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November 14, 2015

Jimbo Fisher

Tallahassee, Florida

FSU - 34, NC State - 17

JIMBO FISHER: First of all, I want to say this: I challenge our kids about class and character. I'm as proud of those guys and what they walked out there and did and the circumstances -- we had the mistakes early, shot ourselves in the foot, put those guys in the lead, and that's a good football team, and our defense just kept playing, our offense, once we got the rhythm, we started scoring and moving the ball. Still had some opportunities out there that we left, but stayed aggressive in the game, went from about a 26-yard first quarter to 479-yard three quarters. All those young guys grew up. It was a tough, physical, hard football game, guys knocked out, lose guys, certain numbers of backs down, and whatever it may be. But that team stood up and competed. I'm extremely, extremely proud of those guys. Playing the next play, played every play like it was their last and competed in the game. We didn't play well at times, played real well at times. But this team is a competitive team. I'm extremely proud of them. I'm extremely proud of them and happy for the results which we got. We've got a lot of things we've got to clean up. We know that, but we still, keeping to be a work in progress, but really good. I thought defense was outstanding. Sean came in and gave us a great spark, we were able to run the football. We got some backs. Had to lose our full fullback, too, Freddie does so many things for us, and just tons of things that went on back and forth. But no matter what, next guy up and just kept playing and made plays. So I'm extremely proud of them, very tough game. NC State is a very good football team. Their defense is outstanding. Putting pressure on their quarterback, and I thought we did this year, we got him on the ground. Getting him on the ground and affecting him, not letting him run around and make plays, he's a heck of a player for them. So very proud of those guys.

Q. Can you talk about the decision to change quarterbacks in the second quarter? Was that your decision?
JIMBO FISHER: Yes. That was my decision, and all of them -- all the things are my responsibility. Just the dynamic, we was in a bad rut, we thought he could give us a spark, and we talked about it going in, if things didn't go well, that is what we were going to do, had those guys prepared, and Sean, that's not easy to do, to walk in there and do what he did and he played an outstanding game and made the plays, and we got some rhythm on offense and then we took off.

Q. You came into the game thinking if it didn't go well early on you'd --
JIMBO FISHER: Yeah, you always have that. I've had those with those two all year. If we didn't do the things we needed to do and they've had some good practices. Neither one of them had practiced badly, just some things early we thought that we could get, and we thought that Everett could give us a little better situation but unfortunately had a couple tough plays and you can't turn the ball over like that, and he didn't mean to, actually we had as many turnovers today than we had all year, I think. But that's good. We rebounded back and those guys see they can overcome those things again and I thought Sean did great job.

Q. How did he react to not starting this week?
JIMBO FISHER: Who, Sean? Good, great. Again, tremendous, and we even talked that day, and come back the next day and we talked again. Expect -- why, things. I spent a lot of time with that. I think that's extremely important, open communication between people.

You know, it's not the old days of "Dad says so." Says so, but here's why, and here's why and here's what I'm going to do and here's what I'm going to need you to do. That guy is a heck of a guy, and what he did and the maturity he showed, to be able to be ready to go in and do that, outstanding.

Q. What's it say about him, though? It's hard to lose a starting job.
JIMBO FISHER: He didn't lose it -- he really didn't lose a job. It was just a skill set going into the game. I thought he did a great job of earning the job today.

Q. How do you assess the fight level of this team to be able to come back five turnovers?
JIMBO FISHER: I love them, the character. The character. You know what I mean? Really it was three, and then the fourth one was the one that got us down there. We got a missed block and we had that one open for a touchdown. Dadgum, we'd have got some protection, we'd have had it on a double move, but I like the aggression.

But the character of these guys is top-notch. Again, I say this all the time. We've got great players, we've got better kids. They did a heck of a job fighting and competing in this game.

