For the most part, players felt Saturday's scrimmage at Doak Campbell Stadium was a positive step. The Seminoles return to practice Tuesday and have another half-scrimmage scheduled for Wednesday. The team's first full spring scrimmage is scheduled for Saturday.
"I thought it went real good on both sides," senior linebacker Michael Boulware said.
"We (defensive players) did some good things. We are playing pretty much together, and I think we are a lot better than last year. The biggest thing is everyone went to the ball and tackles. Not so much on assignments, because everyone is so young and new (on interior) but as long as you are working hard and playing hard and tackling, that's the key. I thought Sexton made some nice throws and Lorenzo (Booker) shook me down on a run, so they made some good plays as well. We just need to keep working."
Starter Chris Rix didn't play extremely well Saturday. Rix created concern with his struggles, completing only three passes for 17 yards. He also lost a fumbled snap and twice had the ball stripped from him by defensive end Willie Jones.
With Sugar Bowl starter Fabian Walker reduced to a spectator role while he recovers from off-season shoulder surgery, it's really a two-man show this spring with Rix and redshirt freshman Wyatt Sexton. Converted receiver Lorne Sam and walk-on David Koral are getting snaps with the third team and scout team.
Freshman Lorenzo Booker broke free on a 37-yard run for the biggest play by a running back in the scrimmage. Stovall's two touchdown catches were his only receptions, but he led all receivers. There were no interceptions.
Leon Washington believes FSU tailbacks are making progress. The group is without leading rusher Greg Jones, who continues to recover from reconstructive knee surgery, and Willie Reid, who has been moved to receiver. Additionally, Nick Maddox has graduated after finishing as the team's second-leading rusher (570 yards on 97 carries) a year ago.
"Absolutely. I think we're doing well as a group," Washington said.
"We lost some guys - lost Willie (Reid), Nick Maddox, and Greg Jones probably won't be back until the fall. Us young guys - me, Lorenzo (Booker), and (walk-on) Ryan Reynolds have to come in and try to make some big plays. We're all trying to get better every day. We all have to work extra hard. Running backs have to make plays on our own. We've got to make the next guy miss. We did all right (Saturday) - got a lot of rushing yards as a team. Lorenzo and Ryan Reynolds - I didn't do too well but it's no problem. We'll be all right, because we work hard every day, and we're getting better."
Defensively, the Seminoles were without key interior linemen due to injuries. In fact, Brian Ross is the lone player with any experience. Ross held his own in Saturday's scrimmage. On the edges, Jones finished with three sacks.
"We're working really hard. It's tough but I've got to do what I'm supposed to do, and make sure they do what they're supposed to do besides me," Ross said. "It's not easy, but we're doing pretty good. We're fighting hard, and that's what matters. They're getting it down, and we'll be all right by the spring game. I feel like I'm ready to play. I'm ready to be in charge. I'm up to the challenge right now."
Ross believes the defensive can make strides despite the injuries. In the secondary, Kyler Hall has switched to rover since Claudius Osei is out following surgery (Achilles tendon) and Jerome Carter is nursing a bum shoulder. Hall's move has opened the door for redshirt freshman Pat Watkins at free safety.
"It definitely is harder, but it's a learning opportunity for all of us," Ross said. "If the offensive line is getting off the ball, it's making it harder for the linebackers to pursue and get to their angles. But it's making them better as linebackers, and when we do have our regulars in there, they'll be a strong group."
That's the key - improvement across the board. In fact, Washington was extremely impressed by the Seminoles' second-team offense Saturday.
"I'm very impressed with the twos," Washington said. "The ones, we didn't do so good. But the twos, Wyatt Sexton, and his crew, got a couple of touchdowns, and those guys up front were blocking real well. The ones are working hard, but the twos are pushing us really hard. We've got to work extra hard in practice and in the scrimmages, so we're all better in the fall."