TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – As a few small injuries mount up, the No. 1-ranked Seminoles continue to roll heading into Saturday’s game at Syracuse.
Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher is encouraged by the Seminoles’ depth heading into the second half of the regular season schedule.
“It doesn’t worry me, (injuries) just come and you have to deal with them,” Fisher said. “It is (different than last year), sometimes the Gods smile on you, sometimes they don’t. It doesn’t mean you can’t have success – you have to have a plan and everybody has attrition.”
Starting center Austin Barron (arm) and All-American wide receiver Rashad Greene (concussion) were knocked out last Saturday’s 43-3 win over Wake Forest with injuries, while Fisher said starting running back Karlos Williams (lower leg), backup quarterback Sean Maguire (hand) and rotation defensive tackle Demarcus Christmas (lower leg) could also miss time.
“Injuries, you train well and heal and you play good ball and you hope and pray those things don’t happen,” Fisher said. “That’s just ball, you get a bunch of big bodies falling around out there and that happened. The thing I’m encouraged with is the depth we have and you see us practice like we do. In other words, those freshmen, I say this, how quickly those freshmen develop will be the key for us because not only their ability to get on the field and make plays, but when guys get hurt, being ready to step up.”
Greene could be back to face the Orange, but if not sophomore receiver Jesus Wilson (17 receptions, three touchdowns) and freshmen Ermon Lane and Travis Rudolph give the Noles other options that continue to develop and grow into roles. Lane and Rudolph each had 59-yard catches last game.
Redshirt sophomore running back Mario Pender would be expected to shoulder the load in the backfield more along with freshman Dalvin Cook. Pender led FSU with 70 yards rushing and a touchdown on just five carries last Saturday.
“He can bounce and slither and get skinny and is very natural as a runner,” Fisher said of Pender. “As I say, snake-ish, you think you’re going to get a piece of him and he twists or turns or gets a glance and he’s still going forward when you hit him.”
Redshirt freshman Ryan Hoefeld did will at center in the second half on Saturday and is expected to start there until Barron returns.
Fisher said quarterback Jameis Winston’s backups would be redshirt freshmen John Franklin III and Troy Cook or true freshman J.J. Cosentino in an emergency.
“We will have John Franklin have a package and we will also do some things with Troy Cook,” Fisher said. “He does an outstanding job. We will have J.J. [Cosentino] as an emergency guy as he learns the offense.”
FSU the Only Ranked Team with Two Wins over Currently Ranked Teams
The No. 1-ranked Seminoles are the only ranked team in the country to have wins over two current USA Today/Amway Coaches Poll Top 25 teams. FSU beat No. 18 Oklahoma State 37-31 to open the season on Aug. 30 and No. 25 Clemson, 23-17, on Sept. 20. South Carolina is not ranked this week, but the Gamecocks also have wins over No. 10 Georgia and No. 19 East Carolina.
Aguayo, Northrup Collect Weekly Honors
Redshirt sophomore kicker Roberto Aguayo and junior linebacker Reggie Northrup collected ACC Player of the Week honors following their standout performances in Florida State’s 43-3 victory over Wake Forest on Saturday.
Aguayo was named ACC Specialist of the Week after he tied a school record by nailing five field goals against the Demon Deacons. He has made 21 consecutive field goals dating back to last season, breaking the FSU record of 18 straight set by Graham Gano in 2008.
Aguayo was also named a Lou Groza Star of the Week and the College Football Performance Awards (CFPA) National Placekicker of the Week. He had a career-best 19 points versus Wake Forest and leads the ACC and ranks fourth in the country in scoring (11.6).
The Mascotte, Fla., native has made 79 straight kicks (including 58 consecutive PATs) entering this Saturday’s game at Syracuse. For his career, the 2013 Lou Groza Award winner has made 33 of 34 field goal attempts and all 116 of his extra points.
This marks Aguayo’s second ACC Specialist of the Week award of his career.
Northrup captured his first career ACC Linebacker of the Week award after totaling a team-high eight tackles and scoring his first career defensive touchdown. Northrup forced a fumble while tackling Wake Forest running back Isaiah Robinson and returned the ball 31 yards for a score. The Jacksonville, Fla., native leads FSU with 43 total tackles this season.
