TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida State coach Jimbo FIsher met with the media Monday to reflect on last week’s bye and look ahead to Saturday’s primetime matchup with the Clemson Tigers (8 p.m., ABC). Here are highlights from that conversation.
1) Bye week goes to good use
It’s hard to imagine a better time for a bye week than seven games in to a 12-game season.
Even more so when it gives an extra week to prepare for the No. 2 team in the country. That’s the situation the Seminoles found themselves in last week, and, according to Fisher, the benefits were immediately apparent.
“Our guys took it very seriously,” Fisher said. “There was not a time that they took as relaxation time. They used (the bye week) as a time to get better.”
Fisher said the Seminoles spent time re-laying the groundwork for fundamentals that might have needed some touch-ups after a few months.
“We’re playing a great schedule,” he said, “so you can’t leave any stone unturned.”
Speaking of which …
2) ‘A heck of a challenge, but also a great opportunity’
While Clemson hasn’t been winning with the same dominance it displayed a year ago, the Tigers are still 7-0 and ranked No. 2 in one poll, No. 3 in the other. They’ve already beaten Louisville and have the inside track for a second straight College Football Playoff appearance.
The Seminoles played those 2015 Tigers as tough as anybody, and they’ve also got the benefit of playing in Tallahassee, where Clemson hasn’t won since 2006. Still, Fisher knows that Saturday’s game presents perhaps the biggest challenge of the season.
“I mean, Clemson is a heck of a football team,” Fisher said. “We’ve played well the last few weeks and have got a great opportunity in front of us – another big ACC matchup, great for our conference, great for our league, great for both teams.”
The Tigers feature a Heisman candidate in quarterback Deshaun Watson, one of the ACC’s top running backs in Wayne Gallman and a defense that ranks among the nation’s best in several statistical categories.
“They’re sound everywhere,” Fisher said. “They’re on a great run and playing very well and, again, we’ve got a heck of a challenge, but also a great opportunity. Looking forward to it and looking forward to a big game this weekend.
3) Still no word on Derwin James
When Derwin James injured his knee against Charleston Southern, initial hopes were that he might be back in time for Clemson. While Fisher didn’t rule out the star safety’s return, he also didn’t offer in change in James’ status.
“It’s just a time thing,” Fisher said. “I think he is healing very fast and quickly, but there’s a certain amount of time they’re going to hold (James out).”
Fisher said that with an injury like James’, it can be hard to evaluate just how much it has healed. And the team is being cautious to avoid any further injury.
That said, no one is more anxious for James’ return than James himself.
“Oh, it kills him,” Fisher said. “But you’ve got to ask him to think big picture about his future and what goes on.”
4) Same for Bobo Wilson
Fisher is hopeful that senior receiver Bobo Wilson can return for practice this week. Wilson injured his foot in FSU’s win over Wake Forest and, while he appears to have avoided major injury, he’ll likely need to practice soon if he is to play on Saturday.
Wilson entered the Wake Forest game as FSU’s leader in both catches and receiving yardage.
“There may be some time out there today (for Wilson),” Fisher said. “We’ll see. I checked with Jake (Senior Associate Director of Sports Medicine Jake Pfeil) early, he was coming in and getting treatment at the time and getting better.”
5) ‘Anything can happen’
Fisher was asked Monday if, given all the parity and upsets in college football this year, he could envision a two-loss team making the College Football Playoff.
Florida State, of course, is 5-2 heading into this week’s showdown with Clemson.
“Anything can happen,” he said. “If you can figure out college football right now, tell me. I mean, you’re not going to. We’re in a crazy time right now.
Fisher pointed out the 2007 LSU team that won the BCS National Championship despite losing two games. Those Tigers are college football’s only two-loss champion since 1960 (Minnesota, AP).
“I could see it happening, I could see it not happening,” Fisher said. “It wouldn’t surprise me a lick.”