Column: Time for FSU to turn the corner

After dismantling an inferior Duke team on Saturday, FSU is riding a three game win streak and playing some of its best football this season, but the message Jimbo Fisher sent to his players Saturday night was simple: stay away.

"Sunday and Monday, I don't want to see you," Fisher told them. "You need a couple of days to get away and recharge your batteries."

Having played nine consecutive weeks to start the season, Florida State has finally arrived at the much-needed bye week to re-fuel and buckle down for what ought to be a three game win streak to finish out the regular season.

When FSU steps back on the practice field's Tuesday, Fisher wants his players energized and ready to go back to work. He knows the road ahead will not be an easy one, and it starts with a pivotal Thursday night matchup against Virginia Tech in the always-hostile Lane Stadium.

Although the Seminoles are currently on a win streak, there are still plenty of corrections to be made before traveling to Blacksburg, which Fisher made clear after the game: "ball security." In the last two games FSU has more than doubled its season total in turnovers, something Fisher does not take lightly.

Nor should he, taking care of the football will be a big key coming out of the bye week, an area that Fisher and FSU have struggled in recent years.

In his two years as head coach, Fisher is 0-2 when given an extra week of preparation before going on the road. In 2010, FSU traveled to NC State and suffered a painful loss after quarterback Christian Ponder fumbled the ball down inside the 10-yard line in the final minutes of the game.

Last year, FSU entered the bye week on a two-game losing streak against Oklahoma and Clemson before traveling to play Wake Forest. A laundry list of things went wrong for the Seminoles at BB&T Field, but the five turnovers were certainly at the forefront.

Regardless of those struggles, it is now time for this program to turn the corner and begin to announce it's presence back among the elite of college football. But it must be done one step at a time, and the first step towards doing so starts with winning the ACC, something the ‘Noles haven't accomplished since 2005.

No matter what school you look at in that elite class of competing for national titles with any sort of regularity, it starts with winning their respected conference.

There's no question that FSU is, and has been, the most talented team in the ACC with one of the best coaching staffs in the country. But, for whatever reason, the product on the field the last two years has been downright inconsistent over the course of a full season, leaving many fans scratching their heads.

2012 was the year that was all supposed to change with Fisher and his staff in their third season, a fifth-year senior at quarterback, and one of the top defense's in the nation. And then it happened again; FSU threw a 16-point lead at halftime down the drain on the way to being upset at NC State - giving the Wolfpack the inside lane to the ACC Championship.

At that point, the fan-base was up in arms, Fisher was taking heat, and rumors of divide among the players surfaced.

But it was in the face of adversity that FSU showed a sign of culture change, because in recent years that loss would have turned in to another and perhaps even a third. Instead, FSU put it behind them and showed toughness by going on to beat the next three opponents by a combined score of 132-34.

On Saturday the Wolfpack lost to North Carolina on a last second punt-return touchdown, giving FSU second life in the ACC. When the score flashed across the jumbotron inside Doak Campbell Stadium on Saturday, fans erupted.

From here, the season can go two ways.

FSU can stumble in one of the next two conference games and remain in the shadows of the ACC as it has for the last six years.

Or the Seminoles can seize the opportunity by going on the road and showing Virginia Tech, Maryland, and the rest of the conference that the ACC title is coming back home where it belongs, in Tallahassee.


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