We had another open practice on Thursday and I thought I'd feed you fine folks some more info from today's practice. Like my disclaimer on Wednesday, this is ONE practice, please keep that in mind. Just trying to be your eyes and ears out there.
The QB's were in the same 1/3's together, 2/4's together. QBs were in same order: Trickett 1, Coker 2, Winston 3, Maguire 4.
-- Clint Trickett had another nice day throwing the football, probably better than he did on Thursday. As with every quarterback on both days, Fisher corrected them on missed reads and checks, but Trickett had nice command once again. He wasn't as accurate near the tail end of practice but all four QB's had their ups and downs as you'd expect.
-- Jameis Winston was overthrowing receivers quite a bit early on, but he really settled in during 7 on 7 and 11 on 11 work, making some impressive throws. His most memorable play on Thursday was a naked bootleg in 11 on 11 where he had wide open field and turned on the jets. In two days, it was the first glimpse of that second gear once he was in the defensive backfield and the speed is impressive. He had another nice run on the next play when he kept it on a zone read and shook a linebacker to create open space. Just like Trickett, Winston showed touch on a couple of flag routes to both sidelines, putting the ball on the receiver on the correct shoulder. Saw Winston run the option as well, and he looks like a natural.
-- Nothing much new with Jacob Coker today. Made solid throws and it's obvious that foot isn't 100 percent. Staying in the pocket, even walking gingerly after some steps. Doesn't seem to have lost any zip on the ball ? again, I think he's got the biggest arm of the group ? but you have to wonder if it's affecting accuracy. Any accuracy issues weren't noticeable, however. Coker did run on a zone read play late in practice but didn't get out of the pocket before being touched and stopping.
-- Sean Maguire showed that strong arm, but he also surprised with a little bit of elusiveness. Nothing like Coker or Winston, but he has enough quicks to buy time in the pocket or scramble for a gain. Not a statue back there.
-- Boy, Mario Pender can move. Today he showed his ability catching the football out of the flats, corralling it in stride and was deadly with his first cut against a safety or outside LB. On three separate plays I saw I heard the players on the sideline react to Pender's ability to shift in traffic and break free. Obviously the defenders are only wrapping up, an obvious advantage to the offense, but that doesn't take anything away from Pender's speed. All three running backs - Pender, Devonta Freeman and James Wilder Jr. - look stellar so far.
-- Can't say enough about what I've seen from Greg Dent in two days. He looked polished in his routes and he's been as good as anyone adjusting to the ball in the air. He made another handful of plays on Thursday with a defensive back draped over him with strong coverage, but adjusted well to nab it. Dent made a heck of a catch over Keelin Smith for a touchdown, which may have been the best catch of the day. The opponent for catch of the day would be an acrobatic Rashad Greene grab over PJ Williams right against the sideline.
-- Really starting to expect a big contribution from Kevin Haplea this fall. He looks really steady and reliable. He blocks well. He runs strong routes. He didn't drop a pass. He can do everything this offense asks of a TE. Coaches were praising him throughout the day on Thursday. He may not have the athleticism/speed ceiling of Nick O'Leary, but he looks the part of a capable starter and an asset in two tight end sets. Keep in mind, Haplea didn't have a full year of preparation coming into last season after the transfer from Penn State so we're probably looking at a different player than we saw eight months ago.
-- O'Leary also had a great day and flashed his ability to separate from linebackers. He made some great plays in 11 on 11 work by the goalline.
-- Really enjoyed watching Kelvin Benjamin block Lamarcus Joyner during a wideout/DB run blocking drill. The size disparity is huge and Benjamin makes habit of mauling the smaller guys, but Joyner is relentless. Good battle to watch.
WR vs. DB 1 on 1's Highlights:
-- PJ Williams showed something against Rashad Greene. Greene put a great move on the young Williams on his break, Williams stumbled, but he recovered to break up the pass. Williams got beat some on Thursday, but that was a flash of the promise the coaching staff has seen from him. Williams held tough against Greene on the second attempt. He also made a great play in 7-on-7 work, almost intercepting a pass. Remember, Williams is getting plenty of reps this spring with all of the CB injuries.
-- Kelvin Benjamin really sold a hitch route and fooled Joyner for an easy catch. Joyner is a bulldog out there, but it goes back to Wednesday where I said it seems Joyner is knocking off CB rust and still nailing down the finer points of coverage. For my money, Joyner is the best pure football player FSU has, so I see no problem.
The one drill that's worth the price of admission
-- The 1-on-1 point of attack hitting drills pitting OL vs. DL, RB/TE vs. LBs and DBs vs. WRs. Because the RB/TE vs. LB's group was so lively on Wednesday while I was checking out a little of everything, I spent all of my time watching segment today. They didn't disappoint. Lots of energy and excitement among the players for this, which makes it so fun to watch.
-- The tight ends looked good as Nick O'Leary had the edge both times against Terrance Smith. Kevin Haplea was strong against Nigel Terrell both times as well. Markuss Eligwe seemed to get the best of Christo Kourtzidis.
-- Telvin Smith, who's very tough in this drill, pushed Devonta Freeman back both times, the first time pushing him about 20 yards out of the circle of players and coaches. (It was Telvin just messing with Devonta after about the first five yards). Chad Abram went against Reggie Northrup and that was a solid battle.
-- The best matchup pound for pound was James Wilder Jr. against Christian Jones. They split their two meetings. There was plenty of barking after each play, too. Not anger but they weren't joking around either. Just some competitive fire from both guys. At the end of the drill TE's coach Tim Brewster asked LB's coach Charles Kelly "who's the best you got?" and Kelly gave him Christian Jones. Brewster wanted O'Leary in there against the best and they squared off. It was a stalemate but you can see how strong both guys are.
-- Mario Edwards Jr. made some nice plays in 11 on 11, even getting audible praise from DE's coach Sal Sunseri for his effort (which doesn't seem very easy to do). Fisher called it MEJ's best day of spring so far.
-- Jacobbi McDaniel continued to get some first team reps at defensive tackle. Hard to assess assignment football in the trenches, but he's obviously impressing Jeremy Pruitt and Odell Haggins enough to get on the field considering there are solid options out there ? it's not like McDaniel is the last line of defense. Says something about his effort to get back from that broken leg.
-- Still seeing Joyner at the slot corner in nickel situations and Joyner/Karlos Williams as the inside guys in dime situations. Even saw some three down lineman looks (2 DT, 1 DE) looks in those dime packages.
-- Think the defenders are still working their way through the new defensive scheme, which isn't unexpected given this is the first five days they've been through it. Lot of teaching moments from Pruitt and Co.
-- Saw some 3-4 style looks out there, more so Thursday than Wednesday. I asked Fisher about standing up Giorgio Newberry and Chris Casher in different looks with just three down lineman ? he said it's a little bit of what they did with Jenkins and Werner last season. It's still technically a 4-3 set, just offers a different look.
-- Roberto Aguayo has a big-time leg. We wrote about it early today, but I saw him boot one from 50 yards that cleared near the top of the uprights with probably 20 yards to spare. Fisher has talked about hearing that pure 'thump' from a solid kick and you hear it with this guy. New kickers are always an unknown, but FSU will not be losing any range with the new boot in place.