Thursday, September 19, 2013
Planning for success: Florida State
By David M. Hale
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Jimbo Fisher says it with a straight face and a grim tone. The words sound absurd, but he's fiercely serious.
Bethune-Cookman will take the field against Florida State on Saturday, and Fisher wants there to be no misunderstandings about the matchup.
"We better be ready to play," Fisher said after Tuesday's practice session, "or we'll get embarrassed.
The likelihood that Bethune-Cookman, an FCS team with just three previous games against FBS opposition on its résumé, could beat mighty Florida State seems like a long shot, but Fisher hasn't had to work particularly hard to convince his team otherwise.
Start with that limited track record for Bethune-Cookman. Just last week, the Wildcats traveled to FBS Florida International and won easily. In its other two FBS games, both against Miami, they scored first. Bethune-Cookman is ranked in the top 25 of the FCS poll, and it finished 8-0 in its conference just a year ago.
In a season in which FCS teams have already pulled off myriad upsets over big-name opponents, the bulk of Fisher's sales pitch was made for him.
"They're a good football team, and we knew it," Fisher said. "They've got athletes, and if you watch the film, they're a well-coached football team."
Of course, all the warning signs can be flashing in bright, red letters, and odds are a few players will remain blind to the possibilities. Florida State has been there before, too.
No, the Seminoles haven't had much trouble with FCS adversaries. They thumped the two they played in 2012 by a score of 124-3. But there were other games -- five since Fisher took over as head coach, to be specific -- in which Florida State was a heavy favorite and still lost. The fallout from those losses was massive, and the veterans on the roster haven't forgotten.
"We've been at places where we've been at the top and took teams lightly and ended up losing everything," senior Telvin Smith said. "You never know when someone's going to play their best game."
So Smith has prepared for Bethune-Cookman the same as he does anyone else. He's preached that message to his younger teammates, too, and he thinks they've bought in.
If he's right, things should go according to plan.
We're going to treat this just like the last two teams we've played," corner P.J. Williams said.
Florida State won those games by a combined 83 points, but that's the last number Fisher is interested in reminding his team about this week.