After his first practice as Florida State's new defensive ends coach, Sal Sunser didn't want his new players to be comfortable.
In fact he wanted them to even be a bit rattled as the Seminoles opened up spring practice on Wednesday.
"I think they're a little in shell shock right now," Sunseri said as he spoke to the media for the first time since being hired in December. "They're probably in (the locker room) saying 'Boy that man's crazy.' But I want them to think that, because every time I go out on the field its like as if I was coaching my own son. I'm going to demand him to do it right."
Sunseri, who coached a number of terrific pass-rushing linebackers at Alabama and was the Carolina Panther's defensive line coach for six seasons, said he expects his players to relentlessly get after the quarterback for four quarters.
He said players tend to be less relentless when they become tired, so he coaches his defensive ends to go full speed on every rep in practice.
"When fatigue sets in we all turn into cowards," Sunseri said. "So what I try to do is I try to work them as fast as I can and as hard as I can, and get them to play with the best technique because that's what's going to happen in the game. Technique ultimately wins on the field and when you have technique and you have smarts, you will be a good football player."
This spring is the first step for FSU as it attempts to replace a trio of good football players at the DE position. With Bjoern Werner, Tank Carradine and Brandon Jenkins all NFL-bound, FSU's returning defensive ends had just a combined 31 tackles last season.
Sophomore Mario Edwards Jr. and redshirt sophomore Giorgio Newberry are penciled in as the starters to begin the spring, while redshirt freshman Chris Casher and redshirt senior Dan Hicks will get plenty of reps, with early enrollee Demarcus Walker getting in the mix as well.
"It's really amazing the talent that's here," Sunseri said. "We understand and I think these kids do, that the three guys are going to have an opportunity in the National Football League, well now it's their turn. So now they've got to come out and live up to that billing. To do that you've got to come out and work. It doesn't just happen by lip service. The talent is here."
Sunseri said the biggest improvement that Newberry must make, after recording just 13 tackles and no sacks in limited action last season, is how to take advantage of his 6-foot-6, 280-pound frame.
"Giorgio has great length and Giorgio's got to learn how to use it," Sunseri said. "He's got to learn how to use his body to his advantage. His long arms, his torso. In getting him to do that is what I've got to teach him to do. He's figuring it out as we do stuff and we've got develop his quickness, his speed."
For Edwards, Sunseri said the talent of the former five-star is evident, but he wants him to physically be more prepared for a starter's role. Last season Edwards made two starts and recorded 17 tackles and 1.5 sacks.
"Mario did a good job out there today," Sunseri said. "He's finding out that what I'm asking to do is taxing and we've got to get him into better shape in my opinion, and every knows that, he knows that. He's going to fight through it and he's going to be good. He's got a lot of talent."
Sunseri said he liked what he saw out of Cahser, who was able to full participate after missing last season with a knee injury. He was also impressed by what he saw from Hicks, who is switching back to defensive end after playing tight end last year before tearing his ACL.
"Dan Hicks had a great day," Sunseri said. "I was really impressed with him. He came out there and was fast, he was quick, he was eager to learn. I'm excited about Dan. He did a really good job. I was proud of him."
Hicks' performance also caught the eye of his teammate Telvin Smith, who like Sunseri said he was glad to see Hicks back on the defensive side of the ball.
"I am (happy have Hicks back on defense). I was asking him why he moved in the first place," Smith said. "He came back and we're glad to have him. I seen the attitude come out of him today so that's one thing I love about him, his attitude. I'm really looking forward to him being back with us."
Terrance Smith running with the first-team
With the departure of Nick Moody, strongside linebacker is the only starting linebacker job up for grabs as Telvin Smith will take over in the middle.
On Wednesday redshirt sophomore Terrance Smith took first-team reps on the outside, and impressed as he did it.
"He jumped out at me a couple of times today," FSU head coach Jimbo Fisher said. "I saw him just flash and make some plays on defense, did some nice things in the run game, fitting and understanding. I think you see a little different look in Terrance's eye because I think he sees that he has a chance to be a starter. Sometimes that wakes a guy up and he just seemed to have a pretty good day."
Telvin Smith also said he liked what he saw from Terrance Smith. Last season Terrance Smith played primarily on special teams, recording nine tackles, including 1.5 for loss.
"I feel like he's a guy that's willing to work," Telvin Smith said. "He still knows he's got Nigel Terrel behind him fighting for that spot too, at the same time he knows it's not secure but he's ready to work."
True freshman Demarcus Walker was held out of Wednesdays practice due to an NCAA Clearinghouse issue according to Fisher, who said he didn't think it was a serious issue.
"The clearinghouse is double-checking a class," Fisher said. "He's been here, but it's something they came up and said they wanted to make sure on a class before he's cleared. I'm anticipating he'll be fine, I don't think there's anything wrong but you know how the clearinghouse goes over everything. They'll dot there Is and cross their Ts, that type of thing."
Fisher also said that offensive lineman Henry Orelus has graduated and will not return to the football team.
Redshirt freshman Marvin Bracy was not at practice on Wednesday as he was with the track team preparing for meet this weekend. Fisher said he does expect Bracy to participate plenty during the spring as he does both sports.
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