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FSU coach Jimbo Fisher says his football team lacks leadership

FSU coach Jimbo Fisher says his team needs leadership.

Soon would be good.

After the Seminoles first scrimmage of the spring, Fisher talked about the lack of leadership from his squad.

“We need more of it,” Fisher said. “I’m not mad about it. It’s just kind of the personality of this team. It’s needs more of that. We’ve got a bunch of good guys. They’re good kids. They really are. They need to be more exuberant and dominant personalities and stuff.”

The Seminoles started last season poorly, and part of the reason was attributed to a lack of leadership.

“You can’t make guys do that,” Fisher said. “They either have it in their personality or they don’t. That’s the personality of the team. Some guys like doing it and some guys don’t. It’s just not a lot of those vocal, vocal guys on this team. There’s a lot of good players. They play hard. They play good. You don’t need a lot. You only need one or two.”

FSU running back Jacques Patrick a bridge between star runners

He stands between the Best One and the Next One. For FSU running back Jacques Patrick, it’s a special place to be.

A year ago, he supported record-setting Dalvin Cook for the Seminoles. Now, he is grooming Cook’s eventual replacement in Cam Akers.

For now, however, the job belongs to Patrick.

“It gets you excited and gives you a rush, knowing a guy like that is going to be a first-round pick in the [NFL] draft, and he’s blocking for me,” Patrick told the Orlando Sentinel.

“It was a great feeling, and we’re trying to do the same thing out here. I know these guys look up to me, so I’m doing it for the group.”

Patrick, a former five-star recruit from Orlando, headlines FSU’s deep running back group that features sophomore Amir Rasul, freshman Cam Akers and seldom-used backups Ryan Green and Johnathan Vickers.

“All of them do a lot of things,” Fisher said of his running backs. “It’s not like you have to put one guy to do this, and one guy to do that. They have a very wide range skill sets.”

Patrick has rushed for 664 yards and 10 touchdowns in his career.

“It’s pretty cool because we have a lot of things we can relate to coming out of high school,” Patrick said of Akers. “Cam has been improving, and you can see the improvements each and every day. I’m happy for him. That guy is going to be really good.”

FSU defensive end Josh Sweat has learned his lesson for Seminoles

For Josh Sweat, there wasn’t enough sweat.

Sweat, the defensive end of the FSU Seminoles, looks back at a year ago and remembers being called out for loafing in a loss to North Carolina. He seems determined that it will not happen again.

“Everyone knows I had that one bad game,” Sweat told the Tallahassee Democrat. “I’m not going to let it bother me anymore. I felt like my last six games after that, I definitely turned it around. I’m not worried about that anymore, and nobody is going to get me down from that.”

Sweat has turned himself into an example for his teammates.

“I came out here the first day (of spring practice) and started to run to the ball,” Sweat said. “Everyone just followed.”

Last season finished like that for Sweat. His last three games included 4 1/2 sacks.

“We lost by a little bit,” Sweat said, “and sometimes a lot. But when it really mattered, we didn’t pull through. Some of the bad habits started in practice. It’s easier to say it, but we need to work on those things.”

The work will have to come quickly. FSU opens its season against Alabama. Sweat will be counted upon to help replace Demarcus Walker, who was second in the nation with 16.5 sacks.


FSU Safety Derwin James comes back strong from knee injury

For so long, he watched. He waited.

FSU safety Derwin James had become a memory. The former star for the Seminoles, perhaps one of their best defensive players, waited for 176 days – and 11 games – as his left knee healed.

Now, James is back.

And, yeah, it was worth the wait.

“I remember the long days, it was like an everyday thing, where they would tell me, ’no no no, just take it day by day’” James told the Tallahassee Democrat.

“I’m happy I’m back out here now, though.”

Going into last season, James was expected to be the best player on the FSU defense. But he tore ligaments against Georgia Southern and was unable to come back.

Throughout his journey, James said he has learned something.

“Don’t take nothing for granted,” he said.

“Football is a gift. I learned a lot just by watching it. I just take everything even more serious now. Working harder.”

He has also picked up a new role for the Seminoles, lining up to return punts on special teams.

