Thursday, August 22, 2013
QB decision looms, but Fisher still mum
By David M. Hale
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- An answer is coming eventually, but Jimbo Fisher is letting the drama build for at least another day or two. Of course, given the seemingly endless wait for an official announcement on Florida State's starting quarterback, perhaps nothing should feel certain.
Fisher hinted earlier this week that he'd wait until after Wednesday's final preseason scrimmage before tabbing his starter, and during a radio appearance, he suggested an answer would be provided by week's end. But as he rocked back in his desk chair in his office following Wednesday's work, he casually brushed off yet another round of inquiries.
"We'll look and we'll make a decision, but we have two very good quarterbacks," Fisher said. "I won't put a timetable, but it could happen [before next week]."
Jimbo Fisher is feeling positive about both his options at quarterback.
Fisher said evaluation of the tape of Wednesday's scrimmage would factor in, but the environment didn't figure to be the best test for Jameis Winston or Jacob Coker. All of the running backs were in non-contact jerseys, and top receiver Rashad Greene was held out of the scrimmage because of a finger injury. He's expected to return to practice by early next week.
Even without the benefit of the film, though, Fisher said both quarterbacks showed signs of progress Wednesday. But he again failed to single one out at the expense of the other.
"From the sidelines, I thought both guys handled the huddle well, made plays, got the ball down the field vertically and dumped it off," Fisher said. "They handled the blitz. I was very pleased with how they played in this scrimmage."
It's a synopsis tailback Devonta Freeman confirmed, noting that both quarterbacks were able to command the huddle, communicate plays, read blitzes and manage the clock effectively.
Those reports are encouraging for Florida State, but as the season opener against Pittsburgh draws near, the time for progress is coming to an end and the time for preparations has begun. The Seminoles will start installing game plans for the opener Friday, and even Fisher admits a favorite should emerge by then.
"The first guy will get more [reps], no doubt," Fisher said, carefully avoiding identifying that first guy. "But we'll still try to keep two guys ready. It'll probably be a 60-40 difference."
It's certainly possible that Fisher's protracted public ambivalence on the quarterbacks has been in a quest to ensure he has two strong options even after one is officially named the starter.
Junior Clint Trickett transferred to West Virginia following spring practice, leaving Coker as the only quarterback on the FSU roster to have thrown a pass in a game -- and he's tossed just five in his career. So Fisher has worked to at least keep the image that both Coker and Winston have an equal shot at the job.
"No matter what you say, you've got to have two guys ready to play," Fisher said. "And I think both guys have shown they can go in and play."
Of course, if Fisher has offered equal time to both quarterbacks, the fan base has long since made up its mind.
Winston's big spring game and sterling pedigree as a top recruit have made him the runaway favorite outside the locker room, and while Fisher said he won't take that into account when making a final decision on the starter, the immense hype has the potential to cause problems.
"We'll try to keep them grounded and talk them through that situation," Fisher said. "They're fighting through it now a little bit. It could be [a distraction] if we allow it to be."
For now, though, Fisher is continuing to tout the company line, regardless of what's been decided behind closed doors or in the court of public opinion. He said he'll break down film of the scrimmage, and he'll ask for input from his assistant coaches before making a final ruling. He'll also spend time discussing the verdict with both quarterbacks.
And eventually, mercifully, the public will find out an answer, too.