Spring Update: Florida State

With several major changes in his coaching staff this offseason, Bobby Bowden hopes that last year's 7-6 season is nothing more than a blip on the radar screen.

But by his own admission, Bowden is not a "change man."

He believes in stability, especially when it comes to his coaching staff. That's why his dramatic shakeup with his coaching staff was such a break from the norm.

Five assistant coaches, headlined by the removal of his son, Jeff, as offensive coordinator, are no longer are on staff. It's the most dramatic overhaul Bowden, 77, has made in 31 years as FSU coach.

"It was very difficult ... very difficult," Bowden said of the moves. "And yet I knew I had to do it. But I hated doing what I had to do. But when Jeff left, it was like, 'OK, Bobby, you gotta make a move. You work for the university, and they want you to do better.' I knew that was the feeling.

"So when I got that message, I felt like I had to go out and get the best I could get."

No matter what happened in a mostly uneventful spring, devoid of major injury, FSU's biggest gain was luring offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher and offensive line coach Rick Trickett, along with bringing back Chuck Amato after he was fired at N.C. State.

Last season's 7-6 finish was Bowden's worst at FSU since his first season in 1976, when the Seminoles went 5-6.
"We were very fortunate in that regard," said Bowden, the all-time winningest coach in Division I-A college football history. "We went after the best, and we got the best."

Fisher, who has been widely regarded as one of the top assistants in the game in recent years, is expected to make an immediate impact on an offense that has lacked an identity the last five seasons. Fisher will also coach FSU's quarterbacks, including Drew Weatherford and Xavier Lee- two players who struggled mightily in '06 running the Seminole offense.

To say the bottom fell out of last season would be somewhat of an understatement, as the 7-6 finish was Bowden's worst at FSU since his first season in 1976, when the Seminoles went 5-6.

Spring has dawned renewed enthusiasm, both among boosters and the people within the football program.

"You could tell the difference just in the spring game last Saturday alone," said former FSU center David Castillo, now working for FSU Boosters while attending medical school. "You could see how many people showed up (estimated 25,000).

"Before the game, the parking lots were full. I haven't seen that in Tallahassee in awhile. It's very exciting. We're starting to get some (recruiting) commitments right now. That's a good sign."

SCOUTING THE OFFENSE: New offensive line coach Rick Trickett stayed hoarse, screaming and demanding more toughness from players. It has been acknowledged by coaches and players that FSU's offensive line was not physical enough, not tough enough. The Seminoles appear to be junking the four-wide, spread formation offense and going into more of a run-featured style which requires solid offensive line play.

SCOUTING THE DEFENSE: A bulk of the Seminoles' top defensive players missed spring due to injury, which contributed to sporadic performances. But FSU's defense has consistently performed well, even during the last several years. New linebackers coach Chuck Amato fit right in, primarily because he knows the personnel so well and knew FSU's philosophy on defense.

SCOUTING THE SPECIAL TEAMS: Graham Gano has locked up the punting duties and continues to push returning PK Gary Cismesia on field-goal duties. The Seminoles will miss Lawrence Timmons, a possible early draft pick, on special teams.

SPRING UPDATES: No announcement was made on quarterback front after a spirited and battle between Drew Weatherford and Xavier Lee. Weatherford's consistency still gives him the edge, but Lee remains more of a playmaker with better escape ability from a pass rush and a stronger arm.

TB Antone Smith - It's now his backfield. Smith becomes the featured back and new running backs coach Dexter Carter, a former FSU tailback, is hoping he can have as many carries as possible during games.

SS Michael Ray Garvin - The Seminoles love his speed, which is a plus on kickoff returns and if he can get his hands on an interception. He had a very active spring.

WORTH NOTING: Florida State's non-conference schedule looks to be one of the toughest in the ACC this year, with road games at Colorado and Florida, not to mention a "neutral" field game in Jacksonville against Alabama. The ACC road schedule isn't any easier, with trips to Clemson, Virginia Tech and defending conference champion Wake Forest, who beat the Seminoles 30-0 last season in Tallahassee.

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