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After nearly three weeks of working on fundamentals and polishing schemes, the No. 1 Florida State Seminoles spent a large chunk of Thursday's practice preparing for season-opening opponent Oklahoma State.
That meant many of the Seminoles' youngest players and some walk-ons had to slip on scout-team jerseys and simulate the Cowboys' offense and defense so that FSU's starters and top backups could get an early start on game week.
Among the freshmen participating on the scout-team offense were: quarterback J.J. Cosentino, offensive linemen Derrick Kelly, Brock Ruble and Corey Martinez, and tight ends Mavin Saunders and Jeremy Kerr. Some of the freshmen defenders on scout team were: Linebackers Kain Daub and Delvin Purifoy, and defensive linemen Arthur Williams and Frederick Jones.
While walk-ons are often heavily used on scout teams, FSU coach Jimbo Fisher said he likes to use as many talented youngsters as possible, because it gives the starters a better idea of the type of speed they will face in a game.
"The scout-team work was really exceptional," Fisher said after Thursday's practice. "That's one thing that depth allows you to have, to get good guys down there and get quality looks. The guys had a good attitude about it and worked very hard."
Since most freshmen would prefer to play right away - especially the ones who were highly recruited - it's not always easy to have a positive attitude about scout-team work. So Fisher and his assistant coaches talk to each player individually and explain why they will be needed to fill that role.
During those conversations, Fisher is quick to point out that many great players have started their careers on the scout team - including FSU's reigning Heisman Trophy winner, quarterback Jameis Winston.
"Jameis was pretty good," Fisher said. "Peter Warrick, Laveranues Coles … a lot of those guys were all pretty good scout-team guys."
And there's no guarantee that all of the freshman scout-teamers will end up being redshirted. Fisher said some will be used in special packages, and others could move up on the depth chart due to injuries or other circumstances.
"They can still get work in," Fisher said. "They're not assigned to that the rest of the year."
The scout-team's performance could be extra important this week, as the Seminoles will open the season with a quality non-conference opponent in Oklahoma State. The Cowboys were hit hard by graduation last season, but under head coach Mike Gundy they have shown great consistency -- winning 41 games over the past four seasons.
"They're a very well-coached team that knows how to play hard, can create a lot of points on offense," Fisher said. "Plays very physical on defense, creates a lot of pressures and different looks, from eight-man drops to coming to pressure the quarterback. Just a variety of things. …
"I think they've established themselves. They've been in the Cotton Bowl, I think they were third a few years ago and had a legitimate argument to be in the national championship game. They've established themselves."