TALLAHASSEE — Florida State coach Bobby Bowden said his team continued to improve during a practice Saturday morning that, toward the end, turned a bit hot as a few players, defensive lineman Budd Thacker and offensive guard Will Furlong to start, had to be separated.
"I don't want to see fights," Bowden said. "I'm glad they're feisty, but we ain't got time to wait for them to get into fights."
Overall, he was pleased.
"The thing we've got to do is make progress every day for 25 days," Bowden said. "I thought the kids understood a little bit more today what we're trying to do. That's going to be the key: just learning, learning, learning. The freshmen have to learn real quick."
More heat: Senior tailback Antone Smith, the leading rusher last season, became dehydrated and needed fluids. He is expected to return to practice Monday. Junior offensive tackle Joe Tonga and redshirt freshman center A.J. Ganguzza also had heat problems. Not only was it the longest practice to date, it was the first one not at night, and the temperature and humidity soared in the last 30 minutes.
Cooler degrees: Redshirt sophomore quarterback Christian Ponder, who is challenging Drew Weatherford for the starting job, and junior safety Myron Rolle both missed practice. They went through commencement, earning their undergraduate degrees in 2½ years.
USF: Defense realigns key linebacker spots
TAMPA — USF defensive coordinator Wally Burnham said the Bulls have tweaked their lineup in the first week of fall practice, returning senior Tyrone McKenzie from the middle to strongside linebacker, where he made a school-record 121 tackles last season.
By moving McKenzie outside, the Bulls are showing confidence in junior Kion Wilson, a junior-college transfer who joined the Bulls in January and will be the starting middle linebacker.
"We're trying to bring Kion along and get him ready faster," Burnham said. "I like the combination if we can get Kion going. He's had great effort, so it's just learning the terminology and the checks. He's hard-nosed, he's smart, and I like him."
Burnham said that "most of the time" this season, the defense will be in a nickel package with five defensive backs, allowing senior safeties Carlton Williams and Danny Verpaele to both be on the field. With the extra defensive back, USF would use two linebackers, McKenzie and starting weakside linebacker Brouce Mompremier.
Fan fest: The annual Fan Fest is from 3 to 6 p.m. today at Raymond James Stadium, with coach Jim Leavitt and players available for autographs and pictures. Admission and parking are free, and fans are limited to two outside items to be autographed.
SCRIMMAGE: Burnham was pleased with the scrimmage, noting that the first-team defense didn't give up any points and the No. 2 defense only allowed a Delbert Alvarado field goal. Redshirt freshman cornerback Tyson Butler, a converted running back, had an interception.
THIS AND THAT: Sophomore walk-on linebacker Lucas Darr, a regular contributor on special teams, injured his right ankle and wore a boot as he watched the afternoon practice. Leavitt didn't know the severity of the injury. … USF added a Spanish-language radio broadcast for football (1300-AM).
Times staff writer Greg Auman contributed to this report.