Q. Can you single out one guy who made a contribution?
JIMBO FISHER: Give me one. Sometimes I miss it. But who?

Q. Well, DeMarcus Walker, after the game he had, to play the way he did?
JIMBO FISHER: He's outstanding. But guys, he has been that way ever since camp started. I mean, he's been a leader. Football is important to him. His communication to me about teammates, leadership, things that go on in the team, I mean, this guy, it's his life. He loves playing football here and what it means to be a great player and a great teammate and has a lot of pride in himself. He did an outstanding job.

Q. The two-part defense, even though there was no way NC State was going to come --
JIMBO FISHER: No, exactly right. That's what we talk about. Every play. No matter what times in the game, there's no reason to take a play off, and you can't do that. They were outstanding in the game, and to hold them out of the end zone, it talks about the character.

Q. What you're seeing out of Dalvin --
JIMBO FISHER: Getting better.

Q. It seems like he's building on every performance every week.
JIMBO FISHER: Getting better, making plays. The thing he's doing, too, occasionally he'll do some things wrong because it saves you so much going on you can't see, but he ends up making up for some things. But we see the physical abilities. But what I'm so happy about is there's less and less every week of mental mistakes, alignments, assignments, techniques, and there's so much going on and we do so much with him because of his intelligence level. And you just see him growing as a player and his confidence is just coming through the --

Q. You have yet to mention the all-time leading rusher in school history.
JIMBO FISHER: Who's that guy, oh, No. 4? He's not bad, is he?

Q. He came out of the game limping?
JIMBO FISHER: They just said he tweaked his ankle, and they run over and they worked on it a little bit, and he's coming back. That guy, he's past tough. There's got to be another word past that, now.

But he just has a will to play and compete and to break it down -- how ironic that Ward was here but he was congratulating -- just was in the locker room congratulating him and said all those things to him.

But the class of that guy, the toughness of that guy, the character of that guy, I mean, there may be -- I don't know who's the best back in the country, but I wouldn't trade that one for nobody in America, and more importantly, his character and who he is as a person.

Q. When you see him limp out of a game, he comes back usually better, so what do you think?
JIMBO FISHER: Certain guys have it. Certain guys have it. Certain guys have a drive to play and they have a will to play. I use the -- hey now, how did Michael Jordan go score 35 and he's got the flu and 103-degree and he can't walk off the court and plays on the court and they drag him to the sideline? I'm not saying he's Michael. I don't mean that. But certain guys have an "it" factor. Certain guys it's important to them. It's important to them so they find a way.

And it's important to him. I mean, and he is just a tremendous, tremendous competitor and person. Tremendous.

Q. After you have a quarter like you did in the first, is it reassuring to have a guy who can turn the momentum back your way?
JIMBO FISHER: That's what it takes. I always say this: They always talk about momentum is critical in games. We talk about the Xs and Os and why momentum changes, but momentum gets swung, and especially the -- in pro sports and all sports, but college and high school, man, it's hard to swing it. And two things swing it: The other team either screws it up bad or great players. Great players swing momentum. They go make a play. They go do something special that sets the tone and gives your team hope and gives them confidence, and you respond. And that's what he does for us.

Q. Talk about going for it when you guys were up 10 in the second half --
JIMBO FISHER: He didn't make that far, we shouldn't have won the game at the end of the day. I'm tired of setting on -- and we still ain't got a short yardage fix. It's ridiculous. We're going to keep working on it and we're going to keep banging on it and we're going to keep doing it, and we're going to figure it out. We've always been good at it.

Like I say, I got to the point, if we can't make that, then we don't deserve to win this game and we don't deserve to have a great year. So figure it out.

Q. Was there a discussion in that time-out?
JIMBO FISHER: There was, and I was debating back and forth, and then I looked at myself. I said, what are you -- you're a competitor -- I'm the same way and I was mad because we didn't make it. I was mad before. I said, well, good, we don't make the 4th down we don't deserve to win it. It's our fault.

Q. Going back to the momentum thing, after the third turnover and NC State had two solid --
JIMBO FISHER: It was bad on that. He got a low throw. We had a chance. The guy was open had a chance in there.

