Florida State Seminoles: Florida State Seminoles

On The Trail Show (noon ET)

November, 25, 2014
Nov 25
8:00
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Join RecruitingNation's panel of experts as they break down all the recruiting news around this week's rivalry games.

With a Heisman winner at quarterback, an elite receiver and tight end and a senior-laden offensive line, it was a little curious to hear Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher place a premium on freshmen development.

“How quickly those freshmen develop will be the key for us,” he said, “because of not only their ability to get on the field and make plays, but when guys get hurt, being ready to step up.”

[+] EnlargeDalvin Cook
Andy Lyons/Getty ImagesFlorida State freshman running back Dalvin Cook rushed for 110 yards and two TDs on just nine carries against Louisville.
The Florida State freshmen had to do both last week in a 42-31 victory over Louisville, which jumped out to a 21-0 first-half lead.

In the second half, the freshmen scored four touchdowns that all covered at least 38 yards. They combined for 244 yards, most of which also came after halftime. Both of the No. 2 Seminoles’ go-ahead touchdowns came on long scoring plays by freshmen.

The (young) cavalry officially arrived for FSU last Thursday, and it came at the most opportune time.

“I like where our team is going because [the freshmen] are allowing us to expand our offense, our defense and our special teams because of their development,” Fisher said.

The emergence of blue-chip receiver Travis Rudolph came a game earlier against Notre Dame, a game in which the former ESPN 300 recruit had six receptions for 80 yards. Fellow first-year player Ermon Lane has not made quite the impact Rudolph has, but Lane has two 40-plus-yard receptions this season. The latest was a long catch and run across the middle on a pass that looked destined to fall into the opposing team's hands.

The freshman star of late has been running back Dalvin Cook, a top-25 recruit in the 2014 class who earned more playing time and recognition throughout the month of October. He made a case for the title of FSU’s best running back and even more touches with his second-half effort against Louisville.

Cook, who had 110 yards and two touchdowns on just nine carries for the game against Louisville, swung momentum in the Seminoles’ favor midway through the third quarter. The drive began at the Florida State 20-yard line, but it took only five plays -- four of which went to Cook -- for the Seminoles to score and pull within 24-21. Of the 80 yards on that scoring drive, Cook accounted for all but six of them.

"He's a very unique talent,” Fisher said. “He's now learned to work at the pace and do the things that we want to do."

Florida State is a flawed team, as is every team at this stage of the season. But the Seminoles’ freshmen are starting to fill the gaps left when several playmakers from the 2013 team left for the NFL.

“I don't look at them as freshmen anymore,” senior Rashad Greene said. “They're in the big leagues now, and you got to step up and be a man and make big plays."

CommitCast replay: Tarvarus McFadden

October, 30, 2014
Oct 30
8:00
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Tarvarus McFadden, No. 49 in the ESPN 300, is ready to make his announcement. Join the No. 5 cornerback prospect in the country Friday at 11 a.m. ET on RecruitingNation to see his commitment live.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Jimbo Fisher likes to poke fun at the media, but it’s clear the Florida State coach has an affinity for prose and an artfully crafted metaphor. He’s likened to special teams to debt, reading defenses to driving and, most recently, team dynamics to the sociology of a family.

Maybe he isn’t channeling William Shakespeare, but Fisher got his point across when asked what he’s learned about his 2014 team so far, which has yet to emerge out of the shadow of the 2013 team that spent a January night making confetti angels on the Rose Bowl turf.

[+] EnlargeJimbo Fisher
Rob Kinnan/USA TODAY SportsJimbo Fisher doesn't quite have the pulse of his team on lockdown quite yet but is encouraged by its fighting spirit in its 4-0 start.
“How many people in here have kids, raise your hand,” said Fisher, short a chalkboard and yard stick after passing on the lectern. “You have that first kid and you’ve got [parenting] down. Well, here’s the second one, it’s going to be just like [the first kid]. Errr wrong.”

OK, land this plane, Jimbo.

“It’s similar to that. You train it the same, I’m doing the same things I did with No. 1 but the results aren’t the same. [The second] doesn’t think or do the same. That’s kind of how a team is. A lot of coaching and success comes from judging the personality of the team and getting to know it. You don’t just get it and plug it in.”

