"Wasn't bad for a first day. They did a little better than I thought they would the first day. We started off today – Corey Simon came out and talked to them about 15 minutes. I thought that was good. Talked to them a little bit about leadership – talked about what it takes to win. All the coaches stood aside, let him have the players. We started out that way. Nobody stood out (in practice) – when they're in shorts, they all look the same."
Did Corey come to you and say he wanted to address the team?
"Yeah, he did. He was kinda reading my mind. He's in town, and we're glad he did it."
Do you plan to have more former players come out?
"We plan to do that – we plan to bring in some of the guys who went through those great years."
Does it help them, hearing it from someone other from a coach?
"I think so, yeah. I think it helps them more, hearing it from a former player, rather than hearing it from a coach all the time."
How did Chris Rix do today?
"He did OK – about like last time."
Was the team overall solid?
"Well, they're all All-Americans in shorts. Everybody's an All-American in shorts. It's hard to measure."
Chris Rix won't be talking to the media this spring. Is that your idea?
"I don't want him to. I want him to win the respect of his players back. I don't want him to be a spokesman right now. It's nothing to do with you guys – it's trying to win the team back. That's the reason for it."
What's the most important thing for him to do?
"Do everything everybody else does. Do everything everybody else does."
Has he done that so far?
"Yes. He's worked hard."
What have you seen from Wyatt Sexton?
"He's a good prospect. He's got some natural ability about him. He's got a demeanor about him – he's been around football all of his life. Raised by a football coach, those kids seem to have a better grasp than some of the others."
How tough will the competition be behind Chris?
"Of course, Fabian is going to have to ease back into the throwing part, because of the mild operation that he had. I hope it stays competitive. If it doesn't, that's not a bad sign. If one guy moves out ahead, it's usually a sign that he's much better. I hope it can stay competitive, where nobody thinks that they've got the job sewed up."
With the starters you'll be missing, how much do you plan to accomplish this spring?
"We're just like everybody else in the country. You've got boys who played last year who are gone, so now you don't have as many. Then you have your operations, which you have to have in January instead of summertime – so you've got a lot of kids missing with that, just like it always is. What hurts is to have everybody at one position hurting – that's what hurts. This year, we've got all our defensive tackles had operations. But we've got some walk-ons out there, thank goodness, and they might could save our spring training. But that's from a team standpoint. If they can just get better individually, at basic fundamentals, that makes you better. If you ain't got but two guys out there, you can practice blocking and tackling."
You're working a lot of young guys working on the offensive line – is it a concern that they're not being forced to get better against the defensive starters?
"It would be better – the better people they're playing against, the better they're going to get, no doubt about that. But you can only do what's there. At least they can learn their plays. They can learn what foot to step with, which shoulder to hit with, things like that."
Willie Reid worked some at wideout today. Is that a position change?
"We've got him at wide receiver today, and we're probably going to leave him there. He's a natural, too. You know, some people are naturals, and he's kind of a natural out there."
Do you expect that to be a move that will continue?
"I'm sure we'll discuss it everyday, to decide if it's the best: ‘should we leave him there? Should we move him?' But I think so. You've got Greg Jones back, you've got (Lorenzo) Booker back, you've got Leon Washington, you've got (walk-on) Ryan Reynolds. You've got four tailbacks. You put him back at tailback, now you've got five. How are you going to get enough reps? There is more of a need at receiver. He seems to be playing pretty good."
You say he's a natural – he looked like he made the adjustment pretty well today.
"Well, he did that when he came in as a freshman – made some outstanding catches and then broke his leg. But at least he's got another year of eligibility out of it. So that's what I mean – he's kind of a natural out there."
Do you think he'll play there in the fall?
"I hope so. We could do him like we did Nick. We moved Nick there his sophomore year. And he did a good job. Then, we got all our tailbacks hurt, and we had to move him back. The carryover there is very easy, I think. It's hard to move from tailback to receiver – they've got to learn all these cuts and everything – but a ballcarrier just takes the football and runs naturally. So, it'd be easier to move him back there. It's probably best for our team for him to be where he is right now."
What do you want to see most from this team? "Get better every day. Everybody get a little bit better. That's what you'd like to see."
How does it feel to finally get back out there?
"Well, this is the fun part of coaching – getting on the field and watching the kids work, watching them improve, watching them make plays. Watching them correct mistakes, and get better – that's the fun part about coaching. It ain't fun sitting there in the office answering all them phone calls, somebody calling you about some kid in trouble."
Were you more anxious to get out on the field to put last season behind you?
"I don't know if I was more eager or not. If we'd have gone undefeated, I think I'd probably be about as eager. But I think that the good thing about it is that this is another year. We've got another group of players, and they've got to determine their own legacy."
This is Chris Davis' first time doing significant work on the practice field. What did you see from him?
"I didn't watch him that much, to be honest with you. He's not going to get any contact work. They're breaking him in, letting him run routes and that kind of thing. They might, later on, squeeze him into some shoulder pads or something, but he needs to go through this spring without a lot of contact."
You're hoping he can play in the fall, right?
"Yeah. He should be ready in August. He should be completely ready to go in August. It's what he does with the ball after he catches it that's so good about him. He hasn't lost any of that with his injury, and at his age, I'd doubt he would."
Dominic Robinson was the subject of some rumors which had him transferring. Did he talk to you?
"No, he didn't talk to me. I think he might have talked to some coaches, but it's strictly rumors. If you're first-team at Florida State, why would you want to go? I don't know if he went to a practice out there or not, and I don't care. I don't care. He's here."
You've always had the luxury of going into the spring with an experienced quarterback. Now, for the first time in two seasons, you're back to that. Is that a noticeable difference?
"You'd have to say you're back on schedule. He's a redshirt junior. It's his time. His advantage is that he's got 18 or 19 games under his belt. Mostly, our redshirt juniors don't. That should pay off."
And you have that apprenticeship set up for the future, with Wyatt Sexton, right?