Dec. 28, 2012
DAVIE, Fla. - The 13th-ranked Florida State football team got down to business Friday afternoon during a full pad practice, which was the equivalent to a Tuesday practice during a normal game week. Coach Fisher's Seminoles focused even closer on Northern Illinois as preparations for the MAC Champions intensified.
"Like any other opponent, it's a huge amount of respect," said senior quarterback EJ Manuel when asked about facing NIU. "I think the best (show of) respect for your opponent is to prepare for them well; to go out there and give them you're a-game. We're not taking these guys lightly. They earned the right to be in the Orange Bowl and a BCS game, just like we did. I know people are probably giving them a hard time, talking about their school, that they shouldn't be in this (game). They earned it otherwise they wouldn't be in this situation."
The Seminoles not only talked about their respect for the Huskies but they have shown it in all their preparations in Tallahassee and now in South Florida. Tuesday's practice was the most intense since arriving for the Discover Orange Bowl and Saturday should be no different before things begin to lighten up as the January 1 game approaches and the entire nation's attention focuses on the Discover Orange Bowl and then the BCS National Championship Game a week later.
"So many teams' aspirations are to play in the National Championship," said senior kicker Dustin Hopkins." That was our aspiration, to play in that game, but with that being said, we haven't been to a BCS game in a number of years. It's not going to be hard to get up for this game because we know it's important to get the program back in games like this; very prestigious games. Next year, even though I'm gone, it's going to be the teams' goal to play in the National Championship. Any time you can play in the Orange Bowl, or whatever, major bowl it is, we're more than happy to do that."
After an early morning press conference with selected offensive players and offensive coordinator James Coley and then a long practice, the entire team headed to one of the premier events of the week. From 2:00-6:00 p.m. Friday the Seminoles took part in the Discover Orange Bowl Beach Bash. The private beach party for the players and staff is one of the highlights of the trip to South Florida.
Saturday the defensive players and D.J. Eliot will meet with the media while most of the rest of the team will take part in the FCA Breakfast. Saturday's practice will take place later in the day and a full video report from not only practice but all the team events including today's Beach Bash will be available to FSU fans at the official athletic website for Florida State athletics Seminoles.com.
Talk about playing in the same stadium as the National Championship, but a week before:
"I wish we could have been here seven days later doing the same talk for the National Championship, but it didn't work out that way. We still have an opportunity to win a huge bowl game and do something that hasn't been done at Florida State in almost a decade - first off, to win 12 games, and also win the ACC and the Orange Bowl. We're still accomplishing a lot."
Do you know where Northern Illinois is located?
"I honestly, do not. I don't know where Northern Illinois is. I'd be lying to you if I did. ... Regionally I could tell you, but city-wise, no sir."
How much do you know about NIU football?
"I know very little. I haven't even seen them on film, aside from special teams and field goal block...These guys have watched them on defense and offense, so they know a lot more, where with me I go into the game in the dark. I'll meet their kicker in pre-game."
On the thought that most people believe FSU will win easily:
"That would be a mistake. People want to discount what NIU has done, but if you look at the record, what they've done - they're a very talented team and they find ways to win - I think they deserve to be here."