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How much fuel does Florida State have left?

Logan Stanford/Icon Sportswire

Florida State University coach Jimbo Fisher was in a mood for analogies early this week.

He compared the Seminoles to a car.

“I always say, when we run a car, you can put gas, oil, have the best engine,’’ Fisher said.

“If a spark-plug wire is loose, a car won’t start sometimes. Or it sputters. You know what I’m saying?

“Just going back and tightening the wire. It can be that simple. Or you may have to rebuild the engine. Sometimes, the problems are greater than you think and sometimes they’re less than you think.’’

Truthfully, the Seminoles never got out of the garage this season.

There won’t be a national championship. There won’t be an ACC championship. There won’t be a double-digit-victory season, unless the Seminoles win out, including the bowl game… and that won’t be a major bowl.

The Seminoles (5-2, 2-3 ACC), beginning with Saturday’s home game against N.C. State (4-4, 1-3), are playing for pride.

Was FSU close to a much better season? Maybe when you consider the narrow defeats against North Carolina (37-35) and Clemson (37-34). Louisville ran all over FSU 63-20 and the Seminoles couldn’t stop quarterback Lamar Jackson (neither could anyone else in the nation).

In truth, the Seminoles weren’t really that close in their biggest games. FSU’s defense couldn’t stop anyone when it really mattered. Its offensive line struggled to protect redshirt freshman quarterback Deondre Francois, who has taken a beating.

“I don’t want Deondre to get hit as much as he did,’’ Fisher said. “We need to do a better job of protecting him. A couple of times we’ve got to get rid of it, but for the most part, you’re trying to make plays. When you’re in a game where every play matters, that’s going to be part of it.’’

Francois was sacked six times and Fisher spread the blame. He was mostly concerned with the residual effects of Francois getting hit after releasing the ball.

“I say this all the time …. I think we’ve got to do a better job and I’m talking about college football (overall),’’ Fisher said. “We’ve got to do a better job of protecting quarterbacks when they’re vulnerable and making throws and taking shots.

“We’ve got to really emphasize, like they do in pro football, the quarterback protection because that guy is so vulnerable if we’re worried about the safety of the game.’’

Fisher said he has been impressed with Francois’ toughness, which he compared with FSU’s other recent quarterbacks, including Christian Ponder, whom he described as “one of the toughest guys that ever walked the earth.’’

Francois is one of the reasons Fisher said he “really likes this team moving forward.’’

Some things must be fixed, however.

Returning to the car analogy, Fisher said, “Sometimes, things need to be tweaked.’’

Even though it seems like all tangible meaning was drained out of Doak Campbell Stadium following the loss against Clemson, the Seminoles must play it out, including the Nov. 26 rivalry game against Florida.

It’s a massive disappointment. No one can dispute that.

The larger question: Where does FSU go from here?

The follow-up: Do the Seminoles have enough fuel remaining to finish with a flourish?

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