No. 1 Florida State returns to practice for championship game after break
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP)
Florida State returned to the practice field Wednesday with the first of 15 scheduled sessions before playing Auburn for the national championship in Pasadena, Calif., on Jan. 6.
Coach Jimbo Fisher said the top-ranked Seminoles were eager to get back to football after a week full of winning awards, various trips, exams and an appearance on the ''Late Show with David Letterman'' for Heisman-winning quarterback Jameis Winston.
''They were kind of getting tired of it,'' Fisher said. ''They were looking forward to getting out here practicing.''
Fisher said Florida State took some time to find its groove during the first practice since winning the Atlantic Coast Conference championship Dec. 7.
The session focused on fundamentals with very little specific game-planning for No. 2 Auburn. That will be the blueprint for the next four practices before the team leaves for the holiday break Monday.
Full installation of the game plan begins with the next five practices scheduled Dec. 26-30 before the team flies to California on Dec. 31. The team will have their final five practices the first week of January leading up to the BCS championship game.
''They'll get better as they go. ... In the beginning it's always the hardest,'' Fisher said. ''You've got to get away every now and then. We went seven or eight straight weeks there at the end of the season - were banged and bruised. Thought it was good for their bodies and minds.''
There was plenty to enjoy during the break.
Winston won the Heisman Trophy with 668 first-place votes - the ninth-most in the history of the award. He joined former Seminoles Charlie Ward and Chris Weinke as the three Heisman winners in school history. Both Ward and Weinke quarterbacked national championship teams at Florida State.
''Unique in that you got to see him go through all those things,'' Fisher said. ''Also you understand the company in which he's in when you really walk in those banquets ... and see all those winners and all those names on the list and you realize it's an elite company.''
The sexual investigation of Winston did not keep him from winning the Heisman. State Attorney Willie Meggs announced that Winston would not be charged before the ACC championship game and before final ballots were due.
Winston also won the Walter Camp player of the year award last week and the Davey O'Brien Award given to the nation's top quarterback. Kicker Robert Aguayo won the Lou Groza Award and was named AP first-team All-America.
Center Bryan Stork and cornerback Lamarcus Joyner were also selected to the first team while nose guard Timmy Jernigan and tackle Cameron Erving were second-team selections. The six All-Americans were the most of any program in 2013.
The week off was not drama free.
There were questions raised about Fisher's future at Florida State. Long-time Texas coach Mack Brown stepped down Dec. 14 and Fisher was one of the names that surfaced as a possible replacement. Fisher reportedly has agreed to a new five-year, $21 million deal to remain at Florida State.
''I'm going to talk about our team,'' Fisher said. ''That's all I'm talking about. I'm not getting into all the rumors. It's unfair to those teams and to our team.
''We're planning here, getting ready for a game. That's where I plan on being, right here getting ready for a game. That's my sole focus and that is it.''