TALLAHASSEE, FLA. (franchisesportsonline.net) – Florida State football coach Jimbo Fisher came out optimistic and excited for the new football season in his opening weekly presser – as he should be.
“It’s that time again, isn’t it?” Fisher said. “I’m glad it’s that time. Getting ready to kick off this season. Very excited. Looking forward to playing somebody else, our guys I think are getting tired of playing each other.”
Florida State opens the season ranked fourth in both the AP and Coaches poll. The Seminoles are kicking off their season with one of the bigger openers this year, and in the past few seasons, playing the 11th ranked Ole Miss Rebels in Orlando. The Rebels, who are 4-0 in season openers under their head coach Hugh Freeze, finished 10-3 last season in the SEC, beating LSU, Auburn, and Alabama. Ole Miss lost a lot of players to the draft but is bringing back their most important star, quarterback Chad Kelly.
Fisher gave a lot of praise to the Rebels’ preseason All-SEC first-team quarterback.
“He does a great job with his arm and his feet,” Fisher said. “It’s going to be a huge challenge. They ain’t scared to throw it. He can run it. I mean, he ran for about 500, if I’m not mistaken. You’re talking about a guy who is one heck of a football player.”
Kelly, who led all Power five quarterbacks with a completion percentage of 65 percent, had the third most passing yards (4,042) and total yards (4,542) in SEC history last year.
On the other side of the field, first-time starter Deondre Francois officially won the quarterback spot late last week for the Seminoles. Francois has yet to take a snap in a Florida State game, but coach Fisher has full confidence in him.
“You’ve got to touch that ball,” Fisher said. “Everybody on the field wants it. You’re the one guy that gets it. We must think a lot of you to give it to you. Take that as a responsibility.”
The redshirt freshman from Orlando was the number one ranked dual-threat quarterback in the 2015 recruiting class, and after sitting out for a year Fisher is ready to turn him loose. Like Francois, a lot of the younger players on the team need to step up this year.
“We’ve got a great opportunity again to play a lot of young guys, I think,” Fisher said. “There’s still a lot of young football players on this team I’m really wanting to watch evolve into what they can be. Even some of the guys that played here [last year] because again we only have nine or ten seniors on this football team.”
Players like Dalvin Cook and Travis Rudolph will be crucial to the team’s offensive performance, but the defense is still figuring things out.
“Defensively, watching some of those young guys and the impact guys, I think, can come in and play early, have a chance to help us.,” Fisher said. “We put them in a lot of situations in camp and very pleased with our young freshmen class, where they’ve come in and a lot of experience up front.”
Established players, like DeMarcus Walker, will lead the defense, but look for a big season from Josh Sweat who finally feels 100% healthy.
The season opener will be a challenge for the newcomers – not like any game they’ve played before. The returning players are coming off of a post-season loss to Houston in the Peach Bowl. Coach Fisher likened this neutral site game to a bowl game atmosphere.
“It puts your team in an atmosphere that you’re fortunate enough to get in a bowl game, a major bowl game, playoff games, things like that, you get that atmosphere and the environment.”
Although the game takes place in Florida, Fisher is preparing his team as he normally would a neutral site game. The game Monday, Sept. 5 and everyone is ready to see what this new Seminole team has to offer.