He was also name an Honorable Mention National Linebacker of the Week from CFPA.
Jimbo Fisher Press Conference Transcript
“I’m very proud of our team in the Wake Forest game. Our defense really stepped up. I thought that they did a great job in the overall game – very few missed tackles, (they did a great job of) leveraging the ball, pressuring the quarterback, creating turnovers, dictating the tempo of the game from the outset. I thought that special teams did a great job except for one kick that Roberto (Aguayo) let slip away out of bounds, kickoffs were great, covers were great, they had one little return on the first one and they got a little field position, but (we) set the tone from pinning them back. Did great job of covering the kicks, returning kicks, had a great kickoff return, had a great punt return to set up a score or two in the first half. Guys did a real nice job overall. Kicked the ball – Cason (Beatty) had a great one we let get away. It should have been down on the four-yard line. He does as good of a job as anyone I’ve been around as far as dropping the ball inside the ten or five yard line on those kicks. Outstanding job there. Offense had two turnovers on the first drives, moved the ball well just not sustained enough. The first interception, we need to flatten out that route a little bit, just an inch-and-a-half off outside. Guy got his fingertips on it and made a good play. We’ve got to flatten that out just a hair. Second one, we just dropped the ball. Karlos (Williams) just dropped the ball, he made a nice cut. We sustained the injury to (Austin) Barron and I thought Ryan Hoefeld did an outstanding job in my opinion. Coming in and after the first couple of plays, getting his feet on the ground (he had) a couple high snaps but we gathered them. Just his calls, his blocking, did an outstanding job up front blocking and we got into a rhythm and started moving the football and (we) were able to score. I’m very proud that we were able to score right before the half, got a touchdown and able to pin them back, use a timeout and got it and had a nice field goal and we had a chance for a touchdown. We were just inches off (of making the play). We were just inches off all night on three plays, just off finger tips or we dropped it. It could have been an outstanding night but that’s the way offense goes sometimes. (We) came out at the start of the second half and got points on the first drive. Defense set the tone again by getting turnovers and we scored again on offense. I’m very proud of the young receivers coming out when Rashad Greene was out in the second half. It was still a 13-3 ball game and they came out and executed extremely well. Ermon Lane, Travis Rudolph, I thought Bobo (Jesus) Wilson stepped up and Christian Green, Kermit (Whitfield) and Scooter Haggins had a nice vertical catch. It was good to get him back in the mix. Those guys did an outstanding job stepping up and accepting the role in that responsibility. I’m very pleased with their performance. Now, we’ve got to get ready for a Syracuse team that’s a very good team. On defense, they do a great job (on) blitz multiple packages, different looks, three-four down, nickel, dime – (they) do a great job offensively. They’re very multiple in what they do. I know they just sustained a key Injury to their quarterback. We’ll have to change things. We’ll have to guess a little bit on how they’re going to do things on offense. They changed offensive coordinators and for a kicking team, they’re very sound. It’s an extremely tough place to play. It’s a different kind of noise when you go into a dome, It’s totally different. It will be a good atmosphere and they’ll be waiting on us like anybody else. We have to get better, keep improving and keep progressing along.”
On senior wide receiver Rashad Greene’s status:
“Rashad’s response today was really good. (He did not having) lingering effects. He still has to go to protocol and a step process to come back or whatever happens in that regard. When it was brought to our attention, we got him out there at halftime. He came out at halftime and said he felt a little dizzy, threw up there and they said there could be something there. So, he sustained that probably towards the end of the first half. Sometimes it can come after, I don’t know. It was brought to our attention. We communicated with him every time on and off the field, we never saw him got hit or anything like that. He had the symptoms of concussion and now he’ll go through the protocol and our doctor here, we have an expert here and we feel very comfortable with the hands he’s in. He’ll make all of the decisions.”
On redshirt junior linebacker Terrance Smith not playing against Wake Forest:
“I had him out for violation for team rules. He will be back this week.”
