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September 18, 2017

Jimbo Fisher

Tallahassee, Florida

JIMBO FISHER: Great to be back up with the game on the line. Good to be able to play somebody else. Guys have practiced, probably tired of practicing, but we've got to have a great week of preparation.

We play an outstanding football team this week in NC State. They've played outstanding this year. Defensively, extremely experienced front seven with a lot of experience. Seems like they're playing the same seven guys the last three years. Front is very good, have good depth in their linebackers. Very rarely take a false step, stay on their keys. Secondary guys are big and long. Front guys strong. Run and play extremely well in every phase of the game.

A great option team this week, confirming how disciplined they were when they played. Did a great job there. Marshall scored a couple early, and we were able to shut them down. Marshall had very good skill guys.

Offensively, the quarterback is playing lights out. I mean, he can flat play. He's completing over 75% of his passes. Can really play.

Jaylen Samuels is the epitome of a football player. He can play everywhere, do everything -- catch, run, block, throw. There's nothing he can't do. Receiver 7 can just flat run, whether he returns it, whether he runs it, anything, can make plays just all over the dadgum field. He plays tailback. He's a shorter guy but very stocky and strong. Almost 195, 200 pounds. He can right arm tackle. Hard to get down on. He can run routes, get the ball in space.

Offensive line do a great job up front with the zone blocking schemes. Just a really good football team. Special teams punter can average over 43 yards. Their kickoff, they broke the kickoff last week, so they're doing a great job with special teams. They're getting ready to play us. A lot of Florida kids on their team, and they play very well. A heck of a matchup coming off the long layoff, and they're going to have to play really, really well to have a chance to compete right there and play with them.

Again, I like how we practiced. I think we're ready to play,so we've just got to go out and play.

Q. (Indiscernible) last year that played you guys in college. What do you kind of remember about the way -- what improvement do you think you could do different?
JIMBO FISHER: Last year they did a great job of keeping the ball. They converted on third down, made some plays. Won the field position battle. We started most drives backed up. We had long fields to go most of the game, almost every drive. We had big drives when we had it. Didn't have it as much.

Defense really played well in the second half. They got up in the first half and then we had some big drives in the second half. We had a big critical drive to go down and win the game. They played the run real well. They defend well. They don't give up a lot of big, big plays. Like I said, the quarterback is very smart, very athletic, can run when he has to, knows where he's going with the ball. They did a great job. They moved the ball, converted third downs. I think we're 8 of 16 on the day for third downs last year. Had some third and longs, did a great job.

Q. Do they need to do anything to catch up on missed practices? By the end of the week, had the same number of practices you had ordinarily?
JIMBO FISHER: I'm missing what you're saying. Like during the week?

Q. Just the time you've been idle, have you been able to catch up on the number of practices?
JIMBO FISHER: We're probably down a couple. We got four in last -- we got three good ones last week. A shortened one on Thursday and even a shortened, shortened one on Friday because we came back at noon just to simulate getting up and having a pregame at 8:00, playing at noon, and doing all those things. Tried to get them as ready as we could there.

Probably down one or two overall. We're in good shape from playing the number of games we've played..

Q. That said, even though James didn't get a chance to have those reps against Louisiana Monroe, I guess, and Miami, what has he done in the time you've had in practice meetings or whatever to get to the point to where he's ready? What have you liked about his preparation time?
JIMBO FISHER: We go against good-on-good every day. We go good-on-good against our defense every day. That's as good as you're going to go against anybody in this country, one of them anyway. We go good-on-good in inside drills, team, seven on. So he throws against the fast ball and then gets the scout look. It's game-like situation, which we always do. Move the field type things. He's gotten a lot of fast ball looks against good people. Blitz looks, tons of blitz looks against good people. Every blitz you can think of, and he's done a really nice job.

Q. Last week Derwin said that Samuels kind of reminded him of the offensive version of him. Do you see some similarities?
JIMBO FISHER: That's a great analogy. It really is. That shows you how aware -- why you like Derwin so much as a player and why he's so good because he can recognize other people who see the game. Because to do the things that Samuels does, it's not only great physical skills there, there's great mental skills, great intelligence to be able to play to different positions, understand how to play them and play them so effectively and run different route combinations and touch the ball so many different ways and block. That's a great analogy by Derwin.

Like I said, the epitome of Samuels to me, to me it's the ultimate compliment, the guy's a football player. He can do anything.

