TEMPLE TERRACE — Florida State football coach Jimbo Fisher was in Tampa on Friday to attend the Tampa Bay Seminole Club's golf tournament and banquet. Before shaking hands and slapping backs at Temple Terrace Golf and Country Club, Fisher talked about the 2011 season, recruiting, the quarterback situation and the Panama City-area beach house he shares with Gators coach Will Muschamp.
Most preseason polls have you in the top 10. How do you handle those expectations?
That's what you want at Florida State. Now, until they can take potential and give you trophies for it, it doesn't really mean a lot.
Is there already chatter about the Oklahoma game (Sept. 17 in Tallahassee)?
There's always chatter because we're both supposed to be ranked high. But the game I think is just as important is that Clemson game (on the road) right after it. Two great rivals. But (Oklahoma) will be a good test early. When you have a game like that early it keeps the kids focused in the summer. They really have to make sure they dot the I's and cross the T's.
With EJ Manuel stepping in at quarterback having three years under his belt and playing behind Christian Ponder, is that the ideal quarterback transition?
Most times when you make that transition you say that you are pretty sure that guy can play, but until he gets out there we don't know. Well, we know he can play. He was 3-1 as a freshman and MVP of the Gator Bowl. He was 1-1 last year and beat Clemson in a big game. Then he led us to a victory in the bowl game. We know he can play, he knows he can play, and more importantly his teammates know he can play.
Were you at all surprised where Ponder went in the NFL draft (No. 12 overall)?
No. I actually predicted it two days before. I keep telling everybody, he has size and speed and he can make decisions with the ball. And he's a leader.
It seems as if in the past few years you've made up some recruiting ground in the Tampa Bay area.
I think we've made a bigger push in the state in general. It's as good a state as any in the country. It's got great players and great high school coaching. But, yes, coach (Lawrence) Dawsey and some of our other coaches have done a tremendous job in this area.
Do you expect (Plant running back/linebacker) James Wilder Jr. to play right away?
I can't wait to get him up there. He's a big, athletic guy. He's a good person to be around. When you're around him you've always got a smile on your face. Hopefully, he'll be able to make an impact right away.
What is the academic status of the incoming freshmen?
I would be shocked if every one of them didn't get in. I'm pretty sure everyone will qualify, and it should be pretty comfortably.
What is the potential for the defense?
It should be great. Talentwise, we're great. We have a lot of guys who can cover. We've got safeties who can tackle. Our linebackers have good size. Our line up front should have size and strength again. And we have depth. You look at that board and there are a lot of second and third (stringers) who have played a lot. Just because they don't start doesn't mean they aren't going to get a lot of snaps. Hopefully they can be a little more dominant.
Is offensive line a concern?
It's not a concern. We've got our two tackles back, Bryan Stork and Jacob Fahrenkrug. I was very, very encouraged in the spring. A concern would be (David) Spurlock and how he comes along with his concussions. If that works out then we'll be in great shape.
Do you still share a beach house (in Carillon Beach) with Gators coach Will Muschamp?
No plans to sell it?
Nah. Not unless one of them Gator boosters wants to give me a lot of money for my half. If you can bring one in I'll double the price on him and sell it to him that way.