TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher met with the media Tuesday to preview his seventh season at the helm with the Seminoles. Overall, Fisher was upbeat about his team’s outlook, even while laughing and acknowledging that every coach is upbeat this time of year. Topics included quarterbacks, Showtime’s “A Season With …” TV series and position races around the depth chart. Here are highlights from the conversation.
1) The quarterback competition begins
In a line that could’ve come straight from last year’s preseason press conference, Fisher said that there’s no timetable to determine who will be under center when the Seminoles open their season against Mississippi next month. Both Sean Maguire – who Fisher confirmed is fully recovered from his ankle injury – and Deondre Francois will make their cases, while J.J. Cosentino and Malik Henry will be in the mix, too.
“Whenever I see one that’s ready to take the lead or whatever, we’ll see,” Fisher said. “You can’t speed that process up, and you can’t slow it down. The process is what it is. I wish it was a magic eight-ball, I could sit and say at any position … You have to let their development happen.”
Fisher, however, did offer some insight into the development of Francois, a redshirt freshman who is about to enter the first camp in which he has a serious shot at the starting job.
He said that a key step in a quarterback’s development is understanding the ins and outs of a play, beyond just the result. A touchdown, for example, loses some of its luster if it’s the result of a quarterback making the wrong decision.
And mistakes, by contrast, don’t sting as badly if the quarterback can understand where the breakdown occurred and what can be done to fix it.
According to Fisher, Francois has excelled in that respect.
“That’s one of the things that encouraged me in the spring,” Fisher said. “Even with the mistakes, what (Francois) did, why he did it, how he did it wrong … it’s really grown. That’s why I feel like he’s legitimately in the competition to be the guy: because he understands the whys and the why-nots of the game.”
Otherwise, Fisher’s criteria for selecting a quarterback is the same as ever.
“At the end of the day, what’s the quarterback get down to? Decision-making and accuracy,” Fisher said. “You can put all that other junk up you want. Does he make good decisions – whether it’s a run check, a read on a pass? He can have the greatest arm in creation – does he hit what the heck he throws at? … That’s what it gets down to.”
2) Good news for Derwin James
Sophomore safety Derwin James is continuing to recover from an offseason foot injury, but Fisher is confident that the rising star will return to practice in about a week.
James is no longer wearing a protective boot and, per Fisher, is able to cut and change directions while putting full weight on his foot.
“According to him, he’s ready to go, and I think he is,” Fisher said. “But we’re going to make sure he heals the right way and we’ll do some other testing to make sure we ease him back in.”
The Seminoles enter camp fairly healthy otherwise, with defensive linemen Adam Torres and Darvin Taylor still on the mend from some spring injuries and defensive tackle Justin Shanks close to returning from a stress fracture in his foot.
3) Mavety’s departure official
Chad Mavety, a right tackle who would have been a fifth-year senior this year, this morning wrote an earnest open letter on his Facebook page confirming that his football career is over due to a medical condition.
Fisher had indicated in the spring that Mavety likely would not be with the team this fall, but still sounded disappointed when he confirmed the news in today’s press conference.
“That’s a shame,” Fisher said. “He was a heck of a player.”
Mavety started eight games a year ago and finished the season as FSU’s top right tackle.
Fisher left open the possibility that Mavety could still have an off-field role with the team.
“We’d love to have him,” he said.
4) No concerns over Showtime presence
Monday’s press conference was the first event in which film crews for Showtime’s “A Season With …” series were noticeable. There were several more cameras than usual – aimed at both Fisher and reporters in the audience – and microphones placed around the room in order to pick up questions and answers.
It’s more spotlight than a typical college football program receives on a day-to-day basis, but Fisher believes his team won’t have any trouble handling the the changes.
“Tell me when we’ve done something in the last four years when there haven’t been boom mics and cameras and something else,” Fisher said with a smile. “That stuff’s been everywhere. We have that stuff all the time. It’s now natural.”
With that in mind, Fisher said the series, which premieres on Sept. 6, provides a positive outlet to showcase everything that goes on inside the football program.
“I want people to see it isn’t just about having great players and rolling them on the field,” Fisher said. “What these guys actually go through, the amount of work they go through, the dedication, the commitment, the attention to detail and what kind of great young men they are and what great students they are on top of players – I think it’s time for people to see that.”
5) Sayonara, social media
It’s that time of year again. The start of fall practice means the end of social media for Florida State football players, several of whom posted farewell messages on their various accounts before reporting on Monday.
In the past, Fisher has maintained that the ban is player-imposed, although he clearly supports it.
“It eliminates clutter. One less thing,” Fisher said. “… There ain’t enough time in the day to go do all that stuff. And if you spend an hour on social media, if you spent that (time) studying your plays and working your playbook and doing some of that stuff, how much better would you be?”