Q. Jimbo, after having the first game and then the last couple weeks of practice, how is the running back rotation looking? Has anybody started to shake out?
JIMBO FISHER: It's fine. Played one game, and those guys are all in the same rotation they've been in. Getting better. A lot less mistakes, little things. Those younger guys keep getting better and better. We're exactly where we're at.

Q. Jimbo, you've been complimentary of Ryan Izzo this entire season, preseason. You talk about the little things he does. What are examples of types of things he does?
JIMBO FISHER: How he releases on a route. How he'll chip, chip his way out, and know how to help a tackle when he's not a free releaser, and be able to set an edge and help a double-team guy and slow the rusher down, how to own a combo block, make him read, on his pulls, on his counters, on his zone, on his backsides. Be able to move him around in different ways, whether you flex him out, play him on the ball, play him off the ball. Block a 280-pound guy. Block a 175-pound guy. Run routes.

He had a really good game in the game the other night. He had three great catches in that game, two-minute offense which we look really good at. The first half, we were out standing in that game offensively. He was a big part of things you don't even see, like the chips on a block, how he's reaching up on a stretch block, how to take the edge off that end and help the tackle before his backer gets to him, the backer's out and how he'll leave it. Just a great presence of mind around him how to play the game. The more he can help, the more he can help.

Q. I'm sure a guy like that helps out any type of quarterback, but to have a true freshman, a younger guy, any benefit to the tight end? You hear the adage.
JIMBO FISHER: A guy who knows what to do, how to take edges off, how to help in protection, can protect when he has to. Different scenarios like that. No doubt. No doubt.

Q. Kind of staying with Ryan and the tight ends, what growth have you seen from them so far this season? But also, I mean, is it getting to a point where you're starting to incorporate the passing game?
JIMBO FISHER: You keep saying growth of the game. We've only played one game, guys. We played a great first half but didn't play a good second half. That's why we're anxious to get back on the field. Ryan has been that way the whole way. We've got the young guys -- McKitty and those guys are coming on and getting better in what they're doing, and Mavin is starting to come back around. He was struggling in camp, just off a little bit. But he's coming around and getting ready to play. Having two tight ends is really big.

Q. As it's often said in the pro game, tight ends can be a quarterback's best friend. When you look at what Ryan does and what Mavin can be, are you starting to sense they can be that James, or whoever is behind center, can --
JIMBO FISHER: Absolutely. We really could use them, get shorter routes, ball control.

In the pro game, it's actually -- I know it sounds crazy. Sometimes it's easier in the pro game because they don't get banged as much as they do in the college game because you can bang them and hold them and do things.

Those guys are big friends. Like Nick O'Leary was, Jameis always, you know big completion to certain things, he found that one-on-one. Mavin is developing into that with his athleticism and things he's got.

Q. Jimbo, what did you do the last two Saturdays? Did you get to watch any games?
JIMBO FISHER: I didn't watch many. I was with my kids. Took Ethan fishing on Saturday. Spent time with him and went out on a little boat, little john boat, spent all day in the sun and let him fish. I don't get to be with them.

Watched Trey Friday night and spent time with him watching game film on Saturday he wanted to show me. And then took Ethan fishing and got a little bit of game in on Saturday. Not much at all. Spent most of the time with my family.

Q. This is the first time, since I don't know, maybe in middle school when you didn't have consecutive Saturdays where you play football. Did you get antsy?
JIMBO FISHER: Last week was a little different because of the hurricane. I mean, the week before, we were getting ready for the hurricane. That was just crazy working around the house and making sure everything was secured up. This week was like that and just spent time with my kids. I'd rather do that than anything in the world. I see enough football. Football can wait.

Q. I know you've said before there's a lot of improvement between Game 1 and Game 2. Can that still be the case, or is it almost like an opener again?
JIMBO FISHER: We'll find out. I've never had to do this. It's new on me, too. Listen, all you can do is control what you can control. Practice well, prepare well, know what you're going to do and go play. Nobody knows anything after that. I think we practiced well. I think we know what we're doing, and we've just got to go play well.

Q. Coach, I mean, you said that you didn't get too antsy over these last two Saturdays. Are you getting the sense your players are now getting antsy just waiting for another chance to play?
JIMBO FISHER: I'm sure they are. Like I tell them, don't worry about the things you can't control. We all are. We all want to play. It feels weird to know that other people are playing and you're not playing. There's no doubt about that.

