TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher met with the media Monday to talk more about last week’s win at Miami and look ahead to the Seminoles’ home game against Wake Forest on Saturday (3:30 p.m., ESPN). Here are highlights from that conversation.
1) ‘Another classic battle’
Fisher of course started by recapping Florida State’s win over Miami. He especially praised FSU’s physicality on defense and the way the Seminoles managed situations.
“Another classic battle, another classic game,” he said.
More than that, though, Fisher said he was pleased with the effort the Seminoles gave throughout the game.
A week after a few players were criticized for their lack of intensity against North Carolina, Fisher said he saw no such issues against the Hurricanes.
“We kept playing 60 minutes,” Fisher said. “That’s the one thing we asked them to do, and they did it.”
That said …
2) Noles must guard against ‘relief syndrome’
Of course, there’s never a bad time to beat an arch-rival, and the Seminoles are guaranteed bragging rights over the Canes for the seventh straight year. But Fisher is more interested in seeing how this win serves as a springboard for the rest of the season.
If FSU’s level of play against the Hurricanes is an indicator of what to expect moving forward, then that is likely the biggest development to come out of what happened Saturday night.
Fisher was asked if, in a way, this week’s game against Wake Forest presents a bigger challenge than Miami. He said:
“Yes, I don’t think there’s any doubt. Who are you as a player? And what I mean by that – How do you want people to think of you? How do you want people to respond to you? … I think that’s very critical, to not have relief syndrome (after an emotional win).”
3) Not your typical Wake Forest team
After back-to-back 3-9 seasons, the Demon Deacons seem to be trending upward in coach Dave Clawson’s third season. Wake is 5-1 this season, including 3-1 in the ACC, and has posted victories of Duke, Syracuse and Syracuse.
Factor that in with the way the Deacons have played FSU in recent years – they made the Seminoles sweat in a 24-16 win last year, and they actually led, 3-0, after one quarter in Tallahassee in 2014.
“Offensively, they’re moving,” Fisher said. “The quarterback is doing a good job. They’re throwing it around the receivers, they’re running the ball up front. Special teams are really sound. They ‘re a really good football team. They’re 5-1 for a reason.”
4) Francois’ toughness earns respect
While he offered the caveat that FSU needs to do a better job protecting its quarterback, Fisher said that the way Francois picked himself up and continued to perform at a high level despite taking a number of bone-jarring hits was a big part of his development.
“If you can’t do that and play quarterback, you can’t play,” Fisher said. “I’m telling you – it’s the toughest position to play, physically, there is. … (Getting hit) goes with the job description.”
Overall, Fisher said he’s very happy with the way Francois has played through the first half of the season. The redshirt freshman has thrown for 1,557 yards and nine touchdowns against just two interceptions. He’s also added another 150 yards and two scores on the ground.
“It’s not just about you – it’s how you make the guys around you play, and all those types of things,” Fisher said. “I think he’s allowed us to grow him in those areas, and he’s been very good at it. And, of course, I’m very proud of his toughness and competitiveness.”
5) Credit defensive success to players, not scheme
Florida State mixed both its defensive packages and personnel on Saturday, often to great results. The Seminoles changed up their front a few times and rotated positions in the secondary, even getting former receiver Ermon Lane some significant snaps at safety.
While those moves paid off, Fisher said FSU’s about-face had much more to do with performance than anything the coaches drew up.
“It’s about players. Players have got to play,” he said. “You’ve got to put them in position, and they’ve got to play. We’ve done that all year, (moving) 3-4 to 4-3. But our guys did their job and they were physical. That’s the key to it.”