Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher was so distraught with his team's performance in Monday's scrimmage that he allowed for his quarterbacks to get hit. And that included returning starter E.J. Manuel, who battled a shoulder injury for the majority of the 2011 campaign and then finished the bowl game on a broken leg.
It was a statement that made everyone's eyebrows rise.
"We even made the quarterbacks live. They were live," said Fisher to a surprised media following the workout. "Let them run around, see if they can sack ‘em, see if they can make a play. I get tired of hearing it's a sack. Weren't many on the ground, but they made some plays and didn't make some plays."
Setting the QBs free, allowing for them to scramble and attempt to make plays on the run, isn't something FSU -- or Fisher -- is accustomed to in the spring. Scrimmages are usually situations when the passer remains untouched in his green jersey.
"[It] wasn't so much for them as I wanted to see the offensive line and the defensive line," Fisher said, "find out if they could really sack them and find out if they could really protect them. I don't worry about them. They were fine."
Protecting the quarterback as much as possible this time of year stems from the unfortunate injury to one-time recruiting coup Dan Kendra during the spring of 1998. Kendra tore the ACL in his right knee during the second half of that year's Garnet and Gold Game. The injury effectively ended the Bethlehem (PA) Catholic High School product's career under center and forced him to play fullback for the rest of his time in Tallahassee.
However Fisher's disgust with his players Monday made him irate to the point where his pass rushers were given permission to put the quarterback on the ground.
"Very poor scrimmage overall, on both sides," he said. "Better get that fixed. Don't think right now we're a very good team."
Fisher's reaction was not the same as his response from the team's first scrimmage just over a week ago. At that point, he appeared upbeat and encouraged with what he saw on the field.
This time, however, was different.
"[We] should get better, not worse," said Fisher. "We need to take a look at why, make some moves and make some adjustments, send some guys down and play other guys. There were some guys that did some good things, but not good enough."
The Seminoles do have some positions up in the air that could be determined over the course of the next two practices. The ‘Noles will have one more in shorts and one more in shells before they hit Bobby Bowden Field for Saturday's spring game.
Nonetheless, Fisher insists there may be more position battles than he had originally thought a few weeks ago.
"Every spot on this team is open," he said, "from receiver to tight end to quarterback to O-line to nose tackle to middle linebacker to safety. We're gonna find guys who can play winning football. Too many good players on this team not to. Too many talented players. [But] talent doesn't make you a good player."
At this point, it would appear there is more talent on this roster than solid football players. After all, the regular season is five months away, yet the rust is still liberally shaking off near the conclusion of spring.
It's expected that this ‘Noles team wouldn't be close to where it needs to be come September. That being said, Fisher's comments are an indication that his group is even further away at this moment than he had hoped.
The Seminoles will have an opportunity to clean things up Wednesday when they hit the practice field again.
Matt Ritter is a football and basketball reporter for NoleDigest.com, as well as a graduate student in Media Communication Studies at Florida State.
Fisher makes QBs 'live' for scrimmage
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