By Tim Linafelt
Seminoles.com Senior Writer
@Tim_Linafelt on Twitter
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – With the Atlantic Coast Conference Championship game on Saturday, Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher held his final weekly press conference of the 2014 season on Monday.
Fisher held a marathon of a session, speaking for nearly 36 minutes. Topics included a look ahead to Georgia Tech, more thoughts on perceived bias against the ACC and a reassurance about quarterback Jameis Winston’s tough outing last week against Florida.
Here are five takeaways from Fisher’s press conference:
1) He believes that the ACC matches up, top to bottom, with the SEC
The Atlantic Coast Conference enjoyed a banner day last week, going 4-0 against rivals from the Southeastern Conference. Florida State beat Florida, Georgia Tech beat Georgia, Clemson beat South Carolina and Louisville beat Kentucky. It marked the first time since 2000 that the ACC had swept the SEC.
Fisher said it’s another indicator that the ACC football exceeds its national perception.
“I’ve been in both leagues for an extensive number of years. At the top levels of both leagues,” said Fisher, who years ago served as an assistant Auburn and LSU.
”And the top teams in both leagues are very similar. Top to bottom, I think we stack up. But I think they’ve got a great league of football. I think the SEC is wonderful football. But look at the records of certain divisions, I think there’s a lot of parity throughout.”
Fisher bristled a little when asked about the idea that the ACC’s triumphs came at the expense of the SEC’s East division. The SEC west has five teams ranked in this week’s Top 25, compared to just two for the East.
And talk of perceived SEC bias has taken hold of the college football landscape in recent weeks as the College Football Playoff committee had three teams in its Top 10 last week.
The latest rankings, which should reflect losses by Georgia and Mississippi State, will be released on Tuesday.
“We’ve got a great conference,” Fisher said. The perception that is driven home out there … it’s amazing how you can brainwash somebody. If you’re not careful in this country, you won’t think for yourself. If you listen to the news all the time, they’ll tell you what to think, how to think and why you do think. That’s why I say you’ve got to make your own mind up and trust your own eyes.”
2) Jameis Winston was saying all the right things after his interceptions on Saturday
Fisher understands that his quarterbacks will make mistakes. The key, he says, is for the quarterback to understand why he made those mistakes. Despite throwing career high four interceptions against Florida last week, FSU’s Jameis Winston was aware of exactly what caused them.
“He was. He was,” Fisher said. “… I think it’s easier to be great on defense consistently than it is on offense. Because there’s going to be a day on offense … sometimes those putts, they don’t go in the cup. Sometimes you’re shooting the basketball, it’s in and out of the rim. Sometimes in baseball a guy can go 0 for 3 with the strikeouts and the next day hit three home runs.
“There’s a rhythm and timing when you’re a skill guy. And usually he can get back into that groove. This game he just didn’t get back in it as well.”
3) Special teams need to improve
Fisher said that Florida State’s special teams struggled “big time” against Florida.
The Seminoles had trouble with kick returns, had a punt blocked and also had a failed fake punt attempt.
He knows they have to get better. And the solution is pretty simple.
“Fundamentals,” he said. “We’ve been very good on special teams. … (Special teams) were critical in the game on field position. We had terrible field position on the day.
Fisher also took the blame for a fake punt attempt that saw defensive end Mario Edwards Jr. stopped well short of the first-down marker on fourth-and-10.
“In hindsight, I should’ve kicked the ball,” he said. “Should’ve called it off. That’s all my fault.”
4) Playing The Citadel will help in preparations for Georgia Tech
The talent level might not be the same, but the scheme is awfully close. Fisher said Monday that The Citadel and Georgia Tech are “first cousins” when it comes to offensive philosophy. They both feature triple-option, run-heavy offenses that require defenders to be discipline.
“No doubt,” Fisher said. “Just for giving (FSU’s defense) an idea of how it’s going to come. You’ve got a realistic look of how that’s going to happen. There’s no doubt that that will help.”
5) Karlos Williams is listed as day-to-day with a concussion
The Seminoles emerged from physical contest with the Gators mostly unscathed, but the status of their most experienced running back is still uncertain.
Karlos Williams suffered a concussion during a kick return on Saturday and is expected to miss at least a few days of practice.
“He’ll have to be judged,” Fisher said. “We’ll keep him out for a couple days no matter what. They always do that. Then day by day we’ll see how he’s doing.”