The TSX Files: Florida State

The Seminoles (1-1) head into Saturday's game against Brigham Young with a little swagger and more focus on trying to regain respect. It's been a tough week so far in Tallahassee, following the team's blowout loss to Oklahoma that looked just like so many blowout losses in recent years. The Seminoles weren't competitive and have been again shunned aside on a national level.

First-year head coach Jimbo Fisher, however, said it's all part of the learning process.

"You never know until you get here," Fisher said. "There is always going to be work to be done ... I didn't expect [Oklahoma] to score that many in the first half, but they got hot and they did it and we just need to move on."

But Fisher wants the team to absorb the reality check they were hit with against Oklahoma.

"Everybody talks about that you need to forget this one and move on," he said. "Well, I don't want to forget it. I want to learn from it. We'll learn from the mistakes and things we did poorly -- (like) handling the atmosphere and the environment and the adversity. And then we'll move on."

Fisher believes the Seminoles were just "inches away" on certain plays. He hopes it can translate into a better performance against BYU.

The Seminoles produced their best game of the season in beating BYU last year in Provo, Utah. Just as that game was a defining moment during the third week of the season, so will this one be on Saturday. The Seminoles have to prove they are on the right track, both offensively and with their revamped defense.

NOTES, QUOTES

--FSU head coach Jimbo Fisher began the week of practice by addressing a couple of personal foul penalties that were called in the Oklahoma game and singled out by television announcers. Freshman defensive tackle Cameron Erving was flagged for blatantly pushing an Oklahoma ball carrier out of bounds.

"That was taken care of at 7:30 this morning," Fisher said during his lunchtime press conference Monday. "I never saw it 'til I watched the film. That's not the way we're going to play, that's not the class we're going to exhibit, and we're not going to tolerate that. We'll address it internally and handle it."

There were three other personal foul penalties on FSU. Senior defensive end Marcus White was also called for a late hit following a punt return, which enabled the Sooners to tack on another touchdown before halftime.

--The Seminoles continue to struggle to energize their fans and sell tickets. School officials said 15,000 seats remain for the BYU game, after BYU returned more than 2,000 of its 5,000 allotment. A crowd of 68,438 -- roughly 14,000 short of capacity -- watched the season opener against Samford. It was the smallest opening-game crowd since 1992, prior to FSU's stadium expansion.

--After committing just four penalties versus Samford in the opener, the Seminoles tripled that number with 12 (for 95 yards) last week against the Sooners, who had six penalties for 49 yards.

--CB Greg Reid ranks fifth nationally in punt returns with a 25.0 average. He had a big return against OU called back on a penalty.

--QB Christian Ponder, despite his struggles against Sooners, still managed to top the 5,000-yard mark in career passing yardage and now has 5,108 career yards, the eighth-best mark in Florida State history.

SERIES HISTORY: Florida State leads Brigham Young 3-0 (last meeting, 2009, 54-28 Florida State).

SCOUTING THE OFFENSE: The Seminoles never looked better against Oklahoma than on their first possession, driving 70 yards for a touchdown. After that, they were completely inept, except for a meaningless, final-play touchdown pass when the Sooners' backups were in the game. The biggest issue against BYU is whether FSU quarterback Christian Ponder can get back into a rhythm and throw effectively. He certainly did last year at BYU, but after a couple of interceptions and a demoralizing defeat last Saturday, confidence is always an issue. Forget the Heisman talk, that's over. Ponder needs to find himself again. The Seminoles also have to get better separation from their receivers, something they didn't do last week. FSU head coach Jimbo Fisher declared it was just "a matter of inches" separating big plays against the Sooners. The BYU game may prove whether that measurement was correct.

SCOUTING THE DEFENSE: The Seminoles chose against physical practices leading into the first two games, preferring to have the defense use the "thud" method of chest-to-chest without wrapping up and slamming players to the turf. Whether or not that led to poor tackling against Oklahoma is uncertain, but that was one of the most glaring culprits with the FSU defense, after it was shredded for 500 yards. Cornerback Greg Reid, in particular, struggled to make tackles. This week, BYU has tweaked its offense a little bit from last year into a more run-oriented attack. Oklahoma did not run that well against FSU, but burned the Seminoles continually on screen passes. All of that has to be corrected. FSU needs to be more physical and prove it can stop a decent offense.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "He shouldn't do that. He takes the blame for everything. That's just the way he is and that's what I respect about him. Ultimately it's my fault. It's not anybody else's fault. It's the head coach's fault." -- Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher, after hearing QB Christian Ponder blame himself for the team's blowout loss at Oklahoma.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

THIS WEEK'S GAME: Brigham Young at Florida State, Sept. 18 -- The Cougars make the return visit in a two-year series. The Seminoles' biggest win of the 2009 season, perhaps in many past seasons, came at BYU when they exploited a speed difference to blow out the No. 7-ranked Cougars 54-28 in the third game of the season. This is a critical moment in FSU's season and immediate future. How will the Seminoles respond from a humbling loss to Oklahoma that reinforced the chasm between FSU and the elite? Heading into conference play, the Seminoles have to restore confidence and feel good again.

KEYS TO THE GAME: So much of it is mental. The Seminoles were rattled and knocked down several pegs by what happened last weekend. Their fan base has already been dismissive of this team's outlook for the rest of the season. The Seminoles have to make obvious improvement with their defense, and their offense has to regain faith. But this game will be determined by the Seminoles' emotional state and whether they have the determination to prove last week wasn't a reinforcement of the past.

PLAYERS TO WATCH:

QB Christian Ponder -- He needs to get back to being the kind of quarterback who can find secondary receivers and make things happen. Ponder locked onto primary receivers against Oklahoma, forced throws into tight coverages and looked so out of sync. His record against quality opposition has not been good. One exception was BYU last year. Maybe that will help him.

TB Jermaine Thomas -- He was the lone positive element in the Seminoles' offense against Oklahoma, producing 93 yards total offense and scoring the Seminoles' first touchdown. He has regained his status as the featured tailback.

CB Greg Reid -- The Seminoles were hoping he would be the shutdown corner they have lacked for so long. It hasn't happened yet. Reid had a tough time covering Oklahoma's receivers, which means he will be targeted by BYU. The good news for Reid is that he's only a sophomore, starting for the first time this season. But this game, just like it shapes up for Ponder, is critical for Reid to prove he can rebound from adversity and play well again.

ROSTER REPORT

--LT Andrew Datko did not practice Monday. He was the only FSU starter who didn't practice. But Datko, who missed much of preseason with a shoulder injury, is expected to return to practice and play Saturday. In his place Monday, redshirt freshman Garrett Faircloth worked the first-team offense.

--FSU head coach Jimbo Fisher said he is not planning any personnel changes in the depth chart. Much of the Seminoles' second-team unit is full of sophomores and freshmen, so unless things fall apart Saturday, the Seminoles are hoping they can win with the guys they have at No. 1.


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