December 4, 2013

Insider Report: Erving wins blocking award, bargain-bin ticket prices for ACC title





















FSU offensive lineman Cameron Erving didn't want to be a left tackle.


He came to Florida State as a defensive lineman and wanted to stay that way, despite the coaching staff's recommendation that he could be great if he switched sides. He resisted for an entire year.


Turns out, the coaching staff was right in a big way. Erving, two years after switching positions, was awarded the Jacobs Blocking Trophy by the ACC this week, given to the best blocker in the ACC and awarded by the league's coaches.


"When I found out I was kind of in awe," Erving said. "Because I just remember coach Trickett referencing Rodney Hudson winning it two times in a row. Just to be considered in that same category, it's an honor to me."






More than most, the award was special to Erving, serving as a fitting cap on his transition from defense to offense. Erving has started every game at left tackle this season for FSU and has shut down a number of the ACC's best pass rushers, including Clemson's Vic Beasley.


"It's not everything, but it's a lot," Erving said. "There's much more than individual recognition, but I think this a great step just towards the future. .. It just makes you want to continue to do well, just because you're capable of these things."


One thing that hasn't changed is offensive line coach Rick Trickett's approach with Erving.


"He'll never say you've arrived," Erving said, "But he did say congrats."




Filling tickets for the ACC title game has been a challenge in recent years. But with a No. 1 team chasing a national title on one hand and a Duke team on a historic run on the other hand, surely demand is higher, right?


Wrong.


According to SeatGeek.com, tickets for the ACC title game are available for as little as $10 and the ACC title game in Charlotte is yet again the least in-demand of the four major conference championship games.


The average resale price of a ticket for the ACC title game is $57 per ticket. For comparison, the least expensive ticket for the Pac-12 championship game is $58.


Florida State's players said they don't mind the forecast of cold and rain for Saturday night in Charlotte; but apparently fans don't feel the same way. Or perhaps the lopsided spread of the game - which is north of four touchdowns - has fans staying at home. Either way, Duke fans can get tickets to the ACC title game for cheaper than they could for Duke's season finale against North Carolina ($102 on average resale price)


It's a continuation of last year's ticket struggles for the ACC title game. In 2012, Florida State and Georgia Tech combined to lose more than $800,000 on the game and the average ticket resale price was $56.





More clutter, more problems



Lamarcus Joyner has an adjective to describe what it's like for FSU to be ranked No. 1 in the country and 60 minutes away from playing for a national title - and it's not what many might think.


"Very scary," Joyner said. "Very intimidating. I have been in seasons here where it was guys that haven't been eliminated and you're waiting for them to mess up. That's so much of pressure."


Joyner has a point: the stakes are higher for Florida State now, and while the Seminoles may be favored by four touchdowns against Duke, the hoopla will only increase. ACC championships and bowl games represent a break in the routine FSU has established this season.


Jimbo Fisher said FSU has prepared for the extra requirements of championship season - the earlier flights, the increased media access and the alterations to a normal game week schedule. Fisher said FSU has made a point to leave early a couple of times this season for road trips, leaving on Thursday for the Wake Forest and Florida Game to give the team a feel for that routine.


Fisher added that having ESPN Gameday and other cameras come in for big games this season was a welcome training run as well, giving players experience with having cameras in the locker room. Players themselves say that's helped as well as the experience from previous trips to the ACC title game.


"You have to go in there and play well and hopefully, we'll handle all of the distractions and media and just being away from home and different things," Fisher said. "Hopefully, we'll handle them well and hopefully some of the games that we've played in this year, with a lot of the media hype and Gameday and all that stuff, will help us in that regard. I hope we learn from all of our experiences."


That being said, Fisher is making an extra effort to keep the focus on the ACC title game. In the past two weeks, Fisher hasn't said the words "National Championship" to the media, preferring instead to say "whatever bowl game we end up in." Despite the fact that FSU is the odds-on favorite to play for a national title.


Players say they've also noticed Fisher's avoidance of national title talk and some of them have followed suit.


"You have a duke team that the whole country may be overlooking, but we can't do that," Joyner said. "We watched film on these guys, we know what they can do between the white lines. … It's very intimidating because we're still on top. I know there's a lot of people around the country with their fingers crossed waiting for us to fall. So we have to prove ourselves right."







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