Junior cornerback Greg Reid takes some time to relax before Sunday's practice but soon made all of Florida State's quarterbacks very nervous.
Starting off with the quarterbacks, junior E.J. Manuel struggled from start to finish, and it wasn't just because the defensive line was relentless and overpowered his blocking more often than not. Even in 7-on-7 action with no pass rush, the 6-5, 245-pounder appears to have been spending too much time throwing to 6-6 targets Rodney Smith and Kelvin Benjamin -- he was missing high time and time again. In 7-on-7, Manuel completed only 13 of 27 passes and was intercepted three times, including twice in the span of three throws by junior cornerback Greg Reid. Then in 11-on-11, he connected on just 17 of 35 attempts with one INT by junior safety Nick Moody off a deflection and another right in the breadbasket of senior safety Terrance Parks that he dropped. But there were some highlights from Manuel, including a perfect corner pattern to junior receiver Willie Haulstead and a gorgeous seam route to senior wideout Bert Reed. ...
No question about it, the depth and talent along the defensive line for the Seminoles jumped off the practice field. Quite a bit, sophomore end Bjoern Werner is simply unblockable and does not need a variety of moves to get into the enemy backfield on a regular basis -- it's all about brute strength for the German-born pass rusher. In the middle, freshman tackle Timmy Jernigan is a man among boys already at the collegiate level, so it's nothing short of scary to imagine what he was doing on the high school gridiron at this time a season ago. During 11-on-11, junior tackle Anthony McCloud confused the offensive line on a stunt and was immediately in Manuel's face coming off the edge. Just about every time reserve quarterbacks Clint Trickett and Will Secord made a throw, it was done outside the pocket at an awkward angle since there was no time whatsoever to progress through their reads. ...
As far as the pass catchers are concerned, freshman receiver Rashad Greene reeled in a TD toss -- and drew an interference penalty, too -- from Manuel on a post. One of the better routes run was a deep out by Smith, as he made his break to the outside just as Reid decided to open up his hips, which resulted in a long gainer from Manuel. Haulstead caught a long touchdown pass from Manuel in 7-on-7 on a post, beating senior cornerback Mike Harris in the process. Benjamin speared a scoring pass on a deep post, with Trickett doing nothing more than launching the ball up high so the gigantic freshman could go up and get it. During individual work before team drills started, every time freshman tight end Nick O'Leary took a rep, Manuel was the QB throwing to him, which was not a coincidence. ...
Not only was the defensive line dominant, but the corners and safeties also tossed a blanket on the secondary. Reid picked off two passes, knocked down two others and was in the vicinity of several incompletions. Neither Harris nor sophomore cornerback Xavier Rhodes recorded an interception, but each swatted a few balls harmlessly to the turf. Sophomore safety Lamarcus Joyner closed on throws like he had been shot out of a cannon and allowed the corners to stay true to their zones. If there was one defender getting picked on in coverage, it was junior linebacker Vince Williams, who appeared to be a step late with regularity ...
The offensive line was senior Andrew Datko at left tackle, sophomore Bryan Stork at left guard, junior Jacob Fahrenkrug at center, sophomore Garrett Faircloth at right guard and senior Zebrie Sanders at right tackle. The second unit was lined up this way: freshman Josue Matias at left tackle, freshman Tre' Jackson at left guard, freshman Austin Barron at center, senior David Spurlock at right guard and then freshman Bobby Hart at right tackle. Spurlock isn't quite ready for contact and is simply being brought along slowly. Fahrenkrug was a bit inconsistent with his shotgun snaps, and when he missed he missed low. The second teamers in particular had absolutely no success against their counterparts on the other side of the ball. ...
The depth chart at tailback could look a lot different than it has, which is interesting since FSU's top three leading rushers from 2010 are all still a part of the team. Junior Chris Thompson took plenty of reps but did so wearing a blue no-contact jersey, so the coaching staff isn't taking any chances with his recent back injury. With senior Jermaine Thomas again nothing more than a casual observer because of migraine headaches, freshmen Devonta Freeman and James Wilder Jr. received their fair share of work. As a matter of fact, while Freeman and Wilder lined up with the starters, senior Ty Jones spent most of the day with the reserves. Wilder does a good job of presenting the quarterback with a target on handoffs, spreading his arms and exposing his midsection nice and early.
According to coach Jimbo Fisher following practice, sophomore guard Henry Orelus sustained a concussion earlier in the week and was held out Sunday as a result.
Stud of the Day
There were a handful of standouts defensively, but Reid was a difference maker on his side of the field. Very few balls thrown his way were completed, and one of the INTs he snared would have been six points the other direction. He appeared to be playing with an endless supply of confidence.
Dud of the Day
For all the positive things we've been hearing about Manuel this summer, he wasn't sharp and never truly got into a rhythm. In all fairness, his footwork seems to be exceptional and he takes every step with purpose, and on more than one occasion he slid away from pressure without taking his eyes off his receivers. However, pass rush or no pass rush, he was far from accurate with the ball.
Quote to Note
"If we said, 'OK, I'll start practice over right now,' he'd be the happiest guy on the field. He'd want to go practice again. He and 5, they would stand out there and play until the lights burned out. That's just the way they are." -- Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher on sophomore safety Lamarcus Joyner and junior cornerback Greg Reid
John Crist is the editor-in-chief of NoleDigest.com, a Heisman Trophy voter and a member of the Football Writers Association of America.