Jimbo Fisher talked to the media on Wednesday to open Florida State's spring practices. Here are the highlights from his discussion:
Jimbo: We've lost a ton of players, but that's the same every year. Over the past three years we've probably lost an entire NFL starting football team.
"We have a young, very talented football team. What we have to do is help them become good football players." He went on to explain that sometimes returning as many starters as last season can present its own challenges, so in some respects it may be easier with so much competition among this younger group.
Jimbo: When you recruit as well as we do we have the problem of players coming in and when they're finally ready to really play as a junior they're gone.
"The key to this spring is one word: Education." All the young players need to be trained to do the right thing. What is the right route? What is the right block? Etc.
Fisher explained that this group is very energetic—they don't always do things right, but the attitude was great. (FWIW, that's a little different from last year's group, which they had to push pretty hard to get them to move.)
"I'm not worried about leaders. I'm worried about chemistry. When you have good chemistry, leaders develop."
Fisher said he's a big advocate of "five for five," eliminating the redshirt year and giving players five years to play five years. Says it would actually make the game safer.
Fisher was surprised to realize that the teams of the last few years have put more players in the NFL than the great teams of the 90s.
Fisher explained ending last year with a loss has zero impact on the start to this year. "That's last year's team and last year's group."
Leadership and the QB Position
Jimbo noted that now that Jameis Winston has moved on, several veterans, including Rod Johnson, Dalvin Cook, and Sean Maguire have been trying to step into the those vocal leadership roles on the offensive side of the ball.
Fisher noted that Jameis' leadership was more limited to practices and game days, but he was spread so thin (with baseball, etc.) that he was less able to lead as consistently at other times. He says Telvin Smith and Lamarcus Joyner had been “24/7” leaders in 2013. There’s no doubt how much credit Fisher gives those two for their leadership in 2013.
Fisher consistently hedged his bets on the quarterback position. He was complimentary of Sean Maguire’s progress but said the first objective for the QB competition was to “find the guy who makes the eleven most comfortable” and said the quarterback’s first job is to make sure the other ten players can do their jobs.
Offensive Line and Tight End
Fisher said the offensive line will start with Rod Johnson, Mavety, and Are and will work from there to find the other two. Ryan Hoefeld and Wilson Bell were the first two he mentioned after those two. They’ll rotate bodies to find out who works out best.
He did say this group of linemen “may be more athletic” than last year’s group, but “we’ll see if they turn into football players.”
Fisher listed Hoefeld, Eberle, and Corey Martinez as the primary options at center.
Fisher said he is excited about the potential at the tight end position and said they’re looking to get stability blocking the edge and consistency in the receiving game from the group, but it’s a matter of learning how long it will take for the young players to adjust.
Fisher said Ramsey will move back to the boundary corner, where he expects him to be a "dominant, dominant" force there. Fisher said his ability to take away half the field and also be a force as a blitzer and against the run is key at that spot. He reminded everyone that boundary corner was Jalen's first position, where he started his first game against Pitt.
Trey Marshall will take over Ramsey’s spot at the Star position.
Derwin James will start out at safety, working at both the free and the strong, a distinction which Jimbo said was essentially meaningless in FSU’s defensive scheme.
Other Defensive Notes
Fisher did note that they’re very low on bodies at linebacker, saying, “I’d like to have more,” and noting that’s why they signed JUCO linebacker Lorenzo Phillips at the end of the recruiting process. Matthew Thomas is the only healthy scholarship linebacker heading into the spring. Terrance Smith has turf toe, so they’re being especially careful with him.
Fisher said the numbers on both lines are as good as they’ve been since he’s been at FSU ans said Nile Lawrence-Stample’s return is “critical” since he was becoming an outstanding player when he went down.
He also noted that there are several youngsters he’s “ready to watch play,” mentioning Derrick Nnadi, DeMarcus Christmas, Arthur Williams, and Ricky Leonard, as well as noting that Giorgio Newberry is likely to get some key time this season.
Fisher said Josh Sweat has been “relentless” in rehab, and his quad strength is coming along well, but it’s too early to tell if he’ll be able to contribute in the fall.