The Seminoles practiced Saturday morning before breaking for the weekend. In an interview at his new restaurant – Goal Line Bar-B-Q – defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews talked about his unit's performance.
"I think the biggest thing over last year - last year we had eight new starters that were trying to learn how to play like first -teamers - this year we have eight starters back.," Andrews said. "Basically, we have three guys trying to. ... in baseball, you usually say if you are great down the middle, you have a chance. Your catcher, your pitcher, your second and shortstop, and your center fielder. That's what we had returning last year, was our middle linebacker and our two safeties. This year it's just the opposite. We are having to replace the middle linebacker and the two safeties, but the other guys have started. They've all started games, they've all been involved in determining the outcome of games when it really counted.
Friday, Aug. 16
Following Florida State's final preseason scrimmage Friday at Doak Campbell Stadium, coach Bobby Bowden began counting days. The next time the third-ranked Seminoles line up to play will be against Iowa State next Saturday in the Eddie Robinson Classic.
"The big thing I see is we are not sharp," Bowden said. "They did some pretty good things here and some pretty good things here. It was very obvious that offensively we are not sharp. We've got seven more days to get this things sharpened up. I am sure hope we can do it."
Starting quarterback Chris Rix tossed a pair of touchdown passes and Xavier Beitia connected on field goals of 22 and 42 yards as the Seminoles' first-team offense scrimmaged against the scout-team defense. Also, walk-on kicker Zach Oller nailed a 25-yard field goal.
Rix finished 8-of-17 for 149 yards and an interception.
Receiver Talman Gardner continued his impressive play, finishing with three receptions for 90 yards, including a 25-yard score. Fellow receiver Joey Kaleikini chipped in a 29-yard touchdown pass. The Seminoles' depth at receiver is being tested, as Anquan Boldin, of Pahokee, continues to recover from a Grade-1 MCL knee sprain suffered last Saturday. Boldin is listed as questionable for the opener.
Defensively, linebackers Michael Boulware, Kendyll Pope and Allen Augustin combined on 12 tackles, two sacks and a tackle for loss as the unit. Reserve safety Pat Watkins registered the scrimmage's lone interception off Rix on a pass thrown into coverage.
"I can't say where we want to be, but it's a lot better than last year," Boulware said. "Like I said, we are not where we want to be but we have one more week to get those things corrected. Hopefully, by next Saturday we will be ready to play. I think we are already better than last year. Now it's just a matter of correcting our mistakes."
Bowden named his captains for the upcoming season -- Brett Williams (offense), Jerel Hudson (defense) and Patrick Newton (special teams). In addition, Bowden, for the first time, named two junior alternate captains -- Boldin and Boulware. Permanent captains will be selected by the players at the season's conclusion.
Thursday, Aug. 15
Florida State offensive coordinator Jeff Bowden wasn't giving away any trade secrets when discussing his talented tailbacks as Thursday marked the last day of two-a-day practices.
"(We) better find a way to get a couple tailbacks in the game at the same time, shouldn't we?" Bowden asked with a smile and a laugh. "We better try to do that."
Of course, Bowden wasn't joking. The Seminoles' youngest backs are making quite a first impression. The newcomers provided some of the highlights in FSU's second preseason scrimmage Wednesday at Doak Campbell Stadium.
Leon Washington scooted around left end for a 19-yard touchdown. Another true freshman, Lorenzo Booker,rushed for 21 yards on seven carries. Thomas "Hollywood" Clayton also has made noticeable improvements, though his fumble led to a 44-yard return for a score by Allen Augustin. And let's not forget that freshman Torrance Washington also will see playing time at fullback.
The group has made things happen running or catching the football. Combined with veterans Greg Jones, Nick Maddox and Willie Reid, the Seminoles have a bevy of weapons at their disposal.
"(We are) more dangerous in the backfield than they we are receiver right now, with the exception of (Anquan) Boldin and (Talman) Gardner," Bowden said.
"I am just seeing a lot flashes out of a lot of different faces. And we have to find a way to get them all involved. Whether that's like Nick Maddox's role in the slot. You can't make a lot of adjustments, but it's a good problem to have. I don't know how you can redshirt them. I see Booker make great runs. I see Leon Washington make great runs. I see Hollywood making good runs. I don't know, it could be a deal where who is hot... Greg Jones better not take a day off, that's what it looks like. I can't worry about that (redshirts) right now."
Wednesday, Aug. 14
Third-ranked Florida State improved its overall performance in Wednesday's second preseason scrimmage at Doak Campbell Stadium. Still, coach Bobby Bowden says the Seminoles must continue to improve over the next 10 days.
"I thought we made a little improvement in this scrimmage over the last one, especially the offense. I thought they did a little bit better, " Bowden said. "I got a feeling that all of them probably improved since the last scrimmage, each kid, but still there were too many errors out there. Those are things we have to eliminate. Again, the key to us is getting better every time we practice and every time we scrimmage."
