Florida State is halfway through its allotted spring practices, and Seminoles coach Jimbo Fisher is so confident based on the first seven sessions he is thinking of adding another two games to the schedule.
“We’ll probably go 17-0,” Fisher joked Saturday. With the new college football playoff, 15 is the maximum number of games a team can play.
Following that opening one-liner, Fisher had some positive and negative reviews of his team.
“It’s hard to tell until you get to scrimmages because you’re working situations. I see a lot of good things out of younger guys, a lot of the older guys are starting to get in the groove and take on the leadership role, so it’s probably where I thought,” he said. “I’m not real excited, but I’m not real down. I’m not either way. I’m just kind of waiting to see and trying to be patient of where we go.”
Following Saturday’s practice, the fifth-year coach mentioned that the team is improving, but he is waiting for the Noles to take the next step. Despite returning Heisman winner Jameis Winston, nearly the entire offensive line and several defensive playmakers, this is a team dealing with question marks that need answering by September.
Devonta Freeman and James Wilder Jr. are giving way to Karlos Williams, and Timmy Jernigan and Kelvin Benjamin are potential first-round picks that have to be replaced. The defense is undergoing a leadership overhaul.
It can’t be expected for every issue to be resolved in 14 spring practices and a spring game, but Fisher is looking for glimpses before the summer recess.
Football is increasingly becoming a game built on exploiting matchups and situations, and much of the first seven practices have focused on situational football, Fisher said.
“Fundamentally, we’re getting better, but we need to learn to get more intelligent [in situations] -- how to play, how to think, that’ll allow us to play faster and more efficiently. I think that’s the next step we need to get to,” Fisher said. “We really got to take our time and work situations to understand how to be a smart football team, play with intelligence and play at an elite level and separate ourselves.”
The coaching staff will get its best view of the 2014 team on Monday during the Noles’ first scrimmage. Fisher will better be able to gauge the maturation of his underclassmen starters and whether the upperclassmen have heeded the advice of the departed leaders Monday when Fisher does his best to simulate the bright lights that will be on his team in Dallas against Oklahoma State in the season opener.
“Consistency and who’s ready to play and see how they step up with the scoreboard on,” Fisher said are what he’s looking for most Monday. “I’m anxious to see. We’ll work situations. I’m not worried about yards, not worried about touchdowns, I want to get guys in situations and see how they play.”