Florida State's Fisher turns focus away from officials

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher was more reserved on Monday in his opinions about officiating.

Fisher didn't hold back in criticizing the Atlantic Coast Conference crew following the Seminoles 37-34 loss to No. 3 Clemson. After expressing his strong opinions No. 19 Florida State (5-3, 2-3 ACC) was fined $20,000 on Sunday and Fisher was publicly reprimanded by the conference.

''I saw what I saw. We either agree to agree or agree to disagree and move on,'' Fisher said about what he expects to hear back from the league office on the calls he sent asking for clarification.

The calls that drew most of Fisher's ire were a chop block on fullback Freddie Stevenson that negated a big Dalvin Cook run and a subsequent unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on the FSU sideline.

When asked if his opinions about any of the calls had changed, Fisher just smiled.

''Officiating, there's always questions and no one's perfect. Trust me, I understand that,'' Fisher said. ''You got to voice your opinion when you think it's right. Coaches, players, everybody's accountable, and I think everybody should be.''

Fisher's bigger concern for the final four regular-season games is hoping that the officials start watching the hits on his quarterback Deondre Francois. Florida State has allowed 27 sacks, which is the second most by a Power 5 conference school.

The coach added that he has had quarterbacks who have weathered tough seasons, but never one as quite as physical as what Francois has experienced - some of which Fisher believes should have been penalties.

''The worst ones he took in a couple of the other games, he should have never been touched. Ball's out. He's clean,'' Fisher said.

While Francois' pocket punishment has been a concern, he is leading freshmen quarterbacks nationally averaging 270.3 yards per game. Of the 42 Football Bowl Subdivision quarterbacks with at least 250 attempts, Francois' four interceptions are tied for fourth-fewest.

With Florida State's hopes of making a New Year's Six bowl game likely dashed, the Seminoles still have some team - and individual - goals they would like to accomplish down the stretch.

Going into Saturday's game at North Carolina State, Dalvin Cook needs 193 yards to break Warrick Dunn's school career mark of 3,959 yards. Cook had a career-best four touchdowns in the loss to Clemson and is averaging 218.8 total yards over the past five games.

Cook is also the first ACC player in 11 years to post three consecutive 1,000-yard rushing seasons. Wake Forest's Chris Barkley did it from 2003-05.

Defensive end Demarcus Walker is also looking to become the first FSU defensive player to post double-digit sacks in consecutive seasons. Walker has 8.5.

One of the things that Fisher is not concerned about is how his team will respond. He acknowledged that he was concerned after an Oct. 1 loss to North Carolina on the last play but Fisher said he has seen signs of growth.

''I'm very proud of the way they're developing and growing,'' he said. ''We want to make a couple more plays at key moments and do some things, and we've got to coach them better and help them get to there. I like this team, and I like it going forward. I really do.''

The Wolfpack (4-4, 1-3) have given the Seminoles problems and have seven wins since FSU joined the conference in 1992. That also includes two wins in the past six seasons.

''Are they inspired or flat about it? I don't know. All I can assume is get the best that he has,'' North Carolina State coach Dave Doeren said.

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More AP college football: www.collegefootball.ap.org

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Follow Joe Reedy on Twitter at www.twitter.com/joereedy

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