FSU's improvements also came with a price, as starting offensive tackle Brett Williams suffered a right shoulder sprain on the first unit's opening possession. Williams, voted the Atlantic Coast Conference's top blocker last season by the league coaches, will be held out of contact drills for the remainder of the preseason but should be fine for the Seminoles' opener against Iowa State Aug. 24.
Williams, who had his right arm in a sling, said he was injured when he fell on his shoulder trying to make a block and "then somebody fell on me. It has been bothering me since the start of two-a-days, but I will be fine." Williams' injury doesn't bode well for an offensive line that has gone from one of the team's top strengths to possible a question mark.
FSU still hasn't received a decision from the NCAA regarding the status of starting split guard Milford Brown. At issue is whether Brown has exhausted his eligibility. Also, reserve Ron Lunford suffered an ankle sprain in the scrimmage.
Tuesday, Aug. 13
The third-ranked Florida State Seminoles are hot, tired and grumpy. But that happens this time of year, when two-a-day practices grind players into a pulp.
"They are beginning to hit a plateau, I can tell that now," FSU coach Bobby Bowden said following Tuesday morning's practice. "Their energy and enthusiasm and everything has kind of. ... that two-a-day thing. Has kind of slacked (off), so we just have to be careful with them."
While accompanied by stifling humidity and 94-degree temperatures by 11 a.m., the Seminoles continued preparations for their season-opener against Iowa State in less than two weeks. Bowden said the team scrimmaged (11-on-11) far less and stressed situations. FSU is expected to scrimmage Wednesday.
Blue non-contact jerseys continue to color the Seminoles' sessions. Starting defensive end Alonzo Jackson (shoulder contusion) was held out of contact drills, while the secondary members Kyler Hall (hand), Stanford Samuels (concussion) and B.J. Ward (shoulder) also participated in drills but were held out of contact.
"The first couple of days you do a lot of hitting and stuff and it's fun, but now the aches and pains are starting to kick in and mentally you start to drag around," said linebacker Michael Boulware, who returned to practice after missing Monday night's session due to heat-related problems. "It's starting to get real hard now, and this is what separates the men from the boys."
Monday, Aug. 12
Craphonso Thorpe left big toe has been, well, a big pain. The talented wide receiver has been sidelined since late last week with a sprained left toe. Monday morning wasn't any different. Thorpe tossed a football up in the air and caught it while his Florida State teammates banged away at each other in drills.
"It is (frustrating)," Thorpe said.
"It's hard to sit out here and watch everyone practice and you can't get involved. It's one of those things if where if you rush back you could end up getting hurt worse. So you don't have any choice but to sit there and be patient. I am rehabbing four, five, six times a day. Trying to do everything I can to hurry up and get back. It's a slow process - it feels like it's taking forever."
With injuries to Thorpe and Anquan Boldin (left knee MCL sprain), whose MRI was negative, offensive coordinator Jeff Bowden suddenly finds himself thin at wide receiver. As promised, he placed blue non-contact jerseys on Talman Gardner, Robert Morgan, who continues to recover from offseason knee surgery, and P.K. Sam. Others such as Chauncey Stovall, who continues to learn the system, Joey Kaleikini, Dominic Robinson and Travis Smith participated in drills.
"He wanted to protect the starters, with Anquan going down I think it kind of scared all the coaches," Gardner said.
Tommy Grady arrived in Tallahassee Monday night, just in time to watch the third-ranked Florida State Seminoles practice.
"It's a great team out here. Some great athletes," said Grady, who observed the 18-period session with his father and will soon conclude his unofficial tour of the Sunshine State.
Grady, considered one of the nation's top quarterbacks from Huntington Beach (Calif.) Edison and also is an accomplished baseball pitcher, visited Miami before making a quick stop at Florida. Grady, who has been offered by more than 30 schools, including FSU, gave the Hurricanes the edge over the Gators. Grady arrived in Tally from Gainesville around 5 p.m.
"Miami was awesome," Grady told The Territory. "They have a great coaching staff and they have some great athletes. Florida was nice. I kind of liked Miami better than Florida, though. Florida State is great, too."
Sunday, Aug. 11
Yes, Anquan Boldin was scared. And who could blame him?
Boldin, who missed last season following reconstructive surgery for a torn cruciate ligament suffered in Florida State's first preseason scrimmage, was relieved and thankful Sunday. Boldin re-injured his surgically repaired left knee in the Seminoles' initial preseason scrimmage Saturday at Doak Campbell Stadium. Boldin was injured when a teammate rolled into him following an interception.
However, the prognosis -- Grade-1 MCL sprain -- was not related to last year's injury. Boldin is expected to be out for two weeks and is considered questionable for FSU's opener against Iowa State Aug. 24. Boldin, however, plans on being ready for the opener.
"I was scared," Boldin said Sunday.
"I didn't want to think the worse. I was just hoping it wasn't serious like last year. I was about to turn around and try to go chase Yohance and Nick got blocked in the back of my knee and I got rolled up. The injury I have right now isn't related to the surgery I had last year so that's pretty good. There's no major damage. I'll probably be out a week or two. I just have to work hard to get back as quick as I can."