TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) The road doesn’t get any easier for Florida State after its worst start in 28 years.
The 0-2 Seminoles’ next four games are against teams with a combined record of 13-1. That stretch starts on Saturday on the road against Wake Forest (4-0). Coach Jimbo Fisher is hoping that history can repeat itself: The last time the Seminoles got off to an 0-2 start, they didn’t lose again and finished 10-2 in 1989.
Fisher, whose team is unranked for the first time since 2011, said during his Monday news conference that he still likes the makeup of his team. His players, though, were more direct in assessing the upcoming task at hand.
”We need to make a statement in order to show everyone that we’re not just some scrub team,” guard Cole Minshew said.
The Seminoles’ recent struggles have garnered more attention after last Saturday’s 27-21 loss to North Carolina State. Since winning 33 of 34 games from 2013 to 2015, Florida State is 14-8 in its last 22 – with two of those wins against Football Championship Subdivision schools – and 7-6 in Atlantic Coast Conference games.
”I don’t think it’s anything that Jimbo has done differently,” Minshew said. ”It’s us as players, maybe we’re not executing as those other guys were or we don’t take to coaching as well or something. I don’t know.”
If the Seminoles are going to bounce back, they need to quickly make adjustments on both sides of the ball. The offense has scored only two touchdowns and has struggled in the red zone.
Fisher was happy with freshman quarterback James Blackman’s first start (22 of 39 for 279 yards and a TD).
”He did some things I was really, really happy with,” Fisher said. ”He did a lot of little detail things, was accurate, and gave us a chance to be successful in the game.”
The passing game could face a new challenge with wide receiver Auden Tate questionable this week. Tate injured his shoulder in the second half of last Saturday’s game. The running game has also not been able to get in sync as the Seminoles have played mostly from behind.
Defensively, the Seminoles haven’t been able to generate much of a pass rush, with only three sacks in two games. They also couldn’t get off the field against N.C. State as the Wolfpack was 5 of 12 on third-down conversions.
”I think we’ve got to get started faster on defense a little bit better,” Fisher said. ”Hopefully, we can shut guys down and not get behind in that area (third downs).”
FSU has been challenged the past two times against the Demon Deacons. Two years ago, it needed a late interception to hold on for a 24-16 victory. Last season, the Seminoles won 17-6 in a game in which both defenses played well.
FSU’s next three games after Wake are against No. 14 Miami (2-0) on Oct. 7, at Duke (4-0) on Oct. 14 and hosting No. 17 Louisville (3-1) on Oct. 21.
”It’s seemed like the last couple years we’ve started off slow, and we just hit our groove by midseason and played lights out,” Minshew said. ”I think everyone needs to figure out that one thing that separates us from other teams toward the end of the season.”
More AP college football: http://collegefootball.ap.org and https://twitter.com/AP-Top25
Follow Joe Reedy on Twitter at https://twitter.com/joereedy