Notes: Scout team proves valuable

September, 20, 2012
9/20/12
6:51
PM ET
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- In terms of development and experience, Jameis Winston is a long way from Tajh Boyd.

The skill sets for the two quarterbacks, however, aren't so different. Winston is a few inches taller, but both are thick and strong. Winston has the arm, too -- a cannon that made him the nation's top quarterback recruit a year ago. Add the mobility, the ability to get outside the pocket and run with the football, and the Florida State freshman actually plays an awful lot like Clemson's Heisman hopeful.

At least, that has been the thought for much of this week's practice as FSU gets set to host Boyd and the Tigers on Saturday. Winston -- along with third-stringer Jacob Coker -- has served as Boyd's stand-in with FSU's scout team this week, giving the Seminoles defense a close-up look at the challenge it will face when Saturday's battle of top-10 teams kicks off.

"They both provide athleticism and arm strength," Jimbo Fisher said of Winston and Coker. "They can simulate arm strength, athleticism, running and good size. The defense is getting a good look from that perspective."

Meanwhile freshman track star Marvin Bracy has played the role of Clemson receiver Sammy Watkins, testing the FSU secondary downfield, while the bulkier Kelvin Benjamin has pushed the defensive backs to play with more physicality, too.

"I get that same type of physical nature from [Benjamin]," cornerback Nick Waisome said of his preparation for Watkins this week.

Florida State's roster depth has been lauded as a major asset by Fisher all year, but trickle-down effect on the scout team provides its own rewards.

For FSU's starters, the challenge of taking on gifted freshmen and back-ups during practice provides a more realistic comparison to game day than a group of walk-ons might be able to offer.

For those freshmen and reserves, it's a valuable chance to see how they measure up against some of the best players in the country, while still making a contribution to the team.

"A post is a post, a slant is a slant, and they’re running against good people every day," Fisher said. "Suddenly they say, ‘You know something, I can play with that guy.’ ”

The extra push in practice should come in handy this week against the high-flying Clemson offense, but Fisher sees benefits down the road, too.

“Scout team people look at as a negative, but most guys it turns out to be a real positive," he said. "And it prepares your team better when you get more quality guys.”

Secure the tackle: Waisome said his goal Saturday is to hold Watkins without a catch, but even he recognizes that might be a lofty goal. The more significant issue for FSU's defensive backs might be ensure the play ends shortly after Watkins comes down with the ball.

In last year's game, 105 of Watkins' 141 receiving yards came after the catch, and nearly 63 percent of his career yardage has come after the ball is in his hands.

That's makes wrapping up on open-field tackles a top priority.

"It's going to be critical," Fisher said. "When they have great skill guys, they create those one-on-ones, and being able to get them down in space, that's big. Real big. It'll be a huge challenge."

More to come: After the first two weeks of the season, EJ Manuel estimated Florida State had used roughly three percent of its playbook. After another easy win against Wake Forest, he joked that number may have risen to 4.8.

Truth be told, it's probably a good bit more than that, but that doesn't mean Florida State is close to clicking on all cylinders offensively.

"As far as where we're trying to go, I don't think we're close," Rashad Greene said. "That's the mentality we have. We're not settling for anything. We strive to get better every day. That's the motto of the team."

Injury updates: Defensive back Justin Bright (head) and Garrett Faircloth (hip) will miss Saturday's game.

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