As I walked off the field at Doak Campbell Stadium on Saturday afternoon, I had two initial thoughts following Florida State's final preseason scrimmage before hosting Miami on Sept. 7.
1) FSU's coaches should send thank-you letters to the Atlantic Coast Conference and ESPN for giving them a couple of extra days this week to prepare for the Labor Day evening showdown with the Hurricanes, or
2) The Seminoles' coaching staff is working overtime at building a huge smoke screen in preparing for Miami.
Here are some of the coaches' comments after Saturday's scrimmage, which focused primarily on clock management and other in-game situations involving personnel changes:
"I didn’t see anything real exciting happen," said head coach Bobby Bowden. "If I was criticizing, my first criticism would be too many yellow flags – penalty after penalty after penalty."
"I don’t know if there was anything I liked,'' offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher said. "It was just a very average day, very ho-hum. We’ll be ready when the time comes, I promise.''
Defensively, the Seminoles remained without defensive tackles Kendrick Stewart, Budd Thacker and Justin Mincey due to injuries. While Bowden said he hopes to have Stewart and Thacker back at practice this week, defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews sounded as if he preferred Peter Boulware, Marvin Jones and Deion Sanders back in garnet and gold.
"The thing that you notice right off the bat is we weren’t ready to play a football game,'' Andrews said. "We couldn’t have beaten Miami today defensively. It would have all been on the offense. I guess they had something more important to do today than to go out there and simulate whipping Miami."
The good news: freshman kicker Dustin Hopkins, competing with James Esco to be the starting place-kicker, made all four of his field goals. He was good from 44, 43, 34 and 26 yards.
Who'd thunk it? The kicker actually getting rave reviews Miami week.
Here are more quotes:
“Mainly, to try and get these doggone mistakes corrected and try and execute better. [Next week] will be preparing more for what Miami does. The whole key now is taking the next week and correcting these yellow flags. If we don’t do that, we’re going to have a hard time winning." -- Bowden on the primary focus starting Monday.
"[This team] needs more time. We need to clean up little things and make their minds up how to do it." -- Fisher on the overall mentality entering Miami week."The most disappointing thing to me is that we didn’t knock anybody down. There weren’t many people put on their back. That meant we were hitting anybody. That’s not a good sign for a defense. Somehow or another, we’ve got to regain the enthusiasm that you are supposed to have on defense. We act like it’s a chore instead of a fun opportunity." -- Andrews on his unit's sub-par effort.
So what do I make of all this? The coaches obviously have some concerns they will address this week in practice, highlighted by the mental mistakes leading to the large number of penalties Saturday. And no doubt, Andrews is not happy with his unit's overall progress, but then again, he rarely is. That's his nature and his way of keeping constant pressure on his players, one reason he is considered one of the finest defensive coordinators in the modern era.
As for Fisher, he has been mostly positive this preseason when talking about his unit's play, but with the game quickly approaching, he is entering game mode (i.e. saying little of significance and playing possum to keep Miami guessing).
What I know for certain: Players, coaches, fans and us media types are ready for the season to begin.