Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher is confident in the Seminoles team that he has going into the 2017 season.
Fisher spoke in depth about the team Friday while on as a guest on Jacksonville’s 1010 XL/92.5 FM at ACC Kickoff in Charlotte.
“We’ve got a chance to have a good team,” Fisher said. “We’ve just got to go out and play and develop that identity. We’ve got to play with great urgency and great detail.”
Florida State is coming off a somewhat disappointing 10-3 season last fall, though it still ended with an Orange Bowl win over Michigan. Going into 2017, however, expectations are even higher, with the Seminoles widely projected to be a preseason top-three team.
Still, that doesn’t mean Florida State doesn’t have places in which it can improve. One such concern deals with the Seminoles’ slow starts in 2016.
“Two things: You’ve got to prepare, but how people prepare for you, makes a big difference, how they come for you, how you spend the whole offseason, who you’re coming back at,” Fisher said of his team, who trailed in seven games last season. “I think experience allows that to happen. I think if you’re more experienced you can do more things early in the game you’re playing.
“But the thing that’s good was we were able to compete and adjust and always come back in games, and our kids never panicked and we made adjustments. So it can go six one way, half a dozen in the other. You want to start fast if you can.”
Fisher, though, did speak highly about his team elsewhere. Redshirt sophomore Deondre Francois, who enters his second season as starter this fall, was the source of some of his admiration.
Fisher said he was “really excited” about Francois’ play during spring practice and spoke highly of his late-game poise in several games last season.
“He didn’t turn it over, he ran it in, made sharp plays at the end of the game,” Fisher said. “They love him, because they know how tough he is and they will follow him. If your quarterback is tough, your team is tough. I think he is confident. He’s almost an over worker with footwork and fundamentals. He’ll stay after practice and I’ll have to say, ‘Get off the doggone field.’ He will stay an extra 30-40 minutes.”
Fisher also said the wide receiver corps was one of the “best groups we’ve had in a while.”
“Noonie Murray has a chance to be special,” he said. “Auden Tate can create mismatches. Keith Gavin has a chance to be special. D.J. Matthews had an outstanding spring. George Campbell, we’ve got to get him all the way healthy.”
Regarding the defense, Fisher thinks if it can stay largely healthy, there should be reason for high expectations.
“We’re physical. We can play the run,” Fisher said. “I think we have a lot of big long bodies that can play in space and tackle. And I think we’re good at corner. And that allows for a lot of good things. And I think we have a chance to be very good.”
One player who Florida State played largely without last season was safety Derwin James, who suffered a lateral meniscus tear in his left knee in the second game of the season last fall after a breakout year as a true freshman in 2015.
“First of all, he brings you confidence and allows the rest of the guys around him to be better,” Fisher said of James. “I call it the Michael Jordan effect. As long as he’s on the field, they feel very good. His ability to play different positions allows matchups to happen.”
Fisher also is looking forward to the challenge of facing Alabama, who may be preseason No. 1, in the season opener and Clemson, the defending national champions, on the road.
“Yep, and that’s the way it should be, that’s why were at Florida State,” Fisher said.
You can listen to the entire interview below:
(You can follow Rick Ballou on Twitter @Ballou1010xl)
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