Mickey Andrews stepped away from Florida State's dress rehearsal for Miami with more than enough to dislike.
At least Saturday's no-tackle, simulated scrimmage wasn't the real thing.
"We couldn't beat Miami (on Saturday) defensively," the veteran defensive coordinator said. "We didn't play as hard as we got to. We didn't play disciplined. We didn't play mean."
Andrews' defense shouldn't have a problem finding a mean streak a week from tonight when it hosts the Hurricanes. Even with just a smattering of Miamians, this 2009 edition of the Seminoles understands the rivalry's intensity, and what's at stake on Labor Day night. In the meantime, there are some injuries to heal and several starters yet to find.
Veterans Ochuko Jenije and Korey Mangum are trying to foil the challenge of younger players at field corner and rover respectively. Jenije and freshman cornerback Greg Reid each was praised by Bowden for plays they made on Saturday.
Mangum has been hindered by injury but said he doesn't believe that has held him back in the competition to be a starter.
"I think I proved a point when I was out there, so not really," said Mangum, who a year ago was the backup to cornerback Patrick Robinson before moving to rover in the spring. "We are all talented and all have different strengths and different things we're good at.
"The biggest difference was having my mindset ready for every time it comes practice. I've been used to covering all the time and not hitting even though I love hitting. ... I got a little smaller but more cut-up."
Linebackers coach Chuck Amato continued to work his linebackers at different spots. Amato isn't ready to reveal how all of that has shaken out but he cited Nigel Carr, who has worked at both strong side and middle linebacker during the preseason, who has done well with the cross training.
Coach Bobby Bowden allowed that he has been concerned by the conditioning of Kevin McNeil, whose start to the preseason was delayed for academic reasons. The senior is vying for the top left end spot.
"He's probably not in as good of shape as he needed to be," Bowden said.
With Kendrick Stewart (knee) and Budd Thacker (dislocated toe) banged up and Justin Mincey unavailable after spraining knee ligaments, defensive line coach Odell Haggins continued to work true freshmen Jacobbi McDaniel and Demonte McAllister into the mix. Everett Dawkins, a redshirt freshman, was Haggins' only other available player on Saturday.
"They are coming along. They made improvement," Haggins said. "I take my hat off to them. They may not do it the way I want them to do it all the time but I'm going to fight with them and keep pushing because they got to play. I only got three guys."
Bowden, eager to get the season started, is also ready to find out what he has in his newcomers, including McDaniel and McAllister.
"If you have to go with them, that's what you go with," Bowden said. "You just never know. Might rise to the occasion and might do greatly or it might expose him.
"I feel they both can be accountable."
The focus for offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher has been on his own group. But in practices and scrimmages, he couldn't but take notice of the defense's attributes.
"They can run. Athletic," Fisher said. " They play hard. They are physical. They seem to play good to me."