FSU has Pitt's attention from the start

July, 22, 2013
7/22/13
9:21
PM ET
GREENSBORO, N.C. -- The buzz at Pittsburgh began as soon as the schedule was announced, and Panthers coach Paul Chryst said he knows he'll have his handful when the Panthers make their ACC debut against Florida State.

"They're a well-coached team with good players," Chryst said. "They're worthy of the praise and the accolades they're getting."

Pittsburgh and Syracuse join the ACC this year after moving from the Big East, and Chryst said he's already begun work breaking down his 2013 conference opponents -- with Florida State first up.

[+] EnlargeJameis Winston
Stacy Revere/Getty ImagesJameis Winston's lack of experience makes it tough for season-opening opponent Pittsburgh to prepare for him.
Of course, the learning curve is made even tougher because Florida State will head to Pittsburgh with a new starting quarterback and a new defensive scheme. That makes preparation nearly impossible.

"You know there's some stuff you won't be prepared for, but you try to do the best you can," Chryst said. "As a coach you try to prepare for the unknown -- but that's kind of, how the hell do you do that? I don't know."

On the other side, FSU coach Jimbo Fisher said he expects his team to benefit from the tough start to the schedule.

"You have a better summer, a better fall camp, more attention to detail quicker," Fisher said. "Ideally you'd like them in a non-conference situation with a significant opponent, but I think it's good."

This marks the first time Florida State has opened its season against a team from a power conference since 2009, when it lost to Miami 38-34.

Benjamin improving: For all the buzz that's surrounded him for two years in Tallahassee, receiver Kelvin Benjamin still hasn't fully realized his potential. But it's that hype that may have hurt him, Fisher said, and Benjamin finally appears ready to turn a corner.

"People thought he had to do the spectacular thing, and he always felt pressure he had to do something special," Fisher said. "You run that drag route, that curl route -- you'll do more by just doing normal, it'll happen for you. That's the thing that's emerged. You see that pressure off him a little bit. He's really relaxing now and playing within the offense and it's getting more consistent."

Benjamin finished fourth on the team with 30 catches and 495 yards last season, but he mustered just 52 yards total in his final five games.

But fellow receiver Rashad Greene said he's seen a more focused version of Benjamin this summer, and he's expecting better results when the season begins.

"I can see that he's taken it a lot more serious," Greene said. "He's working a lot more. He's focused. A guy like that with so much ability and that big, you know you've got to respect him."

Coming and going: Fisher said he doesn't anticipate any significant injury issues when camp opens in two weeks.

Tight end Kevin Haplea will miss the season, but Fisher said every other player who underwent surgery this offseason should be ready to go, including Christo Kourtzidis, who is likely to take Haplea's spot on the depth chart.

Fisher also said the team is preparing as if receiver Greg Dent will not be available. Dent is suspended indefinitely after being charged with sexual assault last month.

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