TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Under normal circumstances, a five-day turnaround after a late, Monday-night game might make for a challenge.
For Florida State, it could be a blessing.
The Seminoles opened their season with a humbling, 24-3 defeat to Virginia Tech, but they won’t have to wait long for a chance to wash the bad taste out of their mouths.
Kickoff against Samford, a Football Championship Subdivision program from Birmingham, is Saturday at 7:20 p.m.
“We’ve got the 24-hour rule,” coach Willie Taggart said. “We’ve got a short week. We’ve got to put (the loss) behind us and get back to work.”
That starts with post-game treatment, continues with film review and then carries onto the practice fields, where the Seminoles will look to clean up their mistakes and miscues in short order.
FSU took an NCAA-mandated day off on Tuesday, and will have just two full days of practice before a walkthrough on Friday.
The good news is that FSU’s juniors and seniors have been here before. Two years ago, the Seminoles rallied to beat Mississippi on a Monday night, then turned around and knocked off FCS Charleston Southern, 52-8.
“It’s a quick turnaround, but we knew it was coming,” junior defensive end Brian Burns said. “It’s nothing we haven’t prepared for.”
But while lower-division opponents often mean lopsided scores and extended playing time for reserves, the Seminoles might be wise to take Samford more seriously than that.
The Bulldogs are No. 9 in the FCS Top 25, have made the FCS playoffs in three of the last five years and are coming off a 66-9 romp over Division II Shorter last Thursday.
Which means Samford will have had 10 days to get ready for its trip to Tallahassee.
For Burns, FSU’s recipe is simple:
“Read the film. Find what’s wrong. Fix it,” he said.
That part should be easy.
The bigger question, and one of the biggest themes from Florida State’s post-game interviews on Monday, is whether these Seminoles can properly deal with their difficult start.
A year ago, FSU lost an opener, lost a starting quarterback to injury and then lost four of its next six games.
Although it’s hardly to that point – for one thing, Deondre Francois came out sore but otherwise unscathed – Florida State’s veteran leaders still said that avoiding a repeat of last year’s tailspin is a top priority.
“You all know as well as I know, last year, when times got tough, we kind of separated as a team,” center Alec Eberle said. “…. We refuse to let that happen to this team. We refuse to let heads get down. Refuse to let the blame game start. We’re going to stay together.”
As he made his way through the post-game locker room, Taggart saw signs of encouragement in the angry outbursts and the teary eyes looking back at him.
Their debut might not have been what they wanted, but it might also have provided something of a spark.
“I saw a lot of guys ticked off in the locker room,” Taggart said. “A lot of guys crying and upset. So I know it bothers them. It hurts them. And it should.”
That’s where that 24-hour rule comes in, though. Or maybe it’s even less than that.
Eberle, a fifth-year senior, admitted that Monday’s loss stung badly, and that, after he finally went home, by around 1 a.m., he probably was going to sit up and “sulk” for a while.
Come morning, though, it would be time to move on.
The Seminoles are on a short week, and their next game is already one day closer.
“I’m going to wake up, the sun comes up, the birds are still chirping,” Eberle said. “The day is there. So it’s, ‘All right, on to the next one.’
“We’ve got to get focused for Samford and win this game.”
Woodbey avoids serious injury: On a night when they couldn’t catch many breaks, the Seminoles might have caught a big one for the rest of their season.
Freshman Jaiden Woodbey, who started at “star” linebacker Monday and made nine tackles, left the game late in the fourth quarter with what appeared to be a painful shoulder injury.
Taggart confirmed afterward that Woodbey’s shoulder had come out of its socket, but that trainers were able to put it back in place and that he is expected to be all right.