LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Fighting back emotions in the wake of Florida State’s 63-20 loss at Louisville, senior defensive end DeMarcus Walker vowed to push himself and his teammates harder than ever before over the final nine games of the regular season. Here’s the full text of what Walker had to say: “It starts with me. From now on, I’m not letting nothing get away. I know what it takes to win a national championship. I’ve seen the older guys (from FSU’s 2013 team) show me the ropes of winning one.
“I can’t be friends. There’s no off-the-field stuff going on. I can’t be cool. When it comes to being on the field, I’ve got to demand what’s right and what to do as a national championship team. And from now on, I’m giving 100 percent. I’m going to step up my leadership skills. I’m not letting nothing – if it’s the smallest thing, I’m getting on it. Because I don’t want to experience this ever again.
“You will never see somebody out-hustle, run to the ball, lead, out-work me. From now on, ever. Ever.”
Walker was then asked what a loss like this does to the team’s mental state. The Seminoles entered the season with aspirations of both an ACC and national championship, but no longer control their destiny toward either of those goals following Saturday’s setback.
Walker, who perhaps more than anyone on the Seminoles roster this season embraced his responsibilities to lead, had an impassioned answer for that, too.
“We’ve just got to control what we can control,” he said. “After this plane touches down, we’re going to worry about South Florida, whoever we play next. I don’t even know.
“But like I said, when we touch down, on the plane, y’all, I promise – I promise – Nole Nation, I promise, you’re going to see a different team. A different identity. God bless.”
And with that, Walker stood up and made his way toward the team bus.
It was a memorable moment on an otherwise forgettable day for the Seminoles.
Once Walker left, his remaining teammates backed him up.
Center Alec Eberle said that FSU’s goal now is to use this game as fuel for next week’s contest at South Florida.
And receiver Travis Rudolph said that even if he didn’t personally notice any glaring issues in FSU’s focus or preparation for Louisville, Walker’s words carry enough weight that it must be true.
“Since DeMarcus said it, I’m with him,” Rudolph said. “He’s a team captain. It’s a gut-check, really. This whole game is a gut-check for all of us. We’ll see what we really are.”
With the game out of reach for much of the second half, FSU coach Jimbo Fisher said he looked to see which players were still competing, still fighting despite the overwhelming margin on the scoreboard.
And, to that end, Fisher came away mostly pleased.
He said no player looked like he didn’t want to be on the field and that Saturday’s outcome was simply the result of Louisville playing better across the board.
“It’s not fluky,” Fisher said. “They lined up and beat us.”
Not that that was much consolation to anyone in the Seminoles’ locker room. Still, Fisher – who hasn’t lost back-to-back games since 2011 – also insisted that now is not the time to sound the alarm.
Yes, the Seminoles have issues that need to be addressed, both in the short and long-term.
But Fisher said he’ll follow the same protocol he does after any game, win or lose: Evaluate the film, identify problems and then set about correcting them.
After all, there are still nine games left on Florida State’s schedule, several of which could go on to define the season as much or more as the one on Saturday.
“I’m not going to panic,” Fisher said. “We’re gong to look at it, get better and move on. We’ll do the same things (to evaluate) that we do every week. There’s no reason to panic.”