On the injury report after the Wake Forest game:
“Austin [Barron] has the arm. He will be out. Demarcus Christmas has a high ankle sprain, he will be out. Karlos [Williams] has the ankle and Sean [Maguire] has s hand. He has a little bone in his hand and he may be out a week or two. If I had to give a percentage, I would say yes [to Karlos Williams not playing this week] but it depends on how the guy heals when he is in a boot. Tre’ Jackson is still up and down on his concussion. He still has to be cleared also.”
On the backup quarterback this week since redshirt sophomore quarterback Sean Maguire will be out due to injury:
“We will have John Franklin have a package and we will also do some things with Troy Cook. He does an outstanding job. We will have J.J. [Cosentino] as an emergency guy as he learns the offense.”
On if Greene’s concussion does not seem as bad as Mario Edwards Jr’s and Mario Pender’s:
“When they examined him, he didn’t have the headaches and a lot of those things. Those things, I’ve seen the one day they’re real good the next day they’re affected later – the affects will come later or sometimes, I remember Kenny Shaw had one and after four or five days he was fine. Every person is different and that’s why we hired an expert to make sure we have someone down here. We don’t take chances with careers or lives.”
On having a game changer like redshirt sophomore kicker Roberto Aguayo:
“Big time, not only points wise, but kickoff – the placement, the height, so he can get coverage (and) dictate field position. That’s something we worked on. That’s something he had to work on because in the beginning he said ‘Let’s just kick them out’ and I said ‘We have some real fast guys that are pretty big and they can cover,’ so if we kick that thing real high and we can gain – I know from my perspective as an offensive guy when you get pinned inside the 20 (yard line) and how you call things, you’ve got to be careful. You get a holding call and then you’re inside the five (yard line) now, you’re putting. All the things change. Having him to be a weapon as a field goal kicker and a field goal and kickoff guy is tremendous. He’s phenomenal. His work ethic. It’s not talent, I mean he’s talented but that guy puts the time and effort into being a great player.”
On preparing for a Syracuse team that will have a lot of changes on offense:
“You just go back to what they do. They’ve got three days to do what they’re going to do. We’ll research the history of what they’ve done and what the other coordinators have done and what type of quarterback these guys are. They’ve got two guys – one’s more of a thrower, the other one is a runner and we’ll have to prepare for all of the packages. I don’t want to say it’s routine, but it’s kind of more the norm right now because so many people are doing so many different things. What we do with our guys, can carry in some stuff we did at Clemson or stuff you did here. They’re getting so much of that run, spread stuff plus pass because they’re getting so much of the pass when they go against us in practice all the time. From that standpoint there’s still a lot they can fall back on and have to make calls and see how the game is going.”
On junior linebacker Reggie Northrup’s performance:
“I thought he played an outstanding game. (He’s) still get keys and comes down here. He created a big turnover and got the fumble and did a really nice job – tackled well. He did a very nice job in the game.”
On freshman defensive end Lorenzo Featherston handling more of a load:
“I think well. I think there’s pressure and a couple of times we lost contain in that game and he got a little antsy and tried to dip under and we lost contain. With these young guys when you have the greatness, there’s going to be a play or two – coach says just throw them in there and then you say, ‘Why did that guy break contain?’ Well, that’s the same guy you want in there making that play. It’s part of the consistency level. Here’s the thing, what I love about Lorenzo, he can tell you exactly what happened, so he’s seeing it, ‘I made a mistake, I should have been,’ and he can tell you right back. He’s a guy that corrects his mistakes quickly because he understands ball and of course his big play potential is what he does. The guy is going to be a heck of a football player.”
On redshirt sophomore linebacker Ukeme Eligwe coming back:
“You saw the athleticism and the flash on special teams but you saw a little rust – keys and reads but we knew that and that’s why I’m glad we got him in as quick as we can to start the middle part of our schedule. You have other injuries. You’d like to take some snaps off guys and get that balance back. I thought he was solid in the game and made some plays, very physical, and he ran around well and the good thing is his foot didn’t react. Now he’s got to get back into playing, getting his keys and reads and all of that stuff.”
