Florida State starting noseguard Jeff Womble has been suspended for the Seminoles' opener against Iowa State Aug. 24 for violating a team rule, coach Bobby Bowden announced Thursday following practice.
Womble, one of four returning starters along the defensive front, is considered an excellent run stopper. He finished ninth on the team and second among defensive linemen with 37 tackles last season. Womble also enjoyed a solid summer, shedding nearly 20 pounds and recovering from lingering hurts from last season. Womble can still practice and will be available for FSU's second game against Virginia Aug. 31, Bowden said.
Bowden declined to specify Womble's violation. Sources have indicated it's not academic related.
Whatever the case, Womble's suspension throws the Seminoles' defensive tackle slot into a quandary.
Fellow starter Darnell Docket (Achilles tendon) and top reserve Travis Johnson (ankle) continue to recover from offseason surgery and are not at full strength. O.J. Jackson was moved to tight end Monday, leaving senior Tony Benford as the lone player with experience along the interior.
Redshirt freshman Donnie Carter and true freshman Broderick Bunkley also are available.
"We need everyone to step up and play. I am going to have to dress out and play," Haggins said.
"I am in training now. It's like this. I have to go out and get ‘em together and play hard – the guys who I have there. I have to do a little mixing and matching. It's a little adversity. You see what happens when a faces adversity, I am not going to drop my head. I am going to get my kids ready and make sure they understand what's going on. And I think they do. They are working hard."
Haggins said he won't hesitate to throw either Carter or Bunkley into the mix if necessary. Carter was named the most improved player on the defensive line by the coaching staff at the conclusion of spring drills. Carter, however, still needs to gain weight and strength. Bunkley, meanwhile, has drawn Bowden's praises following a strong start in drills. But Haggins said Bunkley has "hit a little wall" due to the workload and practice pace.
Mixed or stirred, Womble's absence means an opportunity for somebody.
"A lot of opportunities. A lot of opportunities," Haggins said. "Hey, I may have to play a true freshman. I am going to dress out – maybe I have five or six plays in me. It's very disappointing, but hey you have to be disciplined. Hopefully, he learned a lesson. But he has worked out, he's in great shape and he's had great two-a-days. But if you flinch, you are in trouble. I have to figure some things out.
SLOPPY: Bowden wasn't happy with the Seminoles' passing game in their second practice. FSU went in full pads for the first time this preseason in the morning. Players went in shells (helmets, pads and thigh pads) for the second practice. The session ended on an interception by linebacker Michael Boulware off starting quarterback Chris Rix near the goal line.
"We had the worst precision today on passing – throwing and catching – that I've seen here in a long time, and I don't know why," Bowden said.
"The quarterback couldn't hit ‘em. When he did hit ‘em, the receiver didn't have his head turned around. The quarterback would throw in over here and the guy would go over there. I was like, ‘what in the world.' Maybe it's working with so many guys that there's no sense of timing. I just couldn't believe it."
Receiver P.K. Sam blamed the inconsistency and poor timing on the strain of two-a-day practices.
"As two-a-days go on, a receiver's speed isn't what it was in the beginning," Sam said. "So, it (timing) gets a little off sometimes. Defense has its (bad) practices and we have ours. But overall I think we are doing alright. We still need a lot more improvement but our timing is off. Right now there's a lot of inconsistency but I think that comes with two-a-days. But there's no excuse. We need to get it all right all at once. We are definitely loaded."
INJURY UPDATE: Here's Randy Oravetz's injury report following practice
"Things went well this afternoon. Travis Johnson, I thought had a good afternoon. Dockett was just rehabbing with us. Marcello Church has a hamstring strain. Stanford (Samuels) had a little KO, so we kept him out. So did Ray Piquion, so we kept himside. He got knocked out on goal line. Some guys are dropping some weight but they are getting it back, so we have to keep an eye on that. The weather has been awesome. This has been incredible for weather. It's very nice out here."