TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher met with the media Monday to recap last week’s 26-19 win at Wake Forest and look ahead to Saturday’s rivalry game against Miami (3:30 p.m., ESPN). Here are highlights from that conversation.
Florida State’s victory over Wake Forest last week was the first win of what the Seminoles still believe will be a season full of them. But they went to Winston-Salem in need of that first one and, after claiming it in dramatic fashion, Fisher hopes that it will spark his team to play at the level required to beat some of the teams remaining on FSU’s schedule. That starts with a visit from No. 13 Miami this week.
“I hope so,” Fisher said when asked if the win was a turning point in the season. “I think it’s a learning curve, and I think (winning) definitely felt good. …The big thing is put your heart and soul (into the game), prepare for it and put your heart and soul in everything you do.”
He acknowledged that there was some frustration throughout the first month of the season and, at one point, even fielded a question about whether the team was having fun.
Having fun, he noted, is a lot easier for everyone when the team is having success.
“When you have success and you’re doing things well and you’re playing well, listen, that’s when it’s fun,” Fisher said. “I mean, that’s when you’re playing well and do the things you’ve got to do. You’ve got to play well and have success to have fun.”
Florida State’s offensive linemen were the walking wounded on Saturday, with left tackle Derrick Kelly missing most of the game with an apparent leg injury, and fellow linemen Cole Minshew, Rick Leonard and Landon Dickerson all sustained minor ailments during the contest.
There’s a chance, however, that the Seminoles could be at full strength up front when the Hurricanes visit on Saturday.
“They’re pretty banged and bruised, but I think we’re going to be OK,” Fisher said. “We expect most of those guys to all be healthy. … They got back on rehab right after the game and did some things that really helped them there. Then on Sunday, (they) got back in early and have been on top of it. And (we’re) very optimistic and feel very good. Hopefully they should be at practice today.”
Speaking of the offensive line, Fisher addressed some of the challenges that FSU’s linemen had blocking the Demon Deacons on Saturday. Wake Forest finished with 17 tackles for loss that cost the Seminoles 70 yards.
Fisher said that technique and communication were most often to blame for the breakdowns. And, sometimes, Wake Forest’s talented defensive front simply made plays.
“We missed a couple little things there that could have helped us in what we did, but the offensive line has got to clean up and do a better job,” Fisher said. “And (they’re) trying to do too much at times, a little bit, at times trying to go too hard and got out of control trying to do a little bit too much. … But there’s no exception. That can’t happen, and they know it.”
The report wasn’t all bad, though. Fisher said he still likes the line’s collective attitude, approach and willingness to keep at it.
“The thing about it, like I say, they’re banged and bruised,” Fisher said. “And what I love about their attitude, man, them guys are ready to get right back in there. There ain’t no backing away, and they know they’ve got to get better.”
Sparked by junior Jacques Patrick, FSU’s rushing attack last week had its best effort of the season. The Seminoles totaled 149 yards on the ground – a number heavily skewed by sack yardage – with Patrick accounting for 120 and freshman Cam Akers adding 58.
It was an encouraging sign, and Fisher believes things will get even better as Akers gains more experience.
“The good thing that Jacques did (was) staying physical,” Fisher said. “Cam, I thought, played well in the game. Again, we’ll talk to him – every run is not (going to be) a touchdown. He’s got to take some of those runs and a couple of those losses and some things that should have been one-yard gains or one-yard losses ended up as seven- or eight-yard (losses) because he keeps wanting to (wait).”
But Fisher said that’s a common issue for freshmen, and that Akers is in pretty good company in that regard.
“I had the same thing with Dalvin (Cook),” Fisher said. “Dalvin would come off frustrated and mad, and he’d have a six-yard run or a four-yard run or a three-yard run sometimes. (I’d tell him), ‘Listen, that’s what was there. That’s a good play.’”
Florida State has a seven-game winning streak against Miami, but that doesn’t mean the Seminoles’ run of dominance has always come easily. Those seven wins have been decided by an average of 11.7 points, with the last three featuring margins of four points, five points and one point.
This year’s Hurricanes are 3-0, coming off a comfortable win at previously-unbeaten Duke and have a roster that Fisher believes is as talented as any they have had during his time as FSU’s head coach.
“I’ve seen some pretty good ones,” Fisher said. “They’ve been good for about every year we’ve played them. They’ve had some top-eight, ten teams, but this is a really good one. I think they’re playing with a great confidence, and it’s just typical Miami team: great players, playing really good.”