Today head coach Jimbo Fisher and fifth-year senior QB EJ Manuel fielded their weekly barrage of questions, but in week three the topics were much less general and far more focused on the Seminoles' first ACC opponent, Wake Forest.
For starters, the Seminoles maintain this is not a revenge game.
"It's a different year," said Fisher. "Totally different year, this is a totally different team and we know what we have to do. Wake does what they do, we're going to do what we do, we've got to play well.
"I mean you always want to play well against teams that have beaten you in the past or whatever but year to year the teams change, they're not the same team."
They're not, but they look pretty darn similar to the group that lost its third straight game of the season 35-30 last year in Winston Salem. A few players have graduated on each side of the ball, but this team returned a lot of players from last year's team and despite the proclamations of its players and coaches, you know on some level there are still memories from last year playing out this week.
The fans certainly remember.
As for what Wake does, Fisher was very quick to caution that this Wake team has a lot of experience, they're not a group that makes mental errors.
“[They play] good football. Sound football," said Fisher. "They do make plays. They’re much more athletic than people think. Wake’s got good players. Last year, their first three got drafted before our first one got drafted. They’ve got good players, they’ve always have – since I’ve been here. They’re coached well. They don’t beat themselves. They play very hard. They’re very sound and a good football team.”
What Fisher is referring to is a much different MO than has typically been used at Florida colleges (though Miami is beginning to shift more to it under Al Golden). Whereas some schools really do have the pick of the litter when it comes to signing the best recruits, you can win by developing and coaching players that aren't as heralded when they come out but will stick around for four or five years.
That's why every few years Jim Grobe puts together an ACC-contender, he brings in classes of guys who stay on board, earn their degrees and play at a high level mentally after spending a long time in their system.
I went to high school with a guy that went to Wake, a receiver, he didn't start until his redshirt senior year (like many in his incoming freshman class), but he earned a masters in that time and knew the offense inside and out before he ever saw the field.
It's not the sexiest way, but you don't have to compensate for players leaving early and you rarely have to rely on the athleticism (and inconsistency) of underclassmen if you build a team around that philosophy.
If you can't compete on the top tier of recruiting in college football this is how you win.
“They’ve got good players and they’re coached well," said Fisher. "The first year I was here, they had about five guys drafted off the defense which was an excellent defense. Some of them were the best players we faced all year. They’ve always had a very good football team.
"They’re an experienced football team, a lot of them are redshirt juniors and seniors in the mix. I think people overlook that. They’ve caught the Butler (men’s basketball) syndrome – you get older guys that know how to play together and very well and they understand the system. They’ve been there and understand how to win and play hard. When you get older you get smarter and tougher. That’s how they play."
That's a marked difference from Florida State's last two opponents who thought gap responsibility was a mall retail term. While the Seminoles will have the edge in athletcism on Saturday, they will need to have a mental edge too because Wake isn't going to give them anything.
Florida State is favored by nearly 30 this weekend, they should win, but Wake Forest is going to make them earn it.