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August 28, 2017

Jimbo Fisher

Tallahassee, Florida

JIMBO FISHER: Season's here. Excited about getting it kicked off and playing another opponent, someone besides ourselves. It's been a long camp but a very good camp. Been happy with camp and the progress we've made. We'll find out.

Our camp for the most part has been relatively healthy, for the most part getting through camp as well as we have. Looking forward to an outstanding season. Hopefully our kids will play well and do the things we've got to do and stay healthy. I say that knock on wood.

But we'll start the first week, we've got a great team we're playing in Alabama. Nothing but respect for Alabama. They've done a tremendous job with their program in the past, in the present, in the future, I know they will. They have an outstanding coach. Nick does as good a job as anybody, and does a great job preparing his team, and we know they'll be ready.

Outstanding players that play very hard, very physical, very well-coached. Have big guys, dynamic guys and playmakers across the board. They can throw it, they can catch it, they can run with it, they can defend, they can cover, they do all the things that you have to do to be successful and they have special teams.

We're definitely looking forward to the opener, but at the same time we have to play extremely well. We have our hands full playing a great opponent. But saying all that, we're looking forward to it and ready to play, get the season kicked off and get going.


Q. What part of your coaching philosophy, being an Xs and Os men and the way you deal with your players, your relationships and all the constituents involved in that, what part do you think you've borrowed the most from Coach Saban and others?
JIMBO FISHER: I don't think I've borrowed from anybody; I think I've formed my own ideas. You learn from people and you formulate it into what you think is appropriate, and I've done that off tons of people throughout my career that I've ever been with. I've had my own ideas about what I want to do all the time. You take things and formulate it into what your game plan is and how you see the game.

Sometimes guys see it similar. In the times we saw it very similar in a lot of ways philosophically with how players are coached, how their sizes or the dimensions of things you need to be successful and the things you have to have to be successful. But I never really copied off anybody. I just learned from people and then formulated my own ideas.

Q. So, okay, what have you -- what have you admired the most about each guy?
JIMBO FISHER: I could answer that 500 times. I admire everything about everyone, being both of them are successful. They're both great football minds. They're great people, they handle people very well as far as players, recruits, boosters, things like that, and they're very unique in their own way. They're both very dynamic. To say which one you've taken the most from or learned the most from, I don't think that's an answer. You learn from all of them, and I learned a lot from both of them.

Q. When you're scheming to stop another team's offense and you see a game like LSU last year shut them out for three quarters, how does that affect your plan at all?
JIMBO FISHER: You do what you think is appropriate to play. In games, you can't get caught up. Sometimes certain people match-up differently against other people. Certain players, they know they play each other so often. Sometimes that has a lot to do with it. Or sometimes that day maybe that team was off. We act like it's a computer game sometimes and everything's perfect on both sides. It doesn't work that way. That's what makes sports so unique.

You play what you think, you learn from things they did, pick up things they did, but some of the things they did weren't any different from what anybody else did. They did it with good players and executed very well. That's what makes sports so unique. You never know who is going to win.

We learn from LSU. We learn from everybody. We watch the film, and the tape, and hopefully we'll formulate the best plays.

Q. Do you remember what it's like to open up at home?
JIMBO FISHER: It's been a while, isn't it. That's kind of the way college football is. We get it next year.

Q. (Inaudible)?
JIMBO FISHER: No, I don't think so. I mean, it's great to always open up at home and play at home, but you've got to play your games anyway, and you usually play on the road in those kind of environments. I think kids today are more apt to that probably now than they ever have been in their lives because they've been exposed to so much more at an earlier age. They've played in -- lot of kids used to go to college, and you play a home play away, then kids hadn't been anywhere. They've never been out of their community. Now they're going to openings, they've been to their workout camps. Their high school teams are playing in every state, they're on TV.

This is the kind of environment as far as moving and playing in different atmospheres is probably a lot easier on them now than it's ever been.

