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‘Noles had proper focus going into game

SoVaNow.com / December 09, 2013
Florida State brought the proper focus for the ACC football title showdown, and the ‘Noles appear to have a powerful offensive juggernaut in place heading towards the expected berth in the BCS title game.

“This championship means a lot to us. This is where we want to be every year and we have to get here to keep achieving and going to BCS games and the other games in which we want to get to, but the ultimate goal is to always win your conference and I think this conference is a great conference. We have 11 bowl teams this year eligible so the competition has been wonderful,” said FSU coach Jimbo Fisher.

The ‘Noles continued to roll Saturday night, dousing Duke, 45-7.

“Been challenged in a lot of different ways, but I’m very proud of this team. We lost 11 seniors last year that got drafted or 11 players that got drafted, 14 guys that signed contracts, but to me it shows a testament to our assistant coaches, how the new group, the six guys who came in with the guys that stayed and how they got these guys ready to play and how the senior leadership of this football team grasped the new guys and what we’re trying to believe in, and we’re developing a culture and a program that develops consistency, and hopefully we can continue to win consistently. Very proud of those senior leaders and our assistant coaches, I think they did tremendous job this year.

Just excited, again, I loved the way we competed in the game. I thought we played very hard. I thought we made mistakes, but sometimes that happens in championship games and we had to overcome. We kept going to the next play and the adversity we had we dealt with and moved on, and we need to play well and we made the plays we needed to make to win the game,” said Fisher.

Most experts believe FSU will face Auburn in the national title showdown in Pasadena, but Fisher said he had no preference as the BCS title game opponent.

Fisher also said that Lamarcus Joyner’s interception of an errant Anthony Boone pass changed the momentum of the ACC title game. Duke quarterback Boone had a difficult night, finishing 20-for-40 for just 138 yards, with no touchdowns. He was picked twice and sacked twice.

“I think it changed momentum Larmarcus’ interception changed the momentum and got it back for us and it allowed us to go back down and score a touchdown, and then we had the two‑minute drive right before half which we’ve done all year. One or two games all year we haven’t done that. But that play by the defense to change the momentum by Lamarcus, it was a great play by a great player,” said Fisher.

And Duke had no answers for the overall athleticism of the Noles, although the Blue Devils did have some positives to build upon, even in the loss. Duke held FSU scoreless in the first period, but also missed some early chances to at least make this more interesting. Eventually, FSU got into gear, and the Blue Devils were done.

FSU quarterback Jameis Winston also stepped up on the title stage. Asked if Winston is the best player in the country, Fisher said, “I’m going to say this: If he isn’t, it’s a short roll call, I’ll promise you that, but he’s one of them. He’s a very dynamic player. He’s fun to coach. What I love about him, you see his emotions. You see his competitive fire about him. But that guy is so smart and makes plays and even though he wasn’t on his “A” game today he was able to come back, but to me he’s a tremendous, tremendous player.”

Joyner, who had four tackles, a key pickoff and a pass breakup, said this ACC title “means a lot. This program has been down for a while and Coach Fisher came in here and did a pretty great job of recruiting and rebuilding this program, and just to be a part of something special, to be able to bring this program back, watching this program when I was a young child, and to be a part of it and be a part of something special, there’s no better feeling right now.”

FSU’s Telvin Smith explained how the ‘Noles, who roared to the Orange Bowl championship after winning the ACC title last season, grew even more this season as a football operation.

“We did envision this after last season because we felt like we felt a lot out there on the table. We felt like it was so much that we were supposed to accomplish that we came back and we had a little - not a vendetta like coach said, it was just a reckoning. We tried to put ourselves back to where we were supposed to be. I hope that answers it,” said Smith.

Joyner added, “I said that at the beginning of the season, it was about us. If you look at the progress that we made over the years, Chick-A Bowl, Champs Sports Bowl, Orange Bowl, we kept getting better, we kept climbing the ladder, and that’s what I envisioned to do, coming back as a senior leader to keep climbing that ladder.”

Winston, meanwhile, shook off an inconsistent first period and may well have clinched the Heisman Trophy with this effort. Winston also put the ACC title championship effort in perspective.

“Well, this whole week it was very high emotion because we wanted to win this championship so bad, and we talked to the guys because we ain’t won a championship like as a team, like we ain’t won the championship in so long, like individual, like undefeated championship. That hasn’t happened in a long time, so we were looking forward to having an undefeated season, and it really wasn’t about the game, it was about how we went out there and prepared and how we fought and how bad did we want to win this,” said the record-setting FSU quarterback.

The possible Auburn-FSU matchup for the national title seems in place. Joyner said it’s not the ACC vs. SEC.

“It’s Florida State versus Auburn. It’s a bunch of great, talented group of kids over here versus a great, talented group of kids. It’s all about eliminating the clutter. There’s no doubt in my mind that they’re a great football team, but it’s us versus them. We don’t really look at it from that standpoint because at the end of the day you’ve got to line up and play in between the white lines for 60 minutes,” said Joyner.

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