Virginia-Florida St. Preview

BY foxsports • November 4, 2014

Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher isn't concerned about Jameis Winston's availability six days after he hobbled around on an injured ankle while getting another victory.

Although the star quarterback may be limited in practice, he's expected to be at full strength against visiting Virginia on Saturday night when the second-ranked Seminoles go after their 25th consecutive win.

Winston twisted his right ankle at Louisville on Oct. 30 and favored it for much of the second half while rallying Florida State (8-0, 5-0 ACC) from a 21-point, first-quarter deficit in a 42-31 victory.

The reigning Heisman Trophy winner threw for a season-high 401 yards and three second-half touchdowns. He also had a career-worst three interceptions against Louisville's ACC-best defense, though none came after the first play of the third quarter.

"That's one of the unique things about (Winston) and our team, to play the next play," Fisher told the team's official website. "Go on and block out the next play. To me, that's what shows supreme confidence in yourself."

Fisher said this week that Winston's injury is no different than several other players with "sore ankles." Winston, 21-0 in two seasons as the starter, ranks sixth nationally with 325.6 passing yards per game.

"Pain is temporary," Fisher added. "You've got to put it away."

The coach also hopes to welcome back linebackers Terrance Smith (pectoral strain), E.J. Levenberry (concussion) and Jacob Pugh (concussion) after they all sat out last week. Running back Mario Pender could miss a third straight game because of a nagging high ankle sprain.

Having survived successive tests against Notre Dame and Louisville, the Seminoles are looking to extend the nation's longest winning streak while keeping their dream of back-to-back national titles intact.

It certainly would help if they could keep getting key contributions from their young skill players.

Running back Dalvin Cook and receivers Travis Rudolph and Ermon Lane combined for four touchdowns at Louisville, setting a school record for scores by true freshmen in a single game.

Rudolph is averaging 16.2 yards per catch and has three touchdowns, while Lane is averaging 23.6 per grab after his first score gave the Seminoles their first lead against the Cardinals. They've given Florida State two solid options in the passing game besides star wideout Rashad Greene, who has team highs of 58 catches and 853 yards.

Cook ranks second on the team with 380 rushing yards after finishing with 110 and two scores on nine carries last week. Senior Karlos Williams, who has a team-best 450 yards, ran for 72 on 16 carries despite being investigated for an alleged domestic battery incident.

The Seminoles may find success on the ground against Virginia (4-5, 2-3), which allowed a season-worst 268 rushing yards last Saturday in a 35-10 loss at Georgia Tech.

Fisher isn't taking the game lightly even with the Cavaliers having lost three straight.

"Virginia's a very talented team and a very well-coached team," Fisher said. "And we have to play great football."

Greyson Lambert completed 19 of 32 passes for 230 yards and a touchdown to tight end Zachary Swanson last week, but threw two interceptions for the second consecutive game.

The Cavaliers have dropped eight straight on the road since winning at North Carolina State on Nov. 3, 2012. They face the daunting task of winning at least two of their last three to reach their first bowl game since the 2011 season.

"We're playing for coach (Mike) London, we're playing for our teammates, we're playing for the season, we're playing for a bowl game," said Swanson, who played on the '11 team. "We have three more opportunities to win two and I think it's a big thing for us to get these wins, and play hard, for whatever our reasons may be."

This is these teams' first meeting since Virginia went to Tallahassee and upset No. 23 Florida State 14-13 on Nov. 19, 2011, on Kevin Parks' 10-yard TD run with 1:16 to play.

Parks, now a fifth-year senior, had rushed for 355 yards over a three-game stretch before being held to 13 on five carries last Saturday.

The Seminoles haven't been stout defensively, allowing more than 150 yards rushing in each of their last three games and over 300 through the air in their last two. They rank 10th in the ACC with 388.6 total yards allowed per game.

Florida State owns a 14-3 advantage in the all-time series, including 8-1 in Tallahassee.


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