Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Jimbo Fisher: Lessons learned, lofty expectations warranted (w/video)

TALLAHASSEE — After Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher finished rattling off the caveats of a tough schedule, an improved ACC and all the uncertainties that come on the first day of preseason camp, he addressed the Seminoles' sky-high expectations.

"As long as we have the attitude of getting better and working and understanding they're going to get coached … I think we'll be outstanding," Fisher said Tuesday. "I don't expect anything but (that)."

Neither does anyone else.

That's why the Seminoles, not defending national champion Clemson, are the favorite to win the ACC. That's why they're a fixture of preseason College Football Playoff projections. And that's why they'll enter the mammoth Sept. 2 season opener against Alabama ranked in the top five, if not the top two.

But then again, FSU was in a similar position last year. The 'Noles began the season ranked fourth in both polls before a 3-2 start knocked them out of the national championship picture on the first weekend in October.

Looking back, Fisher said some of last year's problems happened due to youth in key positions. The inexperience led to inconsistencies, like following a 20-point road win over USF with a last-second home loss to North Carolina. By the time FSU tried to correct it by forcing each player to sign a pledge promising to accept coaching and play with full intensity, it was too late.

"I think those things, hopefully, we've learned," Fisher said.

Fisher won't know for sure until the season begins, but he likes the early returns — the focus players are showing in meetings, the way they accept feedback and the intensity at which they attacked offseason workouts. If those intangibles come together, Fisher's Seminoles have the talent to back up their August accolades.

FSU counts 20 returning starters from a team that finished 7-1. A top-six recruiting class bolsters a nucleus that includes quarterback Deondre Francois, the reigning ACC rookie of the year. The team began practice Tuesday with no significant injuries or academic casualties.

Even some of the roster's potential pitfalls could be strengths, like the loss of all-time leading rusher Dalvin Cook. Fisher called former five-star prospect Jacques Patrick the starter, although another five-star recruit, Cam Akers, will challenge him immediately.

FSU loses its top two receiving targets (Travis Rudolph and Cook), but Fisher continues to rave about Nyqwan Murray and Wharton High alumnus Auden Tate. That pair combined for 11 touchdowns last fall.

"You have two main guys coming in," Fisher said. "That's about as good as anybody has."

The defense figures to be even stronger.

When ESPN unveiled its list of the country's top 50 players Tuesday, four FSU defenders were on there — linemen Derrick Nnadi and Josh Sweat, cornerback Tarvarus McFadden and do-it-all safety Derwin James, who was No. 1 overall.

"That means you have talent," Fisher said. "That means it's possible for you to do that. … They've all got to turn possible into probable."

If that happens, FSU's championship expectations have a shot at coming to fruition.

'Nole notes: Fisher praised former five-star recruit George Campbell (East Lake High), who is fully recovered from a core muscle injury that sidelined him last season. Campbell could crack into the receiver rotation. "You have seen a guy driven to get back," Fisher said. … For now, Fisher said former defensive end Rick Leonard will be the top left tackle after starting six games at right tackle last year.

Contact Matt Baker at mbaker@tampabay.com. Follow @MBakerTBTimes.

Jimbo Fisher: Lessons learned, lofty expectations warranted (w/video) 08/01/17 [Last modified: Tuesday, August 1, 2017 7:07pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Fennelly: What's not to like about Lightning's start?

    Lightning Strikes

    BRANDON — No one is engraving the Stanley Cup. No one has begun stuffing the league MVP ballot box for Nikita Kucherov.

    The Lightning, with a win tonight, would match the best start in franchise history, 7-1-1 in the 2003-04 Cup season.
  2. Quarterback Jameis Winston will start Sunday for the Bucs

    Bucs

    TAMPA — Jameis Winston hadn't thrown in practice since he injured his right shoulder in Sunday's loss at Arizona, and with that uncertainty, a wide line of TV cameras and reporters' cellphones were all out Friday morning, recording the moment as Winston tested his shoulder with his first throws early in …

    Despite a sore shoulder, Jameis Winston will be making his 38th consecutive start since being drafted first overall in 2015.
  3. Bucs journal: LB Kwon Alexander ready to return from injury

    Bucs

    TAMPA — LB Kwon Alexander, sidelined by a hamstring injury since the second quarter of the Bucs' season opener against Chicago, will finally make a healthy return Sunday against the Bills.

    Linebacker Kwon Alexander needs “to get my stats back up” after being out since the opener.
  4. A rare treat Saturday for Rowdies: a home playoff game

    Soccer

    ST. PETERSBURG — Rowdies fans, set to be rewarded with their first home playoff match in five years, can also take a little credit for it.

    From left, Georgi Hristov, Joe Cole and Marcel Schafer are among the Rowdies’ top scorers.
  5. Why it's too early to give up on the Bucs

    Bucs

    Don't panic. It's not too late for the Bucs.

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston (3) and wide receiver Mike Evans (13) celebrate after the defense recovered a fumble during the second half of an NFL game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz., on Sunday, Oct. 15, 2017. LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times