Q. Did you think that maybe things might have gotten out of hand considering momentum can play such a big role?
JIMBO FISHER: I don't ever think -- things can always get out of hand. I mean, they really do. I don't ever think in those terms. I'm always thinking about trying to come back and how we're going to win the game. So I don't ever think about things getting out of hand. We're trying to figure out what we're doing to come back and correct the mistakes and move on.

Q. What kind of a moment was the forced fumble that you guys had in the third quarter?
JIMBO FISHER: That was critical. It gives us momentum to then score two plays later. And to get that, I thought that was really critical in the game. You know, that's one thing we do, we're playing on defense great, and we really haven't gotten tons of turnovers, as great as they've played. But turnovers come in bunches; you know what I mean? But that was a big time play.

Q. What did you see this week in practice that told you that they might respond this way?
JIMBO FISHER: Just the way they practiced. I said all week, the defense is really high -- I thought they would because they were playing well. And then the offense Monday was okay, Tuesday a little bit down, Wednesday it started picking up, and Thursday they were really up. I mean, you saw the look in their eye. We talked to them about it. I go back, and I rehashed this.

I said, pride -- and we talked about a dynasty at Florida State here, from '87 to 2001. Go back and think about it, how all those teams, why they were dynasties. They lost some heartbreaking games in that 14 years. I'm talking about heartbreakers in that 14-year run, and I talked to them about it. I said, being up 19-3 in the fourth quarter to Miami and losing 26-25; they never lost a game; that team finished second. '88 to be No. 1 and lose 31-0; team finished 11-1 and finished second. In '89 to lose the first two, then to win 10 in a row and finish in the top five. In '90, to lose back-to-back to Miami and Auburn in the middle and then win out, beat Penn State in a bowl game. '91, to lose the last two games of the year to Miami and Florida, being No. 1, still went and won the bowl game against Texas A&M. In '92 lost a tough one. But the dynasty was built, not only the championships but on the responses and the consistency and the competitiveness and the great players of how they responded to adversity over that 14 years.

We can talk about all the wins and everything else. It wasn't about that. It was about their adversity to keep winning no matter what happened, and they had some heartbreakers in there. Could have won -- but that's the way ball is. That's the way life is. How are you going to respond? They were like, I didn't know that. They didn't know that they had lost two -- three years in a row, '89, '90, and '91, they lost back-to-back two years in a row, back-to-back games during that time. But they responded and had great years, and it was considered a dynasty -- I said, it's how you respond. We competed in those games. You know what I'm saying? I've said that before.

I've said, we've come up short on points two games in a row. I don't think we've been beaten yet. I don't mean any disrespect to our opponents, but it's how you respond to those things, how you come back from those things and what you do and how you finish out the season. You're leaving a dynasty here. Make another one. And those guys all went through it, and part of the dynasty was losing and responding.

Q. Did Bobby Bowden say anything particular to you when you went in at halftime?
JIMBO FISHER: Yeah, why you always let these guys get ahead of you? (Laughter.) I said, you got any suggestions? He said, nope, they on you, baby. They're on you. They always do. It was great to see him. Talk about 35 years ago, to be the Bobby Dodd coach year and what it means -- you know what's funny, he looks younger now. I'm getting older in dog years, he's getting younger.

Q. With that in mind, talk about the dynasties, when you talk to your team about the importance of letting the next two games to improve your chances --
JIMBO FISHER: Yes. Well, I did, about how you finish and how you compete and how you play it out. That's what it's all about, having double-digit wins. This senior class can be the winningest senior class in Florida State history. Got a chance to win 50 games as a senior class. Think about that: 50 games. That's a lot of football games; you know what I'm saying? They can do some great things.

I mean, you want a legacy, what you going to leave behind for these young guys? You young guys are going to set the tone for what's going on next year? You do it right now. You don't wait until then. You do it right now because it's who you are. It's your culture. It's your nature. Everything don't go well, life ain't always fair. We don't always work out right. It's what you respond to.

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