By Andrew Carter, Orlando Sentinel
TALLAHASSEE — Situations like the one in which Florida State found itself during the past week — attempting to rebound from a humbling defeat at Oklahoma — are one of the reasons why Seminoles coach Jimbo Fisher has placed so much faith in the mental conditioning program he has brought here.
Florida State hosts BYU on Saturday at Doak Campbell Stadium, where the Seminoles will hope to play far better in just about every aspect than they did a week ago. But perhaps more important than Florida State's defensive improvement, or how its offense rebounds, will be how the team responds mentally from a humiliating loss.
"I don't think we can put any extra pressure on ourselves but this is an important game for us," senior quarterback Christian Ponder said. "… We don't want to have two losses in a row and lose to Oklahoma twice … We know what we are as a team and we know that [against Oklahoma] that wasn't the Florida State that we are."
Fisher has emphasized repeatedly — to the point of repetitiveness — the importance of mental conditioning and the importance of teaching players how best to learn from adversity. The game today offers the Seminoles an opportunity to put their lessons in action.
"This is adversity, because you have a loss," Fisher said. " … But there's other adversities, too, that they deal with. Personal problems. To family issues. To school. I mean, there's 1,000 things. And [the mental conditioning program is] all geared to help that.
"All your good programs in America and all your good organizations at the next level, they all do it. In any sport."
Trevor Moawad, the IMG mental conditioning coach whom Fisher has employed to help the Seminoles, was on the sideline for the Oklahoma game. Fisher said players received mental coaching throughout the week to help them respond to the lopsided loss against the Sooners.
Moawad has worked with Florida State's offensive players the past two years, but the mental conditioning program has expanded since Fisher became head coach in January. As with other aspects of Fisher's program, the mental coaching has been designed to encourage players to become more "process-oriented" thinkers.
"Just because you don't have success doesn't mean things still aren't going in the right direction," Fisher said.
Earlier in the week, he pointed to his own coaching history for examples of teams that responded well to blowout defeats. In 2001, when Fisher was the offensive coordinator at LSU, the Tigers suffered a 44-15 loss at home against Florida. Later that season, the Tigers went on to win the Southeastern Conference.
Among teams he has been on that responded well from adversity, Fisher said, "They believed in each other."
"I've been on some teams that at the time when [adversity] happened weren't good teams," he said. "... It's not about the result. We're so caught up — it's about the process. If they keep doing things right, every day, and they keep staying the course, and doing and believing — good things will happen."
The results at Oklahoma, though, indicated that Florida State might not be as far along in Fisher's process as he might have expected. But Saturday brings another opportunity — one for the Seminoles to show they can respond from the first disappointment of the Fisher era.