Translation: Fisher is not entirely sure what he is coaching yet, but he knows this isn’t the 2013 team. It isn’t a slight to the current group either. That’s Fisher’s roundabout way of saying even he’s still sizing up his team entering Week 6.

The good news is the Seminoles remain undefeated even if their three FBS wins have come by an average of nine points. That’s far fewer than the average of victory of the other three teams to receive a first-place vote in the AP poll and more than 20 points fewer than their own margin of victory through the first three FBS games of 2013.

Through preseason camp, the fifth-year Seminoles coach harped on finding an identity for his team. He felt he had a finger on the pulse of his team, but top-ranked FSU has been a mixed bag through four games. This isn’t the balanced offense it was last season. This isn’t the top five defense that has been a Tallahassee tradition under Fisher. It’s not a team built on forcing turnovers while limiting its own.

What the heck is the 2014 Florida State team? Better yet, who are they?

“Great competitors [who] don’t flinch,” Fisher said, “but I think it’s evolving offensively and defensively to how we can play.”

The Seminoles deserve the credit for winning close games in which they were tested late in fourth quarters, which did not happen at all during the 2013 calendar year. But they’re walking a tightrope over shark-infested waters. Maybe it is more like mutated, ill-tempered sea bass with the nature of the remaining schedule, but the point still stands: An identity will have to crystallize over the final two months.

Right now, the Seminoles' identity is a team relying on an elite passing attack buttressed by arguably college football’s top quarterback and receiver. Maybe that will be its identity all season, and it very well might be good enough to repeat as national champion, but history suggests either a complementary rushing attack or defense will need to materialize.

Fisher isn’t worried yet, though, and that’s the benefit of gutting out wins even when a team is not playing up to potential. It’s equally frustrating and promising, Fisher said. The confidence in Florida State from pollsters, the Football Power Index, and Las Vegas has waned each week, but Fisher realizes only under the wildest scenario would an undefeated Florida State be left out of the four-team College Football Playoff. So he is keeping weekly stock reports of his team instead and, despite outside doubts, he contends FSU’s arrow is trending up. The Seminoles did in fact have a 100-yard rusher and a defense that allowed only 123 yards in the second half Saturday.

“I don’t worry. You take how it goes and play well enough to beat your opponent and you want to see it gradually going in that direction, and, as crazy as it sounds, I do,” he said. “We’ve improved tremendously from that opening game. I start to see it in my mind.”
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- NC State is third in the ACC in scoring offense, and Florida State doesn't own either of the spots ahead of the Wolfpack. That doesn't mean anyone is taking NC State's offense over Florida State's, but the Seminoles will need to score more points than previously thought before the season started.

[+] EnlargeJameis Winston
Don Juan Moore/Getty ImagesAfter sitting out against Clemson, QB Jameis Winston returned to practice Monday, in preparation for the Seminoles' game at NC State on Saturday.
The offense has not hit on all cylinders yet, although a true Jameis Winston-led offense has only been seen against Oklahoma State in the opener. Winston was suspended from Saturday's game and did not take first-team practice reps the second half of last week. It showed in practice Monday.

"It's definitely a difference from not playing in a game and going [between] different quarterbacks," senior receiver Rashad Greene said. "We definitely have to get our timing back and it's already back, but Monday was a little off. It shows you if you miss a little time it makes a difference."

Fisher said Winston is leading the No. 1 Seminoles in the same fashion as he always has despite the suspension, which was handed down a week ago. The fifth-year coach did say Winston was a little more "appreciative of how quickly things can go away."

Senior running back Karlos Williams said Winston still has the respect of the Seminoles' locker room. Williams called the reigning Heisman Trophy winner Florida State's "emotional leader."

"The way Jameis loves the game is unlike a lot of people. He's going to be vocal, he's going to talk, he's going to express himself and he's going to show emotion," Williams said. "You can tell it hurt him down to the core of his soul because he could not play … but the way he responded to it brought attention to me like 'this guy really cares about this team and it's not just about Jameis Winston but Florida State as a whole.'"

