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COLLEGE FOOTBALL NOTEBOOK: Well-rested FSU back on field Monday; Chizik pleased with Auburn's weekend scrimmage

Photo by Danny Aller

Photo by Danny Aller

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- A fresh-legged Florida State football team hit the practice field Monday morning for the first of two workouts on the day and drew praise from coach Jimbo Fisher for its mental approach and effort.

"We came out and worked," Fisher said after the 2-hour, 15-minute session. "We had a day off so some of them got their legs back. ... For the most part the offense made some plays, the defense made some plays; we got better on some things."

Two practices removed from Friday's defensive-dominated scrimmage, the Seminoles made enough plays on both sides of the football to encourage Fisher, who has liked the way both sides of the ball have answered challenges. It is just one tool he uses when evaluating his players.

"If they get beat on one play, how did they play the next play?" Fisher said. "I'd like to see a little more than that. We're making a lot of strides, but we're nowhere close to where we need to be."

Quarterback Christian Ponder was sharp Monday morning, especially in the mid-range passing game, where he consistently delivered the ball with velocity and accuracy. At the same time, the secondary held its own, especially in competitive situations, sticking with receivers and consistently denying the deep ball.

"I really like our secondary," said Fisher. "Our secondary is making a lot of progress. They're really doing some great things. Up front we're really learning to play a lot more with technique. Our backers are running to the ball. There's a lot more consistency on defense."

One of those secondary players, senior Ochuko Jenije, has been splitting time between cornerback and safety as defensive coordinator Mark Stoops' unit has made tremendous strides. That, however, doesn't keep Fisher and the coaching staff from pushing for more.

"I was a Michael Jordan fan for this one reason: If he was beating you by 20, he'd want to beat you by 40," Fisher said. "If he was up by 40, he'd want to beat you by 60. ... It's a mentality. Don't say, `I know, we can turn it on.' No. It's every day. They've got to understand the energy level and focus they've got to come out play with every day."

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AUBURN COMPLETES SECOND FALL SCRIMMAGE:

AUBURN, Ala. -- The Auburn football team held its second scrimmage of the season this weekend inside Jordan-Hare Stadium, running approximately 70 plays in damp but cooler conditions.

Following the scrimmage, coach Gene Chizik said that the Tigers took a step forward in their preparation for the Sept. 4 season opener against Arkansas State.

"I thought we got a lot accomplished," Chizik said. "(Saturday) was a good scrimmage. We got a great chance to look at a lot of the young guys in a lot of ways. We did some live kickoffs and punt returns, and really had a chance to evaluate some of our young talent. We really played them a lot, offensively and defensively, as well."

Chizik stressed that it was important to get a good look at the newcomers to help determine which players might play important roles during the upcoming season.

"When you have 22 seniors, you have really good ideas of where they stand," said Chizik. "We just have to know what our depth factor is going to be. That was the means to the madness and when we scrimmage again, we will probably do the same thing. There is no substitute for going out there and doing it and the experience of it."

Chizik noted that much of the improvement shown by his squad in comparison to the first scrimmage was in the mental aspect of the game.

"We cut down on the mental mistakes in terms of penalties and things, it was much better," said Chizik. "That was what we were looking for, a noticeable improvement."

Chizik was also pleased with how hard the team worked, but noted that there is still much room for improvement.

"Their effort was really good," said Chizik. "We had some good things happen on both sides of the ball, but again, we are a long way away from where we need to be come game day. But, (Saturday's scrimmage) was a great step in the right direction."

Auburn opens the 2010 season on Sept. 4 against Arkansas State at 7 p.m. at Jordan-Hare Stadium. The game will be televised by Fox Sports Net.