TALLAHASSEE — Florida State defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews hasn't set a date for freshman Myron Rolle's ascent into the starting lineup.
"When he gets ready to start, he'll start," Andrews said.
He may be ready much sooner than later.
Rolle's 64-yard interception return shut the door for the FSU defense in its 23-12 win over the offense in Saturday's Garnet and Gold spring game at Doak Campbell Stadium. The Seminoles defense intercepted two passes and recorded five sacks in the 90-minute scrimmage.
The game, viewed by an announced 11,200, used a modified scoring system, awarding points for scoring and first downs on offense and scoring, turnovers and fourth-down stops on defense.
Most of those defensive points came from Rolle's pick. Rolle, who graduated early from The Hun School in Galloway, N.J., to participate in spring drills, was an all-everything high school defensive player and showed that talent Saturday. Working with the second-string defense against the second-string offense, Rolle stepped in front of a Jared Whipkey pass, weaved toward the left sideline and sprinted into the end zone.
"I just try to make big plays at all times," he said. "In the beginning of the scrimmage, I started off kind of rough. My head was spinning and Coach Andrews kind of got on me a little bit. I think that woke me up a little bit."
Rolle had a shot at two more interceptions, including one he dropped in the end zone — "I hope y'all call that a pass breakup," he said. He also forced a fumble and recorded three tackles. That performance made FSU coach Bobby Bowden take notice.
"He's raised his stock," Bowden said. "Whether he raised it enough to pass the guy in front of him, I don't know yet. The thing he has shown us is that all we read must be true."
Rolle was listed as the No. 2 rover behind junior Anthony Houllis. Andrews said Rolle might find himself starting in FSU's nickel package as soon as the season opener at Miami.
"He's one of those rare guys you get with all that God-given talent, but he has the passion to become a great player," Andrews said. "Deion (Sanders) didn't start until about the eighth or ninth game, except on some nickel stuff, and that may be what (Rolle) does."
The Seminoles offense was kept pretty vanilla, as Bowden wanted to establish the running game. Passes to fullbacks in the flat were commonplace, and downfield throws provided mixed results.
One long bomb gave the offense its one touchdown, a 49-yard pass from Tommy Keane to Robert Hallback that Hallback juggled for five yards before pulling it in as he crossed the goal line.
The Seminoles defense picked off starting quarterback Drew Weatherford, who completed 9 of 12 passes for 75 yards.
The running game, a major focus this spring, struggled. The running backs combined for 43 yards, but the quarterbacks' five sacks lost 44 yards. Still, Bowden didn't seem too worried.
"The scrimmage was probably even except for the two interceptions," Bowden said. "That stacked up to a lot of points."
Saturday also was an opportunity for the Seminoles to test several new starters in game situations. Florida State must replace 12, six on both offense and defense. Lehigh High graduate Mario Henderson is one of those trying to solidify his starting spot, one he gained with two games left in the 2005 season.
"When I came back in the spring, I felt the coaches started to have some confidence in me," Henderson said. "That helped me boost my morale and helped me practice better."