On junior defensive end Mario Edwards Jr. being able to affect the quarterback:
“Affecting the quarterback, moving him off that spot. When you watch from (Peyton) Manning, (Tom) Brady or whoever, when you can make that quarterback move and he loses sight of scrambling those eyes and you lose sight of things and I thought Mario was outstanding. To me, he was the defensive player of the week. He was outstanding and dominating on that side of the ball. Offense, we picked three guys, (Ryan) Hoefeld, Travis Rudolph and Ermon Lane because all three guys as young freshmen, you say, ‘Alright you guys want to play, be ready when your number is called,’ and they all say they’re ready but then what happens, they’re not ready. Hoefeld stepped in, played phenomenal. Lots of the other receivers did but those two young freshmen when 80 wasn’t in the game in the second half, they stepped up and played big and Hoefeld came in and did an outstanding job and I thought those three were our players of the game. That’s really encouraging.”
On redshirt freshman center Ryan Hoefeld being that traditional offensive line guy that Coach Rick Trickett finds:
“We had him in camp and we really liked him. People don’t realize, he’s 300 pounds. He’s got big, wide hips and legs and anchors in there very strong. He’s probably, 15, 18 pounds bigger than (Austin) Barron. Different type of guy. Anchors things very well, solid. I think he’s going – We felt really good coming out of fall practice and where he’s at right now. We feel very comfortable putting him in, but you never know until a guy goes in. He did a heck of a job.”
On if he thought about putting a different offensive lineman at center:
“No. That’s where we were going first. That’s what you see us all the time working centers in practice. You’ll see Cam Erving, you’ll see all those guys snap all the time because it’s such a unique position, you have to have guys available to do that. But that was definitely our first choice in what we were going to do.”
On if he likes what he sees from running backs Mario Pender and Dalvin Cook:
“I have. I think they’re getting better each week. What all those guys do, we get around them so much and all backs have to learn in college and I think they’re learning that now. They’re used to making big plays and that’s what we want to see. It’s not what it’s about. It’s being able to make that four, five and six yard run. It’s being able to hit that thing, instead of having a two yard run be a twenty yard run, let me take four, five and six then those big ones will pop. Those guys are starting to do that. They’re so used to running away from everybody on every field they’ve ever been on and of course Pender did that the other day he had a big one. He had a couple plays out in the flat. They’re doing a really good job of running in between the tackles and being physical.”
On Mario Pender having a knack for those physical runs:
“He does. He can bounce and slither and get skinny and is very natural as a runner. As I say, snake-ish, you think you’re going to get a piece of him and he twists or turns or gets a glance and he’s still going forward when you hit him. Marcus Allen was a lot like that and he was the best goal line runner in NFL history. He was just a giant as a tall lean guy, he would contort, squeeze, jump and just had that something special on the goal line.”
On the small injuries that are starting to mount up:
“You’re always concerned but as a coach you plan for them. But they’re not pulls and tears, they’re actually, an ankle, a knee, an arm – sometimes things break when you bunch big guys into each other, things break more often than not. Like turnovers, just keep playing good defense and turnovers will come. Injuries, you train well and heal and you play good ball and you hope and pray those things don’t happen. That’s just ball, you get a bunch of big bodies falling around out there and that happened. The thing I’m encouraged with is the depth we have and you see us practice like we do. In other words, those freshmen, I say this, how quickly those freshmen develop will be the key for us because not only their ability to get on the field and make plays, but when guys get hurt, being ready to step up. Even if it’s not making a 100-yard game, but come in and give me 15 plays and pick up a blitz run or make a run or a catch when you have to make it and that’s why we practice, to get as many of those guys ready and play them as quickly as we can because the attrition of football now, we’re playing more games and we keep adding games, we need to add players. It’s a lot of them. It doesn’t worry me, they just come and you have to deal with them. It is (different than last year), sometimes the Gods smile on you, sometimes they don’t. It doesn’t mean you can’t have success – you have to have a plan and everybody has attrition.”
On freshman wide receiver Travis Rudolph’s development:
“I have been very pleased. He will make little mistakes here and there. Sometimes you may not see them because of how we teach things or whatever, but man that guy is just growing. He and Ermon [Lane] are really coming, and I think Ja’Vonn Harrison is going to be a heckuva player too. Those two guys are really coming on. I am very pleased with Travis [Rudolph].
