Fisher’s philosophy, momentum to keep FSU hungry

Ken Cross

July 22, 2014 at 11:17 am.

Jimbo Fisher hopes to be receiving the first College Football Playoff trophy from Bill Hancock in early 2015. (Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports)

No doubt Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher has spent many nights since the national championship win over Auburn trying to figure out how to keep his Seminoles in position to defend the national title.  He has, by all estimations, as much talent and depth now as anyone in the country plus a returning Heisman Trophy winner in quarterback Jameis Winston, who is driven to bring another trophy to Doak Campbell Stadium.

Fisher told everyone who could gather around his media table at the Grandover Resort in Greensboro, N.C., on Monday afternoon that players, coaches, fans and the media get too caught up in statistics when analyzing games.  He said it’s simply more about momentum.

“You know your statistical advantages on everything,” Fisher said. “Flow and momentum of a game is what’s important, but sometimes we get too caught up in numbers.  Why did we win the national championship?  We were able to change the momentum of the game.”

When Auburn jumped ahead 21-3 late in the first half, FSU put together an 11-play, 66-yard drive after Auburn’s third touchdown that cut it to 21-10 at halftime.  In their 21 point fourth quarter that led to the 34-31 win, the Seminoles answered an Auburn interception, field goal, and touchdown with touchdowns of their own.

On the game-deciding drive, it was Winston who hit Rashad Greene with a 49-yard pass play to the Auburn 23-yard line, which set up the 2-yard game-winning pass to Kelvin Benjamin.  Fisher proved his point as he expressed how jumps in momentum often are the killers rather than something you can statistically see in a box score.

Momentum is something we don’t talk enough about in athletics,” he explained, “We get caught up in offense, defense, and what the score is, but momentum swings – calculate the times you take chances and what is going on at that time.  Can it change momentum against you?  Momentum has a lot to do with what you do on fourth down and trick plays and what you can do from there.”

The point was that no matter how well you play, you have to take advantage of your opportunities.  The momentum in any game can cause the upset.  Fisher has no doubts that the Seminoles are back strong as ever, but the intangibles will ultimately tell the story of whether or not they can get into the College Football Playoff.

To illustrate the greatness and how it duplicates itself, Fisher has had his team studying the resilience of great players and how they might get down, but never out.  In the end, that greatness allows them to continue to stand.  The Seminoles do this through reading and watching game tapes.

“We might watch a game, a film,” said Fisher, “Why does Michael Jordan with a flu temperature of 104 go out on the floor and play, but yet he can’t sit on the bench?  Why does Joe Montana have so many concussions and still keep playing?  Why is Larry Bird’s back so bad that he should be retired and keeps playing?  You never saw Michael Jordan sit out a game and you never saw him play to a max.”

This is all motivating to a team that has a talent in Winston that is certainly capable of duplicating the hallows of the greats.  Fisher says Winston questions and analyzes.  He wants to know why everything happens in a game, so he goes back and watches the game and studies it.  Winston is not satisfied until he comes up with answers.

“It’s the most important question you can ask,” Fisher said.  “You’ve gotta know why you do everything, so when you are wrong you can fix it and when you are right, you duplicate it.  He’s intrigued by the whys.  He loves the pulse of the game, the competition of the game and he is intrigued by the whys.”

By Fisher’s analysis, Winston makes everyone in the Florida State football organization better with this inquisitive attitude.  Fisher said the presence of Winston and the work ethic are contagious and drive the entire program to be better.

“He constantly studies and when guys are motivated it’s hard not to succeed,” Fisher said. “He has the mold of a person that when he walks on the field, we become a better football team.  All the guys on the field and in the organization, he affects the way they play.  He makes them better and they get more confident and they play better.”

That’s bad news for an ACC that sees the Seminoles as the favorite to win the league crown.  Two road games, Thursday October 30, at Louisville, and Saturday, Nov. 15 at Miami, look like the two biggest obstacles on FSU’s schedule. There’s also the opener in Arlington against high-powered Oklahoma State, but Florida State’s offense against OSU’s defense is a mismatch.

No matter the situation within a program “it’s a constant education” says Fisher and now the Seminoles are at a point where they have to duplicate success.  It’s now a situation of mentally preparing the right way —and not about size and speed at this point.

“I think there is growth that has to be in every position whether it is depth or a part-time starter being a full-time starter and accepting that role,” Fisher said. “I have concerns all the way across the board for our guys but not worries.  I am always concerned, but I am not worried.  We need to stay selfless and remember how we got to where we got to.”