Updated:TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) (AP)
Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher turned his attention Tuesday to finding leading roles for players who were part of the supporting cast on last year's Atlantic Coast Conference championship squad.
The Seminoles lost 11 players in the NFL draft and have to replace first-round draft pick EJ Manuel at quarterback, NCAA record-setting placekicker Dustin Hopkins and a trio of defensive ends.
Fisher, however, believes he has the talent on hand to offset the personnel losses from a team that finished 12-2 and ranked No. 10 in the final poll.
"We have a chance to be a very good football team," Fisher said shortly before the Seminoles began preparation for their Sept. 2 opener against Pittsburgh. "I'm excited about this team to see some of these young guys take new roles. I like the experience we've got coming back."
Fisher is particularly high on a linebacking corps led by seniors Telvin Smith and Christian Jones and a seasoned secondary anchored by senior Lamarcus Joyner.
"A very good group talent wise," Fisher said.
Although redshirt freshman Jameis James stole the show in the spring game, Fisher claimed the quarterback position remains a tossup between James and redshirt sophomore Jacob Coker, whose scant five pass attempts represent the lone game experience among all of the quarterback hopefuls.
Fisher wouldn't rule out using two quarterbacks during the season.
"If it helps us win," he said. "All decisions are based on winning."
Fisher also said 6-foot-6, 280-pound Giorgio Newberry was moving from defensive end to tight end to shore up a position where Nick O'Leary was the lone experienced player returning healthy.
The depth on the offensive line was also dinged with the loss of Trey Pettis (transfer) and Dan Foose (injury).
"You can't predict injury," Fisher said. "But you've got to have an idea when those things happen.
And for the first time, the Seminoles head into a season without fear of losing practice time to the brutal August heat or late summer thunderstorms with a new indoor practice facility that Fisher had pushed for since arriving as Bobby Bowden's offensive coordinator in early 2007.
It's Fisher's program now -- lock, stock and indoor facility -- and he was anxious to get the players on the field for the first time Tuesday.
"Everybody right now has unproven things on their team," Fisher said. "We're experimenting too."