Savannah St.-Florida St. Preview
While there is little doubt Florida State should win Saturday as easily as it did last weekend, overcoming the loss it suffered may not be so easy down the road.
The sixth-ranked Seminoles were expected to have one of the country's top defenses this season but now must play without star Brandon Jenkins, starting with a home game against overmatched Savannah State.
A preseason All-American, Jenkins had a sack in last Saturday's 69-3 win over Murray State to open the season but left in the first half with a foot problem. An MRI on Monday revealed the senior defensive end suffered a season-ending Lisfranc injury.
Jenkins had 21 1/2 sacks over the past two seasons and was expected to anchor a Seminoles defense that ranked fourth nationally last year in total defense and points allowed. That unit was seventh in the country in both categories after the 2012 opener.
The good news for coach Jimbo Fisher is that starting defensive tackle Anthony McCloud could make his season debut Saturday after sitting out last week with a pectoral injury.
Though Fisher says a coach often sees the most improvement in his team between games one and two, it may be difficult for him to tell when his Seminoles host Savannah State (0-1) in their final tuneup before starting ACC play.
"We can't worry about the opponent," Fisher said. "I hope we can do the things we have to do."
Savannah State, a struggling Football Championship Subdivision program, has won just one game in each of the past two seasons. The Tigers were hammered 84-0 last Saturday at then-No. 19 Oklahoma State while the Seminoles were on their way to routing Murray State.
"I have a problem, personally, saying OK we're going to win this game by a bunch of points," Fisher said. "We don't want to ever embarrass anybody or anything of that nature."
Florida State was supposed to be playing West Virginia this weekend, but the Mountaineers backed out of the highly anticipated matchup earlier this year.
A West Virginia native, Fisher said he was disappointed when the Mountaineers pulled out of their agreement when making a move from the Big East to the 10-team Big 12 Conference.
"They had to do what they had to do," Fisher said. "That would've been a great ball game. That's always been a little rivalry."
Fisher's predecessor at Florida State, Bobby Bowden, was the head coach at West Virginia when Fisher first began following the sport as a youngster.
Savannah State accepted Florida State's $475,000 guarantee to fill in for the Mountaineers.
"It ain't about you don't want to play anybody," Fisher said, noting the Seminoles' 2012 nonconference schedule also includes Florida and South Florida. "You've got to find teams to come here. You don't get a dime for going on the road."
Fisher conceded that it's more difficult to evaluate players' game performances in matchups where they are heavy favorites - and the Seminoles are huge favorites Saturday.
"Hopefully we do get better," Fisher said. "I hope that we will continue to grow each week."
Quarterback EJ Manuel said the Seminoles have plenty of room for improvement regardless of the opponent.
"We're not going to look down on them because they lost by 84," Manuel said. "They just got embarrassed. They want to come here and do something about it."