Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Florida State Seminoles focus on not losing their focus

Quarterback Christian Ponder, whose fumble cost FSU a chance to beat N.C. State, is tripped by defensive tackle J.R. Sweezy.

Associated Press

Quarterback Christian Ponder, whose fumble cost FSU a chance to beat N.C. State, is tripped by defensive tackle J.R. Sweezy.

TALLAHASSEE — As Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher sees it, the issues that have slowed his team's return to national prominence have nothing to do with the players' dedication or desire.

Nor has it been simply an ill-timed mishandling of the football near the goal line or a mis-hit field goal — plays that punctuated last-minute losses to North Carolina State and North Carolina, respectively, the past two games and plays shown repeatedly on SportsCenter and rehashed angrily on message boards.

"It's focus," Fisher said. "You have to learn to focus and do things right all the time."

If a player does X-Y-Z on a given play the precise way he has been coached, then he will make the throw or the catch or the block or the tackle or, yes, the kick. The focus must be on steps needed to execute and not the possible implications.

"The athletes who are successful at a high level, that's how they think," Fisher said.

The Seminoles (6-3, 4-2), who play host to Clemson (5-4, 3-3) on Saturday night in a game they must win to have a shot at reaching the ACC title game and playing in a Bowl Championship Series game, have had lapses of concentration.

And not just in the final moments of games.

Consider: On the opening series of the second half Saturday against the Tar Heels, Fisher said a receiver broke off a route "that we ran four times in the first half and executed." That led to quarterback Christian Ponder getting sacked and, eventually, a punt.

"Why do kids do what they do sometimes?" Fisher said, adding there also have been dropped balls, penalties and gaffes on defense and special teams. "We have to learn to play 60 minutes. It's hard for any football team. But the guys who can do it are the guys who win, guys who have success consistently."

"Not doing things right kills us," said sophomore running back Lonnie Pryor, who had a pair of short touchdown runs against North Carolina but also was called for an illegal block that helped derail a third-quarter drive. "It's little, simple things, and it's something we've got to fix."

Sophomore cornerback Greg Reid, who had a couple of missed assignments Saturday, said he still has a bit of his old "high school mentality" that he is so much more skilled than his opponents that he can make every play.

But he has found himself out of position at times. And that has led to some big plays such as when North Carolina quarterback T.J. Yates hit receiver Dwight Jones, who had run by Reid, for a 67-yard touchdown. Yates set a school record of 439 yards passing in the 37-35 win while Jones set a school record with 233 yards receiving.

"You want to be out there. You want to make that play; that special play. But at the same time, you have to do your job and do your assignment," redshirt sophomore defensive tackle Everett Dawkins said. "It's something that's hard, but I think we can get there. We have the players to do it."

"It's just a matter of time before we get everything rolling and before we get everything down pat and start playing like we can play," Reid added.

That was the message Fisher delivered like a sermon to his team at 6:45 a.m. Monday. Although disappointed, he sees a group that has the work ethic and want-to, the togetherness (there hasn't been finger-pointing) and the willingness to learn or, more precisely, unlearn some old habits.

"Like I told them, 'If you make the two plays and you're 8-1, we're the same team as far as what issues we have,' " Fisher said. "Now we're happy and the world's happier and no one's asking all the questions.

"But in real life, for us to get the program where we want to get it to, we have to make some changes. … It's still the same issues and you have to get them fixed. We have to get better. You have to get the foundation of the organization in place to make sure that in the future we can do the things we want to do."

Brian Landman can be reached at or (813) 226-3347. Follow his coverage at

Florida State Seminoles focus on not losing their focus 11/10/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, November 10, 2010 10:41pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Monday's Rays-Angels game

    The Heater

    OF/DH Corey Dickerson missed out on a good birthday gift when AL player of the week honors went instead to Detroit's J.D. Martinez. Dickerson hit .385 with five homers, nine RBIs and nine runs; Martinez went .389-4-9-7 and got the nod.

  2. Rays journal: Alex Cobb learning to work with what he has



    If this were 2012 or 2013, even 2014, RHP Alex Cobb would have problems. He would find himself working with only two of his three pitches, with the missing pitch being his trusty changeup.

    Alex Cobb, working mainly with his fastball and curveball, is 3-1 with a 2.78 ERA over his past five starts. The Rays right-hander tries to continue his strong stretch tonight against the Angels.
  3. Rays vs. Angels, 7:10 p.m. Tuesday, Tropicana Field

    The Heater

    Tonight: vs. Angels

    7:10, Tropicana Field

    TV/radio: Fox Sports Sun; 620-AM, 680-AM (Spanish)

    PORT CHARLOTTE, FL - FEBRUARY 18:  Alex Cobb #53 of the Tampa Bay Rays poses for a portrait during the Tampa Bay Rays photo day on February 18, 2017 at Charlotte Sports Park in Port Charlotte, Floida.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
  4. Fennelly: This season's Chris Archer is a pleasure to watch

    The Heater


    At this time last season, through 10 starts, Rays pitcher Chris Archer was 3-5 on his way to 9-19.

    Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Chris Archer (22) throwing in the first inning of the game between the Tampa Bay Rays and the New York Yankees at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Sunday, May 21, 2017.
  5. Bucs' O.J. Howard ends big day with BP, first pitch for Rays


    Bucs tight end O.J. Howard is known for his athleticism at 6-foot-6, 251-pounds. As an outfielder, he took his Autuaga Academy High School baseball team to the state tournament in Alabama as a junior.

    On Monday, after a little instruction from Steven Souza, Jr., the left-handed hitting Howard started making …