Florida State offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher refuses to see the team's struggles at the goal line as a complete negative.
"It could be worse," he said, "if we're not getting down there."
The Seminoles (2-3, 0-2 ACC), who play host to No. 22 Georgia Tech (4-1, 2-1) on Saturday night, have to find a way to score touchdowns once they have a first and goal. Something they didn't do against USF twice. Something they didn't do against Boston College.
What's surprising to QB Christian Ponder is the Seminoles excelled in such situations during the spring and fall practices. Okay, it's not because they were going against their own defense. They were executing well then and not so much now, he said.
"It's all about attitude," Ponder said. "We have the ability to do it. It's just the mind-set."
To Fisher, that means the willingness to do what's necessary.
"You've got to run over somebody. You've got to run through somebody," he said. "You've got to make a block. You've got to jump through somebody.
"Things are shorter, tighter and faster, and they're more physical in that area. And we have to learn to grow in that area. But at least we are there. That's still a positive because if we weren't, we'd have to work on something else."
Andrews' admission: Defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews was set to start freshman S Jajuan Harley on Saturday in Chestnut Hill, Mass., but opted to go with a somewhat banged up senior Korey Mangum, who had been struggling.
"I didn't have guts enough to do it because I know the older guy knew what to do," Andrews said. "He just didn't always get it done."
He added Harley and redshirt freshman Nick Moody have been inconsistent in practice and that's where a player must earn his coach's trust that he will perform come game day.
Against the Yellow Jackets and their triple-option attack, Andrews promises a "change or two" in his starting lineup: "We're at the point right now where we're going to put our people out there and see who'll go out and make a difference."
Call for a Blackout: A Facebook plea encourages fans to wear black to send a message to the school administration that they "want something drastic to be done."
The Web site posting says the idea isn't to take a shot at coach Bobby Bowden, who's under pressure from fans, boosters and even the chairman of the school's Board of Trustees to announce his retirement, but to support the players while demanding change: "We need something to happen to show recruits that we will not become Duke."
Did you know? The Seminoles have mustered just 24 points in the opening quarter, including only three in the past two games combined.
Said Fisher of a faster start: "I think that's important sometimes when you're young because it goes back to my adage: Sometimes, things aren't ever as good as they seem and they're never as bad as they seem. Sometimes with young guys, if you have success early in a game, sometimes you get that good feeling about things and you continue."
Ponder this: Ponder leads the ACC in passing yards (1,423), completions (121), attempts (181), yards per game (284.6) and total offense (305.8). He's tied for fewest interceptions (one) but has just four touchdowns, 10 fewer than league-leader Russell Wilson of N.C. State.
Brian Landman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (813) 226-3347. Read his blog at blogs. tampabay.com/seminoles.