Chris Rix and reserve lineman Cory Niblock. "> Chris Rix and reserve lineman Cory Niblock. ">

Learning Curve

FSU's young offensive line has not slowed the Seminoles' learning curve. In fact, offensive coordinator <b> Jeff Bowden</b> has challenged his quarterbacks and receivers to improve their play as the team heads into its final week of two-a-day practices. "I think the one line has done pretty decent," Bowden said. "Obviously not as good as we need them to play right. I see guys who at least know who to block." Click here for quotes from <b>Chris Rix</b> and reserve lineman <b>Cory Niblock.</b>

Florida State's young offensive line has not slowed the Seminoles' learning curve. In fact, offensive coordinator Jeff Bowden has challenged his quarterbacks and receivers to improve their play as the team heads into its final week of two-a-day practices.

"I haven't noticed it all that much," Bowden said following Monday morning's practice when asked if his line has slowed progress. FSU opens its season in less than two weeks at North Carolina Aug. 30.

"I think the one line has done pretty decent," Bowden added.

"Obviously not as good as we need them to play right now. I see guys who at least know who to block. We run a screen and we are three feet away from making a block that turns a play into a big play. You hope they see that on film and get those next two steps and make the play. It's a difference between a hug play and a 2-yard gain or a 5-yard gain."

Starting quarterback Chris Rix admitted Monday he still needs to be more patient in the pocket. The Seminoles' front four has been dominating in practice and scrimmage sessions, and the unit was back at it again Monday. FSU's offense scored just twice on eight attempts in goal-line drills.

"I am just trying to trust my protection more," Rix told TheTerritory Monday morning.

"They are on scholarship just like I am. I have to be confident. I really have to trust my protection, trust my receivers, trust my backs and let them do the work. If I do my job, I think we will be in a good situation to win football games. That's my job."

Rix, oft-criticized for scrambling too quickly and not making his progressions in the pocket, says he also concentrating in those areas as well. Jeff Bowden was not pleased with the play of his quarterbacks in Saturday's scrimmage. While second-teamer Fabian Walker scores well in classroom meetings, Bowden said he needs to be more consistent on the field.

"I would like to see us better at this stage," Bowden said of his quarterbacks.

"I think… I think they are going to get better as times go. Again, settling in that pocket a little bit more. Chris is still a little antsy in that pocket. I need to get him to sit in there because we've had protections at time. It's hard not to see those big bodies but he has to learn to sit in there. Fabian did not have his best scrimmage last scrimmage. But as far as knowing what he's doing, I am happy with that. I am just not happy with his execution."

While Rix's leadership skills and involvement with teammates have been questioned in the past, his work ethic continues to be a strength. He believes he's on the right track.

"(I am) trying to get other guys involved because they are going to make more yards than I am tucking it and running," Rix said.

"There are going to be times when nothing is there and I am going to tuck it. But my main goal is getting my playmakers the ball and let them to something. I am doing a better job in working through my progressions."

Jeff Bowden also wants to see more consistency from his wide receivers, a group that was plagued by drops (35) last season. The unit has displayed flashes of brilliance and big plays this preseason, but Saturday's scrimmage also was not a scrapbook memory.

"Had we made some plays. Had we executed some blocks on some screens, things could have been huge," Bowden said of the scrimmage.

"Chauncey Stovall had the scrimmage from hell. If he would have made four catches, we would have had a lot different impression. If Craphonso (Thorpe) had caught a deep ball in the end zone, it's a whole different scrimmage. That's kind of like last year. I hate to say it. But we had opportunities for it to be a different scrimmage. We left not feeling good because we didn't make the plays.

"They have to start (catching the football). We hit screens but we weren't getting to the blocks. Some of that is credited to our defense. It's hard for our line to pull out and block that line. They are so fast and quick to get around them. But we have to do it. We have to execute. We have to get better in all areas."

Redshirt freshman Cory Niblock, who was moved from split tackle to split guard behind starter Matt Meinrod, believes the line is making progress.

"We are young but everybody is working hard and I think we are looking good," Niblock said.

"We are starting to come together but we need to keep working. The incoming guys (freshmen) are looking good. We are getting great practice against a great (defensive) line. If we can do it against them, then we can pretty much do it against anybody. They are very good."


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