TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Florida State tailback Ty Jones admits that his struggles in the spring game affected him a "little bit mentally."
That's certainly understandable. Despite looking sharp for most of the spring, the rising sophomore was unable to display the big-play ability he had shown in earlier scrimmages. Making matters worse was the fact that the offensive unit fumbled several times - and he was involved in four of them.
But as much as Jones would probably like to forget that day, he carries a constant reminder with him every day at home.
"I've been focusing on the way I carry the ball," Jones said after Tuesday's voluntary workout. "I've been practicing at home. I carry the ball around with me."
Yes, Jones means exactly what you think. At night when he's at home, just watching television or sitting at the computer, the odds are that Jones has a football tucked under his arm.
Jones insists he hasn't had to make major changes to his fundamentals. He said the extra "practice" is simply an effort to improve muscle memory through repetition.
While that should help, Jones actually thinks the biggest solution has already taken place, now that the sprained ligament in his thumb has healed. For much of the spring, Jones had to play with his hand in a protective brace.
"I'm not making excuses," Jones said. "But I'm gonna be well-prepared for this upcoming season."
Jones also is pleased to report that his body is in much better shape after his battles with diabetes last fall. The Tampa, Fla., native said he is on top of his medication and eating habits, and he credits early morning weightlifting sessions with helping increase his weight to 205 pounds.
"I feel stronger in the weight room now," Jones said. "I'm getting the weight back."
With this being his first full summer on campus, Jones said he has had to adjust to the grueling summer workouts. But he said it will all be worthwhile in early September, when the Seminoles take on Miami in a nationally televised Labor Day showdown.
Jones and fellow sophomore Jermaine Thomas showed plenty of potential last season as backups - both averaged at least 7.0 yards per carry - and he said they are excited to step into leading roles in 2009.
"We're gonna have a three-headed monster," Jones said. "Tavares Pressley - he's coming back. So it's going to be a real exciting season."