TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – This much is certain following the Florida State football team’s 31-28 loss to Louisville on Saturday: The only way is forward.
Yes, there’s plenty of disappointment and frustration following the Seminoles’ 2-4 start to the season. But there’s also another game, set to be played in five days. And then at least four more after that.
Florida State travels to play at Boston College on Friday, which means there’s even less time than usual to analyze and prepare. And no time for the Seminoles to feel sorry for themselves.
“I expect to respond in a really positive way,” tight end Ryan Izzo said. “I think we’ve got great leaders on this team and we’re going to step up and reinforce that the season is not over with, and just keep moving forward.”
It’s not as if there aren’t solid foundations on which to build. FSU’s offense, defense and special teams have all had strong moments throughout the season. But, as Fisher noted after Saturday’s game, they’ve rarely all played well at the same time.
The Louisville game is a fine example. FSU’s offense started the game with a touchdown drive, and finished with more than 400 total yards for the second straight week.
But during an early stretch of four straight Louisville drives that ended with either a punt or turnover, the Seminoles missed out on opportunities to build a bigger lead. They scored one touchdown during that period, and even that was a 34-yard fumble return by Matthew Thomas.
The Cardinals regained their offensive rhythm on their next drive, and then scored three straight touchdowns that led to a 28-14 lead through three quarters.
FSU also missed a field goal after 11 straight successful attempts, and the defense allowed a handful of long gains on third-down plays despite otherwise keeping Louisville’s fast-paced offense below its season averages.
“You’ve got to play together,” FSU coach Jimbo Fisher said. “That’s the thing in team sports. All segments have got to be together to make everything click.”
More than anything, though, Fisher believes that his team’s attitude will dictate how the rest of the season plays out.
And, to that end, he likes what he sees.
Despite this being the most difficult collegiate season any of his players have experienced, there hasn’t been any finger-pointing or division in the locker room.
Instead, Fisher said his team is committed to following one of his favorite mantras: Finding the inches – otherwise known as small details or plays – that often can be the difference between winning and losing.
Florida State knows that concept better than most. Three of its four losses this season have been contested in the final minute, with the Miami and Louisville games decided with only seconds on the clock.
“We’ve been one inch away, one play away,” Fisher said. “You can’t quit fighting. That’s the thing. Sometimes they don’t (work out). Even when you fight for (the inches), put your heart and soul (into it), they don’t come.
“You have to continue to dig for them, and that’s what we’re going to do.”
That attitude could go a long way as the Seminoles aim to preserve two of the proudest milestones in program history. FSU has been to a bowl game in every year since 1982, and has had a winning record in every year since 1976.
Both of those streaks are the longest in the nation, and the Seminoles want to be sure to maintain that standard.
“I just want to continue the legacy,” defensive end Josh Sweat said.
Asked what he would say to Seminoles fans who are frustrated, Fisher delivered a message that sounded a like the one the one he gave his players: Don’t give up now.
The Seminoles have two more home games, against Syracuse on Nov. 4 and Delaware State on Nov. 18.
“Just keep fighting with us,” Fisher said. “We ain’t quitting on you. Please don’t quit on us.”