For the first time in three years Florida State returned to the practice field to begin preparing for an upcoming game coming off a regular-season loss.
The challenge for coach Jimbo Fisher and the No. 17 Seminoles is to prevent the setback from having a negative snowball effect. Florida State’s 28-game Atlantic Coast Conference win streak was snapped with a 22-16 loss at Georgia Tech on Saturday.
“You say you wish you could win them all, but that’s part of it. You’ve got to adjust and go,” Fisher said Monday, turning his attention to Saturday’s game against Syracuse. “One loss can’t become two. But you’ve got to remember the things, you made mistakes and why you made mistakes and you’ve got to correct them.”
The biggest mistakes Fisher will be looking to correct are inefficiencies in the red zone: the Seminoles need to score more touchdowns to finish drives, and cut down on penalties when they get inside the 20.
The Seminoles (6-1, 4-1 ACC) scored just one touchdown in four red-zone trips against the Yellow Jackets and are 12 of 25 for the season. The 48 percent efficiency rate on touchdowns is 110th out of 128 FBS teams. The 10 field goals in the red zone are tied for eighth most.
Fisher said it has a combination of things that have kept the Seminole out of the end zone once they get inside the 20, including dropped passes at inopportune times.
Florida State has three no scores in the red zone this season, with the one against Georgia Tech looming larger than others.
Leading by three late in the fourth quarter, Everett Golson threw an interception in the end zone on a pass intended for Travis Rudolph, who caught it and then bobbled it. The interception was the first in 200 pass attempts by Golson dating back to last season at Notre Dame.
Golson has completed 67.1 percent of his passes this season, but in the red zone he is just 12 of 25 with seven touchdowns and an interception.
Fisher, though, did not single out Golson for the struggles.
“We kind of took turns, be it linemen, be it him, be it (a) back, be it a receiver,” Fisher said. “It’s funny in football … guys can grade well, but all of a sudden you have limited possessions and all of a sudden this guy does it, this guy does it, this guy does it. As a unit, it’s not cohesive enough to get done what you need to get done. That’s what we’ve got to do is clean that up.”
The more frustrating thing has been penalties. Florida State has been whistled for nine false starts the past two weeks with seven being called on the offensive line.
Fisher said sometimes the false starts have been the result of being too anxious and not relaxing. Some of the penalties have been the result of silent counts but there have also been a couple silent counts where the ball has been snapped early and quarterback Everett Golson hasn’t been prepared.
Even though Florida State’s hope of getting to the College Football Playoff has been all but dashed, it still has an outside shot at making it to the ACC Championship Game for the fourth straight season. But that would require the Seminoles to win their final three conference games, including a Nov. 7 showdown at third-ranked Clemson.
Before facing Clemson though, Florida State must take on Syracuse.
The Seminoles has won seven straight against the Orange, who joined the conference in 2013. After starting the season 3-0, Syracuse has dropped fourth straight with the past two losses coming on the final play of the game. The Orange are 1-2 in conference.
Florida State has won all three meetings at Doak Campbell Stadium. Fisher’s focus though is more on getting to Saturday than the game itself.
“It’s about the process of how you prepare and how you play each play at a time. If the process is right, the results come and then you can live with those things,” he said. “We’ll get back to reminding them of that, and then go out and have a great practice.”
Republished with permission of The Associated Press.