TALLAHASSEE -- Florida State and Georgia Tech have begun installing game plans, slightly tweaking their various offensive and defensive schemes, and working to get banged up players healthy entering Saturday's ACC championship at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, N.C.
To their credit, the Seminoles have few players whose minor aches and pains need tending to this week. The issues they have had mostly involve injuries that have been of the season-ending variety. Torn ACLs, sports hernias, cartilage replacements and Lisfranc joint sprains have been the injuries du jour at FSU this season.
At Tech, though, a different story has played out involving one of the Yellow Jackets' key stars.
A-back Orwin Smith, a senior who currently leads the team in rushing and is just 13 yards shy of holding the title of receiving leader, too, has had to deal with pain virtually his whole career. The veteran told reporters Monday that he was expecting to play Saturday, but it all depended on how close he could get his bum ankle to 100 percent.
Smith, who said he has been playing through turf toe injuries his whole career, hurt his right ankle against Duke two weeks ago. It was enough to sideline him for last week's 42-10 blowout loss to Georgia.
With a conference championship on the line this week, though, Smith may not let Tech's trainers lock him down on the sideline.
---The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Ken Suguira has the latest on the will he play or won't he play story line involving Smith, a talented wing back in Tech's spread option scheme. In his final year, Smith has already rushed for more yards (673) than he had at any earlier point in his career. He's also barely 40 yards shy of eclipsing his career-high yards received total.
As you'll see in that link, Smith intimated that he could play. For now, however, the question of will he or won't he is one that still will be asked at later times week. To be continued ...
---One of the other national story lines revolving around Tech has been the ongoing saga about its bowl status. The Jackets, at 6-6, have had to petition the NCAA for a waiver that will allow them to go to a postseason bowl if they in fact lose Saturday's game against the Seminoles. Beat FSU, though, and they automatically go to the Orange Bowl as the 7-6 ACC champion and league representative.
But assuming the Jackets lose -- which is what so many, from bettors to writers to college football fans believe -- they'd be 6-7. Thanks to new NCAA rules this offseason, teams under .500 technically aren't allowed exemptions to appear in bowl games. But since the ACC would have so few teams to fill its eight bowl obligations, and because the Jackets would have just appeared in the conference championship game, Tech believes it has a legitimate case as to why it should be able to play in a bowl.
Again, from the AJC's Suguira, here is a story on how Tech's petition has gone so far. Contrary to other published reports, representatives from the NCAA have yet to decide how Tech's case will end.
---Switching gears to the FSU beat, here are a couple of stories that might interest you heading into this weekend.
For starters, here's one on the injury bug. Last season, it bit the Seminoles hard and often, with large chunks of whole position groups being forced into not playing. This year, the injury bug has bit often, but it hasn't left much of an imprint on the Seminoles' collective skin. Thanks to depth virtually across the board, the team hasn't had to scramble as much as it did last year in order to shore up gaps on its depth chart.
Still, the losses that have been felt, have been big ones. Three high-profile Seminoles starters in particular, Brandon Jenkins, Chris Thompson and now Cornellius Carradine have all dealt with serious, season-ending injuries. The combination of them, well, it plain "[stinks]," fullback Lonnie Pryor said. (He used more colorful language that we had to tone down just a tad)
Check out that Orlando Sentinel story linked above.
---Finally, we close with this Sentinel link. Have no fear, FSU fans, an offensive coordinator could soon be coming to Florida State. Who will it be? Well, time will soon reveal that answer ...
... Or at least that's the suggestion FSU head coach Jimbo Fisher seemed to make Monday afternoon when he met with reporters. Fisher said he sat down when he first took over as head coach in 2009 and drafted a five-year plan and a 10-year plan. Bringing in a true play calling coordinator was part of his five-year plan, he said.
He's in Year 3, heading, presumably, to Year 4.
Currently, Fisher holds both play call and head-coaching duties for the Seminoles. Tight ends coach James Coley has the title of offensive coordinator, but he shares those responsibilities with Fisher, who held that exact position at LSU and for two years at FSU before he claimed the head job.