There’s nothing like a vacation, even if it is just a few short days. Ask Florida State’s football players, who finally will enjoy a bye week and a couple of much-needed days off from practicing and working out after beginning the season with a stretch of games on nine straight Saturdays dating back to the September 1 opener against Murray State.
“I think we need a break. Nine straight weeks is a long time, plus your four weeks of camp, that’s 12, 13 weeks now that you’ve been grinding,” said Jimbo Fisher after Saturday’s game. “You need a couple days to get away, recharge your batteries. Im giving them Sunday, Monday, I don’t want to see any of them. Come in and get your treatment and do your stuff and then stay out of here.”
Most of the Seminoles’ players weren’t complaining about the long wait for a bye week, though.
“I think everybody gets tired but it’s all in your head,” Kelvin Benjamin said. “Coach Fisher preaches that all day at practice, that whatever your own mind says, your body can do it.”
“Our season started last spring and ever since last spring that’s the way we’ve practiced,” added Christian Jones. “That’s the way our mentality’s been, so it’s kind of second nature to us.”
“It has [been tough to play nine straight games], but I love the way our team has responded and the way we’re handling it,” Lamarcus Joyner said. “We’re maturing more as an organization and I love that.”
But still, though the players claimed that it wasn’t too much of a burden to remain focused for nine straight weeks, many did admit to looking forward to a chance to rejuvenate.
“Yeah, it’s a sigh of relief that it’s finally here,” said Tyler Hunter. “I think after we come off of the bye week you’ll see we’ll come out a lot stronger with people being rested and we’ll come out with a lot of focus for the Virginia Tech game.”
Dustin Hopkins agreed with Hunter as he spoke about the physical grind of the season, even adding a little humor when discussing the regimen the players undergo to be able to withstand the punishment of a college season.
“I can tell you that I’m happy,” Hopkins said. “Our training staff is top notch. I know a lot of guys, we live in the cold tub during the week. I know, it sounds like a real rough life, getting massages, and trying to get some lactic acid out and different things. But there’s a lot that goes into keeping your body fresh, and I think our team has a real professionalism about doing those things.”
Despite the long wait for a break, some players focused on the positive of having a later bye week, particularly before one of the higher profile games of the year with a Thursday night trip to Virginia Tech on November 8 looming after the bye.
“We have a late bye week, but I think that’s what helps us,” said James Wilder. “Most teams have it like the third week, fourth week, and that doesn’t really help because their bodies aren’t really worn out. But for us being able to have our bye week towards the end of the season, it’s like starting the second half, starting the new season, we’ll be able to rest up our bodies and mentally take a break from the game.”
Rodney Smith, among others, said that the extra time before the trip to Blacksburg would pay off for Florida State.
“Virginia Tech is a good team so it’s gonna help us out a lot having that bye week and being able to prepare for them, because those guys come ready to play,” Smith said. “We just gotta be ready and get back to the small things of football and we’ll be good.”
Wilder also said that the bye week would help his team gain a mental edge.
“We’ll be able to be mentally extra prepared, watch more film, do more study work,” Wilder said. “We’ll be doing more mental work and we have a week off, so we can start whenever coach Fisher wants us to start this week.”
In addition to providing extra time to watch film, the bye will also be used to focus on a number of areas of the team, according to Fisher.
“Ball security obviously, learning to finish, we’ll continue on the third down red zone stuff and find ways to create big plays and get the ball to our guys,” Fisher said when asked what he wanted to work on with the extra time. “And on defense, mixing different looks and different blitzes so that quarterbacks can’t zero in and keep doing the same things every week. And special teams we need to clean a few things up.”
While Fisher has his plans to sharpen the team up, for now, the players are just looking forward to soaking up the time off.
“Everybody was excited,” Joyner said of the few days off to start the new week. “Sometimes you just gotta get away from this game.”
Wilder said he was excited for the chance to catch up on other things, but that the Seminoles would still spend plenty of time together, even if it wasn’t under Fisher’s supervision.
“Midterms are on right now, it’s time to be able to study and just relax,” Wilder said. “We’re all still gonna be here together regardless. We may not be here in the stadium but we’re all gonna hang out, we’re all like brothers. We’ll just be able to get away from the sport a little bit and just bond and hang out.”