Mississippi-Florida St. Preview
The two coaches have slightly opposing views of the venue for Monday night's clash between No. 4 Florida State and No. 11 Ole Miss that winds up college football's opening weekend (ESPN, 8 p.m. ET).
Orlando's Camping World Stadium, previously known as the Citrus Bowl, is a mere 4 1/2-hour drive from the Seminoles' campus in Tallahassee. The Ole Miss campus in Oxford is 627 miles away as the crow flies and over 150 miles longer when it comes to driving distance.
"It has its advantages," Seminoles' coach Jimbo Fisher said, noting an immediate introduction for his team to a bowl-game, playoff-like atmosphere and national exposure, not to mention a history that shows the 'Noles have gone 8-0-2 when they have played in Orlando dating back to 1952.
"You have to play a great opponent," he said, laughing.
Rebels' coach Hugh Freeze had slightly different opinion when the subject was brought up during the summer at the SEC Media Days.
"I did get a kick out of our AD telling me it's a 'neutral-site' game," Freeze said. "And I'd use that in quotes, 'neutral site,' and I explain to him, 'Any time you go on the road to a neutral-site game and you have to use silent cadence, it shouldn't be considered a neutral site.'
"So we'll have a great opposition there in a lot of ways, and it will be an atmosphere that we have to handle."
Florida State will be starting a new quarterback in Deondre Francois, who will be the second redshirt freshman starter in the last four seasons for the Seminoles. The other? Heisman winner Jameis Winston.
Francois was named the starter after fifth-year senior quarterback Sean Maguire all but ended the preseason competition when he fractured a bone in his foot during one of the Seminoles' first practices.
But Francois already had established himself as the front-runner.
"If you didn't think it was official a long time ago," Fisher said of the decision, "I'm worried about you."
Ole Miss has a veteran and one of the top quarterbacks in the SEC in senior Chad Kelly, a top-ranked prospect according to NFLDraftScout.com, but the 'Noles have a weapon the Rebels don't have in running back Dalvin Cook. Cook has rushed for 2,699 yards in just two seasons and is only 1,261 yards away from Warrick Dunn's school record.
Freeze was asked who in the SEC Cook might remind him of.
"We didn't play Georgia last year, but he is probably similar to their guy," he said, referring to Nick Chubb. "He has a lower center of gravity. Makes you miss in space a bit more than the ones you have mentioned it seems to me."
Fisher described Kelly as "a competitor" and said the Seminoles would be wary of opening running lanes with an aggressive pass rush, citing Kelly's ability to make big plays with his feet.
"To me of all the things, you see the physical things, but you see his competitiveness all the time," Fisher said of Kelly.
This will be just the second meeting between the two schools. The first was in 1961 with Ole Miss winning 33-0 in Oxford.