Q. We tend to focus in on guys like Mariota, Ford, Lamar Jackson last season --
JIMBO FISHER: Everybody does.

Q. Is Jalen Hurts one of those players too?
JIMBO FISHER: He can throw it, and he can run. Ain't no doubt. He is a threat. You watched it last year in the games he played. He ran for 1,000 last year. On top of that he threw for two or 3,000 something, whatever it was. This guy's dynamic both ways, there is no doubt about it.

Q. Is what the hardest thing about trying to keep those quarterbacks?
JIMBO FISHER: You got to do what you do. You can't say -- do not worry about not rushing or him setting in the lane to throw, then you pressure. You've got to play football. You've got to take the depth away. You've got to take discipline in your rush Lane, cover people and react to the football and play. You've got to set edges on the defense and you've got to play.

Q. You've been in national title games. The level of hype that's occurring around this game, is it that kind of atmosphere, and is the hype a detriment to your preparation?
JIMBO FISHER: I don't pay attention to it. I don't watch much media. We're in camp and doing what we do. If you're here at Florida State playing in these games, you're going to be in hyped games. Every year we play Clemson, Miami, Florida, Louisville, whoever we play, what conference, what big bowl, play Michigan in the National Championship game, that's part of being at Florida State.

There is probably more hype because we've had longer to talk about it as a season opener. That has a lot to do with it in my opinion. But it's the first time two top three teams have played to open up a season. So I understand where that comes from. But for us, we've just got to play a game. We have to play the football game, not everything else, and that's going to be the key.

Q. So Alabama lost a coordinator, do you go back and look --
JIMBO FISHER: Look at everything they've ever done. It's like you look at stuff they've ever done from years and years and years. You've got to go back. That's the way you do everybody. You research all these people. People running tabs on the coordinators. They come in and out. You get a new coordinator, whether they come from pro ball or not pro football.

Q. Did you actually look at the Pro Bowl?
JIMBO FISHER: Oh, yeah, and where he coached and what he's been around. Again, there is still some mystery there. That is the thing about opening games and new guys. There is going to be some mystery there. There's something they've done or created.

Q. There were obviously a couple of quarterbacks that are now veterans. But could this game, depending on the club and what happens, could it easily be a game dominated by running backs on both sides?
JIMBO FISHER: I think you're going to have to have teams that are very well balanced. If both teams become one dimensional, I think it's hard. You have to keep great balance in what you do. They're an extremely talented running backs and we feel like we're talented running backs. So that could happen. There is no doubt.

Q. A lot of teams are physical, and Alabama is up front on that O-line. How physical are they?
JIMBO FISHER: Well, they're a lot like the great teams we play. They're a danger up front. They have large size. They play a lot of two-gap stuff and moving guys inside. The backers scrape and run and do things, but they can still create edge pressure. So they're big, they're strong, they're physical. They play the game on both sides.

I think the way they're constructed, that's the way Nick likes to construct his team. I think that's the comment he was making in the preseason, we're constructed like the SEC teams, and we try to construct ourselves in a very similar way. We have big, physical guys that can two gap or one gap. And that backer is slow up front, we've still got to be able to block and run the football and be able to defend the run in all those areas. But they are. They're a very physical and constructed that way.

Q. You guys have a handful of players from the Houston area. Have they been in touch or any updates on them?
JIMBO FISHER: Yeah, we've talked to all of them. They all say their family members are all okay. Some of them have been hit harder than others. And our hearts and prayers go to everyone, not only our players but everyone that's over there because I've been through some of those. I don't think quite the amount of water they're getting right there. It's extremely devastating. Just thoughts and prayers to all of them. But everybody's family seems to be okay.

Q. (Inaudible)?
JIMBO FISHER: No doubt, no doubt. You've got to control what you can control, and that's what you do and how you do it. You'll know things, but at the same time those have been many years ago. But you know, there is always -- when you play somebody so many years in a row, you tend to do that. You know what I'm saying?

When coaches say in confidence, they let coaches stay around now. They stay around. We wanted -- everybody's changing them so much. But when you play somebody six, eight, nine, ten times, you start to do those type of things. You've got to remember their personalities. But at the end of the day, you have to do what your players do and do well. You have to be very careful of that. That's a great point because then you get to doing all kinds of things and you do nothing. You know what I mean? You've got to be very careful of that.

