FSU’S Fisher: 'A Great League' (July 22, 3:00 p.m.)
Perhaps it was only fitting that Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher had the final say in the press conference room of this year’s ACC Football Kickoff.
Fisher has never been bashful when it comes to extolling the overall excellence of ACC football, and he reminded media in attendance once again to enjoy what they will be watching this fall.
“Us and Clemson have had great success,” Fisher noted. “We've been here six years, played in the (ACC Championship Game) four out of six years, they played the other two. We've won a national championship. They've played for one. We're playing at a very high level, two of the elite programs.”
But Fisher said the ACC is anything but a top-heavy league.
“We've had some success against Miami, but all those games have been nail-biters right down to one-possession games right to the end,” he noted. “Georgia Tech upset us last year and plays very good. Pitt, NC State …. North Carolina is an on-side kick away from having a chance to beat Clemson last year (for the ACC title). There's so many teams. Virginia Tech when Frank (Beamer) was there was one of the elite teams in college football for a long time.
“This is a great league. I've coached in the other leagues. I know what they are. This is a great football. Great football players. You name me a league that has bigger stars than (FSU running back) Dalvin Cook, (Clemson quarterback) Deshaun Watson and (Miami quarterback) Brad Kaaya.
But again, it doesn’t stop there.
“There's other guys in our league that are great players,” Fisher continued. “We have other great players. Miami has other great players. Clemson has other great players, so does Georgia Tech, NC State. All across the board, everybody has them. James Conner, big running back at Pitt, we him back in the league, thank God (after his recovery from a knee injury and cancer). You're talking about the Player of the Year from two years ago.
“We have star-studded players. This is a great league of football.”
“Now we have two quarterbacks that we believe in – both of them,” Clawson said. “We also have some other young guys in the program that we think have a great upside. We're letting those guys compete.”
Clawson emphasized that he wants one quarterback to emerge as the clear starter prior to the Demon Deacons’ opener versus Tulane on September 1.
“They're healthy. They both have very good skill sets,” Clawson said. “We do not want to be a two-quarterback system. However, just looking at last year when neither of them was able to stay healthy, it's hard to imagine we go through a year where we don't need both of them.
“Those guys will split reps through camp and we'll try to get reps for the younger guys. John Wolford is an outstanding athlete and a good quarterback, and Kendall is as well. It's a good problem. It's a very good problem … That’s how the cream will rise to the top.”
2015 In Review
Florida State recorded double-figures (10-3) in wins for the fourth straight year and earned a No. 14 national ranking in both major polls, for most programs that would be outstanding, but coming on the heels of a two-year 27-1 mark for 2013-14, Fisher and his Seminoles were left wanting for more...Still, FSU came within 16 points of a third straight unbeaten regular season and finished ranked ninth nationally in the final College Football Playoff Rankings...Explosive TB Dalvin Cook was seventh in the Heisman balloting, gaining 1,691 yards, averaging 7.4 yards per carry, with 20 total TDs...Quarterback play for the Noles was alternately brilliant and inconsistent as Notre Dame transfer Everett Golson began the year as the starter and junior Sean Maguire ended it as the No. 1, and the pair combined for almost 3,300 passing yards and 22 TDs...FSU’s defense, anchored by consensus All-American CB Jalen Ramsey finished ninth nationally in scoring defense, 15th in pass efficiency defense and 19th in total defense...PK Roberto Aguayo earned first-team All-American honors for the third straight year, while T Roderick Johnson, the ACC’s Jacobs Blocking Trophy winner, garnered second-team All-American accolades...S Derwin James and DE Josh Sweat were named first-team Freshman All-Americans, with TE Ryan Izzo Honorable Mention...Twelve Seminoles earned All-ACC honors with Cook, Aguayo, Ramsey, Johnson and DT Nile Lawrence-Stample named to the first team.
After losing an NFL record 29 players to the draft the past three years, FSU’s losses this time are relatively light...The main losses are on defense, where Ramsey leads a contingent of five departing starters, including Lawrence-Stample, LBs Reggie Northrup and Terrance Smith and S Lamarcus Brutus...The offense loses no one who started the final games of the season, but replacements will have to be found for record-setting PK Aguayo and P Cason Beatty.
The Seminoles face a difficult non-conference schedule, facing 10-win teams Ole Miss in Orlando and arch-rival Florida in Tallahassee, as well as South Florida in Tampa...FSU also faces ACC road tests at Louisville, Miami, NC State and Syracuse.
Finding a No. 2 quarterback to push Maguire, who missed all of the spring recovering from an injury suffered in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl, was one of several spring priorities...With Maguire out, redshirt freshman Deondre Francois, sophomore J.J. Cosentino and early-entry freshman Malik Henry competed for playing time, a competition that will continue this fall...Despite all 11 starters returning, there is a lot of competition for positions, especially on the offensive line...The WRs should be solid with starters Travis Rudolph (59 catches, 7 TDs), Kermit Whitfield (57 catches, 6 TDs) and Jesus Wilson (58 catches) returning...Starter Ryan Izzo returns at TE and will face competition from Mavin Saunders and Jeremy Kerr...Cook heads a talented RB corps with Jacques Patrick, Ryan Green and Johnathan Vickers at TB and versatile Freddie Stevenson at FB...January enrollee Ricky Aguayo is the leader to replace his All-American older brother at PK....Defensively, FSU will feature a pair of potentially devastating pass rushers in DEs Walker and Sweat with DTs Nnadi and Demarcus Christmas holding forth inside...DE Jacob Pugh and DTs Fred Jones, Arthur Williams and JUCO transfer Wally Aime’ will push for playing time...Juniors Ro’Derrick Hoskins and Matthew Thomas are the leaders at LB, just ahead of freshman Josh Brown and sophomore Sh’Mar Kilby-Lane...The strength of the defense should be the secondary...James and senior CB Marquez White will contend for national honors....Talented sophomores Tarvarus McFadden and Marcus Lewis are battling for the other CB spot with Malique Jackson...Dependable senior Nate Andrews and junior playmaker Trey Marshall are in the leaders at the safety.
Numbers & Notes
7.38 - The per-carry average for Florida State junior TB Dalvin Cook last year when he rushed for 1,691 yards on only 229 carries. His average is the highest for an ACC running back with at least 1,000 yards on the season, since FSU’s Warrick Dunn in 1995 (7.48). Cook led the ACC in rushing and all-purpose yardage per game.
10.5 - The number of total sacks last year for Florida State DE DeMarcus Walker.
11.33 - The average number of wins for Florida State in Jimbo Fisher’s six seasons as head coach. That is the highest average of any FBS coach in the nation with a minimum of five years experience. Fisher’s winning percentage of .829 is also the second highest of any FBS head coach.
91 - The number of total tackles for FSU sophomore S Derwin James as a true freshman last year. James had 9.5 for loss, 4.5 sacks, two forced fumbles and two fumbles recovered.
107.96 - The average number of rushing yards per game by Florida State’s Dalvin Cook, which if maintained through his career, would be the highest in ACC history.
174 - The number of pass receptions Florida State’s starting trio of wide receivers made last year. Travis Rudolph (59), Jesus Wilson (58) and Kermit Whitfield (57) combined for 2,334 receiving yards and ranked sixth, eighth and ninth in the ACC in catches per game.