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September 20, 2017

Jimbo Fisher

Greensboro, North Carolina

JIMBO FISHER: Looking forward to playing this weekend. It's been quite a while, 21 days, and our kids in practice practiced pretty well. Just got to go out and play well. They are anxious to play a game.

Now, we play a great team right off the bat. This team is a very good team, NC State. Tremendous defense with experience in their front sevens. Safeties tackle, big, physical guy, corners long and athletic. Punter is an excellent player. Great kick return game.

Hines does a great job offensively, the quarterback, Hines, and Samuels, all those guys make great plays. Do a great job with their zone scheme up front and very multiple in what they do. Going to have one heck of a challenge.

This is a very good football team that plays well, puts a lot of points on the board, very tough to go against defensively, and going to have to have our hands full so we're going to have to play very well. But at least we get to play an opponent, that's for sure and looking forward to getting going. Questions?

Q. How beneficial is it to have a running back like Jacques Patrick in the backfield with a true freshman quarterback?
JIMBO FISHER: Well, anytime you've got experience anywhere and guys have played in games. Remember Jacques Patrick has been extremely productive in the three games he started before the season, and you know, played very well. The first game, we were getting back to the running game, we had those mistakes and guys out of our plan and where we were going with things. He's playing very well. I like what he does and does a great job for us.

Q. What can he do to help James in his first start?
JIMBO FISHER: Well, I mean, one, it's a calming effect to have somebody out there that's been through this. Hopefully our running game, we're blocking well; we can run him and get him in great down and distances and stay ahead in the clock -- I mean, the chains, as far as being able to be positive and not put yourself in long yardage situations. And the experience he has in pass pickups, all the different things as far as his experience in running and playing in games. I mean, just overall experience in general really help him.

Q. With the long layover, what are you looking to see out of your team this week? Do you get a sense they are getting pretty antsy and looking forward to playing again? Are you worried about rust? What's the approach this week?
JIMBO FISHER: Oh, everything. I mean, you're worried about all that. Nobody's ever been through this. They never went 21 days without playing before. Went a week or so and had games canceled, but never had that.

So in that regard, yes, you worry about rust. Can it be like an opener? Yes? Could it not be? Yes. All you can control is how you practice and your mindset going into the game, looking forward to playing well and being able to execute what you do and that's what we've got to be able to do.

Q. Do you feel the layoff has been a plus for your young quarterback's preparation?
JIMBO FISHER: Yeah, I definitely think he's taken advantage of it, there's though doubt. He's done a great job of understanding the nuances of the offense, a lot more details of it, more things that go on and getting more comfortable with the players, no doubt.

Q. Your offensive line obviously had a great challenge against Alabama and another one against NC State. How do you feel like they played in that first game, and how can that help him going against this group they are going to be playing on Saturday?
JIMBO FISHER: I thought we played a very solid game offensively on the offensive line. I thought we ran the ball when we did run it, and I thought the pass protection for the most part was really good. We gave him time to make plays and make throws and I think the experience really helps.

I'm looking forward to them playing well. Any team on offenses, then the offensive line plays well, it's a much easier game to execute and let your skill guys do the things they do.

So hopefully they are going to continue to play well, but again, they have a huge challenge in front of them.

Q. What has practice been like in terms of the offense. And what's your gut feeling say going into this one about what you expect to see from those guys?
JIMBO FISHER: Well, hopefully execution. We practice hard. We practice well. We've done a lot of good on good, which we always do, anyway. Got a lot of fast ball look. This week, got the scout looks and the things that go on.

So I'm expecting them to execute, and I hope that's what we do: Take care of the football, execute and be able to move that football and score points in the red zone, convert on third down. I mean, the things that we always do. We still practice the same way with our in situations and everything that goes on.

Q. I just asked Dabo this and figured I'd ask you this, too. If you have a power to tweak one NCAA rule, anything you wanted, which one would you kind of mess with?
JIMBO FISHER: Oh, wow. I'd have to spend some time to think about that. There's quite a few things that you wish that were different. But I'd have to think about it. I don't have an answer for you.

I'd have to really think about that as you go into it. Because the rules are constantly changing on how things happen, what's recruiting, what's not recruiting. There's rules on the field, how they call things or how they do things, that I think need tweaked -- that don't help the officials. And I think they will agree to it, too, just how they do certain things. I mean, it's not their fault. They have to call the game by the rules.

The recruiting rules, some of those are getting really tough, the way the signing period is and the visits in the spring. I think all those things were very good intent but not well thought out and is going to be extremely hard on coaches.

Q. I've heard a lot of coaches throughout the years talk with young quarterbacks, and a big thing is making sure they don't try and do too much. How have you impressed upon Blackman that he doesn't have to try and win the game by himself on Saturday?
JIMBO FISHER: I say that to an experienced quarterback. No quarterback has to try to win the game. You have to play the game and make decisions based on what you have and the information that you have in front of you and be accurate with the ball, and at the same time be aggressive.

At the same time, if you say, we don't have to make plays when you're telling them not to play; I don't have like to say that. What I like to say is: Trust your eyes and make the right decision. When you make the right decisions, good things happen; whether it's run or pass, and be accurate with the ball and be safe with the ball. Be aggressively intelligent with the ball -- if we can get it or no one else can get it, and trust your eyes. Because I think when you talk from a negative thing, don't try to win the game, well, maybe there's plays there that you can make. I mean, there's no limitation. But at the same time, just make good decisions. So it's about choices to me.

Q. You talked about the 21-day layoff and not really having the frame of mind. Have you treated this like a Bowl game, like your last games in December, and then you've got to go 21 days, or is this just an animal you've never had to deal with?
JIMBO FISHER: Well, we didn't know we had 21 days. So we couldn't do that. We didn't know we had 21 days until up until the end of it. I mean, it wasn't a thing like you knew this was a planned out deal. We had to prepare. We were all the way up till Thursday night before we were going to play ULM. We had game planned and practiced, and then we realized -- we didn't know until the beginning of the next week we weren't going to play Miami. So we had three or four practices there and did some things and had to get ready for a game.

It's not like a Bowl game. It's nowhere close because of, you know what's going ahead of you, and you've been through a whole season where your team is at, what it does well, what it doesn't do well. At the beginning of the season and not knowing you are having a 21-day layoff, it's totally different.

Q. What's the biggest question mark you've got going into Saturday?
JIMBO FISHER: Oh, I don't have any one big question mark. It's just we've got to get ready to play and hope we practice well and prepare well. There's no one thing that you say -- coaches, we worry about everything, whether it's offense, defense, special teams, whatever it may be, and especially when you've had this kind of layoff.

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