The passing offense's production comes down to more than just Winston's re-emergence as the starting quarterback and one of the country's elite players. The offensive line was suspect in run and pass blocking against a talented Clemson front four. Left tackle Cam Erving was seen once again working at center with right tackle Bobby Hart sliding to the left side. Chad Mavety, a former junior college lineman, was playing right tackle.

Fisher said after practice he still plans to use the same starting five offensive linemen he has all season with Austin Barron orchestrating the calls at center. If the same starting lineup trots out against NC State, there is the potential Fisher could mix things up during the game if the offensive line, which consists of five seniors, once again isn't playing up to the level it showcased in 2013.

The Seminoles are still waiting on the emergence of a No. 2 receiver opposite Greene, who is fourth in the country in receiving yards per game. Christian Green is the other starting outside receiver, but Fisher said true freshmen Ermon Lane and Travis Rudolph saw increased snaps in practice Tuesday.

"We need the legs and to bring them along," Fisher said. "We have to get more bodies. I'm very happy with the day they had."

Greene, who ESPN Insider KC Joyner recently ranked as college football's top receiver, said the onus is on him to develop a secondary receiving threat to open up the offense.

"As a whole we're not at our best but we're definitely coming along. I'm in charge of that and I'm doing my best to get everybody on the same page and the mindset of how to work," Greene said. "That's the first thing I have to do is show them and teach them how to work."
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- It was the first question Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher was asked after the game. He greeted it with a face worn and weathered, insight into a stressful week. His joy during a five-minute opening statement was tempered, drained from a volatile week of fluctuating punishments and constant character-questioning columns.

[+] EnlargeSean Maguire
Ronald Martinez/Getty ImagesWith a strong team effort, Sean Maguire and Florida State showed they're still No. 1 until somebody beats them.
Minutes earlier the fifth-year championship coach, in a rare moment of vulnerability, wept in front of his team, besieged with emotion while expressing the pride he felt watching FSU pull off what seemed unimaginable minutes earlier -- a win against ACC rival and No. 22 Clemson in overtime.

"Do you think Florida State should remain No. 1 after this performance?" the reporter asked.

It was a superfluous detail in a game with layers of juicy plotlines that easily filled the four-hour telecast. And frankly, Fisher's answer can be tossed into the circular file with the rest of the minutiae from Saturday's game, which includes every page of team statistics and numbers with the exception of the final score.

Florida State won. It did it without its best player, Jameis Winston, for the entire game, and arguably its second-best player, Mario Edwards Jr., for the final half.

The Seminoles were tested this weekend, but the grades from the coaches and AP pollsters don't matter. We learned more about them Saturday than what any poll with waning belief in the reigning national champions could ever indicate.

"We challenged our guys to find out who we are," an emotional Fisher said. "We're not where we want to be, but we do know who we are."

The Seminoles know they're a group with the fundamental resolve required to earn one of the four College Football Playoff bids. On Saturday, they looked like a pumpkin instead of the horse-drawn carriage driven by a Heisman winner, but this is the fall season, the time when carved, misshapen pumpkins are celebrated.

The team was distracted. After the game, Fisher and his players copped to falling victim to the unavoidable lapses in focus that accompany a suspension (and a second one) to the star player for standing on a table in the busiest intersection of campus and unloading an obscene and profane outburst.

The backup quarterback completed six passes in the first half. Yet in the fourth quarter, he unleashed a 74-yard pass to the tie the score. Hero might be a strong word to frame Sean Maguire's performance, but only in the sense that the word is incessantly used to overstate the contributions of a player in a glorified game. Considering the pressures dropped onto Maguire's shoulders days before potentially the biggest game of FSU's season, he exceeded expectations.

The defense that has been under fire for mediocre early returns and already deemed unfit to succeed 2013's No. 1 national unit allowed 249 first-half yards. Yet in the second half, they lined up inches from national irrelevance only to hold Clemson out of the end zone and scoreless on that drive. When the Tigers tested the defensive line on fourth-and-inches in overtime, the maligned unit disrupted the play in the backfield. The only reason they were in overtime was because defensive tackle Eddie Goldman stripped C.J. Davidson of the ball as the Tigers bled the clock before setting up for a game-winning score.

