Thursday's Premium Practice Notebook

Another day, another sweltering practice for the Florida State football team. The Seminoles donned the shoulder pads for the first time on Thursday as they went through another execution oriented workout for 24 periods. They'll go in shells again on Friday before issuing the pads on Saturday.

The good news was that only one player had to leave practice suffering from heat-related symptoms – defensive end D.J. Norris. Once again, there was minimal conditioning after practice.

"You're going to be sore the first few days so mentally you have to get through it," center David Castillo said. "The good thing is that we have a great group of guys who have got each other's backs and motivate each other. We have a goal of winning a national championship. It started in the summer but this is a big part of it."

Much like the rest of the week, Thursday's workout consisted of brisk positional work designed to help with fundamentals. The offense and defese scrimmaged for the final few periods, with the offense able to get a lot more going than yesterday.

"We are doing what a lot of teams are – doing a lot of installing," FSU coach Bobby Bowden said. "We still have a lot of thing to learn. I thought they did do some things better out there today."


One focal point of interest so far has been the offensive line. Under the direction of new coach Mark McHale, the big guys up front are faced with learning a new scheme in order to open holes for tailbacks Leon Washington and Lorenzo Booker and protect quarterbacks Xavier Lee and Drew Weatherford.

So far, so good. The group says a tireless effort is being made both on and off the gridiron and that their progress is on track.

"Were definitely ahead of where we were in the spring," Castillo said. "There has been some stuff added and some stuff taken away. It's easier for the older guys to pick it up because we've been playing football longer but the younger guys are doing great, too."

Castillo says McHale squeezes every possible second out of practice and film sessions. There is no more standing around – when the ones go, the twos serve as the scout D-line and vise versa.

"Your're going to get your conditioning in practice," he said. "We try to get as many reps as we can each period. Miami has beat us in the last few minutes in every game but that one Rain Game and that's something that we want to change."

"We think that with our new system, things will get simpler once the guys get the hang of things," Bowden said. "But right now the fact is that things are different and new so those guys are doing a lot of thinking. The depth that you'd like is not there but if they stay healthy they'll be a great unit."


One of the more interesting battles on the offensive front is at tackle where Cory Niblock, David Overmeyer and Mario Henderson are battling for two spots.

With his prototypical size (6-7, 315), Henderson may have an advantage but is currently listed as the No. 2 right tackle behind Overmyer.

"Right now I'm just focusing on staying low and pulling in all that the coaches are telling me to do," Henderson said. "I've been doing a lot of listening and learning."

Henderson started the 2004 Orange Bowl when All-American Alex Barron was penalized for arriving back from Christmas break and has been listed at No.2 on the left side up until this season.

"I've seen a guy that's a harder worker, a guy that's taking it more seriously," Bowden said.

"He needs to step up...and it looks to me that he's stepping up. With the talent he's got it's just a matter of keeping at work to be the best."

SMITH LIKLEY TO SEE TIME AS A KR's 2004 No. 1 ranked tailback, Antone Smith, is expected to have a significant shot at earning kick return duties as a true freshman this season.

At the start of Thursday's practice, the team worked on kickoffs and Smith, along with wide receiver Kenny O'Neal, were featured as the two return men.

With the talented and diverse depth at the running back position, Smith's hopes of seeing the field so early in his career may have to come from proving to the coaches that he belongs as the fixture of the kick return team.

"A lot of times you want to get the young players in to try to get some game time under their belts on special teams," FSU head coach Bobby Bowden said. "He would probably be an ideal prospect back there."

Said Bowden of Smith's time spent at running back thus far: "It's kind of like, ‘what hasn't he shown?' He hasn't gotten a lot of opportunity yet but he hasn't disappointed (when he has been in there). What you see, you like. He has caught ball well and he runs with speed and he has some moves."


With the departure of Florida State's top three wide receivers from a year ago due to graduation, it is now the time to shine for veterans Chris Davis and Willie Reid.

Davis, who is perhaps the most well-known of the returning receivers because of his career-long comparisons to former Seminole Peter Warrick, has always been on the cusp of reaching stardom since stepping on campus but has yet to climb over that hurdle.

2005 could finally be that year, however, as the St. Petersburg native was easily considered the most consistent offensive performer in the spring and has carried that into the summer workouts and now in to fall practice.

With an increased role a certainty for the upcoming season, Davis says that no matter what, he only has one thing on his mind.

"My moves really set me apart from everyone else," Davis said. "But honestly, I am not out there trying to show off or be like anyone before me. I am just trying to win. I don't care about the stats or awards or any of that. All that matters to me is getting that ‘W'.

"I hope this is my breakout year because if that's the case, than it means I am really helping this team get over the hump and winning."

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