Road trip: Florida State playing spring game in Orlando
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) With renovations taking place at Doak Campbell Stadium, Florida State has a rare opportunity Saturday - play its spring game on the road in a stadium where it will open the season.
The Garnet & Gold Game is being held at Orlando's Citrus Bowl Stadium. The stadium, which has a capacity of 65,000, has sold out the lower bowl and club areas as over 40,000 tickets have been sold as of Friday.
Coach Jimbo Fisher has said the game provides a good opportunity for players to go through preparation for a road game. The Seminoles open the season on Sept. 5 against Mississippi in the same stadium and play three of their first four on the road.
''Sometimes on the road there is a greater focus and excitement. Even though it is a spring game, it can tell you a lot about how players handle situations,'' Fisher said.
It is the first time since the Seminoles faced Notre Dame in the 2011 Champs Sports Bowl that they have played in Orlando.
Three years ago, Ohio State had its spring game in Cincinnati due to stadium renovations and drew 37,643 at Paul Brown Stadium. Even though Cincinnati is home to a lot of Ohio State alumni, a major reason why it was held there was because it was a soft media market compared to coverage elsewhere throughout the state. It also allowed the Buckeyes to make some inroads where they had some struggles in recruiting.
Florida State does not have the same problem when it comes to Orlando. Saturday's game features 11 players who have Orlando listed as their hometown.
Junior linebacker Ro'Derrick Hoskins, who grew up 15 minutes from the Citrus Bowl, said that he will have 20 family and friends attending the game.
Orlando's location in the middle of the state also allows families of players from central and south Florida an easier way to attend.
''It will be a lot of fun, because I'm close to home and my family that can't get up here, they can come to Orlando and watch me play the spring game so that's good,'' added defensive tackle DeMarcus Christmas, who is from Sarasota.
It could also benefit Florida State when it comes to recruiting since prospects who wouldn't attend the spring game if it was held in Tallahassee might do it now. The NCAA has granted Florida State a waiver so that recruits can receive free tickets and pregame sideline passes, which is permissible during home games. Fisher and coaches can also meet with recruits.
After four weeks of practices, Fisher has been pleased with his team's execution over the past week. With quarterback Sean Maguire (knee) and running back Dalvin Cook (shoulder) sidelined, the game provides a chance for younger players to make an impression. Redshirt freshman Deondre Francois has emerged as the best quarterback during spring while Ryan Green and Jacques Patrick are trying to show that they can back up Cook when preseason practices begin in August.