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Monday, September 22, 2008
FSU could be in for a long season

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

Florida State offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher breezed into the postgame interview room following the Seminoles' second straight inept offensive performance against Wake Forest, plopped into a chair and addressed what had just happened as if it were nothing more than a bad day at practice.

"We made some boo-boos," Fisher said. "We had some chances to make some plays and did some good things. No consistency, no consistency."

No offense, either.

There were three points. Five interceptions. The leading rushers were the quarterbacks. FSU averaged 3.4 yards per play. And fumbled twice.

This was no "boo-boo." This was a black eye, broken nose and busted lip on picture day.
The opportunity for Florida State to show the college football nation it took a step toward regaining respectability was thrown away with each yellow flag. It was given away with seven turnovers. And it's going to take a while to get it back.

There is no questioning the talent and potential Florida State has, but it's obviously not ready for that top 25 ranking, considering it wasn't even ready for the ACC. And, no, it's not just youth and inexperience.

Senior running back Antone Smith had 24 yards on eight carries. Meanwhile, true freshman Jermaine Thomas, who tied the school record for rushing yards in a debut by a true freshman with 91 yards against Western Carolina, didn't touch the ball once.

But hey, junior Preston Parker was back. He was practicing at running back all week. And he had a whopping three carries for 0 yards.

The other veteran out there was Fisher, Florida State's next head coach. This game wasn't just about what the Seminoles could do, it was about how much better the offense could be in the second season under Fisher.

"We'll coach 'em better, we'll play better and move on," he said.

Had anyone actually listened to Bobby Bowden -- including himself -- after last Thursday's practice, we might have seen this coming.

When Bowden rolled up in his golf cart to talk to reporters, he joked that if they failed to execute the same way against Wake Forest as they did in their final practice, they "couldn't win" on Saturday.

"I thought I was kidding," Bowden said. " ... That's exactly what we did. That's about the way we executed, what I saw out there Thursday, missed assignments, didn't know what to do, went the wrong way ... I thought it was just Thursday jitters."

Turns out it was just Florida State's offense.

In their first real test of the season, both Christian Ponder and D'Vontrey Richardson made poor decisions and poor throws, and the line in front of them at times was confused by Wake Forest and couldn't open the door for the running game.

Where was veteran Drew Weatherford? Fisher said Weatherford hasn't been getting as many snaps at practice and it wouldn't have been fair to put him in.

Well, it didn't seem to do any good to leave him out, either.

Fisher said Ponder will start against Colorado.

"He didn't play as well as he needed to play," Fisher said, "but he didn't play as poorly as you think."

Nobody on the staff is publicly panicking about this, and both Bowden and Fisher have said the mistakes are all correctable. And there is plenty left on the schedule for redemption, beginning this weekend against Colorado.

"If our problem was something that we couldn't do anything about, that'd be bad," Bowden said. "If we went out there today and got beat, if we got beat 12-3 and we played the best we could play, we've got problems. But we played lousy and only got beat by nine. It's kind of like that. But the things that got us beat are correctable, so it's a matter of studying it and getting it corrected. If we can do that now we can spin out on this thing."

The defense did its part -- only five missed tackles. But fumbles, penalties, missed assignments -- they all added up. FSU was constantly behind in down and distance.

"I don't think it was because of lack of effort," Fisher said today. "I don't think it was because of lack of preparation. I think sometimes you try too hard."

If that was their best shot, the Seminoles are in for a long season.