The running backs had 38 yards in regulation. Yet in overtime, Karlos Williams ran the final 25 yards to ignite the celebration.

The punter, who has received the harshest criticism from fans, had his first kick go 37 yards; that was a half yard longer than his season average entering Saturday. Yet over his final seven punts, Cason Beatty pinned four of them inside Clemson's 20-yard line.

This wasn't a rag-tag group of players -- the Seminoles have possibly the country's most talented roster -- but it was a rag-tag performance driven by star efforts rather than star ratings. Certainly Clemson punctuated its #Clemsoning trademark with a comedy of errors, but they were often forced by Florida State. Two goal-line tackles before the bad snap. Davidson didn't just drop the ball. Adam Choice didn't trip on the 16-yard line and fall inches short of the first-down marker.

Before the game, we wondered if the top-ranked Seminoles, which looked beatable in their first two games, were a suitable No. 1 or a product of the country's best player calling the shots under center and rising to the situation weekly.

But it was the definition of a team win, and a gutty one at that. It was something we did not see at all during the regular season from the Seminoles last year, if only because they rewrote the handbook on dominance. It might be the prettiest Florida State win over the last two seasons considering the pregame Winston malady.

Maybe Florida State didn't look like the No. 1 team Saturday. But they looked like a championship-caliber team, and an undefeated one at that, which means they can still lay claim to the No. 1 ranking.

"We ain't lost in 19 straight games," Fisher said, answering the reporter's question. "We're No. 1 until somebody beats us."

Video: Winston's actions affect female fans

September, 20, 2014
Sep 20
1:06
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Samantha Ponder discusses Florida State's suspension of quarterback Jameis Winston and how his behavior is affecting his perception to female fans.

Video: FSU's Roberto Aguayo is Mr. Perfect

September, 20, 2014
Sep 20
11:55
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Florida State Seminoles kicker Roberto Aguayo set the NCAA single-season record for kickers with 157 points and won the Lou Groza award as a freshman in 2013. But Aguayo says there's still room for growth -- he wants to be perfect.

Tebow on Jameis Winston's responsibility

September, 20, 2014
Sep 20
9:24
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Former Florida Gators QB and Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow discusses the suspension of Florida State Seminoles QB Jameis Winston and Winston's responsibility to his team and those who looks up to him.

Winston’s timing, message all wrong

September, 20, 2014
Sep 20
12:37
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Jameis Winston picked the wrong week to shout something demeaning to women.

The NFL is in freefall, with limbs reaching for a toehold like Wile E. Coyote after he begins to plummet. The commissioner is explaining why he shouldn’t be fired. Two players charged with attacking women have been shifted onto the exempt list, only because the drawn-and-quartered list doesn’t yet exist.

A federal judge in Alabama, a conservative jurist appointed by President George W. Bush, has been charged with hitting his wife in a luxury hotel in Atlanta, and the state’s two Republican senators have both called for him to resign.

If this is the nation’s Rosa Parks moment regarding violence toward women, Winston picked the wrong week to mimic the worst form of frat-boy behavior at the top of his lungs while atop a table at the student union.

Florida State deserves credit for suspending Winston one day after the incident. The university deserves credit for re-opening the suspension Friday night and lengthening it from the first half to the entire game against ACC Atlantic rival Clemson.

Florida State issued a statement late Friday and said the doubling of the suspension came about because of additional information uncovered in the university’s ongoing investigation. It’s hard to imagine what could be more offensive than Winston’s original behavior.

It must have taken the university this long to develop the information because releasing it at 11 p.m. ET on a Friday is a public relations nightmare. The decision to suspend Winston for the entire game will dominate the news until kickoffs begin at noon.

Throughout his college life, Winston has been unable to grasp the maturity that it takes to be an American public figure. He said what he said in innocence, on the spur of the moment, without understanding that nothing he shouts from a tabletop is just among friends. Winston is lucky neither Florida State nor the American public has a three-strikes policy for stupidity, or he would be out on the street.

