Check out our game story from Charlotte last night here.
To Jimbo Fisher, FSU, finally, took the next step – a harder one than most assume.
“We had a culture there for a while that we couldn’t win those games,” Fisher said. “We couldn’t win 10 games in a season, now we’ve won 11. We won the Atlantic, it was the second time we’ve been here in three years.
“We now got over the hump and won the first championship, and I think…you’ve got to win one before you can ever say ‘I’m back’ and everybody wants you to — you’ve got to win a conference championship before you win a national championship, and now our kids understand what it takes and how hard it is. But they’re champions.”
A hindrance to that step was putting teams away this season, which they couldn’t do at NC State in a 17-16 loss in Raliegh, and for just about 59 minutes – couldn’t do to Georgia Tech.
“Good teams win in different ways – the Clemson game we outscored them,” Fisher started. “This game we played great defense. The NC State game we couldn’t make enough plays either way.
“But again, that’s a part of being a champion. There’s a point in time you point back and you look at it and say, ‘that was it.’”
If that’s the turning point for the FSU program, Fisher will have to reconstruct that magic, with defensive coordinator Mark Stoops leaving for the head coaching job at Kentucky…and possibly taking the Seminoles’ offensive coordinator (James Coley) with him. Even Fisher knew the time for celebration had its limits moving forward Saturday night.
“We’ll get organized and I’ll get back on that trail (Sunday). Thanks – I was trying to enjoy something for five minutes. I can’t even enjoy – now I’m back in that mode,” he said with wry smile.
Tech puts up a fight
At the half, FSU averaged 7.4 yards per carry to Georgia Tech’s 3.8 – E.J. Manuel and James Wilder Jr. slicing and dicing the Yellow Jackets’ D.
But after Wilder Jr.’s second score, something changed – the ‘Noles didn’t score from the 4:56 point in the second quarter on, going punt-fumble-punt-fumble-interception.
“We made some adjustments to start the second half,” Tech linebacker Jabari Hunt-Days said. “And they worked. We just played faster with a lot more energy and intensity. That’s truly what it was.”
Paul Johnson is a guy not known for holding his tongue, and he had more praise than anything for his squad that finished up 6-7, bound for the Sun Bowl.
“Never happy when you lose,” Johnson said. “But I told our guys that I was proud of their effort, so we’ll take that and try to move forward…
“It was a heck of a football game…I thought they played with some heart and some intensity.”
Bowl Oppponent TBD
We won’t know FSU’s Orange Bowl opponent until the final BCS standings are unveiled tonight. Two scenarios: It’s Northern Illinois (12-1) or Boise State (10-2) if either one can crack the top-16 of the BCS, which CBS’ Jerry Palm projects not to happen by a narrow margin. Or it’s the typical matchup with the Big East champ, in this case, future ACC member Louisville (10-2).