Q. The last time you talked to Nick you said it was during the draft. Did you talk over the summer?
JIMBO FISHER: No, we didn't. My summer was strung out and they're so short now. They've become so shortened. Our family vacation and things we're doing, we haven't though.

Q. Like a text message or anything?
JIMBO FISHER: I'm not a big social media guy now. I'm only texting when I have to, and I'll text players or something like that or recruits, but I'm not a big text guy.

Q. Do you think you'll take before the game?
JIMBO FISHER: Yeah, we will right on the field, probably. Or if we see each other or we have to do any things together. We may bump into each other somewhere on the set of ESPN or something. I mean, listen, I'm great. I'm nice. When it's time to keep score, we'll keep score. Until then, we'll be nice.

Q. How do you feel coming out of camp and going into the season?
JIMBO FISHER: Feels pretty good. For the most part in this camp, we're relatively healthy. For the most part got a new nicks and knacks, but the two guys that we lost for the season, you know, and DJ's out for a little while, but other than that, we're relatively healthy.

Q. He's going to be back this week?
JIMBO FISHER: He should be practicing today. I don't know, but he should be practicing today.

Q. The first time Coach Trickett saw Nick he was a quarterback (inaudible)?

Q. Just wondering about Nick or how far he does go back?
JIMBO FISHER: We met after the first time we interviewed with the Ducks. I knew of him. We had to drive through the town to get to my grandfather's house. My father and them grew up right down there, and they had won two or three state football titles. They had the quarterback, and Kerry Marbury and a bunch of guys that played at West Virginia for Coach Bowden. They had two or three of them. They had a phenomenal high school team, football, basketball, baseball. They had such hyped All Americans who went to West Virginia and the local town did very well. So I knew of that team and heard of them before and done all that.

But that's the first time I ever met him is when we interviewed for the job. I knew I had heard of him and what he'd been doing.

Q. Is the layoff working? (Inaudible)?
JIMBO FISHER: No, he's played. He'll be in condition.

Q. A few players you've got coming back, is there (inaudible)?
JIMBO FISHER: Well, all you can do is play the game. Don't think this is my first game back, which I think he's done very well in camp. But he'll be very excited. I think just go play the game. Don't try to live up to expectations. Control what you can control and play.

Because here's what I remind these guys: Why did you get those expectations? Because you just played. That's why you've got those expectations. It wasn't because you're extraordinary now. Just go be Derwin, play the game, and play within the concept of the scheme and hustle and do all the things you need to do.

Q. What is a typical Jimbo Fisher perfect game going into Saturday's match-up against Alabama? What is the perfect game to yourself? What do you like to see?
JIMBO FISHER: No such thing. I think early in games I think things will be fortunate. You've got to take care of the football, which is always most important thing. Eliminating self-inflicted wounds as far as penalties, not jumping offsides, not lining up offsides, the holding calls and playing, and shooting yourselves in the foot early and things and putting yourselves in bad situations. And then you've got to create big plays and stop big plays. You've got to play very physical and you've got to play hard, and you've got to relax and play.

Do the assignments on the edge on the defense, play physical inside. The big thing to me penalties and turnovers and those key areas right there, and blown assignments. Also, you don't think about this much, substitutions. When you're subbing in for a game and you're in your nickel packages or dime packages, or we're going for two types or one type, three wide or four wide, just making sure the right guys get in and out of the game and seeing the signals not caught up and all that stuff. You know the game operation stuff, signals, both sides, all that kind of stuff when guys get hyped up in the first game and don't get in, those are things for a coach that you've got to control because those things can cost you. It's bad enough that you play a great team or you get beat physically. But you can't beat yourself mentally in that way.

Q. How far have both programs come in the last decade?
JIMBO FISHER: Well, drastically changed in the last seven years, the two winningest football teams in America. They've won four national titles, we've won one. They have one four or five conference championships and we've won three. I mean, it has. A lot of bowl games, I mean it really has come, we're both 7-6 teams.

