TSX Report: Florida State

On the biggest day of his coaching career to date, Jimbo Fisher experienced the whole gamut of emotions. Nervous in the morning. Calm by noon when the game began. Satisfied and content with how the game unfolded. In a snapshot moment for the Florida State football program, Fisher began his era as head coach, the successor to legend-in-waiting Bobby Bowden, with a smashing debut.

This game could not have gone any better for the Seminoles. They made big plays, they had defensive stands, they had an electrifying punt return by Greg Reid, they blocked a kick, they made few penalties and blew out Samford University 59-6 as if perfectly scripted.

"I take a lot out of that [game]," Fisher said, refuting the idea that it was against a much lesser opponent. "We had [good] substitutions. We made plays. We read third down. We understood what we were doing."

A much better gauge, however, awaits on Saturday when Florida State visits Oklahoma in one of the day's marquee, intersectional matchups that will command national attention. Aside from facing a top 10 program on the road, the game will also pair FSU's new defensive coordinator Mark Stoops against his older brother, Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops.

When asked after the game about Oklahoma, a television reporter said, 'Welcome to reality. "Yeah," Fisher responded quickly. "We're ready." He later admitted, "It's gonna be a heck of a challenge," Fisher said. "They've got a great program, and we're looking forward to it."

Unlike Bowden, Fisher has chosen to make Sunday a complete day off for the program in terms of media access. Neither himself, or coaches, or players did interviews.

But what he saw on Saturday, Fisher liked.

"When the scoreboard's on and the clock is running, you play every play like it's the most important play of the game," Fisher says.

"Attitude is one simple word, but it means so much.


--The Seminoles utilized 26 players for the first time, including 12 of the 19 true freshmen. "Those guys are going to play and they're going to be players," said FSU head coach Jimbo Fisher. "We need them to play and we need them to build depth and the more we play them the quicker they are going to make an impact."

--Where was Bobby Bowden for the game? He was watching at his second-home in Panama City. But the night before the game, Bowden participated in a book signing in Tallahassee for his new book, "Called to Coach." He signed more than 500 copies of the book and stayed past the allotted two-hour schedule to make sure he signed every book.

--Former defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews, who worked 26 seasons under Bowden, was among the inductees to the FSU Hall of Fame in a special dinner banquet on Friday night. Also enshrined was former star wide receiver Peter Warrick.

--The 42 points FSU scored in the first half against Samford were the most since a 2000 game against Duke. In that game, eventual Heisman winner Chris Weinke threw for a school-record 536 yards in the 63-14 win.

--WR Bert Reed ended a streak of 72 catches and 20 games without a receiving touchdown with his 15-yard scoring play in the second quarter. "What I did right there was let (offensive tackle) Andrew Datko get in front of me," Reed said. "He's 6-foot-7 and I'm 5-10 so I hid behind him ... It was a great feeling and I'm going to get used to it. I really feel like the game is slowing down for me."

GAME BALL GOES TO: QB Christian Ponder -- He overcame the tipped pass interception of FSU's first series to complete 14 of 16 passes for 169 yards and four touchdowns. After that botched opening series, he led the team to touchdowns on five consecutive possessions and made it look easy. The big thing for Ponder was getting back in rhythm. He did that well.

KEEP AN EYE ON: RB Ty Jones -- The junior was considered the No. 3 tailback, but that may change after he rushed for 107 yards on just eight carries, headlined by a 57-yard touchdown run in the third quarter. Jones played in only six games last year, but did have three starts and led the team with five rushing touchdowns. He's the burly back that FSU has been seeking for this offense.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "I think he handled it perfect. Everybody was focused; a lot more focused than what I saw last year." -- Florida State CB Greg Reid, assessing the effect of new coach Jimbo Fisher.


LOOKING GOOD: The Seminoles' defense was dominating. Yes, this was an overmatched opponent, but of all the intrigue surrounding the start of the Jimbo Fisher coaching era at FSU, the game presented early judgment of a revamped defense. Remember, Bobby Bowden wasn't the only iconic coach being replaced. New defensive coordinator Mark Stoops was replacing Mickey Andrews and bringing a whole new defense scheme in the process. The Seminoles held Samford to 77 rushing yards, 223 passing yards and forced several penalties on the Samford offense. Much of the total offense came in the second half. The defense had five sacks, 10 tackles for a loss. The group also blocked a punt and ended the game with a goal-line stand. The Seminoles throttled the Bulldogs in the first half, allowing just five first downs. Three of those first downs were on the final series of the half.

STILL NEEDS WORK: The Seminoles have to figure a way to get their fans more enthused. Having 15,000 or more empty seats for the season-opener and a new coach is not good, no matter the time of the kickoff. It will be used against FSU when recruiting against SEC schools. The Seminoles may need to look at some things in marketing to bring a more enticing atmosphere.


--FS Nick Moody (groin) did not dress out. Senior Ochuko Jenije played in his place.

--C A.J. Ganguzza (back) and S Avis Commack (leg) did not dress out either. Both were backup players.

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