TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Jimbo Fisher met with the media Monday to reflect on Florida State’s loss at Boston College last week, and look ahead to Saturday’s home game against Syracuse (12:20 p.m., ACC Network). Here are highlights from that conversation.
After losses to North Carolina State, Miami and Louisville, the Seminoles could watch film and see a handful of plays or moments that, had they gone a little differently, could have changed the outcome of those games.
But that wasn’t the case at Boston College, a game in which the Seminoles lost, 35-3 and, per Fisher, didn’t compete at a level that met expectations.
“We didn’t play well at all,” Fisher said. “It was a game in which we were beaten in in all three phases – offense, defense, special teams, coaching, everything. Coaches and players, we’ve got to do a much better job. And we collectively, as an organization, didn’t fulfill what we needed to do in that game, for sure.
“Our fans deserve better than that. They deserve us to play better than that, deserve us to compete better than that.”
As the season has gotten more difficult, Fisher said he’s seen signs of the weight of the last few weeks taking a toll.
The effort and energy is still there, but, once things go wrong, it gets harder to bounce back. FSU’s second drive of the Boston College game is a good example. After falling behind, 7-0, the Seminoles hit a big trick play and had the ball inside the Eagles’ 10-yard with a chance to tie the game. Instead, the Seminoles turned the ball over, BC capitalized and never looked back.
“I think when you’ve had young guys, and they’ve had two or three or four times that that this has happened, I think sometimes (they think), ‘Oh God,’ you know what I mean?” Fisher said. “And instead of just (continuing to fight, we’re) just looking at it. As I say, looking at a fire. You go fight the fire.
“And I think that happened. I think there was passion. I think there was want-to.”
It’s hard to imagine a more difficult introduction to major college football than the one offered to James Blackman – a true freshman, who did not enroll early, suddenly thrust into action after an injury to a veteran.
And while Blackman has shown flashes of brilliance, he’s also had a few freshman moments, too.
The most important thing, Fisher said, is that Blackman uses those experiences – the ups as well as the downs – to continue to improve.
“You have to grow in it and learn from it,” Fisher said. “We have to teach him from this, and he has to learn from it. But his attitude and demeanor are very good.
“It matters to him. He cares. Watching the film with (him) on the way back on the plane, he sees it – ‘Man, I should have done that, I should have done that. I knew to do that, I knew how to do that.’”
With a month to go in the season, Fisher sees two sets of opportunities for his players: An opportunity for his underclassmen to lay a strong foundation of resolve and leadership for the future, and an opportunity for his upperclassmen – especially the seniors – to redefine the ends of their careers.
Because, no matter the arena, football or otherwise, there’s going to be difficult stretches. Coming back from them is an important skill to learn.
“There’s going to be tough times and tough things that happen,” Fisher said. “So, I think it’s an excellent opportunity. That’s what we’re looking for: Guys that want to be part of the solution.”
Syracuse coach Dino Babers has become one of the most popular up-and-coming coaches in the country thanks to his high-speed offenses and a series of videos from the locker room that show him rallying his team into a frenzy.
In his second year with the Orange, the former Bowling Green coach has already equaled last year’s win total of four, and he earned his first signature victory by beating Clemson a few weeks ago.
“Dino has always done a great job,” Fisher said. “He’s a great guy and a really good football coach. He’s done heck of a job.”
And he’s got a quality quarterback running his offense. Junior Eric Dungey is as much a threat to run as he is to pass, and he keeps the Orange moving at one of the fastest paces in the country. Syracuse averages 2.8 plays per minute of game time.
“Talk about a competitor, now,” Fisher said. “You’re talking about a guy who can really play, makes the difference for them and makes them go. He’s a heck of a football player, heck of a leader.”