“We put the ball with the guys that have the best hands, and the best ability to run with it,” Jimbo Fisher said. “There are not many positions he can’t play.”

Said James: “I like the ball in my hands. I joke with Coach [Fisher] all the time like ‘Coach, I can do something for the team that could help us.’ Coach is just giving me the opportunity.”

ESPN’s football bracket has Alabama beating FSU for championship

Consider it a wee bit of fun here in March.

The folks at ESPN, not content to just fill out their basketball brackets, decided to also fill out a 64-team college football bracket for the fall.

Of course, the college football playoffs are only four teams deep, so there is quite a bit of whimsy in the brackets. But they’re interesting to discuss.

For instance, ESPN had Nick Saban’s Alabama team beating Jimbo Fisher’s FSU squad, 35-31, for the national title. It would be a rematch of the season’s opening game when the schools meet in Atlanta. The two got to the title game when FSU beat USC and Alabama beat Michigan.

The University of Miami was strong in the Midwest Regional, beating BYU and Duke. The Hurricanes lost to Ohio State in the regional semifinals.

FSU beat Minnesota, Northwestern, Georgia and Washington State.

In the South Regional, Florida beat Utah and TCU before falling to Alabama in the regional semifinals.

In the West, South Florida beat Louisville before falling to Michigan in the second round.

Quick observation: There are too many teams and too many rounds. But for the sake of conversation, ESPN could do a lot worse.

Deondre Francois now in charge of the FSU football team

In Year Two, the kid has grown up. This FSU offense now belongs to quarterback Deondre Francois.

Now, we see how far he can carry it.

Francois, who starred as a redshirt freshman a year ago, is now the Seminoles’ undisputed leader. With a schedule that includes Alabama, Clemson, Miami and Florida, the expectations are on his shoulder.

“He’s been out there when the scoreboard mattered,” coach Jimbo Fisher told the Orlando Sentinel. “He’s been in big games, almost four or five game-winning drives last year if we could pull a couple of them off.

“He put us in good position to win a lot of games, and he did it under big time situations, so that always gives you confidence.”

As a freshman, Francois proved he had enough of an arm. He also showed he could stand up the physical abuse that comes with the job.

I’m not out here competing with anybody else, but I’m competing with myself internally,” Francois said. “If I’m tired, I have to keep going. The next ball has to be perfect. I can’t have any mistakes.

“I’m just competing to make myself better this spring than last spring.”

Francois led a comeback win against Ole Miss, then led scoring drives to beat Miami, N.C. State and Michigan.

Still, last year, FSU’s leader was running back Dalvin Cook. That’s no more.

“I’m going to miss Dalvin, but he reached his peak and had to go,” Francois said. “A lot of the young guys are learning fast, so it’s going to be fun.”

FSU’s Derrick Nnadi assumes leadership role for Seminole team

It’s a transitory thing, leadership.

One day, you’re looking around the huddle, and other guys are pointing out the direction.

The next day, the rest of the huddle is looking at you, and it’s up to you to plot the course.

In college football, where the faces change so often, it’s especially true.

And so has learned Derrick Nnadi, leader of the FSU Seminoles.

“I’ve probably said this a lot before,” Nnadi told the Orlando Sentinel. “I’m not one who’s like ‘I’m going to be a leader.’ I just want to make sure what I’m doing is right.

“But as I’m getting older, being a senior, I have to take certain types of responsibilities. I have to do it. If it’s for the good of the team, I’m not going to deny it.”

Oh, the Seminoles need it. From last year’s team, they lost Dalvin Cook and DeMarcus Walker.

Last year, FSU lost two of its first five games, as Nnadi was hampered by a bad ankle. But the Seminoles won seven of their last eight games.

“(I’m) just trying to give them some sort of motivation in drills even though I don’t talk that much,” Nnadi said. “Every now and them, I’ll be like ‘come on bro, you’ve got this. Come on, just keep it moving.’ Or just leading by example.

“I just want to prove I’ve gotten better year in and year out, and overall just be an elite tackle,” Nnadi said.

Colors represent effort level for the Florida State football team

The colors say it all at the FSU spring practice these days.

