August 8, 2013

Insider Report: WR Haulstead ruled ineligible

Jimbo Fisher is tired of hearing about when FSU is going to have another 1,000-yard running back, but the question came up yet again at the start of fall camp.

"I'd like to have one," Fisher said. "It'd mean you guys would have to come up with a new question."

Fisher's hope may come true this season. FSU has a wealth of riches at tailback with James Wilder, Jr., Devonta Freeman and Mario Pender. A new quarterback at the helm will likely mean increased running opportunities for those players. The stars seem to line up well for Florida State to have its first 1,000-yard rusher since Warrick Dunn.

Regardless of statistics, Fisher did imply that he wanted to be careful with carries for all of the running backs.

"You have one 1,000-yard rusher, would you rather have two 900-yard rushers?" Fisher said. "I'm not against it, I promise you. But why do you think you see running backs go out so early in the draft? Because they've only got so many hits in their body. … A lot of guys who get 1,000 yards don't have a backup."

That won't be a problem for FSU. Between Pender and freshman Ryan Green, the Seminoles have depth behind the two main backs. And while Pender missed the first day of camp while waiting on a summer course grade to post, he was back on the field Wednesday.

Wilder may be the most likely candidate to crack the barrier. The junior was named preseason All-ACC and Fisher has repeatedly raved about Wilder's strength and speed, saying that the 227-lb back was running a 40-yard dash in the high 4.4 second-range.

"I can't tell if James works out or not," Fisher said. "He looks the same all the time and every time he's on the field he's going 1,000 miles an hour."

Fisher added that Freeman, Pender and Green have also all added weight and strength.

Not perfect

Jeremy Pruitt's new defense has players excited for the upcoming season, but it's still a work in progress.

"Obviously it's not perfect," senior linebacker Christian Jones said. "But we've got guys flying around, having fun, competing."

The changes were apparent already in FSU's initial few practices: the secondary rotated so many players in and out it was difficult to tell who was on the first team and who was on the second. Fisher praised the "multiplicity" of the new defense and discounted the depth chart for the defensive backfield.

"You've got to be able to move a guy," Fisher said. "If this guy is a slot, then he plays nickel. Matchups are key, that's getting more so in today's game.

Jones, who is moving to middle linebacker this season, did admit that the new scheme required players to learn additional roles and be able to shift in and out of several positions. But he added that the work FSU did with the defense in the spring should ease the transition.

"All of this is just trying to re-memorize what we did in the spring," Jones said. "We're just linebackers. Wherever they put us, we'll be able to play."

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