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Seminoles return to practice, get back to basics

Posted: December 20, 2013 - 1:47am  |  Updated: December 28, 2013 - 1:00pm
Quarterback Jameis Winston and the rest of his Florida State teammates returned to practice, preparing for Auburn in the BCS National Championship.  Phil Sears/Associated Press
Phil Sears/Associated Press
Quarterback Jameis Winston and the rest of his Florida State teammates returned to practice, preparing for Auburn in the BCS National Championship.

BCS NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP

FLORIDA STATE VS. AUBURN

When: 8:30 p.m. Jan. 6.

Where: Rose Bowl, Pasadena, Calif.

TV: ESPN.

Records: Florida State is 13-0; Auburn is 12-1.

Orlando Sentinel

TALLAHASSEE — Jameis Winston’s phone was ringing incessantly.

The Florida State quarterback was at offensive lineman Bobby Hart’s house following the Seminoles’ 37-7 victory against Florida, watching the Iron Bowl.

The annual game between Auburn and then-No. 1 Alabama ended with Auburn defensive back Chris Davis returning a missed field goal more than 100 yards as time expired, giving the Tigers a stunning, 34-28 victory.

Winston, an Alabama native, had to turn off his phone because so many friends from home were calling to see if he saw the thrilling finish. The ending was shocking, but it quickly became an afterthought to Winston, who realized what the Alabama loss meant to FSU, which was ranked No. 2.

“We were like, ‘Man, we’re No. 1,’ ” Winston recalled. “No one can take that away from us.”

Except for Auburn.

No. 1 FSU (13-0) returned to practice on Wednesday to begin preparation for the BCS National Championship on Jan. 6 against No. 2 Auburn (12-1).

The Seminoles hadn’t played or practiced since the ACC title game against Duke on Dec. 7 and are slowly easing their way back into a routine.

“It’s fun getting back,” FSU running back Karlos Williams said after Thursday’s practice. “You’re off studying, taking tests, trying to get those grades in — extra study halls and stuff like that for finals week. And then time off, you get kind of lackadaisical, lazy, staying at home, playing video games for a long period of time.

“You really do miss it quick. When it’s gone, it’s gone. It feels really good to be out there playing football.”

FSU will practice until Sunday before going on a holiday break for three days. Practices have been light and are reminiscent of preseason camp, with much of the focus being on self-improvement and getting back to the basics.

“[FSU coach Jimbo Fisher] does a really good job getting us back to fundamentals, like it was camp. We’re back to Day 1 stuff,” FSU safety Terrence Brooks said. “We go over all the calls again, make sure we know everything, just getting refreshed.”

The Seminoles are 3-0 in bowl games under Fisher.

Once the Seminoles return next Thursday, the focal point will shift from primarily self-improvement to Auburn. The Tigers field the country’s top rushing attack, averaging 335.69 yards per game with a high-tempo misdirection-based spread-option offense.

“Watching them on film, they’re dynamic,” Fisher said. “They make plays on offense, defense, special teams. [Auburn] won games a lot of different ways and they’re very well coached.”

Auburn’s defense isn’t as effective, surrendering 423.5 yards per game, which is 90th nationally. However the Tigers do have a physical defensive front that Fisher said is as good and as deep as any group the Seminoles have faced this year.

“They’re physical, very physical. A big SEC team,” Williams said. “They run a couple different fronts, but those guys up front are big. They’re athletic, they move very well. … They’re tough, hard-nosed hitting guys.”