FSU Release: ATLANTA, Ga. - Cool temperatures for the second straight day pushed the Florida State Seminoles inside for their second bowl practice in Atlanta. One day after practicing inside the Georgia Dome, the Seminoles traveled to Flowery Branch, Ga., practicing in the Atlanta Falcons' Indoor Practice Facility Monday morning.
"It was a good work day; got things done, got better," said Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher after Monday's practice. "The attitude was good."
With Friday's matchup against SEC East champion South Carolina just a few days away, the Seminoles moved deeper into their game plan work for the Gamecocks. South Carolina features one of the premier wide receivers and running backs in the country in Biletnikoff finalist Alshon Jeffery and running back Marcus Lattimore. Jeffery enters the Chick-fil-A Bowl with 79 receptions, 1,387 receiving yards and nine touchdown receptions. Lattimore, a true freshman out of national powerhouse Byrnes (S.C.) High School, has rushed for 1,198 yards on 248 carries and added 17 rushing touchdowns.
Fisher was asked after practice about stopping that South Carolina duo.
"You've got to mix it," Fisher said. "You've got to be able to not leave them in one-on-one all day and you can't play six- or seven-man boxes all day."
"You've got to play well up front. If you play well up front, it allows you to do some things. It's like the old thing - (if) you can run it and throw it - you become a double-headed monster. A two-headed monster is tough to stop. We've got to do a good job of mixing up looks and things like that, because they've got good playmakers."
The Seminoles look to counter that South Carolina offensive attack with their own. The Seminoles ranked third in the ACC in scoring offense and fourth in rushing offense. Senior quarterback Christian Ponder practiced for the second straight day.
"Good. I think his body is more sore than his (arm)," said Fisher, when asked how Ponder responded in that second straight day. "He hasn't done anything in a month."I think the biggest thing was getting the soreness out from his practicing."
Also to bolster their offensive firepower, FSU welcomed back tailback Jermaine Thomas to practice a few weeks ago after he missed the last three games of the regular season.
"Practice has been going pretty good," Thomas said. "The legs are holding up good. Everybody's doing a good job and are on the same page. We want to keep the momentum going throughout the rest of the week."
Despite moving both of their practices indoors for the first two days last minute, the Seminoles have been able to stick to their bowl practice schedule which Fisher said hasn't differentiated much from their regular season practices.
"It's not that bad; it's really not," Fisher said. "The way we've got the schedule set up in the morning, they have some extra things to have fun - which we want them to do - but as far as our preparation, when it gets down to two days before the game - we start weeding out all of the other stuff. The bowl does a good job of that, of weeding those things out so you can get focused on the game."
Florida State has been having its fair share of fun. After Sunday's trip to Dave and Buster's for some arcade games, Monday saw the Seminoles visit Fugo de Chao for a late lunch which also served as an eating contest with South Carolina. Whichever team ate pound-for-pound the most protein won points towards their side. The Seminoles and Gamecocks are competing in a series of off-the-field competitions during the bowl week.
"That's part of the experience and as a coach you want them to do that and have a good time and enjoy themselves," said Fisher. "I'm a work, work, work guy, but there's got to be a time to relax and do things and get your mind out of it."
Head Coach Jimbo Fisher
Before breaking down South Carolina's offense did you realize how much they ran the ball?
"Go research him (Spurrier) in his days at Florida and you'll be surprised how 50-50 he was. He always had a 1,000-yard rusher - Errict Rhett, Fred Taylor and all those guys. He would throw early in games and got a lot big plays, and (then) would run the ball and control the clock."
"When you really study Spurrier in the past he's always been pretty close to 50-50. There's more run in there than you think; there always has been. That's why it doesn't surprise me because I was in the same league with him for such a long time."
Running Back Jermaine Thomas
How good would it be to have an indoor facility like the Falcons at FSU?
"That would be perfect. You wouldn't have to worry about weather delays and things like that. Practicing in here would be very good and having one at our stadium would definitely be a benefit."
On getting ready to run the ball against the Gamecocks?
"Looking at South Carolina's defense throughout the week, their linebackers and secondary pretty much swarm to the ball. Our stretch should be really good for that type of defense. ... We've been focusing on the run this whole week. We think we have some creases in there we can bust."
It sounds as if Ponder is looking better. Having him back should be huge for FSU. There is always the possibility of a flare up. South Carolina has been the better team all season, but by no means is the outcome predetermined.