Winston picked the wrong moment to do what he did. America speaks quickly these days, and conventional wisdom goes viral with such force that no quarantine can contain it. Wife-beating hasn’t begat an ice bucket challenge, but the nation has decided spousal abuse is this week’s ALS -- another disease that has resisted all efforts to cure.

It’s about time, and if Winston got caught in the undertow, tough break. In the end, he brought it upon himself.

Suspension matures FSU WR Jesus Wilson

September, 16, 2014
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Jesus Wilson boarded the plane for Dallas with an unsettling feeling. His pads, cleats and gloves were coming with him, mockingly almost. He knew there was little chance he would get the opportunity to knock off the out-of-the-box shine.

[+] EnlargeJesus Wilson
Melina Vastola/USA TODAY SportsReceiver Jesus Wilson says he's ready to make an impact in Florida State's home game against Clemson on Saturday.
A potential starting receiver entering the summer, the sophomore was going to be on the sideline and dressed for No. 1 Florida State's opener, but he wasn't going to play, his suspicions confirmed upon arrival to AT&T Stadium. Seminoles coach Jimbo Fisher told him his indefinite suspension in the aftermath of a scooter theft would end the same time as Florida State's first game.

"I had an idea," Wilson said. "I knew there was going to be some consequences."

Wilson was initially charged with a felony in July for stealing another student's motorized scooter, at which time resulted in a mandatory suspension from games. He was able to remain with the team and practice, and Wilson said he never felt support from teammates or Fisher waver as the legal process ran its course. Wilson pleaded down to two misdemeanors days before fall camp started.

"It's been kind of hard but my family and coaches and team, they always supported me and stood by my side through the whole situation. I had to grow up and be a man and learn what's right and wrong," Wilson said. "...Coach loves us. He treats us like his kids. He understood what I did was wrong but said I had to make smarter decisions in the future and learn from that and become a man."

His teammates and coaching staff needed him, though, and that was evident against Oklahoma State. Without a true No. 2 receiving threat, the hope at Florida State is Wilson will alleviate the pressure on Rashad Greene, who after recording 11 catches in Week 1, voiced his opinion that the Seminoles need to balance out the passing attack.

There were signs the offensive distribution was stabilizing Week 2 against The Citadel upon Wilson's return, and Wilson caught a touchdown against the Bulldogs. With the top-ranked Seminoles' game against No. 22 Clemson this week, Wilson will play a pivotal part in the passing game.

As Wilson watched film this week, he saw a lot of man coverage principles from Clemson, which owns the conference's No. 1 pass defense, and the undersized receiver feels that plays into his strengths -- speed and route running.

"I'm looking forward to it," Wilson said. "I'm ready. It's my first time playing in a big game like this."

Throughout the offseason, Wilson has received praise from quarterback Jameis Winston as a young player with the ability to replace the production lost from the departures of Kelvin Benjamin and Kenny Shaw. Although Wilson stands only 5-foot-9, Winston said Wilson is capable of turning any route into a long touchdown.

Fisher expounded on Winston's answer, and called Wilson the complete receiver that the offense needs opposite Greene.

"[Wilson is] extremely fast, can judge a ball, strong, got great body quickness, stick his foot in the ground and change direction," Fisher said. "He's becoming a very polished receiver."
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- All offseason, Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher did not want to touch any question about comparisons between his 2013 national championship team and the 2014 version with its sights set on a repeat.

“Last year’s team ain’t on the schedule,” Fisher says.

The fifth-year coach began standard filibuster procedures Tuesday, deflecting a comparison question between last season’s defense and the current unit, one that allowed 250 rushing yards to The Citadel. (They’re an FCS team … and not a particularly good one.)

[+] EnlargeFlorida State defense
AP Photo/Steve CannonThe Citadel gashed Florida State's inexperienced defense on the ground last Saturday.
“Early in the season [the 2013 defense] wasn't that angry,” Fisher said. “I keep going back to that. Early in the year there were a lot of questions on this defense.”

