Nov. 23, 2010
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – There is not a lot of time for the Florida State football team to dwell on the things fans talk about leading up to the annual rivalry game against Florida.
It’s one reason FSU coach Jimbo Fisher has spent much time answering questions about the Gators’ six-game, series winning streak.
“It doesn’t matter,” Fisher said, following Tuesday’s practice. “What’s in the past is in the past. What’s in the future is to be determined. They’ve got a good program. They’ve done a good job. This deal has been like that for a while – it has went in streaks. If you look at the series there have been a lot of streaks; four- and five-game winning streaks, back and forth.”
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The Seminoles (8-3, 6-2 ACC) enter the game ranked No. 22 in the Associated Press poll and the BCS standings, while the Gators (7-4, 4-4 SEC) are unranked. The game will be televised on ABC/ESPN with kickoff set for 3:30 p.m. at Doak Campbell Stadium.
In his first season as the Seminoles’ coach, Fisher has leaned on a small but important group of seniors to lead the way on and off the field. Quarterback Christian Ponder is one of those, leading the offense and setting a high standard of what will be expected on and off the field of future Seminoles.
Fisher said Ponder should be remembered as a competitor, for his ability, toughness and “the tough times that he played through here to help put us back on top.”
“I say that for all the seniors, because they’ve been through a lot,” Fisher added.
Scholarship seniors Mister Alexander, Matt Dunham, Ponder, Rodney Hudson, Ryan McMahon, Kendall Smith, Markus White and Ochuko Jenije, as well as a number of walk-ons, will be recognized in a pregame ceremony.
That the class has never experience a victory over Florida could serve as additional motivation, though Fisher has down-played that significance and does not believe it will be a distraction.
“I think they are understanding that it’s another game,” he said. “You want to win against Florida; you want to win against your rivals … You can’t let that creep into your preparation. It’s a game you care a lot about, but the key to that is not caring so much, but willing to prepare for it.”
During Tuesday’s practice, the focus was placed squarely on things that will matter when it comes to having the opportunity to break the streak against the Gators. Defensively, the `Noles must contend with Florida’s three-headed quarterback rotation and contain their big-strike playmakers. Offensively, the Seminoles would like to get their offense back to the 400-yard per game standard and put the pressure on the Florida defense.
Neither will be easy.
There are rewards that will come with a triumph in the season-finale, including capturing the unofficial state title and taking the next step in becoming a prominent national player once again.
“(A state title) is another goal, which we set, because we want to re-establish ourselves in the state,” Fisher said. “Again, they’ve won a bunch of games in a row and we have to get back in this rivalry and make it very competitive. …
“Florida has always been a significant player in the national title hunt and for championships, just like Florida State was for many years. When you’re learning to compete with those folks, it means you’re taking steps in the right direction to get back to where you want to go.”
The Seminoles will practice at their regularly scheduled time Wednesday, then back up practice to early afternoon on Thanksgiving Day; their final full workout before the contest.