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September 28, 2016

Jimbo Fisher

Greensboro, North Carolina

JIMBO FISHER: Coming off a road victory last week against a very good South Florida team, proud of the way our kids, we've improved, got better. Still have a long way to go in all three phases and the aspects in which we're getting there, but played much better as a team, executed in all three phases really well at times. A couple things we've got to get cleaned up in all three phases, but we're making progress, continuing to grow, and that's what we have to do and that's all we're focused on is having a great Wednesday practice, Thursday, and play a very good North Carolina.

North Carolina, extremely explosive team on offense, receivers are dynamic, quarterback can make plays. They run the backs, a really athletic line, does a great job.

Defensively, Gene is one of the best guys around as a defensive coordinator, big and physical up front. Linebackers are athletic, secondary is really, really good, corners, nickels, safeties, they all tackle well, cover well. Very good football team.

On special teams, they're a really good special teams team. They cause you a lot of problems with looks and different things they do, and you've got to be very sound and got great returners and good kickers.

We're going to have our hands full. We just need to continue to get better and keep our head down and go to work. Looking forward to this weekend.


Q. You spoke a little bit on the three phases. Just your biggest takeaways from your team through the first third of the season so far, what you're seeing.
JIMBO FISHER: Well, I think special teams wise we've been very solid. They given a couple returns up at times, which we've got to get that cleaned up, but our return game is very, very improved. Our kickers, young kickers are doing a very nice job.

Offensively, we're starting to get settled in. We're becoming more constant up front with putting a hat on a hat, allowing our skill guys to go, but we've thrown the ball well in games, run the ball well in games and done both.

Making progress there defensively. Gave up some plays early, and then played really well on defense about a game and a half and then got a couple key injuries and some of these young guys are starting to evolve. Was very proud in the last game.

Gave up plays early, not very happy with that, and then went nine straight series and played outstanding, had three-and-outs against a very athletic, good team from South Florida and then had some miscues at the end, but we're making progress there.

Got to quit giving up so many big plays on defense, but that's something we're working on, and that's something we'll continue to do. But we've shown that we can play in all three phases. We've got to continue to grow in all those areas.

Q. With all that outside talk about your future and whatnot, just what you can say about your care for the University and this football team with the Seminoles.
JIMBO FISHER: I love this University. I plan or being here for a long time. I love Florida State, and that's all I'm saying. That's what I talk. I talk about myself and Florida State. Anything else is clutter and does not concern me, is not involving me.

Q. Having played your spring game and the season opener in Orlando, what are some things that that venue provides that makes it such an ideal place for an ACC title game or a bowl game?
JIMBO FISHER: Well, first and foremost, it's very accessible. You're talking about Orlando, it may be one of the most accessible cities in all of America because of Disney World and all those types of things and all the vacation spots. There's cheap flights. There's accessibility. There's great hotel rooms. There's great rooms for your team to go and you have all the meeting rooms and all the space and everything. Then you have a great group of people in Orlando at the game, in the bowl game at the stadium, excuse me, that treat you first class.

The stadium is beautiful. They've renovated it. The stands are great. It's a great atmosphere. You're in South Florida; you're in warm weather. You can go on and on and on. It's a tremendous venue to go play football. It really is.

Q. You've already faced some very challenging offenses already this year --
JIMBO FISHER: Yes (laughing).

Q. As you prepare for UNC and Trubisky, different type of challenge, similar to any of the offenses you've already faced in preparation?
JIMBO FISHER: I mean, they have part -- they can run the quarterback, they throw the ball well. Their backs are dynamic. From a Louisville standpoint -- this guy can run. He doesn't run like the guy at Louisville. I don't know if anybody in America runs like him, but he can run. He can create plays with his leg, very much like the first guy we did. Their receivers are very good. They're big, just like the Louisville receivers, and the Ole Miss receivers were very dynamic in that regard. Backs are good.

I mean, they're similar to those two teams in my opinion, the way they throw it, the way we run it call plays, the tempo in which they go at. Just all those, they're really good.

Q. And you mentioned trying to give up fewer big plays with your defense. What do you do during practice this week to kind of up that aspect --
JIMBO FISHER: Well, we coach it up every day. You've got to be sound in your fundamentals, and you've got to make plays on deep balls, you've got to squeeze, you're there in position to make plays, you can't let the guy get by you, you've got to stay in phase with him, pressing the sideline, play through his hands, don't look for the football and do things of that nature.

And in the runs, you've got to fit the runs. You've got to be in the right place, you've got to gap control, you've got to bounce it to the end block guy, or you've got to get off the block and make a play. There's no way to stop -- the way to stop big plays is make smart plays and do your job. There's nothing spectacular -- if I said I'm going out to stop big plays today, when you go out and stop big plays is when you play your defense the right way.

Q. I wanted to talk about the offensive line. Last week with Dalvin Cook rushing for 287 yards, I think I saw a difference between the offensive line in that game and the three games previously. It looked like the offensive line wasn't giving Dalvin Cook any holes for him to explode. It looked like they were not getting his timing right. Was that something that you guys worked on?
JIMBO FISHER: Yeah, it was. I mean, worked on timing. Everybody always talks about passing game, but the running game, too, the holes, the timing, when you hit it, how you follow your blocks, the way they're set up, that whole thing. And you've got to create space and not allow Dalvin to run, and when he gets that we definitely know he's a very good player.

We're continuing to grow in that area.

Q. How is his shoulder, pretty good?
JIMBO FISHER: Oh, yeah, the shoulder is fine. His shoulder has been fine the whole time. It's been good.

Q. You guys have already faced Lamar. You mentioned him a little bit earlier. If somebody is going to slow him down, you guys have experienced that, when do you feel like is sort of the blueprint for trying to make that happen and limit his effectiveness?
JIMBO FISHER: I don't know if there is a blueprint. You're going to never stop a guy like that. I mean, those great players are going to get what they get, but you've got to do your job. You've got to be sound in all phases because he can run and cover all the gaps up front, but then you've got to cover their receivers who are very good, and he's a very good thrower.

You have to be a very talented team. You have to be very sound in what you do and do what you do very well. I mean, they're a really good football team, and he's a really good player.

Q. When you look at North Carolina, they struggled on run defense last year. They're at the bottom of the ACC this year. Is that a flaw in their defense that you can exploit?
JIMBO FISHER: No, I don't think so. I mean, teams have played them, and I think people try to run the ball on them, probably try to keep the ball away from their offense, so I think they take a more methodical approach and probably try to do that more, but they're very sound in everything they do.

Gene is a great football coach, and they're doing really well, and they've played some teams that can run the football. Pitt has always been known to have great backs and great people to do things, and they did a real nice job in the game with speed sweeps and different things to get the edges, hand the ball out there, and they've designed very well. But Gene is a very good coach. There's nothing there to exploit as far as being unsound. People have tried to do it I think to keep the ball away from their offense, and hopefully we'll have balance and be able to do both.

Q. Can you talk about their two running backs and the different kind of threats they pose?
JIMBO FISHER: I mean, Elijah is big and powerful and strong and fast at the same time, brings it downhill. Logan is such a dynamic guy, a space guy, can catch -- they both can catch it, though. They catch it well, they run. They're a great one-two punch now, and either one of them, if you get out of your gaps or give them space, they're going to hit big plays or take it to the house. They can catch. Even like Logan on the kickoff returns, he's dynamic back there. They've got great -- him and Switzer, and then with Elijah in that regard, those guys are all dynamic playmakers.

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