Oct. 29, 2012
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Jimbo Fisher had a simple but important message to his players following Florida State's 48-7 dismantling of Duke Saturday night.
"I think we need a break," Fisher told the media after leaving the FSU locker room. "Nine straight weeks is a long time, plus your four weeks of camp; that's 12, 13 weeks now that you've been grinding. You need a couple days to get away [and] recharge your batteries. Im giving them Sunday [and] Monday [off]. I don't want to see any of them.
"Come in and get your treatment and do your stuff and then stay out of here."
Bye weeks always afford that valuable time for teams to get healthy and re-focused on their remaining schedule. But in 2012, it took a while to get there.
The last time that FSU went this long without an off weekend was in 2004 when a hurricane postponed the season-opening game against Miami. Before that, the last time the 'Noles played at least nine regularly-scheduled-games in a row was in 1980 when they played 10 straight before a near-month between its games between Virginia Tech and Florida to close out the regular season.
Florida State beat Florida with all of that time to prepare in 1980 and this year's team is aiming for the same such fortune with a critical Thursday-night game at Virginia Tech Nov. 6 next on the schedule. Recent history shows it won't be easy, though.
Under Fisher, the Seminoles are 0-2 coming off bye weeks with losses at NC State and at Wake Forest the last two years. The fact that the game will be played in Blacksburg, Va. makes FSU's task to change its post-bye fortunes that much tougher.
"Virginia Tech is a good team so it's gonna help us out a lot having that bye week and being able to prepare for them because those guys come ready to play," wide receiver Rodney Smith said. "We just gotta be ready and get back to the small things of football and we'll be good."
One of those "small things" is ball security.
After fumbling a combined four times over the course of the first seven weeks of the season, the Seminoles have committed six fumbles over the past two weeks. Two early fumbles nearly cost the 'Noles the game at Miami and the four against the Blue Devils were the only ugly mark on an otherwise beautiful performance.
Even though his team has an 8-1 record and a top-10 national ranking in the AP Top 25 and USA Today Coaches polls and the latest BCS standings, Fisher said the 'Noles still have plenty to work on during the bye week.
"Ball security obviously, learning to finish, we'll continue on the third down red zone stuff and find ways to create big plays and get the ball to our guys," Fisher said. "And on defense, mixing different looks and different blitzes so that quarterbacks can't zero in and keep doing the same things every week. And special teams we need to clean a few things up."
Despite season-ending injuries to stars Brandon Jenkins and Chris Thompson, Florida State has remained overall healthy even with the off week scheduled so late in the season. A year after injuries decimated the offensive line and caused issues for quarterback EJ Manuel throughout the 2011 campaign, the 'Noles have avoided a similar fate this year.
But that doesn't mean the team isn't beat up. Nine consecutive Saturdays of violent football aren't forgiving to anyone.
And with an ACC Championship berth still hanging in the balance, the annual rivalry with UF quickly approaching and a 31st consecutive bowl game in the future, FSU needs as much time as it can get to shake off minor injuries before the season-ending surge.
"We need it man, it's a long season," safety Lamarcus Joyner said. "A lot of guys are banged up. We need it to get our minds right mentally and physically and get back together and play for what's out there."