By JOE REEDY
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — At the quarter mark of the season, Florida State enters its bye week with two goals — prepare for the long grind ahead and try to fix an inconsistent offense.
The 10th-ranked Seminoles (3-0) have an early bye but coach Jimbo Fisher says it is coming at a perfect time.
"Sometimes it is just stepping back from things and getting back into that fundamental piece," Fisher said after practice Monday. "We’re not where we want to be, but we’re right where I thought we could be."
After a 59-16 win over Texas State in the Sept. 5 opener, Florida State hasn’t looked as crisp in its past two games. The Seminoles were tied at halftime the following week against South Florida before pulling away for a 34-14 win and had to grind out a 14-0 win last Friday at Boston College.
Most of the frustrations have been with the offense. Everyone acknowledged coming into the year that there would be some early growing pains with a unit that returned only four starters and saw quarterback Jameis Winston drafted No. 1 overall by Tampa Bay, but the learning curve has been steeper.
Fisher said there were four or five plays that should have been executed against Boston College that were left out there. He said that is a combination of coaching and also youth.
"We have a chance to be a very good football team. We will coach better and make sure we explain better and to get them to play better on Saturday and let some of that anxiety and youth start to grow up and play," Fisher said.
The offensive line, which returned only one starter, struggled with pass protection during the first half of the USF game. Against Boston College, it was pass protection and run blocking as they were handled at times by a physical Eagles’ front.
On Friday’s opening drive, Everett Golson completed all five passes for 50 yards. The rest of the game he was 10 of 19 for 69 yards. Golson’s 64.0 completion percentage is eighth among ACC quarterbacks and his 7.8 yards per attempt is ninth. Those numbers are similar to what he had at Notre Dame after three games last season (64.6 completion percentage, 8.1 yards per attempt).
The one thing Fisher is pleased with offensively is that they haven’t had a turnover, marking the first time in school history they have gone three straight games without an interception or lost fumble.
Things are also going well defensively. With a road shutout for the first time since 2003, Florida State is sixth in the nation in scoring defense, allowing only 30 points through three games, and 10th in total defense (256.3 yards per game).
After having only 16 sacks last season, the Seminoles have six so far. They have also surrendered just nine pass plays of 10 yards or more, which is tied for second nationally.
Besides tweaking things, Fisher will use the bye week to work on future opponents. Starting with the Oct. 3 game at Wake Forest, the Seminoles have a run of seven straight weeks of ACC opponents, including hosting Miami Oct. 10 and key road games against Georgia Tech (Oct. 24) and Clemson (Nov. 7).
"You have a hard time with one-week preparation you spend a couple of days on," Fisher said. "We’ll introduce some things and when you go back to it, it will be a lot fresher and they’ll understand what we’re doing."
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