TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The process of turning the page from disappointment to the next opponent began in earnest Monday for the Florida State football team.
Meeting with the team early in the morning for the first time since Thursday’s gut-wrenching loss at NC State, Jimbo Fisher set the wheels in motion for getting the Seminoles back on track for Saturday’s homecoming showdown with North Carolina (3:30 p.m., ABC).
By late afternoon the ‘Noles were back on the practice field, where they cleaned up their mistakes following the 28-24 loss to the Wolfpack and began looking ahead to the Tar Heels.
“They were very humbled; very back to work,” Fisher said after the two-hour practice session. “They went out there and they were hurting. You could tell, but I think they channeled it the right way.”
Fisher has repeatedly made the point that the Seminoles, who hold a half-game lead in the Atlantic Division, can still accomplish their goals. But in order to do that, they must rebound, just as they did when they followed their early-season loss to Oklahoma with a five-game winning streak.
Junior safety Terrance Parks said the Seminoles practiced well for the first time since the “heartbreaking loss” to NC State.
“We came in focused with something to accomplish,” Parks said. “We were not dragging or anything like that. We were locked in, focused, and concentrated on the upcoming week.”
That’s not to say it was easy.
“It was tough getting over this one,” Parks added. “That was a heartbreaking loss, but it doesn’t matter how many days you have to get over it, when you experience a loss like that it’s going to take at least a couple days, in my opinion.”
Parks wasn’t alone.
“It stayed with me a little bit, but the game is over and we cannot do anything besides moving on,” added sophomore fullback Lonnie Pryor. “It stayed with me a little bit, but after going out there today and going over film you cannot do anything about it. It’s gone now and we just have to recover.”
North Carolina, which has dealt with its share of off-field issues, will have the Seminoles’ undivided attention. Despite dismissals and suspensions of some key players on what many expected to be an ACC contender, the Tar Heels are still stout defensively and significantly improved offensively, thanks to the mature play of quarterback T.J. Yates and running of tailback Johnny White.
“They have a great running back and good receivers,” said Parks. “Their quarterback makes good decisions, so we have to go into this game focused and have to play Florida State football. We have to play with intensity, and get back to playing our game.”
Much of that will go back to FSU’s mental preparation for North Carolina, a team the Seminoles dispatched 30-27 last season in Chapel Hill by rallying from a 24-6 deficit early in the third quarter.
On more than one occasion Fisher has talked to the team about the importance of not allowing one loss to become two defeats.
Senior middle linebacker Kendall Smith, who is coming off a career-high 15 tackles against NC State, said he used a couple of off days to get himself ready for the challenge immediately ahead.
“I didn’t want to let (the loss) get me down,” Smith said. “I still feel there’s a chance for us to win the ACC. We just have to play better than we did (Thursday) and get ready for Saturday.
“It happened for a reason, so we’ll see how we’re going to handle it in the future.”
Florida State’s Nov. 13 home game against Clemson will kick off at 8 p.m. and be televised on ABC;
Senior offensive guard Rodney Hudson has been selected as one of 12 semifinalists for the Rotary Lombardi Award, presented to the nation’s top lineman. Hudson is one of just two offensive linemen to make the cut;
Sophomore kicker Dustin Hopkins was named a semifinalist for the Lou Groza Award, presented to the nation’s top place kicker. Hopkins hopes to join former Seminole Groza Award winners Sebastian Janikowski (1998, ’99) and Graham Gano (2008).