Tallahassee, FL - There were a few defining moments in Florida State’s consecutive victories over Brigham Young and Wake Forest that can be directly linked to Jimbo Fisher’s insistence that the Seminoles spend ample time practicing situational football.
Two come to mind immediately from Saturday’s 31-0 victory over Wake Forest.
Coming out of a 42-minute, third quarter weather delay and clinging to a 10-0 lead against the Demon Deacons, the Seminoles seized control of the game with a nine-play, 63-yard touchdown drive to take a 17-0 lead. Quarterback Christian Ponder’s 28-yard pass completion to Taiwan Easterling converted third-and-14 to keep the chains moving. Ponder finished it off with a 6-yard touchdown run and the Seminoles cruised to the finish.
A week earlier against BYU, the Seminoles let momentum get away after building a 13-0 lead and came out to start the second half holding on to a three-point cushion. FSU kicked off to the Cougars to start the second half but the Seminoles’ defense stiffened and forced a punt.
Florida State countered with a seven-minute scoring drive for the first of three second half touchdowns, en route to a 34-10 victory.
“I think we’re starting to understand situations and take advantage of opportunities,” said Ponder. “I don’t know if defensively and offensively last year that we would have been able to do those things. I think we’re realizing how important those opportunities are. … Those are situations where you can really get momentum on your side and take over the game.”
The Seminoles have actually practiced for those sudden-change situations. During preseason practice, Fisher forced the team to sit out at least two rain delays of an hour or more before returning to the practice field.
“We practiced better when we came back out,” said Fisher, who likes to put his team under the microscope by creating situations that will test their character on the practice field.
“You create the situation, put them in t and let them know how to handle it,” Fisher added. “Hopefully, they’ll learn to do it the right way.”
As it did to start the second half against BYU, Florida State’s defense stepped to the fore in the fourth quarter against Wake Forest and preserved the Seminoles first shutout of an ACC opponent since beating Virginia 33-0 in 2006. That required a pair of fourth quarter stops of the Demon Deacons, who were on the march in FSU territory.
Cornerback Mike Harris forced a fumble and safety Terrance Parks recovered it at the FSU 32 to halt the first drive. Defensive end Brandon Jenkins and safety Ochuko Jenije teamed for a fourth-down stop that killed Wake’s final possession at the FSU 20.
Junior linebacker Nigel Bradham said being put in those game-like situations on the practice field have helped the team build character and count on each other.
“We wanted that shutout so bad,” Bradham said. “Everybody who was out there stood up. We had guys step up and we put our backbone into it and we held them. That was a big stand for us and it meant a lot to us. It was definitely a confidence boost.”
The Seminoles will carry that new-found confidence to Virginia Saturday (12 p.m.) in a matchup of two of the nation’s better defensive units.
Visit to Fisher Show could lead to ACC title game, Discover Orange bowl tickets
Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher conducts his weekly call-in radio show in front of a live audience at Tallahassee’s Hotel Duval and beginning this week audience members may win tickets to an upcoming home game, the ACC Championship Game or the Discover Orange Bowl.
The Jimbo Fisher show originates from the Level 8 club on top of the Hotel Duval from 7-8 p.m. every Wednesday night with host Gene Deckerhoff and Fisher taking calls from Seminole fans far and wide. The live audience gets a chance to meet Fisher during the breaks and beginning with this week’s show will have a chance to win tickets to the Dr. Pepper ACC Championship Game on December 4th and the Discover Orange Bowl on January 3rd 2011. FSU’s marketing and promotions office will select a lucky winner at random at the end of each show.
“We are excited about the live environment surrounding Coach Fisher’s show,” said Assistant Athletic Director for Marketing at FSU Jason Dennard. “Our fans have a great opportunity every week to get to know our head coach better and to be a part of his radio show.”
Fans who wish to be in the live audience must sign up in advance at Seminoles.com.