On no lingering effects of Travis Rudolph’s previous foot injury:
“No. I think the lingering effects in the beginning were more caution then anything. You know how you have to just trust something to find out if it was alright? Once he realized it was he has just taken off.”
On if Travis Rudolph has a chance to start if senior wide receiver Rashad Greene can’t play:
“We will have to wait and see, but there is a possibility. Yes. There is a possibility in that whether we are two wideouts or three wideouts, whatever goes on.”
On how being 6-foot-7 helps freshman defensive end Lorenzo Featherston and what advantage does it give him:
“I think length. I think vision. If he couldn’t bend it could be a hindrance, but this guy can bend. He has a vertical of 38 inches. He has a wing span of a 7-foot-3 guy, not a 6-foot-7 guy. I think the width, the length, the vision and then the burst and athleticism. He has all of those packages. That is why he is so athletic he is so fast twitch. His body is so hard and he explodes. He is very strong. It is just three more inches of greatness. They would all like to have it. If you can keep the same ability you have at 6-foot-3 and go 6-foot-7 you definitely would take it. That is what I see in him.”
On what sophomore wide receiver Bobo Wilson has learned from his experience of getting in trouble and being suspended the first game of the season:
“Yes he is. As far as with us, every time I am with him, being on time, being where he needs to be, yes sir, no sir and how quick it can be taken away from you and you realize how much he loved it. Sometimes they say suspend a guy and leave him home. I think it is more punishable to dress him and stand him on the sideline. Let him watch his teammates struggle and know that you can’t be there and you let them down. I think that really got to him and he understood that because he saw him wanting to get in there with those guys. Bobo [Wilson] is a great young man. He just made a mistake and he has to learn from it and hopefully will.”
On who he envisions being that second wide receiver before this season started after losing Kelvin Benjamin from last season:
“Coming out of spring I thought it would be him [Bobo Wilson] just because I thought he finished off spring very well, was doing a great job and because of his ability of being a slot or an outside guy. A lot of time little guys, like he and Kermit [Whitfield], the unique thing about both of them they are not just slot guys because they have great speed so they can go outside. All of those guys are quick. I envisioned him being that guy because he can run with the ball and he is a lot more physical than you think he is. He is a tough little sucker.”
On if redshirt sophomore quarterback Jameis Winston’s suspension or off the field issues has affected his play with poor ball placement this season:
“I think it is more influenced by the guys around him getting to where they are supposed to be and how they are supposed to be there. When you say placement, a placement could be from a route being carried too high and not flattened out or vice versa. Getting everybody on the same page and continuing to grow with that. Of course he has let a couple balls fly. We have had a couple protection issues. We have had a couple protection issues that he has had to move on. Still, the guy has completed about 68 percent of his passes. He has thrown for about 320 yards per game. His numbers are actually up from a year ago. He has actually thrown for more yards and a higher percentage than he did a year ago. As we continue to grow around him, if he is our biggest problem I’m going to be in great shape.”
On how many times redshirt freshman wide receiver/quarterback John Franklin III plays quarterback in practice:
“He comes back once or twice a week. I think it has helped him both ways when he goes both places. He has a legitimate arm and he can run like the wind. He is a 10.6-10.7 100-meter guy.”
On visiting Syracuse player Julian Whigham that got hurt in last season’s game against Florida State in the hospital:
“In this game we are all competitors, gladiators that those guys are, [I have] great respect. I knew he was from West Palm [Florida]. I didn’t know he had some family that did come there. If that was my son or my child and he was hurt and happened to be left behind from his team, I would want somebody to at least go check up on him. I just wanted to let him know how much we appreciate him as a competitor, as a fellow football player, that we respect what he does and make sure that he was okay and let his family know because I know they were in West Palm. The mom wanted to come up there and be with him. You never want to see, I don’t care how much you want to win, nothing is worth any young man ever being hurt. I would hope somebody would do the same thing if that was my son somewhere.”
