Monday, April 1, 2013
Notes: QB battle heats up in scrimmage
By David M. Hale
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Florida State wrapped up its first scrimmage of the spring Monday, but if Jimbo Fisher is any closer to picking a starting quarterback, he's playing his cards awfully close to his chest.
"Ain't even close," he said even before he could be pushed on the subject.
Jimbo Fisher liked what he saw from his QBs on Monday but insists the competition still is wide open.
Still, Monday's practice gave the four men vying for the job a chance to test their knowledge without Fisher looking over their shoulders on each play, and for the most part, the coach said he's pleased with the results.
"Guys did some nice things, but we've got a long way to go," Fisher said.
Fisher insisted each of the four quarterbacks rotated with the first- and second-team offenses, though left tackle Cameron Erving said his starting line worked more with Jameis Winston and Clint Trickett than the others.
In any case, Fisher said he made a point to put each quarterback in adverse situations to see how they might react.
"We wanted to see pass blocking and we wanted to see the quarterbacks set in the pocket vs. a live blitz, making them stay in the pocket and making the line have to block," Fisher said. "We wanted to do that deliberately."
While most of this is old hat for Trickett, who is now in his fourth year of scrimmages in Fisher's offense, Winston, Sean Maguire and Jacob Coker all had moments of optimism Monday, which fit well with what Fisher was expecting.
He's still far from the finish line in deciding this competition, but the upside is that the four contenders aren't making it any easier.
"It kind of reaffirmed some things I'm seeing in practice, which is that I'm not unhappy at all," Fisher said. "They need to be more consistent, but I imagined that right now in terms of where we're at."
Getting defensive: Fisher didn't exactly add a stamp of approval to the day's scrimmage, suggesting that most of the best plays by either unit came at the expense of a mistake by the other, and Erving added more pessimism to the mix by saying the team looked slow at times.
"We weren't as sharp as we needed to be," Erving said. "A lot of guys, including me, were thinking a lot and not playing ball. On defense, you could kind of see it with guys trying to get the blitzes down, and we just weren't picking it up. We weren't as sharp as we had been this week in practice."
While that's something of a concern at this point, it's not entirely unexpected -- particularly for a defense working to master a significantly different scheme than it had used in years past.
There were mistakes, but compared to the chaos of grasping Jeremy Pruitt's new defensive calls -- and a bevy of new blitzes in particular -- linebacker Telvin Smith said he actually was pleased with how things played out during Monday's scrimmage.
"We came out here during practices and were a little shaky, not really comprehending everything," Smith said. "[Monday], everything came together real well."
In the end, Fisher preferred to hedge his bets. There were good moments, but there's more work to be done.
"They did some really nice things. At times, they played really well," Fisher said. "I thought they had a nice day for the most part."
Injury updates: Center Austin Barron missed Monday's scrimmage with a strained lower back. Fisher said he expects Barron to return to action by the end of the week.
Defensive tackle Eddie Goldman responded better to his injury concerns. The sophomore tweaked his neck during Saturday's practice, and Fisher wasn't sure if he would participate Monday. Instead, Goldman went through the entirety of the scrimmage without a problem.
Several Seminoles who will miss all of spring practice appear to be moving forward with rehab, too. Corners Nick Waisome and Ronald Darby both were off of crutches and moving comfortably Monday.
"Those guys are all progressing, training along the sidelines," Fisher said. "By the end of April, they'll be back in the swing of things."