The argument is solid that last year’s defense was better. Five starters from that defense were on NFL opening-day rosters. This 2014 team doesn’t have a single senior starter, and just two seniors are among the 23 players listed on the two-deep defense.

But the 2013 case study in dominant defense is a bigger file, a collection of evidence over a four-month and 14-game period. It’s only been two games into the 2014 season.

“Go back to the first games of last year,” Fisher said. “Bethune Cookman ran for 180 or 190 yards on us and everybody thought the sky was falling on us. Then Boston College ran for [200 yards].”

At Fisher’s behest, we looked at the early portion of Florida State’s 2013 season. Florida State was 42nd in yards allowed per rush (3.7) and 60th in rushing yards allowed per game (151.5) through September last season, but when you account for Florida State’s nine sacks during that timeframe, its yards allowed per rush jumps to 4.4. Bethune Cookman had 53 non-sack rushing attempts for 211 yards (4.0 yards per carry), and Boston College ran 42 times for 222 yards (5.2).

So far in 2014, Florida State is 84th in yards per rush (4.2) and 103rd in yards per game (205.5). When you account for Florida State’s one sack, however, it allows on average 4.4 yards per rush -- the same as last season. And those 2014 numbers are skewed by big rushing numbers for both Oklahoma State and The Citadel at the end of games. Oklahoma State ran 13 times for 79 yards in the fourth quarter, and all 13 runs came with Florida State leading by double digits. Nearly half of the Cowboys’ rushing yards came in the final quarter.

The Citadel totaled 250 yards rushing against Florida State, but 113 came against the second-string defense.

In 2013, Pitt ran just once in the fourth quarter and seven times overall in the second half. Nevada rushed the ball six times in the fourth quarter, and Bethune Cookman ran 14 times for 49 yards over the final 15 minutes.

There have been missed tackles through the first two weeks this season. Oklahoma State’s Tyreek Hill eliminated angles like few players nationally can do, and the Citadel outran and outmuscled would-be tacklers Saturday.

But that might be a common thread between the Florida State defenses. After the Bethune Cookman game, Fisher said: “We have to tackle in space better," Fisher said. “I wasn't happy with the way we tackled in space at times tonight. We have to do a better job.”

Third-down defense has been iffy for Florida State so far this season, too. The Citadel converted 11-of-17 third-down attempts, many of which came on rushing plays despite third-and-long situations. Against the starters, the Bulldogs converted 6-of-12 third-down attempts, including five that were at least five yards. All came on rushing plays.

However, over the course of last season, Florida State allowed 18-of-26 third-down attempts and 3.5 yards per rush on third-and-3 or less. When opponents ran on third-and-4-6, they converted 6-of-12 attempts.

It should be noted Florida State has been without linebackers Ukeme Eligwe (foot) and Matthew Thomas (suspension), and Fisher said those are among the most athletic linebackers he has coached during his tenure at Florida State. Eligwe practiced for the first time since the spring Tuesday and could play Sept. 20 against Clemson. Against The Citadel, the Seminoles were also without three of its five starting defensive tackles, including starters Eddie Goldman and Nile Lawrence-Stample.

There are realistic concerns on this defense -- few would argue otherwise -- although it is not as if the unit has played poorly eight consecutive quarters to start the season. But it’s unrealistic to assume a defense missing five NFL-caliber players and a single senior starter would immediately look like the top-five defense nationally it was the three previous seasons. It’s time to temper expectations, which were too high to begin with all things considered, and allow the defense time to evolve before a much tougher second half of the season.

Ultimately, the defense could be what prevents Florida State from repeating, but it’s too early to make that distinction.
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Jimbo Fisher is a football coach. That means he likes to talk about what he can control, and anything he can't is just wasted breath.

But he is a football coach, which means he knows injuries are a part of the sport. His Florida State team was lucky in 2013, avoiding the injury bug and remaining healthy over the course of a national championship season.

Justin Shanks
AP Photo/Steve CannonFlorida State's been fortunate with regard to injuries but its defensive tackles were hit hard Saturday.
The Seminoles have been able to manipulate injury luck quite a bit with their GPS tracking system, but there is no guard against the inherent dangers of a game predicated on high-speed collisions and 300-pound men wrestling 130 times in 40-second intervals.

