Sure, the Seminoles enjoyed a record turnout for the six-week sessions that ended Wednesday. Sure, players have stressed a renewed commitment and pointed to improved team chemistry. Sure, everyone involved promises changes in the win-loss column.
While an upbeat approach is paramount, quarterback Chris Rix agrees with Bowden, saying the Seminoles must regain the nation‘s respect a day at a time. And nobody knows that better than a confident yet humbled Rix, who was the center of an open revolt in the FSU locker room last year.
"I think our mission since everyone came back from the bowl, and I know for myself, we really have been focusing on this season and all the little things," Rix said Wednesday.
"Ever since matt drills started, we've taken care of that, as far as working hard in the matt room, in spring football and now going into camp. Like you said, you hear the same thing almost every year. As far as turnout, the numbers have been larger than the past but everyone has been working hard. Now we have to take care of it on the field in four weeks. We are going to surprise a lot of people this year. Prove to ourselves and our coaches that we are ready to get back to where Florida State has been in the past."
Despite 8-4 and 9-5 records the past two seasons, FSU still has some of the best talent in the nation, hands down. The Seminoles return 14 starters, 10 on a defensive unit that potentially can be one of the nation's best. While serious questions surround a talented but inexperienced line, FSU's offense is also loaded with weapons, starting in the backfield.
Around 50 or so players showed for Wednesday's final conditioning drills. FSU players can now enjoy a short reprieve before reporting to camp Tuesday morning. The team's first practice is scheduled for Wednesday.
"It (conditioning) flew by, this six weeks," Rix said. "I feel well. I feel good about how everyone did. Get a couple days off, and come back Tuesday and dial it up. We have the right frame of mind right now. The right mentality. Chemistry is great right now, so I am pleased."
Due to NCAA rule changes -- team's no longer have consecutive two-a-day practices -- this year's preseason will have an NFL-camp flavor. Plenty of film work and meetings await players.
"I think there's pro and cons to both (approaches), " Rix said.
"We have to get the most out of the work that we are given every day. Hopefully it will give the guys more energy to get better and perform rather than pace themselves. We have to give the most out of the days we are given. For the quarterbacks, there will be less wear and tear on our arms. But I know everyone is running well. We (quarterbacks) are throwing well. Our timing is down, though we have a little work there and that will take care of itself in camp. I know everyone is excited about getting started."
FSU is once again the preseason favorite to win the Atlantic Coast Conference, though North Carolina State has beaten the Seminoles in consecutive years and is considered a threat along with Virginia and Maryland. And FSU's non-conference schedule is loaded for bear -- Colorado, Miami, Notre Dame and Florida had a combined record of 39-14 last year.
Still, there's no denying the Seminoles' enthusiasm. Everyone, including strength coach Jon Jost, has given the team a passing mark for its effort this summer. While the conditioning sessions featured an incentive program -- players who attended at least 80 percent of the workouts are exempt from Tuesday's varsity conditioning test -- excitment is everywhere.
But, like coach Bowden points out -- and Rix agrees -- now the real work begins.
"I know it sounds funny, but I think I along with the other guys, we miss the coaches," Rix said.
"It's going to be good getting back with them. As far as myself, to get back with Coach Dickey and Coach Jeff Bowden and get this thing dialed up. I think we are all on the same page."