November 5, 2013

Insider Report: O'Leary lowers the boom - again

For the second time this season, FSU tight end Nick O'Leary lowered the boom.

In the fourth quarter against Miami, O'Leary caught a short pass on the sidelines on second and three. O'Leary took off and, when cornered by Miami defenders, lowered his shoulder and plowed over the first one before going out of bounds for an 18-yard gain.

The hit only further solidified FSU's dominance against a rival and provided an emphatic exclamation point for FSU's win.

"When he caught the ball the crowd started going crazy," wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin said. "I guess they were looking for it. I was looking for it too, I was on the other side of the field so I was looking forward to it."

O'Leary also put a hurting on Clemson's Travis Blanks in the Seminoles' dominant win in death valley. It's a welcome transition from the O'Leary of last year, who developed a reputation for trying to hurdle defenders - and fumbling in the process. This year, O'Leary has lowered the shoulder instead, and it's paying off with big hits. Benjamin said players have given O'Leary plenty of grief for his fumbles last season, and O'Leary's renewed focus has shown.

"He just wanted to come out and show people that he could be that physical," Benjamin said. "And he's gained a couple pounds."

FSU coach Jimbo Fisher said he'd spoken with O'Leary in the offseason about being more physical, and O'Leary seems to have responded. He's grown a formidable red beard to along with his big hits as well, and it's come with increased offensive production - O'Leary already has five touchdowns and a whopping 17.6 yards per catch average.

But Benjamin said behind the gruff exterior, O'Leary is down to earth. He maintains friendships with both Jameis Winston and Bryan Stork among others.

"Nick is like a little teddy bear," Benjamin said. "Everybody always thinks Nick is mean because he's got the duck dynasty beard going. He looks real tough but once you get to know him he's down to earth."

No fighting, please

Saturday's game against Miami was notable for the first serious on-the-field skirmish Florida State has been involved in this season.

Bobby Hart and Miami defensive lineman Anthony Chickillo got tangled up after a play in the second half and the incident mushroomed to include a large portion of both teams on the field. FSU coach Jimbo Fisher made a point to get into Hart's grill after the incident, screaming "Why would you do that?"

"I don't care if a guy hits you bits you kick you anything you don't do anything," Fisher said. "That serves you no good. Take your pride and put it in your back pocket. … There's nobody that's more intense and if I was that age I'd have been right I the middle of it and I know that. I was trying to get our guys out of there before something stupid happened and that's not what we want to do."

Fisher also said he put the kibosh on Jameis Winston when Winston came over to try and explain what happened to Hart during the altercation.

"He was trying to tell me what happened and I said I don't care what happened. It doesn't matter what happened. We're not fighting. That's what happened."

Fisher said FSU wouldn't ask the ACC to look into any of the incidents in the game - despite television replays that appeared to show Chickillo's hands inside Hart's facemask. He also said that FSU doesn't allow fights in practice to help train players to avoid conflict in games and to stay on the sidelines in heated moments.

"It's like you see a fight in a bar or on the street," Fisher said. "Running in there and helping, most of the time you're going to be involved. You're going in the police report. The officials, once they see it, everyone's out."

No more Jameis Squinston

News flash: Jameis Winston squints.

Florida State's redshirt freshman phenom throws plenty of squints at the sideline trying to see the plays this season. With ESPN and national television cameras following his every move on Saturday, Winston's squints became more of a focus. Local vision care clinic Orisillo Vision Care and Optical posted a photo on its web site Monday of Winston coming in for a vision appointment to get fitted for new contact lenses as well.

Winston's numbers along haven't indicated much of an eyesight issue. Fisher said Winston wears contacts usually but doesn't like to wear them during games in case they get knocked out. The only source of irritation is the bright lights during night games, and Fisher shrugged off Winston's squints.

"It's never been a factor," Fisher said. "He still seems to see it … It makes good articles though."

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