Jimbo Fisher started the day upbeat and optimistic about spring practice for a team that returns 16 starters.
But that faded quickly.
Fisher’s mood turned not long after stepping onto the field for the first of the Seminoles’ 15 practices. He was as angry as he has been in his six years as a head coach, citing a lack of energy and enthusiasm from his team.
Not a good way to start the spring.
“It was awful,” Fisher said. “No enthusiasm. No life. No nothing. Just going through the motions thinking we’re going to win. (This is) why we lost three games last year.
“I’ve never had a day on this field - period - like that in six years.”
Defensive end DeMarcus Walker, a rising senior and leader of the defense, was angry the sloppy start came on the first day under his watch.
“It’s my fault as a leader this happened,” he said. “It won’t happen again.”
Dalvin Cook, the Heisman Trophy candidate running back, said the practice was not up to the standard he’s been used to his first two seasons.
“We return basically the whole team,” Cook said. “Everybody knows what to expect and knows what to do and how things operate around here.”
The disappointment came hours after Fisher warned that Florida State has “a pretty good combine team,” but has to learn to “play the game of football.”
“We got a lot of guys back but are they willing to take that next step, to be a championship-level football team and play with great consistency and toughness and effort on every play?” Fisher said before his team took the field.
“Just because you got good players back doesn’t make you successful.”
Fisher, whose team was 10-3 last season but ended with a disappointing 38-24 loss to Houston in the Peach Bowl, was his usual energetic self during stretching, encouraging his players, laughing, slapping fives and sprinting onto the field for the first set of drills of the new season.
He already had identified his buzzwords for the spring: domination, toughness and consistency.
“I think you had a lot of young players in key positions that played well, but knowing you’re going to play well going in is from a confidence level from doing it before,” he said. “I think there’s a little bit of a difference there and that’s what we’re trying to get across. Just because you’re still a young football team, you’re good enough and trust yourself enough that we can be dominant.”
All that changed a few hours later.
“The culture of dominance?” Fisher said when asked about his previous comments. “That was about as far opposite of that as I have ever seen. I’m serious. There wasn’t no culture of dominance out there. You’ve got to want to do that. They didn’t want to be out there.
“These young guys, this younger generation. These guys need to find out if they like football. They need to figure it out. A lot of guys want to play it, but they don’t like it.”
Leonard, Casher switch positions: Rick Leonard, a 6-foot-7, 287-pound rising junior, is switching lines, from defensive end to offensive tackle. “He can be a pretty good defensive player but there’s a chance I think he can be a really, really, really good offensive lineman,” Fisher said. Leonard was the second team right offensive tackle Wednesday.
Chris Casher, a rising fifth-year senior who has been one of the biggest disappointments in recent years, is moving from defensive end to tight end. Fisher calls the 6-4, 249-pound Casher a natural route runner. “He was a very, very good receiver out of high school,” Fisher said. “He is a really good basketball player. He has a lot of natural offensive skill.”
Bryant out: Defensive tackle Keith Bryant of Delray Beach will miss the spring after breaking a bone in his foot during a mat drill. Fisher praised Bryant, who was having his best offseason since arriving in 2013. “I was anxious to see Keith,” Fisher said. “He had outstanding mat drills and I was really looking forward to seeing him play.”