Old-school physicality. It has been a theme for Jimbo Fisher and his style of team practice this spring.
Coach Fisher has demanded that just about all of his players hit and participate as though a spring afternoon was actually a Saturday in the fall. Now that his list includes "live" quarterbacks, the intensity has only grown.
Senior EJ Manuel spoke Tuesday afternoon about shedding the meaning behind his green no-contact jersey, saying that he liked the idea overall. He also revealed that Monday wasn't his first time facing this particular hurdle.
"It was good, I didn't touch the ground," Manuel said of the second scrimmage. "Went through my checks, got the ball out of my hands and made completions. I actually was live in last Saturday's practice too, so it wasn't that bad. Personally I like it, I feel like it's real football."
Manuel went on to say that playing with rules prohibiting quarterback contact can be negative for both the offense and the defense. Without the quarterback fearing the punishment of a blindside hit, or offensive and defensive linemen playing at full throttle, Manuel believes bad habits can be formed.
And while senior defensive end Brandon Jenkins agreed that the level of competition is better with everyone live, he suggested that there still is a line to be drawn in terms of what kind of hitting is acceptable for Seminole quarterbacks.
"It was weird," Jenkins said of live play. "That was our quarterback, we didn't want to hurt him or anything. We just tried to wrap him up, just don't take him to the ground."
Although live work naturally raises the question about preserving the quarterback, coach Fisher explained Monday that he wasn't worried about any danger in that area. Instead, the move was designed specifically to ratchet up the battle in the trenches.
"Let (the defensive line) see if they can sack them, see if they can make plays," Fisher added. "I get tired of hearing it's a sack. Weren't many (quarterbacks) on the ground, but they made some plays and didn't make some plays."
Whether or not live quarterback play actually means wrap-ups, light hitting, or game-speed contact, Jenkins relayed that he and the offensive linemen he faced played with a more authentic sense of desperation throughout Tuesday's scrimmage.
"It makes you more pumped, really," said Jenkins. "It makes the o-line pumped too... when you make the quarterback live, it makes us more competitive."
As for the results, Manuel agreed with coach Fisher that there weren't many instances in which scrambling even came into play.
"The thing is I haven't even had to be elusive yet," Manuel said. "I've been able to sit back there. Those guys are doing a good job giving me enough time and guys are getting open."
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