Schedule suggests an FSU turnaround

QB Clint Trickett (NoleDigest.com)

Assuming Florida State licks its wounds during a bye week and fixes a few problems, coach Jimbo Fisher and Co. should go on a run and can return to the ACC championship game in Charlotte.

The off week couldn't be more timely for the Seminoles.

After falling from national attention with a pair of losses to Oklahoma and Clemson, Florida State will try to recover physically and emotionally with a favorable schedule ahead. The Seminoles' next two games are against Wake Forest on Oct. 8 and Duke on Oct. 15, both on the road -- both providing opportunity for this team to regain a good feeling.

What could have been an uplifting moment with freshman quarterback Clint Trickett's amazing, fill-in performance against Clemson turned sour with continued defensive miscues in a 35-30 loss in Death Valley.

"We never quit throughout the game, and we won't quit on the season," Trickett said.

That is coach Jimbo Fisher's hope. He has reminded players that two losses in a 12-game season do not doom the year. He brought up the 1989 FSU team, which lost its first two games, then won nine straight -- they played 11 games back then -- en route to a 10-2 finish and top-3 ranking that included wins against Miami and Florida.

But to gain entrance into the ACC championship game, the Seminoles must hope they can win all of their conference games and that Clemson loses twice. The Tigers have a much more difficult schedule, including a road game Saturday at Virginia Tech.

Speaking for the defense, which was badly exposed at Clemson, linebackers coach Greg Hudson told a booster audience at the team's Monday luncheon that the 'Noles will rebound.

"I like where my guys are at, personally, because they're mad," Hudson told the crowd. "The guy that gets his rear kicked and then has a good time on the bus back to the airport and then on the plane, I've got a problem with that guy. But I like the mindset of our kids."

Fisher, meanwhile, was unable to attend the event due to a speaking engagement in Birmingham, Alabama. It was one of the few exceptions Fisher makes in allowing his assistant coaches to talk during the season.

The Seminoles did not practice the first two days of the week but will begin focus on Wake Forest and the remaining two-thirds of their schedule.

NOTES AND QUOTES

WR Rashad Greene, a true freshman, is FSU's second-leading scorer behind K Dustin Hopkins with five touchdowns in four games. All of the TDs have been longer than 28 yards, and all of the receiving touchdowns were passes thrown by Trickett. ... Hopkins has successfully converted his last 14 field-goal attempts, including all seven this season. Hopkins has also recorded 14 touchbacks on kickoffs this year, including five against Clemson. His career accuracy on field goals is 48 for 62 (.774), the seventh-best accuracy rate in ACC history among kickers with 50 or more attempts. ... Trickett became the sixth quarterback in the ACC to make his starting debut this year, and his performance (336 yards passing, 3 TDs) included the seventh-best passing total in league history by a first-time starter.

BYE WEEK MISSION: The Seminoles took a few days off, then resumed afternoon practices. They have several issues to address. The first is getting a running game established. Their inability to run the ball has produced too many quick possessions and too much pressure on their quarterbacks to make big plays. But that wasn't the reason, of course, for the loss at Clemson, which leads to the second big issue. They must shore up their pass defense and lack of discipline issues that were so costly in that loss. The third priority is getting players healed and recharged both physically and emotionally. The two losses in emotional games took a major toll on the program.

LOOKING AHEAD: The good news is the schedule appears so favorable. There's road trips on Oct. 8 to Wake Forest and Oct. 15, followed by home games against Maryland and N.C. State. The Seminoles really should be in good shape, provided they don't get decimated with injuries or other issues. They have one of the easier schedules ahead of any team ranked in the Top 25. If they heal and recover, the Seminoles are poised to make a big run, all the way until mid-November when Miami and Florida finish the schedule.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "We're 2-2, and the off week probably comes at a good time for us to take a deep, hard look at ourselves and see how we can still be a great football team. I still think we have a very good football team." -- Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher, assessing his team's status after four games.

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