We were both right at .500 in that game. It was hard fought. Again, the game was very hard. But both programs were in very similar situations, probably and where we're at. We're both fighting, scratching and clawing to stay bowl eligible and have winning seasons and go play. It was a very hard fought. I remember, they were very good on defense. They were very dynamic early on, and we had some plays in the second half and got a couple.

Remember Cody caught a corner route for a touchdown in the corner. We ran a little goal line route, and I think we had run it late, and he broke the tackle, went down the sideline, it was a very hard, physical game, and typical game they were well-coached. But both programs like you say were in very similar situations and have progressed and come a long way.

Q. Did you have a feeling that he was going to turn it around as quickly as he did over there?
JIMBO FISHER: Yeah, I would. One, he's a very good football coach. He knows what he's doing. He has a plan, he's going to do that. But two, the resources and the commitment that they have. Also, you know, that old adage, and this is an old Bear Bryant statement, make sure the school you're coaching in has more going forward than you. Make sure they're committed to win it. Make sure they're committed to doing all the things you've got to do. Make sure they're all in in the same way. And Alabama definitely is in that regard.

So when you put those two together and time and recruiting base in history, you knew they were going to get it right.

Q. Jimbo, your offensive line, what kind of progress have you seen last week? Do you feel pretty good about where things stand?
JIMBO FISHER: I do. I think our lines had a really good camp. We ran the football, we pass blocked and did the things we had assignment-wise, and worked hard on blitz pickups and different things. The running game, the pass game, all the different scenarios. I think Eberle being not only healthy, but more experienced inside. You talk about the quarterback being more experienced in decision-making. Well, your center, getting you on the same page, making calls up front, knowing which way the lines going to go, how it's going to block things. That's huge.

The quicker he does it, the guys with other assignments beside him, they get to cleared up quicker, they get to communicate better. The years of experience for all these guys. You have four of them back there that played and started last year. One guy in Derrick Kelly who played at a lot at the same time too.

So I feel good about where they're right at right now. We have to play well and play great players on the other side. It's going to be a physical, hard-fought game, but how they're playing right now, I've been very pleased.

Q. Some of the Alabama writers right now are saying that Nick Saban said he would throw a Nick-fit at you when you would run play action or play option passes during practice or go off script. And he also said you had a good three-point shot and you were competitive in playing basketball?
JIMBO FISHER: We used to play a lot of basketball, but he and I were on the same team. We always played.

Q. Never went against each other?
JIMBO FISHER: No, we won every time. We always won when we played. Nick was a good basketball player too. That's why I say, he was a good all-around athlete. He was a baseball player in college too. He was a baseball and football guy at Kent State, he was a heck of an athlete. He was very fun. We were both very competitive. So being on the same team was fun.

Oh, we'd go off script and he'd come off with a blitz or different things. But it was never -- here's the thing about it, we had our times and we were very competitive, but it was never, I guess the landscape of the team where it was offense against defense. And you hear me say that all the time here. That was one of the things I respected the most about him. He's a defensive coach in the defense.

I know, and even he'll tell you this, it's crazy, it's easier to be good on defense than it is offense. I know people don't believe that and you think it isn't. Because effort and toughness can get you by. You've still got to be perfect and still got to fill your gap. But anytime there is a ball involved, there is rhythm and timing. Some days Michael Jordan doesn't hit all the shots. Larry Bird doesn't hit all the shots and the ball doesn't always go in the rim.

His philosophy is about, that's why we played certain ways on offense, and that's why I still do that in certain ways. When you're all skill and it's all fly-by-night and there is no toughness or running game and there's no substance to it, it's hard to consistently -- you may have one of those years, but year after year after year, there are going to be days you're off.

When you're watching a guy putt one day and have 15 putts on the day, and the next day he takes 23 putts, it's timing and rhythm and offense that's so much more dynamic to associate with, and then you have the pressures of a defense.

