TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — After an emotional 20-19 win at No. 16 Miami last Saturday, Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher’s main focus this week is seeing if his team can carry that momentum through the rest of the season.
As the 14th-ranked Seminoles began preparations on Monday for this week’s game against Wake Forest, Fisher said it was critical this week for his players to avoid suffering from “relief syndrome” after defeating their in-state rival for the seventh straight year.
“It was big for your confidence, but I understand — again, at the end of the day it was still only one football game,” Fisher said. “We’ve got six more to play.”
Fisher said he considers the Demon Deacons to be a more critical test because of the possibility for a letdown. Wake though is 5-1 for the first time in 10 years after its 28-9 win over Syracuse . The Seminoles (4-2, 1-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) won last year’s game 24-16 but needed an interception in the end zone during the game’s final minute to preserve the victory.
Including Wake, which is 2-1 in league play, FSU’s first six Football Bowl Subdivision opponents have a combined record of 25-8.
Florida State is hoping that last week’s performance on defense can carry through the rest of the season.
The front seven had its best game since the second half of the opener against Mississippi as it held the Hurricanes to a season-low 62 yards rushing and was able to get consistent pressure on quarterback Brad Kaaya. The defense had struggled against up-tempo offenses for most of the season but did a better job against Miami in not getting confused and playing out of position.
Defensive tackle Derrick Nnadi had a season-high seven tackles and a sack. The senior has been dealing with an ankle injury for most of the season but appears to be finally healthy.
Fisher though, isn’t about to let the defense rest on its laurels.
“We played one good game, all of a sudden it’s not flowers are blooming and everything is rosy and everything is good,” Fisher said. “You’ve got to do it again this week because this is a different scheme, a different alignment, you’ve got to get your mind focused on what you’ve got, eliminate the clutter and do it again. Hopefully we’ve learned some lessons and we’re mature enough to go that way.”
A concern going into the week is the health of quarterback Deondre Francois. The freshman was looked at twice by trainers during the Miami game but played all but one series. Fisher did say he was concerned about some of the hits Francois took after throwing the ball on a couple plays and would ask the conference to review the hits.
“He’ll take some nasty ones at times, and a couple of them, like I say, shouldn’t have been there,” Fisher said. “If you can’t do that and play quarterback, you can’t play. That goes with the job description.”
Francois though is not expected to miss any practice time this week. Despite being under pressure often, Francois has not thrown an interception or committed a turnover in the past three games.
The Seminoles are also hoping that this week is a little less hectic than the previous two. Fisher has likened the roller coaster of the past two games — a 36-34 loss to North Carolina on the last play and the win over Miami — to his first season in 2010, when FSU lost to North Carolina and North Carolina State in consecutive weeks. After facing Wake Forest, Florida State has next week off before an Oct. 29 showdown against second-ranked Clemson.
Online: The AP’s college football page: http://collegfootball.ap.org