Noles usher in new season, new look.
FSU football took to the field on Saturday for the first time since its National Championship win in January. The ‘Noles played their annual Garnet and Gold Spring Game, giving fans a glimpse of the 2014 team.
Not surprisingly, Jameis Winston drew most of the cheers from the crowd that filled about half of Doak Campbell stadium. Winston played the entire game for the Garnet team and was busy, throwing for 56 passes during the game. Though he only completed 27 of those attempts, FSU’s star quarterback racked up 396 passing yards and 2 touchdowns.
He overcame a slow start, perhaps shaking off some of the rust that comes with the off-season. The Garnet team’s first three drives resulted in turnovers, including an interception. But Seminole fans need not worry about their quarterback; Winston looked sharp as ever, moving wonderfully in the pocket and creating space where there seemed to be none.
“I want to play all the ball I can right now,” Winston told reporters when asked about how he’s juggling both football and baseball. He also lamented that this was the first and last football game he’d play in the spring.
Sean MacGuire, FSU’s second string quarterback, also had a solid showing, opening the game’s scoring with a perfect 27-yard touchdown pass to Rashad Golston. He went 13 for 19 for 162 yards, one touchdown, and one interception.
The defense also had a good day, holding Winston in check early. Led by returning defensive backs Jalen Ramsey, Tyler Hunter and PJ Williams, it produced several turnovers, including a pick-six by Ro’Derrick Hoskins.
Head Coach Jimbo Fisher seemed pleased with his team’s first exhibition of the year. “I thought we had a very competitive scrimmage. I liked the way both sides went at it,” he said in a post-game news conference. He named dozens of individual players whom he believed showed solid progress, and seemed excited for the fall season to arrive.
“We’re nowhere close to where we need to be, but I can picture what we’re going to be and where we’re going to be. I really can,” said Fisher.
Fisher also noted the number of injuries amongst his players. Several players were held out of the Spring Game, largely due to injury. None of FSU’s scholarship running backs played, which explains the pass heavy game that ensued. Injuries aside, the Seminoles will have a sturdy crew of running backs, with Karlos Williams at first string. Incoming freshman Dalvin Cook is expected to turn some heads as well.
Nick O’Leary was absent on Saturday, as he recovers from a motorcycle crash he suffered in early April. He’ll be out for the rest of spring football, but should be just fine for the upcoming season. O’Leary’s role will increase this year following the loss of wide receivers Kenny Shaw and Kelvin Benjamin. His experience will be relied upon, as Seminole fans are count on him to get better and hopefully stay away from motorcycles from now on.
Rashad Greene and Christian Green are the only two returning receivers with significant playing experience for the ‘Noles. Though Kermit Whitfield showed up in a big way in the National Championship game with his incredible kick return for a touchdown, he lacks playing time at the receiver position.
However, FSU fans have yet to see recruits Ermon Lane and Travis Rudolph in action. Those two should bolster the receiving core and ensure Winston has plenty of more than capable targets.
The Spring Game didn’t just reveal this year’s new team, but also a couple of brand new looks. As many fans already know (and possibly also lament) the new logo was released a few weeks ago. It has already been painted onto the field, and can be seen all around Doak Campbell stadium.
The new jerseys were also on display, as Devonta Freeman and Christian Jones modeled them just after halftime. The new design features patchwork on the shoulders and collar consisting of the Seminole symbols for Arrow, Man on Horse and Fire. The helmets now feature the spears crossing in the back, representative of the crossed bars of the state flag. A photo gallery of the jerseys can be seen on TomahawkNation’s website.
The players though were hardly concerned with these new appearances. They’re all eager to play football and ready to work hard in preparation for the 2014 season. New look, new logo, same Seminole spirit. The ‘Noles are back to work and looking for another National Championship.
by MATT SIMONS / staff writer