Press Conference: Fisher and Manuel

Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher and quarterback E.J. Manuel took questions at the podium Monday for the first time in quite a while. JC was there and summarizes their most notable comments.

Jimbo Fisher

The third-year coach said as early as the postgame press conference of the Champs Sports Bowl victory over Notre Dame back in December that Florida State's motto for the 2012 campaign would be "details." He elaborated on that comment Monday by saying there would be an increased focus on "alignment, assignment and technique." In the end, sometimes game planning doesn't matter as much because everybody already knows what everybody else is going to do anyway. ...

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Building quality depth is something Fisher wants to accomplish during spring practice, particularly at offensive line, tailback, cornerback and linebacker. He specifically mentioned safety as a position at which he's quite comfortable with his depth chart. Sophomore Tyler Hunter received a lot of love, and that was before any member of the media even asked about him. ...

Along the injury front, sophomore tailback Devonta Freeman is now going to miss all of spring practice as he deals with a back injury similar to the one Chris Thompson initially faced. As for Thompson, he'll line up in a blue no-contact jersey as he comes off of back surgery. Fisher also said that junior receiver Willie Haulstead is a bit "heavy" right now after his medical redshirt due to post-concussion issues, so he'll have to work himself back into shape. ...

Back to the offensive line, Fisher described the competition as "wide open." He went out of his way to list the new weights for several of the starting candidates, saving his highest praise for sophomore Austin Barron and junior Bryan Stork. Barron is up to 295 pounds, while Stork currently tips the scales at 313. ...

There is no news on James Wilder, other than the fact that the sophomore tailback won't be able to participate in any football-related activities until his legal situation has been resolved. ...

There is news, however, at the linebacker position, as junior Christian Jones will be moved from the strong side to the weak side. The leading candidate for the starting job on the strong side is converted safety Nick Moody, who feels great at 243 pounds or so and can use his coverage experience better at SAM. As for junior Jeff Luc, he'll be limited for a while because of a motor scooter accident, causing Fisher to refer to the former standout recruit as a "knucklehead." ...

When asked about the embarrassment of riches he has at receiver, Fisher spent most of his words talking about senior Rodney Smith and sophomore Rashad Greene. When it comes to Greene, he'll no longer stick at X (split end) and now needs to learn all the wideout responsibilities across the entirety of the playbook. According to Fisher, Greene is an incredibly hard worker and simply has to get touches. ...

One of Fisher's strongest statements Monday: "Don't judge a guy because he doesn't play as a freshman." It sounded to some degree like a preemptive strike with regard to sophomore Karlos Williams, who looks to be clearly behind junior Terrence Brooks on the depth chart at safety. When asked about Williams being in the conversation to switch to offense in 2012, Fisher said Williams prefers to play defense and wants to stay there. ...

While Fisher had nice things to say about freshman Jacob Coker and suggested he'll have an opportunity to compete for the No. 2 QB job, he also liberally complimented sophomore Clint Trickett. Offensive line coach Rick Trickett's son performed well more often than not when called upon in 2011. ...

Junior-college transfer Daniel Glauser will unfortunately only have one season of eligibility in garnet and gold, as opposed to two. Fisher said the 6-7, 325-pounder lost a year based on something he did back in Switzerland to get noticed as a football prospect in the first place. While there is the possibility of an appeal, Fisher seemed far from optimistic about that process.

E.J. Manuel

The senior quarterback quickly answered the initial question about the bone in his leg he broke against Notre Dame in the bowl game. He claims to be 100 percent and will not be limited in the spring at all. ...

Fielding a question about his offensive line, Manuel talked about "communication" and "leadership" as things he's expecting from them this season that he didn't necessarily get a year ago. Unflappable as ever, Manuel expressed nothing but confidence in his big uglies. ...

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Manuel had lots of good things to say about freshman receiver Kelvin Benjamin, who is coming off a redshirt campaign. The signal caller compared throwing to the 6-6, 242-pound freak to tossing an alley-oop to LeBron James. ...

One of the more interesting comments Manuel made was in response to a question about how much freedom he has at the line of scrimmage to change plays. Reporters were under the impression that Manuel could indeed mix things up as he saw fit based on what the defense showed him, but the Virginia Beach native instead talked about the coaching staff knowing what it's doing from a game-planning perspective and sometimes it's better to just run the initial call. ...

Of the Seminoles flip-flopping from one side of the football to the other, defensive end-turned-tight end Dan Hicks seems to have gotten Manuel's attention. Manuel said he noticed how dependable Hicks' hands were by watching him play catch before practice this past season.


John Crist is the editor-in-chief of NoleDigest.com, a Heisman Trophy voter and a member of the Football Writers Association of America.


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