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September 6, 2017

Jimbo Fisher

Greensboro, North Carolina

JIMBO FISHER: Looking forward to getting back on the field this week versus Louisiana Monroe, had two good practices since then, after the game with Alabama. We had a very hard-fought game which we made a few mistakes and allowed the momentum of the game to switch.

But at the same time, I still feel we have a very, very good football team. Very proud of our kids the way they competed in the game, and look forward to them coming back with a great week of practice and getting ready to play a very good Louisiana Monroe team this week.

Q. Given everything that happened in that Alabama game, I wanted to ask if you still think the risks are worth the rewards in terms of opening a season like that against a caliber opponent like that.
JIMBO FISHER: Yeah, it doesn't -- there's risk and rewards, but like I said, it doesn't change. Certain years I think there are great games. That was a great game. It was a great game for college football until we had a few mishaps that changed the momentum, and you know, you evaluate those each year in the future of your program and try to see where you're at. You schedule those games so far ahead, you never know. But they're still good for college, and I think sometimes they're good, sometimes they're bad as far as how your team is or where your experience of your team is is really what I'm talking about.

It was a good chance, and we had a great game and we lost. We've got to move on.

Q. But the injury factor doesn't scare you away from those?
JIMBO FISHER: Well, I think for both teams, you think about it, we lost Francois and they lost two linebackers for the year. You know, and from that standpoint, I guess, injuries can occur at any time. Like Derwin last year, when he got hurt in a game in which we were winning in the second -- you can't play like that. You can't worry about injuries. You've got to play football. And really Deondre was the only injury we had in the whole game, believe it or not. We didn't have any other things, missed practices or anything, which was pretty shocking. Usually you have more per game than that. But that's football; you can't worry about that.

Q. How do you tailor your offense to show what Blackman does well or his comfort level and knowledge of the offense at this point?
JIMBO FISHER: Well, he's been through the whole camp. He's got the whole repertoire of things, and we'll do the things we have to do to win the game but we won't change. We're who we are, and we run the same plays, and he's ran the same plays in practice. As our backup, he's gotten all the reps there, too, so we're probably about a 60/40 split in practice, so he's gotten tons of reps when it goes to that, so we'll feature the things that we need to do in the game plan and go, and we'll do what we do.

Q. Does the second-guesser in you kind of -- do you toss and turn for days thinking, geez, why do I still have Francois in the game?
JIMBO FISHER: Heck no. We're down at six minutes to go with three scores. We move the ball, you get a score and an onside kick, heck no. You still see Tennessee -- the UCLA game? They came back. They'd have packed it in. We had plenty of time. You had a quick drive right there, you're right back in the football game playing. Heck, don't even think about that. We're still competing to win the game.

Q. Just wondering how James has practiced the past couple days and what you liked and not liked about him so far?
JIMBO FISHER: Well, what we actually do in our game plan, we'll do our 3rd down red zone stuff today. Very comfortable with what he's done, throwing the ball well, made good decisions, practiced well.

Q. I know you said during the press conference Monday that Gabe Gross was your last true freshman starter. Anything that you learned even though that was a long time ago that you might apply to this situation?
JIMBO FISHER: I think any first-time starters you learn how you've got to call the game for. The key is do what they can do well in relationship to your offense. There are some things that they have to do and we have to do to win the game, and you put it in and let them execute and let the guys around them function and play well and let them go. But you learn about every instance, whether it's a true freshman or a redshirt freshman or whatever, just his knowledge level, where he's at, and coach him appropriately.

Q. Last year you talked about how after Derwin got hurt it took a while for players to adjust without him out there. I'm wondering how you feel like the team will react now with Deondre out, if they've maybe learned how to handle an injury like that given they went through it last year with Derwin?
JIMBO FISHER: Well, I think that does help, but the other thing, when Derwin was hurt, Derrick Nnadi was hurt, Josh Sweat was hurt, we had somebody else, there was another guy in there that was injured, too. We had three or four other guys that went along with that, too, which also magnified that. But when you've got to learn, the next guy up, you move on, and it happens, but hopefully they learned from that. But I think last year's situation was a little bit different in that we had other guys really banged -- I mean, they played, but they were really not the same guys, either. Hopefully we have learned from that, and it'll get better.

Q. I'm curious what impressed you most off that Alabama defense?
JIMBO FISHER: They're all good players. They're coached very well, just like you see on film. They play great leverage on the ball, they play well, and they've got good players, and I mean, everything about them impresses you. You know you're going to be in a dogfight, and you have to maximize opportunities, and we had opportunities in the game, we just didn't maximize them, but they're extremely well-coached, they're physical, they're big, they can cover. They're a very good team.

Q. And one final question about that Alabama team. Jalen Hurts, what are your thoughts after seeing Jalen, what he brings to the table?
JIMBO FISHER: Oh, he's a heck of a player. I mean, the guy, he can throw it, he can run it. He's a great leader. He's been in battles, been in situations. He's one of the best players in college football, there's no doubt.

Q. Talk about this game on Saturday, now it's a noontime kickoff, it was supposed to be 7:00. With this storm coming up, how is everybody up there in Tallahassee and how is the preparation for that game?
JIMBO FISHER: Oh, preparation is good. Everything is fine here. We're getting a little bit of rain here today, but where our thoughts are are hopefully with those folks and that hurricane. But it won't affect us until much later in the week, they're just trying to get it for some of the families to be able to get in and get out of here. We've got to change, there's a lot of things that are very important, and which a game is very important, but also people's lives and things like that are, too. But our practices are going well, and we're ready to go.

Q. Looking at Louisiana Monroe, what do you see on film? Are they a good team for Saturday?
JIMBO FISHER: Oh, they are very good. Defensively they're multiple. Lots of blitz looks, six, seven guys they'll bring at a time, a lot of five-guy blitzes. Offensively they spread the field. That quarterback is athletic, can run, make throws, and they always have skill guys. They've got a couple big linemen that are good-sized. They're a very good football team.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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