So my point on that was we built that team, and it was never offense against defense. We played to each other. I always tried to understand as a head coach, which I always thought I looked at, that was one of the things I thought we did very well. But every now and then, you have to do something because they were good and we were good. We had competitive guys too. Our guys wanted to see it too.

We still have 35, 38 points a game down there and threw it around and had some dynamic offensive guys. Had thousand-yard rushers, thousand-yard receivers, we had a lot of award winners down there. So it got competitive both ways.

He'd get mad every now and then, but it was never separated. It was fun. Learned a lot of football, and a lot of different ways in which you practice and how we did things. It was very good.

Q. Sometimes you go with the hot-handed running back and his game has progressed (inaudible)?
JIMBO FISHER: They've got to get touches, they've got to get in the game, and you've got to get them broken in and put in there. The big thing, they're ready to get in there. They've proven it every day in practice. I've been with Vickers and Jacques, the fullback there, they've been doing a great job. But Amir and Cam, they've all done a tremendous job behind him. Feel very confident. We've all made plays in scrimmages and practices and a lot of different ways. They'll play.

Q. With Trey Marshall out for the first half, is your plan to start A.J. Westbrook?
JIMBO FISHER: Well, it depends. It just depends on what package we're in. He'll be in there playing most likely when it's nickel or dime or safety or whatever we do. Depending on how they start and how we start. But we've got quite a few safeties we can put in there, but A.J. will likely be in there, yes.

Q. Westbrook, what have you seen from him this preseason?
JIMBO FISHER: Gotten bigger, stronger. One of those guys always in the right play, understands the game, tackles well, plays the ball well. He's one of those guys that you say he doesn't say much, so all of a sudden, man, that's A.J., that's A.J.

He's making plays all over the field. Sometimes when he's not in there, where's A.J.? Because sometimes not saying a guy's name is great because he takes things away. You know what I'm saying? Take him for granted. He's just a very good football player. Very heady, very smart, and really getting stronger and physical.

Q. I also wonder when alumni come back for a game like this, is there a temptation to involve them in pregame or things like that or try to keep them apart?
JIMBO FISHER: You keep it the same. Listen, the game's the game. No matter if we're playing Alabama, playing Miami, playing whatever, you've got to have the same routine when you play the game. You've got to lineup and play. Some of those guys in the NFL still have some eligibility left, I can get them in the game, some of those guys. But you can't because it's different distraction, clutter and different mindset for their players. You have to make sure they understand this is time for them to make their legacy so they can be one of those guys.

Q. Are Fitzpatrick and Dillon aline in the sense of how they can impact the game in different ways?
JIMBO FISHER: Yeah, I tell you what, you talk about a heck of a player. Great family. That was a down-to-the-wire recruiting deal. We recruited the heck out of that guy. I've really enjoyed him and his family. Phenomenal. Been fun to watch him play. Ain't going to be fun this weekend. That guy's too good.

But you go back and watch him, how many turnovers he turns into touchdowns. I mean, the pick he had in Arkansas, the game he had at A&M. Just he's always in the right place when he's playing corner, playing safety, playing nickel, playing dime. The guy just can tackle, can cover, he has tremendous ball skills. He affects the game, and that's a lot like Derwin.

Derwin's a little bigger and Minkah's probably a corner that can come inside and do both. Derwin's probably a safety that can play some corner but also plays up like a linebacker at times. But they're both very impactful as far as the way they can be effective and move around and match-up because of different types of players. He's a heck of a player and is so is Derwin.

Q. (Inaudible) can you talk about going up against him the first time?
JIMBO FISHER: Jeremy did a great job. We had one of the No. 1 defenses in the country that year. He did offense, defense, he did everything. He did a great job. He used those guys, we got rushed, we played each other very well. Understands the front, understands the back end, communicates with players, very hard worker, very dedicated. Studies hours and hours of film. Studies the game, works at the game. He's proven what kind of football coach he is, and he'll be a head coach here probably pretty soon and do very well.

But Jeremy did a tremendous job here. And going against him, you have to dot your Is and cross your Ts, have a plan for everything. It's going to be very competitive. With him and Nick scheming together, it's going to be extremely tough.

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