TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The last few days have been anything but normal for the Florida State football team.
But with Hurricane Irma’s threat to Tallahassee now over, a sense of normalcy is returning to the program.
While FSU hasn’t played since Sept. 2, and won’t play again until its new home opener against North Carolina State on Sept. 23, the Seminoles returned to the practice fields Tuesday, and they’ll practice again today, Thursday and Friday.
“I think it was good for the kids,” FSU coach Jimbo Fisher said during the ACC’s weekly teleconference. “We’re out of school all week, so they’ll have some time to get away and study some film and get back to normality with things.”
The Seminoles were originally scheduled to host ULM last week and Miami on Saturday, but Irma had other plans. The ULM game was cancelled late last week, and the Miami game rescheduled for Oct. 7.
Altered schedules and an approaching storm made for a tense weekend in Tallahassee, but the city escaped Irma with brief power outages and minimal damage.
Even better, Fisher said that all players and their families – many of which are scattered around the state, where Irma’s impact was more significant – are accounted for and safe.
“That was the most important thing,” he said.
Getting back on track after such a long layoff could be a challenge, and Fisher said it’s imperative for the Seminoles to get into “game mode” and “playing fast” as quickly as possible.
But if anyone knows how to navigate the aftermath of a major storm, it’s Fisher, who was on staff at LSU in 2005, when Hurricanes Katrina and Rita wreaked havoc on the Louisiana coast and disrupted the Tigers’ schedule.
That year, LSU’s originally-scheduled home opener against Arizona State instead was moved to Tempe, Ariz. Two weeks later, Hurricane Rita forced a home game against Tennessee to be played on a Monday instead of a Saturday.
The Tigers finished the season 11-2 and ranked No. 5 in the country.
“(The situations) are similar,” Fisher said. “Not many people get to go through two (hurricanes) like that. …
“Sometimes it can bond you and pull you together, like it did at LSU that year with us. With those two hurricanes, I think it brought our team very much tighter together. And they understood that we have to face a lot of adversity, and sometimes that’s really good.”
With NC State on the horizon, Fisher said the Seminoles will treat the next 10 days as a hybrid between a usual bye week and a week of fall camp.
FSU will also maintain its usual meeting and practice times in an effort to keep things as familiar as possible.
And, in a sense, getting the extra time to sharpen skills and prepare for the rest of the season could be a good thing. Missing two consecutive game weekends means that, when they do resume, the Seminoles could play as many as 11 straight games without a break.
“It is (a positive),” Fisher said, “as far as you get more practice time like camp. You can treat it just like camp and do a lot of your same drills and things like that and isolate things that way.”
Still, like most Seminoles fans, Fisher is anxious for game days. It’s been nearly 10 months since FSU played in Doak Campbell Stadium, and the NC State game will mark the program’s latest home opener in 40 years, when FSU hosted Miami on Sept. 24, 1977.
Opening kickoff between the Seminoles and Wolfpack is 10 days away.
“We’d love to play,” Fisher said. “But we understand that that’s where we’re at as a state and we have to adhere to everything there, help everyone in the state do as much as they can.
“But we’re looking forward to getting back.”