Oct. 1, 2009
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Mickey Andrews' Florida State defense lingered behind the rest of the team at the conclusion of Thursday's practice where the players addressed Saturday's pivotal Atlantic Coast Conference game at Boston College.
Regardless what specifics were discussed, it was a sign of cohesion from a unit that collectively has much to prove if the Seminoles are to fulfill their potential from this point forward.
Boston College (3-1, 1-1 ACC), which has put up some gaudy offensive numbers through four games this season, presents a number of challenges for the 'Noles. The Eagles, big and physical up front, are committed to the running game but also confident in the passing ability of quarterback David Shinskie, who threw for 228 yards in his first start last week.
The Seminoles (2-2, 0-1 ACC) don't expect many surprises. Mostly, they are concerned with improving execution and winning individual battles at the point of attack. That has been the focal point of Andrews' instruction throughout the week.
"Everybody knows what we have to do," said freshman rover Jajuan Harley, who is expected to make his first career start. "We came off a heart-breaking loss, so we have to get ready for the next one."
The same holds true for the Florida State offense, which bogged down in a 17-7 loss to USF. The inability to run the football has prompted offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher to insert Jermaine Thomas into the starting lineup at the tailback position, where he began the season.
A rejuvenated running game and continued solid play from ACC passing leader Christian Ponder would good a long way toward a victory. That the Seminoles can't afford another loss and expect to contend for a conference championship seemed to bring out the best in the team over the past four days of practice.
“Guys are like, ‘It’s the start of the ACC and against a good opponent,'" Ponder said. "Our goals are still there and we have to start from week one if we want to achieve those and just learning from last week.”
Fisher was heartened by the effort he saw from his team this week, but at the same time knows that execution and ball security will be critical against a BC team that seldom self-destructs.
When asked what it will require from the Seminoles to win, Harley could have just as easily been speaking for both sides of the football.
"Discipline - you have to be disciplined," Harley said. "Win your gap - like coach Andrews always preaches to us - and just be tough. BC is a tough team."