No. 11 Florida State has prepared for early morning kickoff
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) Throughout the preseason, Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher scheduled scrimmages for 11:30 a.m. so that his team would be used to the routine of preparing for Saturday's game against South Florida.
When most students and fans are still sleeping after a Friday night of revelry, the 11th-ranked Seminoles and Bulls will have a morning kickoff.
''Everything we did was 11:30. Be up and have a pregame meal at 7:30 (a.m.) and everything else. That was part of it because I knew it would be something different,'' Fisher said.
This will not be the earliest kickoff though that Fisher has experienced. He was an assistant at Auburn in 1995 when they played in the Outback Bowl. For many years, that New Year's Day game had an 11 a.m. kickoff.
The early start should also give Florida State a couple extra hours of preparation and recovery time since they play at Boston College next Friday. Fisher though isn't overlooking USF. He was Florida State's offensive coordinator in 2009 when the Bulls came into Doak Campbell Stadium and won 17-7.
That win happened during the program's heyday. Once a giant killer of Top 25 programs, the Bulls have dropped seven straight against ranked teams, including 30-17 to Florida State in Tampa in 2012. USF hasn't had a winning season since 2010 and have gone 7-18 under third-year coach Willie Taggart.
Both coaches are looking for their quarterbacks to continue to make progress. Florida State's Everett Golson threw for 302 yards and four touchdowns in last Saturday's 59-16 win over Texas State. Golson, a graduate transfer from Notre Dame, completed passes to nine receivers.
Fisher said that Golson is doing a nice job of adapting to the offense and has the chance to be a very good quarterback.
''I like a lot of his attributes,'' Fisher said. ''He's doing a good job of managing the game, interacting with his teammates, leading and at decision making and accuracy.''
South Florida's Quinton Flowers will be making his third start. Taggart put in an up-tempo offense during the offseason that also has read-option elements for the quarterback. Flowers threw for 141 yards, rushed for an additional 63 and had three touchdowns (two passing) as the Bulls defeated Florida A&M 51-3.
Taggart said Flowers just needs to play within himself.
''He has a great opportunity. National TV, early in the morning. Just go out there and make them know Quinton Flowers' name,'' Taggart said.
Some other things to watch when Florida State hosts South Florida:
HEAVY HEARTS: This will be the first game South Florida has played since the stabbing death of Elkino Watson, a defensive tackle who played for the Bulls from 2011-14. The team held a private on-campus memorial service Tuesday night for Watson and will wear gold stickers with No. 53 on them on their helmets. Taggart said the team has handled Watson's death better than he thought they would.
BALANCING ACT: Florida State could follow the same game plan as last week, which is to establish the run early to give its young offensive line some confidence. Dalvin Cook had 156 yards in the opener, including 122 in the first half. Cook has four straight 100-yard games and is averaging 6.5 yards per carry.
BULLS' MACK ATTACK: South Florida's Marlon Mack led the American Athletic Conference in rushing as a true freshman last season. He had his sixth 100-yard game of his career last week with 131 yards on 23 carries.
CLEANING UP SPECIAL TEAMS: If there was one area where Florida State struggled last week, it was special teams. Roberto Aguayo had two kickoffs out of bounds and a fumble on a punt return set a Texas State touchdown. Jesus ''Bobo'' Wilson has taken over from Marquez White on punt returns.
LOTS OF FAMILIARITY: The rosters have a combined 161 players from Florida. Some of the players are used to facing each other from high school. Taggart sees that as an advantage since he doesn't think players will be in awe of playing Florida State.