Nov. 24, 2010
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - The obvious - scoring touchdowns - is the key for Florida State (8-3, 6-2 ACC) in order to knock off rival Florida (7-4, 4-4 SEC) at home Saturday at 3:30 p.m. on ABC/ESPN and snap a six-game losing streak to the Gators. FSU head coach Jimbo Fisher talked Wednesday after practice of how his team will need to put up big points against the nation's 10th ranked defense in order to be victorious.
"You have to score touchdowns against them," Fisher said. "They do a good job of keeping you from doing that. They're physical. We have to make some guys make some plays and get that ball down the field, make them run and we make some catches. We've got to score touchdowns."
Florida State ranks 37th nationally and third in the Atlantic Coast Conference in scoring offense while averaging 31.7 points per game. The Seminoles put up 59 points against Samford and after a loss rallied back to string together four straight 30-plus point games culminated with a 45 point performance at in-state rival Miami. FSU has scored at least 30 points in seven of its 11 games.
Florida ranks 26th nationally in scoring defense, but in three of their four losses, the Gators have allowed at least 30 points and average allowing 27.5 points in their four losses this season. Florida State is coming off a 30-16 win at Maryland, but FSU had to settle for field goals in and around the red zone where touchdowns might have put the Terrapins away earlier.
"That's [not scoring touchdowns] what got us last game," Fisher said. "That's something we've been really good at all year. That's the one thing we've been doing a great job of. We need to continue that. We didn't do it last week for the first time in a while. So we need to get that cleaned up."
Florida State is averaging less than 15 points in its last six meetings with the Gators. FSU's last win in the series was a 38-34 win in Gainesville. In the 10 home wins over the Gators in the series, the `Noles averaged 32.1 points.
Saturday senior quarterback Christian Ponder will face one of the top secondaries in the country. The Gators rank 13th nationally in pass defense and as a defense has 17 interceptions, which is tied for the seventh most nationally. Ten of those are by the Gator secondary.
"They're really good," said Fisher. "Janoris [Jenkins] is a really good player. Ahmad Black is all over the field. He makes plays. [Will] Hill was as high a ranked player as there was and then you have [Jeremy] Brown. They always have good secondaries. The nickel guy comes in and is athletic and big."
In Fisher's eyes, for his team to execute against the Gators and beat that secondary, focus will be key.
"It's important all the time," said Fisher. "When it becomes a habit to you because you don't know what play changes the game and that's where I think here lately, we have drifted just at times. We've made plays we've had to, but there's no reason to put yourself in some of those positions that we've put ourselves in. Sometimes the younger guys have to fight through those things. They're not doing it on purpose. We're trying to coach the heck out of them. We're trying to grind through those times and learn to get every play out of them. It's not effort. Don't confuse effort with focus and execution because it's not because they don't want to."
Florida State will indeed hit the practice field on Thanksgiving with an early afternoon practice session. Fisher said the team will eat a Thanksgiving meal as a family immediately following practice.