But as far as the other, hey, no sense to get upset about it. It is what it is, and you've got to play what you play. Like I said, it was for a reason. It was a lot bigger than football. And there's still a lot of families that are still suffering and have things going on with them that we know they're still trying to get helped out and throughout this state. To me, that's the important thing.

Now that we're back in ball, maybe we can give some of those folks a few hours of pleasure when they get to watch us play, and sometimes that's a good relief of coming back, that normality is coming back.

Q. Some people might look at the roster and look at James, he's 6'5", 169, and kind of get a little fixated on that. Are you concerned in any way about James physically being able to hold up to --
JIMBO FISHER: He played the highest levels of ball through high school and did as well as any of the other guys. How big was Lamar Jackson when he came out? He wasn't much bigger than that. Wasn't 180 or more. He could run. He was athletic. He played out of Belle Glade. He's been hit. He's been knocked around. He's been beat up. He's a tough guy. He can play at a high level.

Size like that, sometimes guys like that are the guys you can't ever hurt. Sometimes they are. He's played at a high level. If I thought that, I wouldn't have thought he could play here, you know what I mean? This kid can run, play, competitive, tough. You play at Belle Glade, come out of that high school system, you're a competitor. You've got some toughness to you.

Q. What stands out about Bradley Chubb on film?
JIMBO FISHER: Athletic, long, relentless, can rush the passer. Great two-way, go guy. Not afraid to beat you. If you ever set him, he'll go inside, can play with power, can run in space. When he drops, they drop their ends a lot in coverage and different things, bring different blitzes, for a big 275, 280 pound guy, he can drop and cover and curl on a flat and dig and do different things inside.

Q. Coach, with NC State's front seven, I think they're all seniors, all returning starters.
JIMBO FISHER: They've been there forever. I go back over film for two, three, four years, it's the same dudes.

Q. Reminds me a little bit of Michigan. It was interesting how they were freakishly experienced.
JIMBO FISHER: And the linebackers, too. It makes a difference. A guy -- that's what I keep trying to tell folks in today's ball game. You get young, talented players and they are, and they're super freaky, but every now and then they'll go the wrong way. There are guys that are always in the right gap. They're linebackers. They see the back side pull. They're always where they got to be. They're a step ahead. That experience at the linebackers and up front, I mean, how they fit -- knowing the defense, when I got the B gap, if one guy goes wrong, how the backer will fit and make the other guys right.

Those little things that you just can't see, when you watch the tape as a coach, I mean, I see it. They play so well together. I mean, they're really a good group, and they're physical.

Q. In terms of special teams the last couple of weeks, what have you been able to do or practice to fix things?
JIMBO FISHER: Everything. A lot of everything. A lot of good-on-good people and kickoff returns and punt and punt returns. Everything. Make guys punt under pressure, bringing the top guys. If you ain't in the first team punt team, you're on the other side coming at them at full speed. Just like we do good-on-good with offense-defense. They get a ton of live looks. Hopefully, we've improved. We felt like we have.

Like I said, felt good going in. The things we did were knucklehead things, like getting split two wide and not putting your arm up. It wasn't they didn't know what to do or how to do it, we've got to coach them better and make sure they understand it every time. We've gotten good on fast ball looks, I know that. A bunch of them.

Q. How is Carlos Becker progressing?
JIMBO FISHER: Getting better. Still a day by day, by week thing. He did some work this weekend, but when they get back like that, they'll be sore. We'll judge how sore he is today when he's out there doing rehab stuff or if he gets any practice time.

Q. How did you guys come out last week injury-wise?
JIMBO FISHER: Good. We're all healthy. Is that it? Boring without a game, huh?

Q. Jimbo, I know you -- I don't know how much you got to watch Clemson-Louisville. But this conference early in the season, it seems like it's going to be wide open.
JIMBO FISHER: Oh, yeah, it's a great team. Great coaches, great teams. It's a tremendous conference. Great players. It's wide open. I got to see some of it when I got there in the evening because it was dark and it was getting -- we come off all that with the kids a little bit. Got in. Both teams at times looked really good. Both teams have really good players. But being a national game and national headline, very well deserved. Clemson played a heck of a game. At times Louisville did, had a couple chances to make plays and got calls against them and got back and changed that game. Clemson got on them, it looked like.

