PINEHURST, N.C.-- During the final day of the ACC Kickoff, coordinator of football officiating Doug Rhoads met with the media to discuss rule changes and explain why ACC officials make certain calls.
One of the plays Rhoads highlighted was Greg Reid's controversial hit against Maryland on Nov. 20, a flag that cost Florida State a pick-six. During the game officials ruled that Reid led with his head, which wiped out the interception return by Mike Harris. But during Monday's officiating seminar Rhoads said the reason the hit was illegal was because the receiver was defenseless and Reid hit him above the shoulders.
When asked about the play during his meeting with the media later in the afternoon, FSU head coach Jimbo Fisher disagreed with the call.
"I think it's clean," he said of the hit. "I can argue all you want, I think it's clean. It wasn't in the head, it was with the shoulder and I think it's a missed call."
Fisher said it is almost impossible to ask defenders to play full speed and require them to not lead with their head, be asked to aim for a such a small area and then punish them if they're off by even a few inches. He said the intent is not to injure anyone, but is a violent game.
"How do you tell a guy, aim three inches lower?" Fisher asked. "Just aim three inches lower. So what is he supposed to do, just sit there and let the big back run him over? He's 5-foot-8 180 pounds, you can't play that way. You can't play second-guessing. You've got play aggressive, you've got to play physical - don't be dirty, but that's the way you've got to play the game."
Former Clemson head coach Tommy Bowden was in the officiating seminar preparing for his new role as a television analyst. He remarked that the majority of the hits they showed on the projector were plays that he would not have reprimanded his players for, even if a flag was thrown. Instead they likely would have received a helmet sticker.
Reid was shown another time in the highlight for taunting. After a big hit against Wake Forest he stepped over the receiver. He also did the same thing after the controversial play against Maryland, which many think is what drew the flag.
"If (stepping over caused the flag) then that's a poor call," Fisher said. "How do you tell a guy ... it's a physical, nasty, tough game, and you can't have emotion? You can't be a little happy?
" We're not on Playstation. You can't take the fun out of it, you've got to have a little bit - I'm not for dancing - but a guy stands over a guy, or looks at a guy. I mean dadgum, do you understand how much testosterone is going out there? You don't just turn that on and turn it off. It's a physical, violent game. We don't want it to be dirty, we want it to be clean."
Emotion could play a larger role in the upcoming season thanks to a rule change for excessive celebration. Under the new rules taunting can be a spot foul, so if a player high steps or celebrates prematurely, the score can be taken off the board and the penalty assessed from the spot of the foul.
Fisher wants to move the Florida game
One change Fisher wants to see is a move of the Florida Gators to an earlier date on the schedule. He would no longer like to play his program's archrival in the final game of the season.
"It's such an emotional game and then both of us - if we're doing right - have to turn around and play conference championship games the very next week," he said. "It's a very physical game, it's a very emotional game, it's a tough thing to do to flip around and play that. Now it can happen, if they want to leave it there that's fine. "
The last time the Gators were not scheduled as FSU's regular-season finale was 1976. The two in-state rivals met in the sixth game of the season that year as UF won 33-26.
Former Florida head coaches Steve Spurrier and Urban Meyer have both expressed interest in the past to move the game as well, but Bobby Bowden never saw a reason for it since the ACC didn't play a conference title game until 2005.
Fisher said he hasn't spoken to current UF head coach Will Muschamp about moving the game.
"He's been busy and I've been busy this summer and haven't had a chance," he said. "Maybe in the future we will. I remember if I'm not mistaken Steve Spurrier wanted to do that. But Coach Bowden didn't do it because at that time (the ACC) didn't play a conference championship game so it wasn't as big a deal. So I don't know we'll see in time."
Added depth and size to the defensive line
Thanks to improved recruiting efforts, nutrition and weight training, FSU is bigger and faster at almost every position. The defensive line may benefit from the added size and strength more than any other unit.
"It's like cars. Little cars have collisions, after so many collisions they fall apart. Big cars can take more collisions," Fisher said of the added size. "You wear on people, you pound on people. Big people stay healthy longer - that are in shape. They're not banged as much, and they can take the punishment because football is a very brutal game."
The Seminole D-line isn't just bigger this season, but deeper after losing just one senior from a year ago and adding heralded recruits like JUCO standout Tank Carradine and Timmy Jernigan.
"We have guys that can rotate in. But we can still run, that's the thing I'm excited about," Fisher said of the defensive line. "It does make a difference and you have to rotate those guys. There are going to be injuries there and that's something to have quality guys to go back in and play."
Junior defensive end Brandon Jenkins admitted that towards the end of last season, the lack of depth took a toll on the D-line.
"Last year we were a little fatigued I felt like in some games," he said. "This year we're going to have a lot of depth, a good rotation, and a lot of guys making plays."
Fisher and his family will hold a press conference on Aug. 5 to discuss the health of his youngest son Ethan.
Fisher said that running back Chris Thompson is back to full speed after missing the spring with a back injury.
With the end of the NFL lockout, rookies can negotiate contracts with pro teams starting at 10 a.m. ET. Center Ryan McMahon and linebacker Mister Alexander are the two undrafted Seminoles most likely to draw attention.