That became evident Saturday night as top-ranked Florida State lost three defensive tackles to lower leg injuries, including starters Eddie Goldman and Nile Lawrence-Stample. Fisher did not disclose any specifics on the injuries or the amount of time, if any, that will be missed, but Goldman's left foot was in a boot and he needed the aid of a walking cane to gingerly limp to the locker room after the game.

"When I rub that crystal ball I can't ever figure it out," Fisher said after the game about planning for more injuries in 2014. "Sometimes you do, sometimes you don't. That's the thing about football -- you don't [know]. ... That's just ball. You keep your fingers crossed."

While Florida State has arguably the country's most talented roster, there was concern at defensive tackle leading up to the season. Timmy Jernigan declared early for the NFL, leaving the Seminoles thin on the interior of the defensive line. And by halftime Saturday, Florida State was without three of its top five defensive tackles.

The schedule offers a brief reprieve for Florida State as they enter a bye week, which could allow for all three to return. The Seminoles' next game is Sept. 20 against Clemson, and they might need all the defensive linemen they can get to combat the Tigers' up-tempo offense.

The 6-foot-4, 320-pound Goldman was one of the better defensive tackles in the conference, and his presence would almost certainly be missed most if he is forced to the sidelines. Junior defensive end Mario Edwards Jr. said the defense would have a much different feel without Goldman, who he calls "the big man in the middle."

"He can two-gap it, he can hold up the blockers so that a lot of linebackers can scrape over the top, and with Eddie missing it'd be a big piece missing," Edwards said.

Linebacker Reggie Northrup said Goldman's presence often draws double teams, which frees him up to make tackles. He is confident in the backups, and defensive tackle Derrick Mitchell Jr. could see a bulk of the snaps in Goldman's stead. Mitchell, a redshirt junior, is 20 pounds lighter than Goldman, however.

"It's definitely going to affect [the defense] because Eddie's a big part of our defense," Mitchell said. "He's in a lot of our defensive packages. We're going to have to make some changes if he can't go. He's a very important part of our defense."
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Florida State watched Oklahoma State’s safeties crash the line of scrimmage in the opener, but Seminoles coach Jimbo Fisher said that wasn’t unexpected from the Cowboys even though FSU is tasked with reshaping its passing game.

Moving forward, however, the Seminoles could see defenses make a concerted effort to test the passing attack as Florida State still searches for a playmaking target opposite Rashad Greene after losing two of its top three receivers from 2013.

“I can’t predict what teams are going to try to do but of course their main focus is going to be to try and stop Rashad and [tight end] Nick [O’Leary], and that’s why I say those younger guys are going to have to step up,” quarterback Jameis Winston said. “And that’s why I say [the passing game] is a work in progress because we’ve got to get those guys ready for the show.”

Fisher said there is no disappointment among his of receivers outside of Greene, but the group is relatively inexperienced, combining for 21 catches last season. Florida State lost 108 receptions and nearly 2,000 yards when Kelvin Benjamin, a first-round pick, and Kenny Shaw departed for the NFL.

On signing day in early February, there was the hope within the Florida State community that 2014 signees Ja’Vonn Harrison, Ermon Lane and Travis Rudolph would contribute immediately to the Seminoles offense. Those three were all ranked among the top 117 recruits in the 2014 ESPN 300. The hype was only heightened during the summer and preseason camp as rave reviews from Fisher and the rest of the team poured in.

In the week leading up to the opener, Fisher spoke confidently that all three would avoid redshirts and factor into the offense, but Lane and Rudolph saw the field only sparingly against the Cowboys.

Florida State completed 25 passes for 370 yards in Week 1, but half that production came from Greene (11 catches, 203 yards), prompting the senior to tell the Tallahassee Democrat after the game that he feels Florida State has to “get back in the lab and balance this offense out. … I don’t want to be the one individual that has to put this thing on my back.” Fisher said it was his playcalling that dictated the passing offense run through Greene, and Winston added he felt the need to rely on Greene and O’Leary since it was the first game of the season.

