TSX Report: Florida State

Quick to get his team refocused and avoid basking in all the love among fans, Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher reminded the Seminoles they've only hit the midpoint of the season. "I told them they ain't accomplished nothing," Fisher said, after addressing his team Monday. "Still have to win another game to be bowl eligible. All your goals and aspirations are out there.

We have not accomplished anything as a football team right now. Except that we're playing very well."

On cue, the players have seemed to follow suit as Florida State (5-1, 3-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) prepares for Saturday's game against Boston College.

"We haven't achieved anything yet," quarterback Christian Ponder said. "We're sitting at 5-1 right now and we're not going to the ACC championship yet. We won a couple games, four games, five games -- I mean, it's not that big of a deal."

What is a big deal, however, is the Seminoles are the highest ranked team in the state of Florida, the only ranked team in the ACC, and facing a far more manageable schedule than it seemed in July. Shockingly, the Seminoles were 0-3 in the ACC last year at this point. In fact, they are 3-0 in conference play for the first time in seven seasons.

They are gaining ground in recruiting and getting their lethargic fan base to think about supporting the team again at home games. For his part, Fisher is mindful that he wants the players to feel good and gain confidence without having that enthusiasm turn into overconfidence.

"It's like anything in life, you have to understand why things are happening," he said. "It goes back to why. Why do you have confidence? Why do you have success? ... You've done all the things that a good team does. And that's what you have to continue to do."

NOTES, QUOTES

--The Seminoles' offensive line will be the focus of an ESPN piece for its GameDay show on Saturday. One of the reasons is G Rodney Hudson, a senior, who earned ACC lineman of the week honors. Hudson matched his season high by earning a grade of 94 percent. He did not register a missed assignment or draw a penalty in 62 snaps while leading a running attack that piled up 298 yards on just 40 carries.

--After he had his team practice in pads each previous Monday, FSU head coach Jimbo Fisher went light this week. His reasoning was this team had played six consecutive games and needed a break.

--The Seminoles' 45-17 win against Miami was the most lopsided triumph against the Hurricanes since 1997. The Seminoles have now beaten four consecutive opponents by at least 20 points -- something no Florida State team has done since 2000.

--Generating buzz for home games has been a topic this week. The Seminoles have not approached a sellout crowd for any of their previous three home games and had as many as 25,000 empty seats for the last home game against Wake Forest. A bigger crowd is expected Saturday.

"I would hope to see that it's very crowded. I know it's a noon game and I don't know if that attracts a lot of people. ... We would hope that after a big (win) that the fans would come out and support us. I definitely think we deserve it," QB Christian Ponder said.

SERIES HISTORY: Florida State and Boston College are tied, 4-4. (last meeting, 2009, 28-21 Boston College).

SCOUTING THE OFFENSE: Only Georgia Tech, which runs the option and throws sparingly, is ahead of FSU among ACC teams in rushing yards. The Seminoles rank 16th nationally in rushing offense, a stat that makes you pause when thinking how bad this team once struggled to gain anything on the ground. It's been a total transformation in style. In fact, a year ago at this point, FSU QB Christian Ponder was averaging 297 yards passing. Right now, he's averaging 170. But if there is something the Seminoles need to do better, it's throw vertical passes. The majority of passing yards for this team has come from screens and quick hits, not drop-back downfield throws.

SCOUTING THE DEFENSE: After visible improvement in the three games since the Sept. 11 debacle at Oklahoma, everyone wanted to see how FSU's defense measured against Miami. It was the first time since the Sept. 11 game that the Seminoles faced a team with fast athletes and a solid offensive line. It turned out better than maybe FSU coaches hoped. FSU controlled the line of scrimmage and defended the pass well. This group continues to rank No. 1 among FBS teams in quarterback sacks (4.33 per game) and is fifth in tackles for loss (8.67). But just like the rest of the team, it will be a challenge for first-year defensive coordinator Mark Stoops to get his team to play with the same kind of intensity they brought to Miami.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "That's my No. 1 goal. I haven't had a ring on my finger. I'd love to get to that championship game and make it to a BCS bowl. That's our whole focus right now." -- Florida State QB Christian Ponder on the team's quest to win an ACC title and how it motivates the Seminoles for the rest of season.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

THIS WEEK'S GAME: Boston College at Florida State, Oct. 16 -- For a conference game, this is as close to a breather, a near-gimme, as it gets for the Seminoles (5-1, 3-0 ACC). They are playing at home, against arguably the weakest team right now in the ACC. The only wins for the Eagles (2-3, 0-2) this season were over Weber State and Kent State. They were blown out 44-17 last week by N.C. State. But the FSU coaching staff has a ready form of motivation. They can just reinforce how Boston College has beaten the Seminoles the last two years. Nothing speaks louder about FSU's past struggles than that fact. The only issue with this game should be FSU's attendance, and whether the win against Miami will spur people to fill the stadium and create a louder atmosphere than the first three home games.

KEYS TO THE GAME: Slow starts and sloppy play have been the biggest reasons why FSU hasn't beaten BC since 2007. The Seminoles had nine penalties and fumbled three times (losing one) in last year's loss at BC. The Seminoles were also dominated at the line of scrimmage, unable to generate a running game. This time, the Seminoles offense seems to be in high gear with a pass-run balance. But the biggest factor in the game will be FSU's mindset. Is this team refocused? Is this team ready to prove it can play consistent and not fall into a past trap of lethargic play after a big win? The Seminoles have far more talent than BC. But that has been the case, too, in recent years, which is why the Eagles have won three of the past four games.

PLAYERS TO WATCH:

CB Greg Reid -- In the Miami game, facing the best athletes in kick coverage he's seen this season, Reid continued to establish himself as one of the nation's most dangerous returners. He registered a career-high 145 kickoff return yards on four attempts (36.25 avg.), including a season-high 55 yarder, in response to Miami's first touchdown of the game. The sophomore added six solo tackles, including a tackle for loss, and two pass breakups from his cornerback position.

TB Chris Thompson -- With the uncertainty about backfield teammate Jermaine Thomas, this could be Thompson's day as the featured tailback. He's coming off a career performance, gaining 158 yards against Miami, headlined by the 90-yard TD run for FSU's last touchdown.

WR Bert Reed -- He caught seven passes for 107 yards last season against Boston College and the Seminoles could be looking for a way to get him another breakout game. The Seminoles figure to have huge matchup advantages, as they always do, on the edges against BC. The Seminoles may try to feature the passing game this week to gain some more confidence for QB Christian Ponder and spread the field to tire the Eagles quickly.

ROSTER REPORT:

--TB Jermaine Thomas (toe) did not practice Monday but is expected to play against Boston College. However, the Seminoles may hold him out if they feel he can be fully recovered for a much bigger game against N.C. State on Oct. 28.

--TB Ty Jones (sprained ankle) will be able to play Saturday. He missed the past two games.

--CB Xavier Rhodes (hip pointer) and DE Dan Hicks (stomach virus), both of whom missed portions of the Miami game, were back in practice and should be ready to play.

--QB Christian Ponder admits he struggles to learn when to slide and when to get down. He absorbed some hard hits against Miami, simply because he tried to gain an extra yard by taking on defenders. It doesn't work when those defenders are the kind of athletes Miami brings.


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