Q. What's it like watching film with your son?
JIMBO FISHER: Fun. I don't ever critique -- just show me what his reads are. I'm there being a dad. I don't like being a coach. He has a coach and a very good coach. Chris Price and those guys do a great job. I'll keep my nose out of it, but I'll watch film and maybe tell him something technique-wise or something like that every now and then.

He likes to talk ball with me. Like I say, I tell the poor kid he needs to do something else. He likes ball too much. We have good conversations. It's just fun to be a dad and get to watch him. Don't get to do that very often. It's a shame to get to do it with all these other kids and not your own. Got to find as much time as you can.

Q. With Finley completing such a high percentage of his passes, no turnovers, is tackling the biggest thing against them?
JIMBO FISHER: I think tackling and covering. You've got to contest throws. You've got to make the throws contested. You've got to make them put them in tight places. You've got to find ways to pressure, whether it's bringing blitzes or rushing without. The one thing he does a great job, he gets the ball out of his hands. He really gets it out quickly and finds matchups and really understands what he's doing. They do a good job with diversity and the things they do on offense. You've got to affect him coverage-wise, blitz-wise, but then sometimes be able to rush without that. Try to keep the down and distance on your side, which is very tough.

And he knows how to just -- one of them guys always finds three or four yards. People don't realize, it's a three-yard game. When you're at second and seven, do it again. Now it's third and four instead of third and seven, and that's a big difference. He's a really good player, and they know what they're doing.

Q. You were confident going into the Alabama game that Matthew Thomas would be okay even though he didn't have a lot of reps? Were you surprised at all how well he played? How have the last couple of weeks been for him?
JIMBO FISHER: Outstanding. It did not surprise me one bit. He was having an outstanding camp and figuring out what he does and how he does it. Just it's clicked and he's played enough. Got to play inside backer. He had to play there a while. He just hadn't played in a while in that position. He probably at times was a more natural outside guy, but now he's learned to be inside, and now he can do both, I think it's really beneficial. Like I say, his athleticism and speed and all that. Now he's learned how to trigger and be a downhill guy like an inside backer does.

People don't understand playing inside is a lot different than outside. You're a four-way traffic stop or six-way. Outside, you can see things coming from one side. It's a whole different deal. Now he's processing and understanding that, man. He's being physical and athletic. It's fun to watch.

Q. Jimbo, now that you got your byes out of the way, you're playing ten straight games. Just what are the benefits and maybe disadvantages of that?
JIMBO FISHER: I don't know. You can say you get tired. I think that's how you got to practice and got to gauge your team and got to get a feel. That's where as a coach you've got to judge those things and go there. Sometimes, if you have injuries, sometimes it doesn't allow you to heal up, though, if you don't have ten in a row. But at the same time, if you play well, you get hot. Heck, you don't want to take a break, you know what I mean? Hey, we need to find a way to play well and get in a groove and find out our identity and play Florida State football.

The thing about it is we've played a good half and a bad half. Now we need to go play.

Q. We talked about Bradley Chubb earlier. They have two other guys, Hill and Street, that also do a great job.
JIMBO FISHER: They've got Hill and Street, they got a whole bunch of them now. Street, we recruited the heck out of him. He's powerful. Can play the edge, can play the run. Hill is big inside. Can maul you inside.

Jones is another one, big and physical inside. They've got depth at those positions. Those guys play the run/pass. They're really good players across the board now.

Q. You talked about their front seven being together for so many years. Growing that kind of continuity, it just takes time to develop, and once you have it, you just kind of --
JIMBO FISHER: You know what to expect. It's like you know what the guy beside you is going to do, how he's going to do it when the call's there. If it's little nuances and subtle changes by looks and you can communicate that and do things. That's what people don't understand, man.

However they want to do it. That's the thing you've got to be able to match. He's big, he's physical, and he's strong. But at the same time he's very athletic and plays in space. Not many guys have great ball skills, not only short range ball skills but long range ball skills. I mean, judging the ball -- you can have a great back that catches the ball underneath that can't really judge it down the field. You know what I mean? It's like a guy being a great infielder and not a great outfielder. He can do everything. Boy, he's a good player.

Q. Jimbo, are you pleased with the way the guys are able to maintain their focus and intensity when the schedule gets disrupted?
JIMBO FISHER: For the most part. You can see some guys at times, you say, hey, you've got to refocus. They don't see the game. They're just practicing and practicing and practicing. They've done a good job. They've gotten after it really good. We've had really intense practices. I think both sides out there keep it competitive for each other. I mean, from what I've seen so far, we've done a pretty nice job.

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