TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher will say expectations remain the same, and there’s no NCAA bylaw precluding a young, inexperienced roster from the postseason. But even as the sixth-year Seminoles coach lectures on how outside predictions don’t shape his program, Fisher is letting it be known 2015 could be challenging.
Words such as teaching, learning, education, youth and roster turnover have been littered throughout Fisher’s opening statements and answers the past few months. A little more than a year ago, just as FSU began seeking a second straight national title, the conversation was about an “attitude of domination.”
With this team, which features only one starting senior on the preseason depth chart, he is just looking for an attitude.
“We have a lot of potential, but like I say, potential means you haven’t done anything but have the ability to do it,” Fisher said. “We have to make sure the desire and knowledge is where it needs to be right now.”
Elite college programs are expected to reload rather than rebuild, and Florida State’s recruiting is behind only Alabama the past five cycles. From a raw talent standpoint, the Seminoles’ roster is still among the country’s best.
Fisher knows that, calling his 2015 class a group of “alpha dogs” and one that he is very high on. That class comes on the heels of a stellar 2014 class, too. While freshmen and sophomores are making the kinds of contributions not seen when Fisher began his career, the coach is cautioning prognosticators expecting FSU’s blue chips to fill roster voids immediately.
“Football is not a combine game,” he said. “We’re in a world where we’re all enamored with a guy’s abilities. How about how he plays? Does his production equal his talent?
That isn’t to say Fisher doesn’t believe this 2015 group could win an ACC championship. He has told those who will listen this spring that he likes his roster. The offseason acquisition of Everett Golson makes it clear Florida State is not relinquishing its grip on the conference, and the rest of the ACC Atlantic contenders have similar enough amounts of roster turnover that an inexperienced Florida State could make it back to Charlotte. He’s even made subtle remarks the past week about the 2015 team having a better mentality and demeanor than a 2014 group that puzzled pundits and coaches alike all season.
Fisher treads carefully when talking about the season’s potential, however. There are questions at every position, which nearly all include a freshmen or sophomore on the two-deep. He said he “didn’t see an age limit on being successful” but then follows that his experiences would indicate a learning curve that probably will be apparent on the field.
“[The young players] may walk out and not have [growing pains]. I don’t want to put limitations," Fisher said. "But history is the greatest teacher we have, and being in the game you’re naive to think they [won’t happen] because they’ve happened in the past and that’s how ball is played."
There is no white flag flying from the football complex, Fisher will say, but he will also say they’re young, again and again.