Tuesday's Premium Football Notebook

Bobby Bowden will have a better grip on his team's strengths and weaknesses after tomorrow. The Seminoles worked out in full pads Tuesday in preparation for a Wednesday A.M. kicking scrimmage and a full scrimmage Wednesday night in the stadium.

Bowden said he was eager to get his players into game-like situations for the first time since the Garnet and Gold intersquad scrimmage April 16.

"You see where you are," Bowden said. "It's like taking a test in a class. A teacher has to know what the kids are grasping, so you have to give a test. If it weren't for injuries, you'd do it everyday."

Quarterbacks Drew Weatherford and Xavier Lee will split time with the first team offense during the evening scrimmage. Lee operated the first offense on Tuesday; Weatherford will play with the first unit Thursday.

"You get your quarterbacks under fire (in scrimmages) and I'm always interested in how they do in game conditions," Bowden said "You just want to see if they are operating as a unit better. You start off operating individually and then as you get more and more into it you how they are coming together as a team."

In 11-on-11 Antone Smith, ripped off a "nice dadgum" run on the first play from scrimmage. Joe Surratt scored in goal line drills. Sam McGrew, the hero of 2004's nailbiter at Syracuse, recovered a fumble and had a pass breakup.

"It was a pretty good day," McGrew said. "I made a few plays but I also made mistakes. It is just another day to come out here and get better. I was able to make a couple of big plays, but can I get them in the game now?"

FRIENDLY COMPETITION AT CORNERBACK

While senior Gerard Ross has himself firmly planted as one of the two starting cornerbacks, the spot opposite him is still up for grabs. Sophomore J.R. Bryant and redshirt freshmen Tony Carter and Trevor Ford are all competing strongly to earn playing time opposite the veteran.

According to Carter, it's all love out there on the field.

"It's pretty fun competing with those guys," Carter said. "We came in together so we know each other real well. We aren't competing for a starting job but competing to just play whenever. We are all working hard."

While Carter has been practicing heavily with the starting defense, the cornerback job is still wide open as the other youngsters have had an equal opportunity with the first team ‘D' as well.

"I have been working with the 1's but they are switching and rotating everyone in to get equal amount of reps opposite Gerard (Ross)," Carter said.

SMITH FOCUSED ON TRIP TO CALIFORNIA

Freshman phenom Antone Smith has been turning heads since his days in high school and that hasn't changed now that he is a college football player at FSU. The shifty yet powerful tailback began making a name for himself at summer workouts and that has transferred to the fall.

Now, nearly a week and a half into preseason camp, the Pahokee native is consistently performing at a high enough level to have everyone talking – including head coach Bobby Bowden.

"Well, he made a dadgum nice run for a touchdown in 11-on-11," Bowden said. "He seems to pop one out every scrimmage sometime or the other."

While he has practiced well, playing time will continue to be on everyone's mind as several talented veterans are positioned ahead of the freshman on the depth chart. According to Smith, a trip to Pasadena in January is the ultimate goal.

"I am just doing whatever it takes to help the team out," Smith said. "Hopefully help get them to the national championship and win it and just get on the field wherever I can. I feel there's always room for anybody (on the field) as long as you work hard and learn the plays and blocking schemes and run good routes out of the backfield; they gotta find a place for you."

Said Smith of possibly finding a "place" on special teams: "I will be doing kickoff returns. I am working with the first team (at kick return) and I am just trying to excel at that as well as at running back."

BUNKLEY ON GRADUAL RETURN

Tack on another lesson learned for Tampa native Brodrick Bunkley.

"Don't screw around," Bunkley said. "Take care of school and football. Both of those are very important things."

After a summer spent mostly in classrooms and study halls, Bunkley is ready for a little of the latter. Already cleared for practice at the start of the week, Bunkley began Tuesday his gradual return.

Under team policy, Bunkley will not wear full pads until he's been acclimated to practice. That process should be finished within a few days.

Bunkley said that his academic progress is going as planned and he feels confident that he'll be cleared to play this season. Florida State will post final grades today.

"I worked so hard this summer," Bunkley said. "It came from countless hours of studying. I used to study up here from 7:00 in the morning till 10:00 at night just to make sure things were right."

Although Bunkley's marathon study schedule over the summer left little time to keep in shape, he's still optimistic about his current condition.

"He didn't look in as bad a shape as I thought he would be in," said coach Bobby Bowden.


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