By Tim Linafelt
Seminoles.com Senior Writer
@Tim_Linafelt on Twitter
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Like most college football teams, second-ranked Florida State has its share of bumps and bruises as the calendar flips to November.
Seminoles coach Jimbo Fisher updated the statuses of a number of players at his Monday press conference, including Jameis Winston (ankle), Terrance Smith (pectoral strain), Mario Pender and several others.
Fisher also looked ahead to the Seminoles’ homecoming matchup with the Virginia Cavaliers on Saturday (6:30 p.m., ESPN).
Here are five takeaways from Fisher’s meeting with the media.
1) It doesn’t sound like any of the injuries are especially serious
Fisher said that Winston’s twisted ankle is fine and that he’s good to go. He may be slightly limited in practice, but all indications are that he’ll be 100 percent by Saturday.
The only one who still sounds uncertain is Pender. The running back has missed the last two weeks recovering from a high-ankle sprain and hasn’t played since Oct. 11 at Syracuse.
“He could be (available),” Fisher said. “I’m anxious to see how he does the first couple days this week. There’s a chance. I don’t know either way.”
2) Fisher is still wowed by Ermon Lane’s TD catch
Ermon Lane’s 38-yard touchdown catch at Louisville was an impressive piece of work. Not only did it give the Seminoles their first lead of the game, but, according to Fisher, it required the type of concentration not often found by true freshmen.
“To go into that crowd (of defenders) and not hesitate and keep the focus and concentration and catch that ball – not only catch it and then come out and run it on the other side and score,” Fisher said. “That was a pretty good play on a couple guys’ parts right there.”
3) Jameis Winston’s second interception wasn’t all his fault
At first glance, it’s apparent that Winston’s second interception, midway through the second quarter, was thrown into a crowd of three Cardinals defenders.
The throw missed target Travis Rudolph and was easily picked off by Louisville’s Gerod Holliman, who leads the country in interceptions.
Fisher, though, said that Rudolph shares some responsibility for not running his entire route at full speed. If he had, Winston’s throw likely would’ve dropped right into his lap.
“That’s where youth comes in sometimes,” Fisher said. “A guy thinks, ‘Well, I probably won’t get it in this look.’ They don’t really stop, it’s 85 percent (effort) instead of 100 percent and that throws it off. That’s youth, inexperience and things that happen. But that is expected with young players. You have to take the good with the bad.”
Fisher also noted that Rudolph learned from his mistake and didn’t let it happen again. He went on to score a 68-yard touchdown in the third quarter.
“(He said) ‘Yes sir, it won’t happen again.’ It didn’t happen again. Boom.”
4) Winston’s ability to bounce back from mistakes is part of what makes him so effective
After the game, Winston said he’d before never thrown three interceptions in his life. But rather than wilt after making those errors – which led to 20 Louisville points – Winston responded and engineered five touchdown drives in the second half.
That includes three touchdown passes of 68, 47 and 35 yards.
“It’s hard to do,” Fisher said. “That’s one of the unique things about him and our team, to play the next play. Go on and block out the next play. To me, that’s what shows supreme confidence in yourself.”
5) Even Fisher couldn’t predict that the true freshmen would have this much of an impact
Fisher of course fielded several questions about his freshman trio of Rudolph, Lane and Dalvin Cook, and for good reason. The three combined to score four touchdowns on Thursday.
A reporter asked if FSU went into the season knowing if those three in particular would contribute in such a big way.
“You don’t ever know,” Fisher said. “But you’ve got to develop your players. That’s why we practice the way we do.
“I’ve always said I can’t predict which one of those guys are going to emerge. You don’t ever know. You think you know coming in, then they’ll show you what kind of expert you are.”
He also added that just because Rudolph, Lane and Cook have developed so quickly doesn’t mean that FSU’s other first-year players won’t contribute down the road, either.
“Those other freshmen,” he said, “just because they’re not quite ready yet doesn’t mean they’re not going to be super players also.”