TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida State’s dream of contending for a national championship may have disappeared on a pair of fourth quarter decisions by coach Jimbo Fisher.
Not that the third-year coach was second-guessing himself on Monday.
“I wouldn’t do it differently,” he said. “There’s nothing we regret.”
Article continues below ...
The most mystifying call may have been Fisher’s decision to not attempt a 51-yard field goal that would’ve given the Seminoles a nine point lead and virtually sealed a win at North Carolina State. Instead of giving Dustin Hopkins a shot at his fourth field goal in Saturday’s game, the Seminoles punted and moments later watched their 16-point lead completely disappear in a 17-16 loss.
“Could he have made the field goal, yeah,” Fisher said during Monday’s news conference. “It had nothing to do with that.”
Fisher also doesn’t feel the loss can be pinned on questionable play call on third down, which cost the Seminoles 15 yards.
Instead of playing it safe, the Seminoles ran a play on third-and-two at the N.C. State 19 that resulted in quarterback EJ Manuel being sacked for a 15-yard loss — a play called during their second timeout of the game.
Fisher blamed his team’s failures on poor execution.
“A technique issue,” Fisher said. “Offense and defense. There’s no one guy. They’re costly.”
This one may have cost Florida State a shot at the national championship. The Seminoles dropped nine spots in the poll to 12th.
“All losses, truthfully, they hurt,” Manuel said. “This hurt especially.”
It’s the second straight year that Florida State’s hopes for a possible run to a national title seemingly have disappeared by midseason– this time after the Seminoles blew a 16-point halftime lead. Fisher’s 13-7 record against Atlantic Coast Conference opponents includes five losses in games Florida State was favored by double-digits.
Apparently no one recalled Graham Gano’s heroics at North Carolina State just four years ago when Fisher was in his second season as Bobby Bowden’s offensive coordinator.
Gano’s 53-yard field goal, his fourth in that game, sealed the outcome with 1:53 left, giving Florida State — that’s right — a nine point lead.
Hopkins, who is likely to become the ACC’s all-time leading scorer this Saturday against Boston College, had already kicked three field goals in Saturday’s game, including one from 48 yards out. He’s kicked several of 50 yards or more in his career at Florida State, including a 55-yard game winning field goal as time expired to beat Clemson two years ago.
Florida State has handled the likes of intrastate rivals Miami and Florida not to mention South Carolina and Notre Dame since Fisher became head coach in 2010. It’s the unexpected losses in games where the Seminoles are heavy favorites that have been troublesome. In the past year, the Seminoles have lost at Wake Forest and to Virginia in Tallahassee and North Carolina State for a second time in three years — all games in which they were heavy favorites.
“It’s all about 12 games, it’s about one win, one loss,” Fisher said. “What’s the odds that you’re gonna lose one during a season? That’s part of it and you have to deal with it.”