TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Although Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher built his team to win it all this year, he doesn't think it's a now or never situation.
Florida State can still has a lot it can accomplish and can finish the season on high note despite being upset Saturday at North Carolina State. Even a national championship, though a longshot right now, isn't totally out of the question.
Still, some fans are skeptical after the fifth loss to a double-digit underdog in Fisher's 2 and a-half-seasons as head coach.
Fisher loses many top skill players and defenders after the season along with the most successful placekicker in school history.
"I don't think it's this year or bust at all," Fisher said in a preseason interview. "I think we'll be good for a time to come."
But for many, the time was supposed to have been now - especially with a favorable schedule that had only three games outside the state.
The 12th-ranked Seminoles (5-1, 2-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) hope to restart their winning ways Saturday when a struggling Boston College (1-4, 0-2) visits in search of its first win of the year over a Football Bowl Subdivision team. The Eagles may find themselves a proverbial hornet's nest against the jilted Seminoles who are desperate for redemption after last week's dismal second half that resulted in a 17-16 loss at North Carolina State in its first out-of-state test.
"I can't get into my opponents psyche" Boston College coach Frank Spaziani said. "That's Jimbo 's job to worry about the psyche of his football team.
"The best way we approach it," Spaziani added, "is get our guys to be play at the highest level that they possibly can and expect the other team to play at their highest level and go from there."
Florida State is a four touchdown favorite to win for the third straight time in the series.
But while the Seminoles still have much to play for, many fans are already thinking about what next with the likes of at least 10 members of the current roster on NFL teams in 2013.
"It's not like that," senior defensive tackle Everett Dawkins said. "There are younger players just waiting for their time to play."
The Seminoles, however, will be making several significant changes next season starting with the quarterback position with the departure of fifth-year senior EJ Manuel. They also lose their best running back, Chris Thompson, one of their most reliable receivers in Rodney Smith and most versatile offensive player in fullback/tailback Lonnie Pryor.
Fisher will also need a replacement for placekicker Dustin Hopkins, who is on his way to becoming the ACC's all-time leading scorer and field goal kicker.
Add a half dozen defensive starters, including possibly a few juniors who could be lured by NFL riches to leave school a year early and the Seminoles are a different team.
A sampling of names that could on the backs of a variety of NFL jerseys next season could include Carradine, Dawkins, Hopkins, Joyner, Manuel, McCloud, Moody, Rhodes, Thompson, Werner. Add Brandon Jenkins, who missed the season with a broken foot, and possibly some of the younger linemen or linebackers and Fisher will have a busy spring finding replacements.
And then there's a potential quarterback controversy in the making as well. Fisher has 15 days in spring practice and the month of August to determine whether Jacob Coker, Clint Trickett or Jameis Winston replaces Manuel.
No matter how one would look at it, there'll be far more questions heading into the 2013 season when the schedule is also going to be a bit tougher.
"I think we'll be good for a while," said the every-confident Fisher.
Not that he has given up on this year.
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