Florida State Spring Scrimmage Observations

The 1st team offense had 12 plays against the 2nd team defense, and the 2nd team offense has 12 against the 1st team defense.  Then they did it againMost guys received 1st and 2nd-team reps.  There are a few who are clearly 1st-teamers.  This is from people we trust who were there.

Ponder was very sharp throughout and Reliford had 2 drops which hurt Ponder's stats.  I am told Ponder looked like his usual self and was showing very little if any ill effects from his shoulder surgery.  Reliford caught a 20-yard touchdown.  Reliford is not a natural ball catcher but he is now 260+ lbs and his blocking is noticeably better.  Fortson had a catch for 25+ and another nice grab..  Rodney Smith looked noticeably bigger.  By far the best 2nd team lineman was Demonte McAllister, who had surprising penetration into the backfield.  All of the running backs had big runs (30+ yarders) as the first team offensive line just abused the 2nd-team defensive line. In particular FSU's offensive tackle tandem of Datko and Orelus (tackle for Spring, guard when Sanders and Greenlee heal up) abused the young 2nd-team defensive ends (Stevens/ Hicks) allowing for FSU's backs to get the corner and up the field.  Lonnie Pryor showed why he is a matchup nightmare catching the ball one play and blocking on others.  Truly an all-purpose weapon.  Ponder diagnoses so quickly and with the defense playing very basic very deliberate zone coverages (more on that below), he had an easy go of it.  This offense could be poised to make the jump from a top-10 unit (2009) to potentially the best in the country.

The 2nd-team linebackers were Jeff Luc, Mister Alexander, and Vince Wiliams.  Please keep in mind that these depth charts are subject to change and they almost certainly will change as the Spring and Summer wears on.  Jenijie, Allen, Rhodes, and Reid all split time with the first and second teams.  Reid made a nice breakup on a ball intended for Fortson.  Rhodes and Reid began as 2nd-teamers.  The coaches made an effort to get players looks on the first and 2nd teams.  Harley and Demps began as the first team safeties while Terrance Parks (free safety) and Nick Moody (strong safety) were the 1st-team group.  The defense looks very raw right now and they are extremely mechanical/ methodical.  It's clear they are not used to playing zone defense (we knew that), and it is important to remember that this is tough stuff to learn.  The defense is more concerned with getting to its appropriate zone at this point than it is with reading and adjusting on the fly.  The first year is almost always rough. While the defense didn't look good, they were clearly focused on fundamentals and alignment.  Players helped each other where to line up and it didn't appear that they were making the same mistakes over and over again.  The one positive was that the defense did not, for the most part, allow guys to be completely open downfield with nobody around them.   Making opposing offenses execute over more plays increases the chance of a turnover or offensive mistake and that should help the defense this year. 

The 1st-team defense looked better than the 2nd-team defense.  That was expected as the 1st team has better players and does not have to face one of the top offenses in the country.  They don't necessarily have the defense a lot more down pat than the 2nd-team guys (both have had 6 days so far), but they are more experienced football players.  The 1st-team linebackers were Carr, Bradham, and Smith.  Smith looks noticeably thicker.  The 1st-team defensive line was RDE Jenkins, DT Dawkins/ McCloud, NG McDaniel (though obviously playing multiple fronts dictates that McCloud/ Dawkins are occasionally aligned in that 1-tech), and LDE White.  Jenkins had multiple sacks, beating 2nd-team Offensive Tackle Blake Snider.  Snider is out of position at Tackle in my opinion but is playing there due to injuries/ off-season surgeries.  Also keep in mind that occasionally a sack in practice is a touch sack..  Even a fingertip of a defender on the QB leads to blowing the whistle.  While Jenkins looked good I am pretty sure at least one of those was a protection bust.  I'm told Nick Moody looked good in run support.

2pm Update:  Andrew Carter has a full play-by-play and some observations of his own.  His play-by-play is much clearer than ours and I would absolutely check that out.

As I said, the coverages were very basic and the defense did not run many exotics (how could they, they have only had 6 practices and 3 in pads).  The 1st-team defense did do a nice job against the first-down run a few times.  AC's play-by-play shows 5 of 8 1st down runs were stopped for 2 or fewer yards by the 1st-team defense.  It all starts by winning first down.  AC said in his article that the 1st-team defense roared back in the 2nd series and well, they did.  4 straight 3 and outs and zero first downs allowed.  While 'Nole fans should expect the 1st-team defense to eventually dominate the 2nd-team offense, I did not expect that today and I remember the 2nd-team offense dominating the 1st-team defense last year while being led by a walk-on quarterback.  Baby steps.

While this is not a depth chart (Fisher doesn't want a depth chart released), here's a look at how the guys lined up.

RDE (offensive left) Jenkins, DT Dawkins/ McCloud, NG McAllister, LDE White, SLB Carr, MLB Smith, WLB Bradham, FIeld Corner Allen, Boundary Corner Jenijie, Free Safety Parks, Strong Safety Moody

2nd-team  RDE Stevens, DT McAllister, NG walk-on (McCray will play Nose when he returns), LDE Hicks, SLB Williams, MLB Luc, WLB Alexander, Field Corner Reid, Boundary Corner Rhodes, Free Safety Harley, Strong Safety Demps.

The corners are already doing a better job of playing the ball. 

Debrale Smiley trucked some folks as a tailback with the 3rd team (he was playing a lot of fullback when the 1st and 2nd team was on the field).  Smiley is still pretty raw and this is all very new for him (and he didn't play football last season).  Bert Reed and Jarmon Fortson really look like excellent starters.  I'm happy to see that my prediction of quality cornerback play looks good early.

5pm Update:  Andrew Carter has free video of Fisher's thoughts.  Definitely tough on these guys.  Not happy with Ty Jones missing a cut on the goal line.  Careful not to give Jenkins much praise.

More to come as I can write it up.

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