Off to the side watching all the action was Fabian Walker, the Seminoles' starter in last January's Sugar Bowl defeat to Georgia. Walker continues to recover nicely from offseason surgery to his right throwing shoulder. After throwing lightly in practice, Walker looks to increase his workload this week.
"As far as my shoulder, it's coming along real well and I am on schedule," Walker said.
"By next weeks I am going to start throwing routes to receivers. Right now, I am able to throw maybe 15 yards and just put a little on it but I am not ready for the deep stuff right now. I would say I am about 75 to 80 percent. It's coming along real well. The thing about it is it gets tired really quick. I just have to get my endurance back."
Walker, from Americus, Ga., made his first college start against the Bulldogs in the Sugar Bowl but was largely ineffective in the 26-13 defeat. He suffered three turnovers – two interceptons and a fumble – was sacked three times and and finished 7-of-12 for 69 yards and one touchdown in just under three quarters. He had a long completion of just 20 yards.
Still, FSU coach Bobby Bowden said Walker would have gone into spring drills as the team's starter if the Seminoles has beaten Georgia. But Walker knew he had to deal with the shoulder pain that plagued him the entire season last year. Though he said his throwing arm was fine, he admitted he had to change his delivery. Walker had attempted just eight career passes entering the Sugar Bowl.
"When I throw the ball now, I can already feel a big difference because I am able to get much farther back in my release," Walker said.
Walker is anxious to get back into action and compete for playing time with Rix and Sexton. Converted receiver Lorne Sam and walk-on David Koral also are taking snaps though the pair did not play Saturday.
Walker, meanwhile, isn't expected to be at full strength until two-a-days begin in August. Walker believes the Seminoles have plenty of firepower, though the most important key will be the unit's offensive line. Tackle Ron Lunford had to play the entire scrimmage because of a lack of depth at that position.
"We know we need to get the offensive line together," Walker said. "Right now it's a matter of getting our assignments down, getting fundamentally better and working hard. We are going to be fine."
Walker expects to be fine as well. It's just going to take time.
FSU offensive coordinator Jeff Bowden, meanwhile, says he was pleased with his unit but was quick to point out the ‘Noles still need plenty of work and polish.
"I thought he (Rix) looked okay but the (starters) only scored one touchdown (Rix pass to Paul Irons) but it was called back by a penalty (holding) so you base it on putting the ball in the end zone and we didn't do it enough with the ones," Bowden said.
Sexton and receiver Chauncey Stovall connected on touchdowns of 65 and 46 yards. Receiver P.K. Sam caught two passes for 66 yards and tight ends accounted for at least three receptions. Additionally, tailback Lorenzo Booker rushed three times for 49 yards, including a pitch sweep for 37 yards.
But it was Sexton who shined, displaying a nice touch that Bowden says has improved.
"He did (improve)," Bowden said.
"The last practice we had we must have overthrown three or four deep balls. What we rarely do is flat-out beat a guy but we overthrew it. It's nice to see him look at film, correct the mistakes and do what he did. Now you feel like ‘Hey, this is a coachable kid.' That's encouraging to me. But he's got to get better. He did good today and I am happy with him."
On his receivers, Bowden said, "I want to say they did fair to good. I want to really look at their blocking. I saw enough mistakes on releasing and handling the bump-and-run. It could have been a long day had we not made some plays. When they start doing the little things right, this has a chance to be a pretty good group."