It isn’t always good, either.

FSU coach Jimbo Fisher has assigned three different colored jerseys for his players during spring drills. The colors signify the type of effort given by the players.

Those in garnet practice jerseys, the best level, are presented to Seminole players who give “championship effort.”

White jerseys? Those are for those who give average effort.

And the orange jerseys? Those are reserved for players who aren’t given any effort at all. “Ridiculous,” Fisher says of the orange.

Why Orange? Rivals Florida, Miami and Clemson all wear orange.

“That’s not always a good color around here, is it?” Fisher told the Orlando Sentinel.

By the end of the winter, “85 to 90 percent” of the players were wearing garnet jerseys, and no players were wearing the orange ones.

“It means we’ve got a long way to go,” Fisher said with a smile.

The jerseys were a daily routine for the team.

“The fine line between winning and losing is always those inches,” Fisher said. “That’s what we’ve tried to really emphasize. We rated them every day.”

The jersey decision was one made by the coaches, Fisher said. It’s something he said he’s done in past offseason camps.

“Back in the day, they told you when you were wrong, showed you when you were wrong. That’s what we’re trying to do,” Fisher said. “Educate the kids on the effort, the discipline, the toughness, all the things with what you want to do and how we want it done. Define it.”

“I’ve done it in the past,” he said. “I’ve done it with different teams I’ve been on and different schools I’ve been at and it was very helpful.

“Guys are here for business. They understand they can be friends, on the field they want (to know) who you can count on. I want to show the guys on the field who you can count on every play. I thought (the jerseys) were very helpful and educational.”

The message of accountability is spreading throughout the team, Fisher said. Even returning starters are on notice.

“Sometimes the worst springs I’ve been a part of in the past, we had a lot of guys back,” Fisher said. “They all think they can take it off. We’re going to make sure we get better in every aspect.”

FSU has tough schedule to contend with in 2017 football season

If FSU is indeed going back to the college football playoffs this season, it will have to walk across broken glass to get there.

According to Bleacherreport.com, the Seminoles will play the fifth-toughest schedule in America in 2017, including an opening game against Alabama in Atlanta.

Jimbo Fisher’s Seminoles also play Miami, at Clemson, Florida and Louisville (with Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson.) Even with 16 returning starters and quarterback Deondre Francois, that’s tough duty.

Florida isn’t far behind. The Gators play the 7th-hardest schedule, starting with a neutral site game against Michigan. They play Tennessee, LSU and Georgia.

According the report, Michigan will play the toughest schedule in America, followed by Alabama, Ohio State and Rutgers.

How fast can FSU’s fabulous freshmen contribute to running game?

The question isn’t how good they are going to be someday. Heck, “someday” seems assured.

For FSU, the question is how good are their talented freshman running backs going to be this year. Not that there is any hurry, right?

Well, there kind of is. The Seminoles, and coach Jimbo Fisher,  open their season next year against Alabama (Sept. 2 in Atlanta), and the No. 1 priority is to replace dazzling running back Dalvin Cook. Oh, the Seminoles have some talented backs on campus, but are will they be ready right out of the gate?

Oh, FSU has incumbent backs: Junior Jacques Patrick, senior Ryan Green and sophomore Amir Rasul. Patrick has been in the FSU rotation (he had 350 yards rushing a year ago). But neither Green nor Rasul has been seen a lot.

Besides, the world seems to be all atwitter over the fabulous freshmen: Cam Akers, Khalan Laborn and Zachandre White, who come from Mississippi, Virginia and Florida. Can those three make an impact before the Seminoles face the Tide?

With Patrick getting the tough yards, the call seems to be for a home run hitter. Start with Akers, who rushed for 2,108 yards and a staggering 34 touchdowns. He’s shifting from quarterback, where he played in high school, but he figures to be an immediate contender for playing time.

Don’t count out Laborn, either. He rushed for 1,485 yards and 19 touchdowns, and he’s known for having an amazing burst.

Then there is White, who had 779 yards and six scores. He’s known as a tackle breaker, which means he would have to get his snaps from Patrick.

Together, they seem to have FSU poised for a very good running game. The only question is how long it will take.

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