December 14, 2015

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) Dalvin Cook is ready to get to work, start preparing for Florida State's matchup against Houston in the Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl on Dec. 31.

He isn't eager because he feels like he has something to prove after finishing seventh in the in Heisman Trophy balloting. Cook said he doesn't need extra motivation.

''Derrick Henry is a tremendous back. It doesn't motivate me at all,'' Cook said on Monday. ''I like competing. That's it. I got the inner motivation.''

Cook set a school single-season rushing record (1,658 yards) and led Power Five running backs by averaging 7.9 yards per carry. He did say that he thought he would be higher in the voting, but also knew that it was out of his hands.

''I knew we would have a good stable of running backs in this class. (Stanford's Christian) McCaffrey came out of the blue,'' Cook said. ''I knew this group right here was going to be a good group coming in. It was going to change college football. We're doing it. We're going out, we're competing.''

Cook played most of the season with ankle and hamstring injuries, but the recent break has allowed him to heal up. Florida State (10-2) had two weeks off after beating Florida 26-2 on Nov. 28. The time off has given the Seminoles a chance to heal up after a stretch where they played nine straight weeks. Coach Jimbo Fisher said on Monday that there were 12-13 players who practiced only once a week.

''We love the game but you need a break sometimes. These two weeks was big for us,'' Cook said. ''Everybody is moving around good, looking healthy, We've just got to get back sharp.''

When asked if he was disappointed that Cook finished seventh, Fisher said he wasn't and pointed out the abundance of great backs in college football this season.

Fisher is using most of this week to focus on fundamentals before turning to installing the game plan to face the 13th-ranked Cougars (12-1). The players have already watched film of Houston, but the fine tuning of the game plan won't happen until late this week. Florida State leaves for Atlanta on Dec. 26.

''We have 15 practices. That's the same amount you have in the spring practice,'' Fisher said. ''That's 15 opportunities for your young players and for the seniors going into the draft. This is the last chance for them to get better. We're not through getting better. We are more interested in the process right now.''

When it comes to Houston, Florida State is not taking them lightly, especially after the Cougars beat Louisville and Vanderbilt this season.

When the Seminoles do begin preparing for Houston, the focus will be on quarterback Greg Ward Jr., who is third in the nation in rushing touchdowns with 19 and had 1,041 rushing yards which was second among quarterbacks. Florida State allowed only seven rushing touchdowns, which was the third-fewest in the nation, and is the only team not to allow 25 points or more in a game this season.

''They're not in a Power Five conference but they beat a lot of Power Five teams and they're as good as anyone in the country. You don't walk out and just win 12 games,'' Fisher said.

Fisher also realizes how big a win in a major bowl can be for the future of a program. He credits the 2010 win over South Carolina in the Chick-Fil-A Bowl as showing how the program was beginning to show progress in his first year.

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