TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher met with the media Monday to recap Friday’s win over Boston College and look ahead to Saturday’s visit to Syracuse (3:30 p.m., ABC/ESPN2). Here are highlights from that conversation.
1) Updates on DeMarcus, Deondre, Derwin
Let’s start with the good news: Both DeMarcus Walker and Deondre Francois are fine after apparent injuries suffered on Friday.
Walker, FSU’s sack leader with 11, was seen wearing a boot toward the end of Friday’s game, but Fisher said that was only precautionary. And Francois, who sat out the fourth quarter with a shoulder injury, should be good to go as well. Fisher said he could have gone back in, but the game was already in hand and the Seminoles wanted reserve Sean Maguire to get some work.
Now for the not-so-good news: Fisher confirmed what he said on his radio show last week, which is that sophomore safety Derwin James (knee) will miss the remainder of the regular season. James has not yet been ruled out for FSU’s bowl game.
“It would have to be a bowl game, if he comes back,” Fisher said. “We’ll have to wait and see what the timetable is with him.”
2) Another change on the offensive line
Rick Leonard, who started four games at right tackle at the beginning of the season, will be back at that post on Saturday.
The switch comes after Brock Ruble, FSU’s right tackle for the last six games, suffered a groin injury against Boston College.
“We’ll see how (Ruble) heals,” Fisher said. “He’ll probably sit out a day or so.”
Fisher said that Leonard’s time out of the starting lineup has allowed him to better refine his skills while not have to worry about the rigors of in-game action. Leonard has only been an offensive lineman since the spring, when he switched over after two years as a defensive end.
He said that, once he settled down, Leonard did a nice job on Friday.
“Once he got going in the game, he picked up two or three really nice twists,” Fisher said. “Played physical. Did a nice job.”
3) Duel in the Dome
Syracuse’s Carrier Dome is one of the unique settings in college football, and, despite the Orange’s struggles in recent years, it can still be a difficult place to play. Just ask Virginia Tech, which was upset, 31-17, last month.
The game marks Fisher’s second trip to the Carrier Dome. The Seminoles won there, 38-20, in 2014.
“I’ve only been there one time, but it was loud,” Fisher said, “I think the indoors, the metal bleachers and the way it echoes in there, it’s a different sound. A different presence. It’s an older dome. It’s just tough. It’s always been a tough place to play.”
Fisher also said that the Seminoles are preparing as if Syracuse quarterback Eric Dungey will play. Dungey missed Syracuse’s game against NC State last week with an unspecified injury, and coach Dino Babers said that Dungey is currently seeking a second opinion on his ailment.
Babers said that Dungey is “probably doubtful” to play against FSU.
4) Respect for Cuse, program history
Fisher has time and again proven his mettle as an encyclopedia of college football, and that certainly holds true when it comes to Syracuse.
Fisher said that the Orange might have the best collection of running backs in college football, and he reeled off a list of names that includes Jim Brown, Ernie Davis, Floyd Little, Jim Nance and Larry Csonka.
“If you go back in history, from ‘Rocket’ Ismail to all the guys that played there, (Don) McPherson and (Donovan) McNabb, they’ve had some great, great, great players,” Fisher said.
The Orange are 4-6 in Babers’ first year, which already matches their win total from 2015.
“Dino’s been very successful everywhere he’s been,” Fisher said. “He’s utilizing his personnel extremely well. … They’ll do a good job. I think he’s a good coach. He’ll recruit well.”
5) Fisher expects CFP to expand
Playing on Friday allowed Fisher to catch Saturday’s college football slate and, like the rest of us, Fisher was wowed by the string of upsets and wild finishes. Nos. 2, 3 and 4 in the College Football Playoff rankings all went down, sending the CFP into potential chaos.
Fisher on Monday spent a long time talking about the effect that the CFP has had on the sport, and noted that the apparent criteria for making the playoff seems to be much different than just two years ago, when FSU started the season 13-0 but entered the CFP as the No. 3-seed – behind a pair of one-loss teams – due to the close nature of several of its wins.
“What’s the criteria? Think about that,” Fisher said. “And it’s a billion-dollar business. … It’s so funny to see how this thing has flipped in so many different angles. ‘Game control’ (implied that) winning didn’t matter. It was ‘Did we control the game?’”
Regardless of how things shake out, Fisher sees the CFP expanding in the future, whether it be to eight or 16 teams.
For his part, Fisher sounds fine with that, so long as the NCAA approves an increase in scholarship limits in order to offset the demands of playing additional games.
This year’s College Football Playoff champion will likely play 15 games (12 regular season, one conference championship, two playoff). and that could expand to 17 under a 16-team playoff.
The NFL plays a 16-game regular season.
“These young guys don’t get treated like a pro guy and get (medical) treatment 10 hours a day,” Fisher said. “They’ve got classes and other things and are limited in what they’ve got to do. You’re opening up another Pandora’s Box.”