On if a serious injury to a player affects the mindset of a coach:
“It does. You have to block it out. I hate to say that, but you can’t let yourself go there because you will get caught up in it at that particular time in the game because you have a responsibility to the other players. It does catch you. No matter how long you’re in it you don’t get over it.”
On if they are getting frustrated with the lack of production from Nick O’Leary the past couple games:
“No. We had a bunch of balls called to him. We had a couple option routes – that one we went down the sidelines to Rashad [Greene] and we missed him. He had an option. The pick [interception] we have to flatten that one out. We had a couple option routes inside. We had a scramble earlier. Matter of fact, the ball that Travis [Rudolph] caught for a touchdown we thought that ball would go to Nick [O’Leary]. We had about seven or eight things called. That is just the way it goes. Sometimes the coverage goes that way or reads or get pressure. There will be games again where he will catch 6-8 [passes]. We had a lot of things targeted to him.”
On the offense not looking as good as it did last season:
“I don’t mean this in any disregard, but I don’t care. I say that from this point, it is not the same team. All of a sudden we perceive what something should be and when it’s not exactly like we perceived it there is something wrong. Maybe there is nothing wrong. We still have scored on 19-of-24 drives. How many teams in the country would love to do that? How many teams would love to, every time he [Jameis Winston] is under center, we have scored 37, 37, 56 and 43. If we keep scoring 37, 37, 56 and 43 we will be in good shape. It doesn’t look the same. It’s just like a boxer. Some people like style points. Some guys are defensive boxers and will out point you. Other guys will knock you out like the [Mike] Tyson theory. Was [Muhammad] Ali greater or Tyson greater or Joe Louis greater? Styles, I think that’s where we are just a different style of offense. We still throw it. We still run it and we are still very effective. You just don’t see some of the KB [Kelvin Benjamin] or the flash and dash all the time. I’ll tell you this, as these young receivers keep progressing with these older guys. Now we can get to call things from a different perspective and feel comfortable with their one-on-one throwing the ball like we did this weekend, some of those things will come back. We have to continue to run the ball and do that better.”
On the status of redshirt freshman linebacker Matthew Thomas:
“As of right now we are thinking in another week he should be able to play against Notre Dame. He is a great athlete, but we have some other great players. It is not like he walks in and changes everything. He is a tremendous special teams guy because he has range and size, hard to block and can cover. He can run in space. He closes. He is so athletic, a tremendous space player. He can rush off the edge and he can blitz the middle and he can play middle backer. He brings a lot. He has good ball skills. Everybody said he wore that number (No. 6) because he played wideout as a little kid. They moved him to linebacker in high school. He has great ball skills too.”
On how redshirt sophomore linebacker Ukeme Eligwe felt after playing in his first game coming back from injury:
“Good. Physically fine. He will knock that rust off as he plays, but very happy that there were no lingering effects on the foot. He is probably sore.”
On the difficulty of going on the road before a big home game against Notre Dame:
“Anytime you go on the road, people don’t put a timetable on that thing. Distance matters. I know it sounds silly, but it does. The farther you go the harder it is. You are going to a different part of the country. You are on the plane long. You are going to a dome. You are going to play against a team that plays great defense. They are athletic and they are used to winning. Being able to win on the road is critical.”
On the ability that some teams have to still win regardless of penalties:
“Usually it depends on how talented you are. It is what I call erasers. That was one of the things we could do last year. You could absorb penalties on offense, you had so many big play potential players they could erase those yards. On defense you have a guy that gets a big penalty, can somebody now get a sack or a pick [interception] or something like that. With certain guys you have to play perfectly. The [Oakland] Raiders used to be like that. Florida State for a history of time, all the great teams were very highly penalized teams. During the run of the dynasty, you go back and look at it, they were highly penalized teams. They were usually so talented they could easily make up for plays and things. You have to teach aggression. You have to teach being that way but at the same time you want them to go as hard as they can, be tough and nasty but don’t make a penalty. Don’t make a mistake. That is a hard thing to do. There is a fine line and you have to be able to coach it that way. You have to be able to adapt and if you do that you have to be able to overcome them. Usually athletically gifted teams are ones that can do that. I’d rather be athletically gifted and don’t make up penalties.”