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ACC Report: Florida State lackluster after bye weeks

WILL ’NOLES NOD OFF?

BY NATHAN WARTERS

Florida State has done a lot of good things in Jimbo Fisher’s first three seasons as head coach, but one thing it hasn’t mastered is playing well off a bye week.

The Seminoles are 0–2 coming off of byes under Fisher. They’ll try to reverse that trend tonight at Virginia Tech.

“That has nothing to do with how you prepare,” Fisher said. “You just play good teams [on Thursdays]. You’ve got to come out and be efficient and do the things you’ve got to do. It’s just not the same team. The injuries aren’t the same and your history isn’t the same.”

No. 7 FSU has had 12 days to prepare for the Hokies. It suffered upset losses to Wake Forest last season on 14 days’ rest and to N.C. State in 2010 on 12 days’ rest.

“We can’t control how they play,” Fisher said. “All we can control is how we play and how we prepare mentally to go in there.”

TIGERS SEEK WINS MARK

Clemson will attempt to set the longest home win streak in school history when it hosts Maryland on Saturday. The Tigers have won 11 straight at Memorial Stadium, tying their winning streaks recorded in 1989 and 1937.

“I’m proud of the consistency we’ve been able to play with, here at home in particular, and a big part of that is the fans,” Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney said. “Over this run that we’ve had here in Death Valley, I’ll tell you, the life has come back into this stadium. Our fans have been a huge part of win after win after win.”

Clemson (8–1, 5–1 ACC) will try to end the season better this year after faltering down the stretch with four losses in its last six games in 2011.

“You don’t want to be stumbling at the finish line. You want to play great football in the month of November because that’s what people are making decisions on right now,” Swinney said.

“We were 8–1 last year, just like we are now, and then we went 1–2 and didn’t play very well. We were sloppy in a couple of ballgames, had turnovers and all of that kind of stuff. This year we have improved along the way, and we want to keep that trend going.”

FOLLOWING VELLANO’S LEAD

One of the big reasons Maryland ranks 11th nationally in total defense (301.67 yards per game) and 18th in rushing defense (110.11) is defensive tackle Joe Vellano, who leads the ACC with 14 tackles for loss.

Vellano, a fifth-year senior, has been a pain for Clemson over the years. He had 11 tackles in the Terps’ 56–45 loss to the Tigers last season.

“I can’t believe he’s still there. He’s been there for like 20 years and he is a very good football player. He’s got a high, high motor and plays the game how you want everybody to play it,” Swinney said.

MIAMI IN NEW TERRITORY

Miami head coach Al Golden wants to see how his players respond to being in first place in the Coastal Division.

The Hurricanes, who play at Virginia on Saturday, have a good shot at winning the division title and playing in the ACC championship game in Charlotte, depending on whether the school self-imposes a postseason ban for the second straight year.

“It’s difficult, because it’s the first time that we’re navigating [being in first place]. We were pretty much out of it by this time last year,” Golden said. “This is where you’re either disciplined and your habits and your process either hold up or cracks.

“We’re trying to teach them how to make it so habitual, so disciplined and ingrained, that it can withstand anything. For us to want to go where we want to go in the coming years, this is the first step for us. It’s really important to stay focused on [playing U.Va.] and block everything else out.”

HEELS SEEK FINAL SURGE

North Carolina isn’t eligible for postseason play, so Tar Heels coach Larry Fedora wants his team to really savor its final three regular-season games.

UNC hosts Georgia Tech on Saturday before closing out the season at Virginia on Nov. 15 and at home against Maryland on Nov. 24.

“If anything now, to me, you’re more motivated because you see the light at the end of the tunnel and it’s coming quickly,” Fedora said. “It’s going to be over with soon and you’re going to be right back into winter conditioning and all those things. There’s not a lot of fun to that. But we’ve got three more opportunities to have fun. You better enjoy and cherish every aspect of it.”

Nathan Warters: 540/374-5442

nwarters@freelancestar.com

  • WHO’S RISING?

    CLEMSON

    The Tigers have won five straight since losing at Florida State on Sept. 22. If the Seminoles slip up, the Tigers will be there to take their spot in the ACC title game.

  • WHO’S FALLING?

    N.C. STATE

    It’s hard to believe the Wolfpack beat Florida State a little over a month ago. The Wolfpack was throttled at home by Virginia for its second straight loss.

  • SCHEDULE

    BOSTON COLLEGE vs. Notre Dame

    Saturday, 8 p.m. (ABC)

    CLEMSON vs. Maryland

    Saturday, 3:30 (ESPNU)

    DUKE at Georgia Tech

    Nov. 17 (Time TBA)

    FLORIDA STATE at Virginia Tech

    Tonight, 7:30 p.m. (ESPN)

    GEORGIA TECH at North Carolina

    Saturday, 12:30 (Raycom)

    MARYLAND at Clemson

    Saturday, 3:30 (ESPNU)

    MIAMI at Virginia

    Saturday, noon (ABC)

    NORTH CAROLINA vs. Georgia Tech

    Saturday, 12:30 (Raycom)

    N.C. STATE vs. Wake Forest

    Saturday, 3 p.m. (CSN)

    VIRGINIA vs. Miami

    Saturday, noon (ABC)

    VIRGINIA TECH vs. Florida State

    Tonight, 7:30 p.m. (ESPN)

    WAKE FOREST at N.C. State

    Saturday, 3 p.m. (CSN)

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