferior to the defense. But there is some encouraging news here as well, as the defensive tackle play is better this year than last, some crucial defensive backs are now back from injury, and most teams don't have a run game like FSU. I'm just saying to temper your enthusiasm and read the reports for what they say and what they don't say. I don't buy that the defense played well because they had a few tackles for loss as a result of blitzing their head off and a few sacks (which could be touching the QB with one hand due to the non-contact jersey), when then a few paragraphs later that the offense averaged 10 yards per play and the defense had zero interceptions. Temper the enthusiasm on the defense, but also realize that Mickey's defense is built to play with a lead! That's a flawed design, but our offense just might be good enough to give the defense a big lead in a few games this year.
With summer camp drawing to an end, it's been a great off-season. Only one off-season arrest, on a bogus charge which was later dropped. Only two injuries to key players (DT and possible starter Justin Mincey who will miss at least a month, and backup RT Antwane Greenlee whose knee injury information is yet to be released). Player participation and attendance in voluntary activities is at an all-time high (so I'm told, I am not there to mark who is showing up).
At this point, I feel great going into the Miami game. People overrated FSU last year entering the season, but they might be underrating the 'Noles this year. Miami is going to be without DE Adequle Ojomo. They will have DE Eric Moncur, but he hasn't practiced in almost two weeks and could be rusty coming off this complex groin injury.
Other opponent news: NC State lost their #2 Tight End Mario Carter. Big deal? Think again, they were going to use him a lot and this definitely helps FSU.