With five little words, coach Jimbo Fisher marked the official beginning of Florida State’s 2014 football season.
“Here we go again, huh?” Fisher said to a crowded room of reporters at his first preseason news conference.
A few hours later, the reigning national champion Seminoles donned shiny new helmets and jerseys as they made their way to the practice fields for the first session of fall camp.
Fisher, entering his fifth season at the helm, said he believes his team is in a good spot as the season draws closer. The No. 1 Seminoles open against Oklahoma State on Aug. 30 in Arlington, Texas.
“I’m excited for the season to start,” Fisher said. “Very excited for our team and seeing this team emerge, develop its own personality and identity. I’ve liked what’s gone on so far as far as through our spring and summer and very happy not just with the results but the attitude and the work ethic.”
The new duds, which are a part of FSU athletics’ rebranding, weren’t the only new things on Monday.
Despite returning 15 starters from last year’s title team, the Seminoles will lean heavily on some new faces this fall.
FSU most notably has questions to answer at receiver, defensive line and linebacker. The Seminoles are looking for replacements for stalwarts such as Kelvin Benjamin, Timmy Jernigan and Telvin Smith.
“I love our team, but we still have warts like everybody else,” Fisher said. “We have to develop depth at certain places. We have to develop starters at certain places. We have to establish what our personality is as far as offense and defense, [learn] who we can truly count on, who we can hang our hat on, who is going to be there in key moments.”
FSU at least knows who it can count on under center. Jameis Winston is back for an encore, and he will line up behind four returners from last year’s offensive line.
And, despite playing under a new coordinator, the defense stands to enjoy its second year in a scheme that’s unchanged from the one it ran last year under Jeremy Pruitt.
New coordinator Charles Kelly served as FSU’s linebackers coach in 2013 and earned a promotion following Pruitt’s departure to Georgia.
“It’s getting back in the groove of things, but we’re a lot further along with all the returning starters and everything,” junior linebacker Terrance Smith. “We’re pretty good right now — for the first day.”
Monday marked the first of an NCAA-mandated five-day acclimation period, which meant the team ran through drills in helmets, jerseys and shorts, but no pads.
That can sometimes make it tough for players to stand out, and Fisher admitted to seeing some of the rust typical of a first practice.
But he also noted some positives and said he believes the team will sharpen up as camp progresses.
“You can tell we haven’t been out there in a while, but a lot of good things, too,” Fisher said. “Good effort. Execution will get better as we go on both sides of the ball. But guys flashed at me on both sides.”
THIS AND THAT
Sophomore receiver Jesus Wilson is still suspended despite pleading no-contest to two misdemeanors last week. Wilson, a former standout out Miami Columbus High, was automatically suspended after being arrested and charged with a felony related to a stolen scooter. The charge was later reduced to misdemeanor petty theft and misdemeanor criminal mischief. Fisher said that Wilson would be able to return this season but wouldn’t say if the suspension would be lifted in time for the season opener. … Fisher named only DT Nile Lawrence-Stample (shoulder) and LB Ukeme Eligwe (foot) as limited participants. He said the rest of the team is healthy.