It was a strange night all around for Florida State football, a fact hammered home by Jimbo Fisher’s first words to media after his team’s game against Savannah State was called due to weather in the third quarter.
"Well, that was a first," Fisher began. "Never had that occur in my career, but talking about the game in general, I was very pleased with what we did."
Despite the bizarre circumstances surrounding the game, which included a 56 minute lightning delay in the first half and a prolonged limbo after a second delay as the fate of the game was up in the air, Fisher was happy with the week of work his team put in.
"I challenged our team to practice well, focus well, come out and do the things we were supposed to do, and we did that," he said. "In all three phases, we played hard, did well on offense, on defense, on special teams, executed, did what we were supposed to do, and that’s the mark of a good team."
Fisher explained the situation that occurred a bit, noting that things had to be cleared formally with the NCAA before the game could be called and counted officially. "Making sure we went through the right channels to make sure we didn’t screw up," Fisher said of the delay when the game was in limbo. "The officials and ADs, making sure they didn’t make this a non-game for some reason by doing something wrong."
As far as on-field topics go, Fisher said he was pleased with the team’s focus, despite the poor opponent, but was disappointed some of the younger players didn’t get on the field more. That includes Mario Edwards, Jr. and Chris Casher, who he said would’ve been on the field for the majority of the game’s remainder, had it continued.
When asked if he felt the team’s first two games served as an adequate preparation for the beginning of ACC play next week against Wake Forest, Fisher expressed optimism. "I think we’ll prepare well and play well next week," he said.
Kelvin Benjamin was a topic of discussion as well after hauling the first two touchdowns of his career and getting involved in the run game with a couple of reverses. Fisher was excited about the redshirt freshman’s development. "The effort is the effort [to get Benjamin more involved] because he earned the right. The guy is coming on in practice," Fisher said. "He’s in shape, he’s running—top end speed just as fast as any receiver we have. He’s got some wiggle, making guys miss, he’s got range with how he catches it."
Notes and Quotes:
Dustin Hopkins had his streak of 145 consecutive PATs made (which was good for the 6th longest streak in NCAA history) end tonight on FSU’s seventh touchdown. Despite the miss, Hopkins remains in good spirits. "Worse things have happened," Hopkins said. "It’s a shame, I’m disappointed, but at the same time, I’m really happy it wasn’t in a game where it was a one or three point game or something like that."
"It was just a simple fade route. You know, he throws it up and I go get it. We work on those every day, all day. Ten before practice, ten after practice."-Benjamin, on his first career TD reception.
"I lost a lot of weight so I’m feeling much quicker. I can make and stuff that I wasn’t when I first came in, I was too big. I’m feeling much smaller, much faster, much quicker."-Benjamin, on becoming a bigger part of the offense and where he’s improved.
"We didn’t come out and play down to anybody, we wanted to come out and play our way, set the tempo, and we always tell each other that it doesn’t matter who we’re playing, we’re going to treat it like the national championship."-EJ Manuel, on the team’s mindset and focus against SSU.
"It’s very.. I would say, serious," Manuel said of the locker room mood during the delays, when the fate of the game was uncertain. "Coaches still come in and write things on the board, things we need to work on when we get back out there, we don’t take that lightly. Any opponent we play we want to go out there and do the best we can, so we didn’t come in there laughing around or horseplaying or anything like that."
Karlos Williams said he was among those who wanted to get back on the field and get some more playing time in, but understood not everyone did. "A lot," he said when asked how much he wanted to continue. "A lot of the older guys are trying to rest their bodies up for that big start against Wake Forest next week, and a lot of those young guys wanted to go back out there to get that contact in and all and get a better feel for the game."