Senior Christian Green started at receiver in the opener and began strong with two catches in the first quarter including a 62-yard completion, but he didn’t catch another pass the rest of the game. Excluding Rashad Greene, Florida State’s receivers combined for five catches Saturday.

“The receivers [need] to come in and get open and make plays as well,” Christian Green said, “so Jameis can feel comfortable with us.”

The onus to create big plays in the passing game could ironically fall to the two shortest scholarship players on Florida State’s roster: 5-foot-7 Levonte “Kermit” Whitfield and 5-foot-9 Jesus “Bobo” Wilson.

Whitfield saw his most extensive playing time at receiver in the opener and responded with three catches for 30 yards. More than the stats, Fisher and Winston said the biggest positive in Whitfield’s game was those receptions came on routes he had to cut short once he realized Winston was blitzed, which is a key role for a slot receiver.

Wilson was suspended for the first game of the season after he pled down to two misdemeanors in July. He was originally charged with third-degree grand grand theft, a felony, for taking another student’s scooter.

At 5-9 and 177 pounds, Wilson does not fit the mold of the prototypical receiver and doesn’t come anywhere close to Benjamin’s 6-5, 240-pound build. However, Wilson’s speed, agility and route running makes him a legitimate threat as an outside receiver, Fisher said, and during an open practice last month Wilson was seen beating cornerback P.J. Williams, a potential first-round pick in the upcoming NFL draft, on a deep touchdown.

“Bobo is strong. He’s cut up and he’s physical,” Winston said. “I promise people said the same thing about [5-8 Lamarcus] Joyner being short, but it won’t change the way they play on the field.

“…Once they get out there and get used to the atmosphere and how things go at Florida State, I believe we’ve got some real talented guys.”
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Last season, Jimbo Fisher said a No. 1 ranking wasn’t ever on Florida State’s collective mind. Maybe that is because the Seminoles didn’t earn the top ranking until the postseason and didn’t garner a first-place vote in either poll until Week 9.

As the preseason No. 1, there is no steady climb to the top. A performance worthy of a top-ranked team is expected every week, and Florida State is learning that lesson as it prepares for The Citadel on the heels of a 37-31 win against Oklahoma State, a sizable Las Vegas underdog.

“Last year we didn’t care about being No. 1. We cared about playing well,” Fisher said. “You have to remind yourself if the process is right, the results will come. If we’re worried about the results, we won’t get the results. Make no mistake about it.”

[+] EnlargeBrandon Sheperd
Ronald Martinez/Getty ImagesFSU didn't wear the target of being the nation's top-ranked team too well in the opener.
The fifth-year coach said he hopes the Seminoles still act like a team chasing No. 1, but he admitted Saturday night that is not what he saw.

“It is a wake-up call,” junior defensive tackle Eddie Goldman said. “We didn’t expect to have that many mistakes.”

The Seminoles are saying the right things, calling the game a learning experience. However, they said all the right things this preseason on the pressures of being the top-ranked team, too. That is not saying the team was insincere, but it’s hard to predict how this Florida State roster would react with the national target on its back for the first time.

Fisher said “no doubt” the close call was a positive for Florida State, but it has to result in a change in practice.

Sophomore All-America candidate Jalen Ramsey told the Tallahassee Democrat last week’s practices were not on par with the standards set at Florida State. “That’s what happens when you don’t practice like a champion,” he told the newspaper.

The practices last week were not poor, Fisher said, but he saw inconsistency in his team play to play during the week. It showed up in the final three quarters at AT&T Stadium, as the Seminoles did not play with the consistency they showed in the first few drives against the Cowboys.

So, how will Fisher know if the team has taken the wake-up call to heart?

“Your actions speak so loud that I can’t hear what you’re saying,” he said, relying on a tried-and-true Jimboism. “… We play a lot like we practice. We weren’t consistent enough. When pressure comes, your habits come straight to the surface.”

With each week, that pressure is only going to intensify. Fisher hopes those actions are enough to drown it out.

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Fisher: Winston's Choice Won't Be A Surprise
Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher said that Jameis Winston's decision to remain in college or leave for the NFL will not be a surprise either way.
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