Jimbo Fisher not against Florida State opening season against challenging opponent

Florida State is in the midst of a five-year stretch with season-opening games against Pitt (2013), Oklahoma State (2014), Texas St. (2015), Ole Miss (2016) and Alabama (2017).

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Three are being played at neutral sites (four away from Doak Campbell Stadium) and two on Labor Day night, including in 3 ½ months when the Seminoles face Ole Miss in Orlando.

Coaches typically have mixed feelings about opening the season against a formidable opponent but much of that depends on the team they have returning.

Nobody could have predicted the success the Seminoles had in 2013 but the thought of opening the season with a road game on Labor Day night likely was not what Jimbo Fisher would have preferred.

Jameis Winston completed all but two of his 27 passes for 356 yards and 4 TDs in a 41-13 win at Pitt in his debut and the 2013 season opener. (AP Photo)

Jameis Winston completed all but two of his 27 passes for 356 yards and 4 TDs in a 41-13 win at Pitt in his debut and the 2013 season opener. (AP Photo)

But that new QB was Jameis Winston and nobody could have predicted his near perfect start and how the game would kick start an historic season.

The next year the Seminoles had to feel good about playing Oklahoma State in Arlington, Texas, with Winston and much of that undefeated, national championship team returning. They struggled but held on.

“I don’t mind it,” Fisher said recently when asked about opening with a tougher opponent.

  “Non-conference, we have always jumped right in there. It makes your summer very interesting.”

FSU will enter the season with a new starting quarterback for the third time in the last four years. Fisher was asked if opening with a ranked opponent impacts his decision when it comes to a quarterback.

“I defer to the guy that gets us up and down the field the best and does what he has to do to win the game,” Fisher said.

But would he give preference to the QB with more experience?

“If I said that, then Jameis wouldn’t have played when we opened up with Pitt (in 2013). It depends on who the guy is. Some guys can handle it, some guys won’t handle it. That’s what we have to try and judge as coaches.”

The decision this year likely comes down to fifth-year senior Sean Maguire, who has played in 21 games and made five starts; or red-shirt freshman Deondre Francois, who impressed during the spring but has yet to take a snap in a college game.

By the way, here is a comparison between how the Seminoles approach their season opener vs. their two in-state rivals:

Florida State: Pitt (2013), Oklahoma State (2014), Texas St. (2015), Ole Miss (2016), Alabama (2017).

Miami: FAU (2013), Louisville (2014), Bethune-Cookman (2015), FAMU (2016), Arkansas St. (2017).

Florida: Toledo 2013), Idaho (2014), New Mexico St. (2015), UMass (2016), Michigan (2017).

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