December 24, 2014 - by
Noles Inch Closer to Pasadena

By Tim Linafelt
Seminoles.com Senior Writer
@Tim_Linafelt on Twitter

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The next time the Florida State Seminoles are all together, they’ll be preparing to board a plane for California. 

FSU on Monday finished the Tallahassee portion of its bowl preparation. The Seminoles are now scattered about the country, visiting family and friends for the holidays.

They’ll return on Friday and then, after a brief team walkthrough, it’s off to Los Angeles.  A date with Oregon awaits in the Rose Bowl on New Year’s Day.

“I’m very pleased,” said FSU coach Jimbo Fisher, who Tuesday agreed to a new, eight-year contract. 

“There have been great workouts the whole bowl practice (session). The kids are very focused, very detailed and enjoyed it. Worked hard but had a smile on their faces.”

Fisher said that the last practice before the holidays is sometimes a little sluggish as players daydream of relaxation, big meals and a brief reprieve from yelling coaches.

But he didn’t see any of that from this year’s team.

The Seminoles are unbeaten for a second straight season. They’ve won 29 straight games dating back to 2012 and are in the hunt for a second consecutive national championship.

“Usually it’s just the opposite when you have a team that’s not very mature, because they’re already out the door,” Fisher said. “This group is not like that. Last year’s group was not like that. So that excites me.”

Fisher is also excited about the potential return of defensive tackle Nile Lawrence-Stample.

Lawrence-Stample, a fourth-year junior, tore a pectoral muscle against Clemson on Sept. 20, and FSU feared at the time that he would miss the rest of the season. But his recovery is ahead of schedule and Fisher believes that he could play against the Ducks.

That would be huge news for the Seminoles. Their defensive line will be front and center against Oregon’s hurry-up, no-huddle attack, so having as many bodies as possible to rotate in and stay fresh will be important.

“I feel very comfortable with Nile,” Fisher said. “(He is) really developing his strength. I like his progress.”

While injured, Lawrence-Stample remained committed to being a part of the team. He attended all meetings and film sessions even though he knew he wouldn’t be playing on Saturdays.

Fisher said that dedication kept Lawrence-Stample’s mind sharp, which should serve him well after such a lengthy absence from the field.

“It makes a huge difference,” he said. “Because you mentally get out of it (when injured). And when you’re around practice and the players, you stay in that mindset.”

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