The day many die-hard Seminoles had been waiting for finally arrived today, when the Jimbo Fisher era at Florida State officially began with the first day of spring practice.
For the first time in 35 years there was a new coach running the show and according to sources, the tempo was definitely different and at a much faster pace than had been run previously. Reports indicate that as soon as Fisher walked onto the field the players all "jumped to attention," and everyone knew, and there was no doubt, who was in charge.
Jimbo and his coaching staff pushed and prodded the players hard during the 4 hour session, and the players apparently responded in a positive manner. Fisher was very happy with the players attitude, with the tempo, and said many good things about how his first practice as the Florida State Head Coach went.
"It was great," Fisher said. "The effort was good. The tempo was good and the attitude was good."
When asked if Fisher had changed since last year, Christian Ponder replied that Jimbo "hasn't changed. He is still the intense guy he is...and didn't seem any different." Ponder also went on to say that there simply wasn't enough time to digest the idea that for the first time in 35 years, Bobby Bowden wasn't watching over practice from his usual perch atop the tower in the middle of the fields.
"We didn't have time to think about it," Christian Ponder said. "It's non-stop. You don't have time to think."
One of the biggest differences is that the team was divided up, with the first and third-teams working together, and the second and fourth-teams doing likewise. That lead to double the repetitions and twice the amount of work.
"You can't say you don't get a chance," Ponder added.
Ponder, who underwent shoulder surgery last November, was back comfortably under center and he went the distance in practice while directing the first-team offense after just 4 months of rehabilitation.
Ponder came away relatively pleased with his effort, fully understanding that he will continue to get stronger over the next 14 days of spring ball. Fisher also liked what he saw.
"I was pleased," Fisher said of Ponder. "You could see he was tired at times, but he got the whole day under his maximum number of throws."
Ponder is also at his highest weight ever, up to 228 pounds. However, his body fat is just 7 percent, which is very impressive. When asked how long he might be rehabbing his shoulder, Ponder replied that is is something he might always be doing.
As expected, Fisher, spent most of his time working with the offense and the quarterbacks. However, he was very hands-on and very involved with every aspect of the team, and his presence around the defensive side of the ball was specifically mentioned by some of the players.
Fisher also jotted down notes as he looked over the work of the five new members of his coaching staff, and he didn't have to look too hard to find them. Defensive coordinator/secondary coach Mark Stoops, linebackers coach Greg Hudson and defensive ends coach D.J. Eliot, were all finally on the field with their defensive players for the first time, and at one point were lined up end-to-end working with the defensive front seven.
"I liked them out of the field; their presence and command," Fisher said.
So did the players.
"I feel like I'm starting all over," said senior middle linebacker Kendall Smith. "With a new defense, I feel like a rookie."
Smith also talked up freshman LB Jeff Luc, referring to him as a "beast."
One comment I found very telling was Ponder's reply when asked how different the defense looked with the new coaches and the different schemes. His reply, "Very different...things we haven't seen before...It's good work for us obviously. We need to see these different schemes and some things we need to get used to. They're going to throw a lot of things at us and it will only make us better."
I know we can all agree that something different (and better) on defense, is past due.
Click here to see the 39 picture photo gallery at Seminoles.com. (Thanks to tricknole for his contribution)
And from NoleSports.com, a nice 20 photo gallery.
Also, from Facebook, check out this tremendous photo of new running back Debrale Smiley.