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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher is a man of many catchphrases. He constantly preached the Seminoles needed an "attitude of domination" after being crowned national champions last season.
That attitude has been difficult to achieve despite an undefeated record and the No. 1 ranking.
"I told our kids after the game, 'Go enjoy playing,'" Fisher said. "It's like the pressure of playing today — you've got to win, you've got to do this. Are you dominant? Who cares? Who cares if you're as dominant as you were last year? Just keep getting better at being the team you are and enjoy playing the game of football.
"You can't worry about winning and losing. You have to worry about playing well and just having fun out there on the field and quit worrying about trying to please everybody."
The FSU offense shouldered much of the load for the first four games this season, but hit a brick wall Saturday against a Wake Forest team largely considered the worst in the Atlantic Coast Conference. The defense, however, shined and led the way to a 43-3 victory.
Florida State (5-0, 3-0 ACC) has continued to find ways to win — something that proved difficult for teams across the country this week. Oregon, Alabama, Oklahoma and Texas A&M, all undefeated and ranked in the Top 6 last week, lost. Eleven ranked teams lost in the same week for just the second time in the 78-year history of the AP poll.
Perfection may not be needed to win on a weekly basis, let alone be in contention for a College Football Playoff berth.
"I don't know if it's pressing," Fisher said. "It's very business-like. Which is good, too. That may be the demeanor of this team. ... Some of them are rah-rah. Some are business -like.
"But at the end of the day they're still playing well when they have to."
Quarterback Jameis Winston may be the embodiment of the shift. He did very little wrong en route to winning the Heisman Trophy as a freshman, but has had plenty of ups and downs in 2014. Winston has now thrown five interceptions in five games after throwing a total of 10 in 2014. It took him eight games to throw five picks last season. Winston needed a 59-yard touchdown pass to Travis Rudolph in the fourth quarter Saturday to keep alive his steak of a touchdown pass in every collegiate game he's played.
On the flip side, Winston has made plenty of plays. He led comebacks wins against N.C. State and Clemson and held off Oklahoma State in a season-opening shootout. Few mention him in the Heisman conversation, but the Noles sit atop the college football world with a little more breathing after the weekend's madness.
"A win is never bad," Winston said. "We love winning, but there's always room for improvement and there's always room to get better.
"People are playing higher against us than they're playing against anyone else. ... Obviously it's my job to get the team going. I promise you, just wait, just wait, just wait on it. We're going to get it going."
Florida State set the school and ACC record with 7,267 yards in 2013, but rank No. 40 in the nation in total offense this season. The Seminoles were the No. 1 pass defense in the country and set a school record with 26 interceptions, but now rank No. 31 in pass defense.
The title run was near perfection as FSU beat teams by an average of 33.6 points. The Seminoles aren't nearly as dominant in 2014, but that might not be necessary.
"When Florida State plays Florida State football and our defense is clicking and the offense is clicking, we're going to be a fun team to watch," Winston said. "That's what we've been doing this year — offense has a good game, defense has a good game.
"People might have criticisms and opinions, but we haven't reached what we're capable of yet.