It’s the football equivalent of playing a premiere at Carnegie Hall one weekend, then providing music for the local church play just a few days later.
Isn’t that a massive comedown? Where’s the motivation?
It’s simply this: When the lights come on, you must perform.
That’s the mindset coach Jimbo Fisher is selling to his Florida State Seminoles, who must follow up a riveting come-from-behind 45-34 victory against Ole Miss on Labor Day Night with Saturday’s home matchup against Charleston Southern, a Football Championship Subdivision team.
Charleston Southern (1-1) is a very good FCS team, and that concept sometimes creates problems (see Tennessee-Appalachian State), but CSU will be without starting quarterback Kyle Copeland, who suffered a season-ending injury.
For Fisher, though, it’s always about FSU. If the Seminoles play to their standard, that’s the bottom line.
“We’ve got things we have to work on,’’ Fisher said. “We’ve got to get ready to roll.’’
The Seminoles were on a serious roll against Ole Miss, rallying from a 22-point deficit to register the biggest comeback in program history.
The most stunning performance was by redshirt freshman quarterback Deondre Francois, who passed for 419 yards and looked nothing like a guy starting his first college game.
Beginning with the late second-quarter drive that allowed the Seminoles to pull within 28-13, Francois finished 22 of 33 for 276 yards. It was an offensive blitz that put Ole Miss on its heels.
“I’m very proud of the way Deondre has started,’’ Fisher said. “But you’ve got to remember why he has had success and go back and say, ‘Hey, let’s go back to ground zero and get ready for this game and play them one at a time.’ ‘’
After one game, Francois already has entered the Heisman Trophy watch for several observers (myself included), and that’s not Fisher’s kind of reality. He has spent the last few days picking at Francois’ game instead of praising him… because that’s what coaches do.
Where does Francois need work?
“All parts of his game,’’ Fisher said. “Communication, run fakes, run drops, eye discipline, getting blitz reads, everything.
“He has to continue to get better in all phases of his game. There’s nothing that is perfect and there’s nothing that is imperfect. It’s just part of your development. You’re looking to find a one percent or half-percent each week to get better and better. Hopefully, by the end of the year, that makes you significantly better.’’
While Fisher was pleased with FSU’s reaction to first-half adversity, there’s no doubt he’d prefer a more comfortable margin on Saturday. For the most part, especially during Jameis Winston’s final FSU season in 2014, the Seminoles have not made it easy.
“Our kids believe we keep sawing wood, we keep fighting, but we’ve got to quit putting ourselves in those situations, too,’’ Fisher said. “Those have been quality opponents we’ve done that (coming back) with.
“A lot of people mark Florida State coming out as a game. But that’s part of being here, and we need to … not give ourselves that many opportunities to come back. We need to play better early. But at the same time, we’re very proud that our kids have fight, they have resolve, they have the ability to keep believing in what we do and remember it’s a 60-minute game. And as I say, keep chopping wood.’’
It’s a different type of challenge with Charleston Southern coming in — and Louisville lurking on the horizon — but it’s all part of the process, according to Fisher.
“How we practice and the type of mental toughness that we try to instill in our players … everybody in the country tries to do the same thing,’’ Fisher said. “Our guys, they take to it. From that standpoint, I’m very proud of them.’’