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October 7, 2017

Jimbo Fisher

Tallahassee, Florida

Miami - 24, Florida State - 20

JIMBO FISHER: It was a heck of a football game. It came down to the end. They made one more play and got the one inch they needed to get the touchdown and do the things which they needed to do.

So I told our players, like I said, there's no reason to hang your head. You competed your tail off. That was a classic game. That was a great game. They're a good team. We're a good team. They made one more play. We got to find ways to do that.

We had some opportunities in the first half on offense. Stalled around the 40, 45 on some things. But you play good teams, that happens. We battled. They won the third quarter. We turned around and battled right back in the fourth quarter and had some great jobs.

James just made a couple poor decisions out there. Coming out in the second half, lost his composure -- not composure. Just did a couple things, didn't see it right, but then regrouped and did a great job moving the ball back down the field, did a heck of a job putting us in a position to win.

Our defense made plays the first half, was outstanding. Second half, we gave up a couple third and longs, and then they picked one up there at the end and had a two-minute drive. They played their tails off. Those guys played hard, both sides. Kicking game did a nice solid job. It was just a great football game, and they made one more play.

There was opportunities on both sides for plays to be made, and at the end, that's what happened. So we'll live with it.

But I was proud of our team. I still think we really grew today in a lot of ways, got better. Still 1-3. I understand that. But at the same time, we're getting better. They're still a good football team, and I think it was a great season out there to be had.

Looking forward to having a great week of practice. Put this one behind us in 24 hours and get ready to go play a very good Duke team on the road. So we'll get ready to play.

Q. Jimbo, were you surprised that they were going in there at the end? Were you trying to set it up so they couldn't get closer for a field goal?
JIMBO FISHER: No, that didn't surprise me. Playing press, and you had to run it. Yeah, you couldn't give up a field goal. We played man-to-man. We got great DB. We played them the whole game and did a great job. They made one more play than we did. We broke up a bazillion of them.

You sit back there and then you get on the defense and say why are you giving them the field goal? You got to go play. You got to rush, which we did, and they made a great throw and catch. I mean, you've got to play. If you get a sack right there or something that knocks them completely out of field goal range, or you let them throw one in the end zone, which they did on cover two, and zone sometimes under pressure, that's hard too. We put our best corner, who's a great player, and their guy made a great play.

Q. You had four drives in the first half across the Miami 40 yard line and came away with three points.
JIMBO FISHER: That's what I said. We've got to execute better. We didn't execute a couple times, and they made a couple plays. They knocked the ball away and stopped us. That's what it was. We were up 3-0 at halftime and didn't come out the second half.

Q. Jimbo, the defense shut them down first half. Second half, they scored 24. Was it an adjustment?
JIMBO FISHER: No, I mean, gave up two third and longs. Gave up a third and long on the first drive. Then we had a turnover. James just made a poor decision. Had the guy on the flat wide open for about a 12-yard gain and just tried to force the ball down the field. They got momentum. Then we battled back and forth. And we came back and did a great job, scored 10 unanswered.

We were down 10-3, got to 13. Then they -- what did they do? We busted a coverage. We're in man coverage and just turned the guy loose in the flat. Guy had him, had his eyes on him, took his eyes off him, caught the ball, ran down the sideline, and they were able to go in and score.

Then we have a great drive to go back. They executed on a third and ten, I think. First two downs, we batted the ball. Then they got a third and ten and converted it. Then popped a run or two, and then got the drive.

Then momentum gets going. Momentum and games change. It's a different game than the first game with momentum. You're taking more chances at the end. You're laying it out there. You're going because the game's on the line. And they made a couple plays.

Q. Jimbo, just the difference in the offense in the first and the second half. A lot more production in the second half. Is that just James settling down?
JIMBO FISHER: Exactly. You got a young guy playing in there. Also, we missed some -- I mean, had some run opportunities right there, just an inch short. If we make four or five more yards on that drive, we've got a chance to kick field goals, and our defense is playing great. Could have maybe tried a couple more field goals. Why? We could have pinned them back. Our defense was playing great and won the field position and thought we would get back there.

That's just the way it is. We made a couple more plays the second half. He made a mistake early in the second half, which was critical. At the same time, we had a guy right there wide open, but he just made a poor choice. But we were very proud the way he kept -- for a young guy to keep his composure and able to bounce back and lead us on two touchdown drives and make two touchdown throws.

Had a chance on the first one too. He just got a little pressure the first half. He was going to the right guy but got pressured and had to throw it early. He's growing and making great plays.

Q. Jimbo, what was your message to your team after this game?
JIMBO FISHER: Keep your head up. I'm very proud of them. We grew a lot more in this game than we did the last game or in two games. The way we competed, the way we came out and made plays -- that was a good football team we just played. We played and played our tails off and got better. The guys, as I say, grew up.

Some of the younger players -- Cam had 100 yards, Blackman had a great game. Auden was playing banged up. Had Izzo going in the passing game. I'm very proud of those guys on offense and defense, keep our heads up, and we'll have a heck of a year before it's over with. We'll end up playing really well at the end of the year. We played really well down this stretch. I thought it was a great game, and I felt very comfortable with them after the game.

We didn't make all the plays. They made one more. But at the same time, there's no reason to hang your head after that football game. We're sad. We're disappointed. There's no doubt. But we will play.

Q. What can you guys learn from this the hard lesson?
JIMBO FISHER: You got to fight for the inches. You got to make one more play. Got to make one more play.

Q. Do you feel better about this team the way it competed today?
JIMBO FISHER: I did. There ain't no lay down on this team. This team is competing their tails off. We've got to learn to play smarter, and we got to take advantage of those opportunities. Keep executing right there. You've got some young guys in situations. That ain't no excuse. There ain't no excuses. You either get it done or you don't. But we got to continue, and we'll keep doing it. I'll coach them better. It's my fault. Put it on me.

Q. What did you guys do -- seemed like the last two touchdown passes, guys were pretty open. What did you guys do scheme-wise, Izzo and those guys?
JIMBO FISHER: We moved some things. James started relaxing and seeing the field. We had some things earlier. All of a sudden, it came. It started opening up, and he started seeing it. He's a young guy. Seeing a lot of different blitzes and different things. A game, you'll get into it like that. All of a sudden, it starts to slow down. It slowed down for him, and he started making decisions and getting the ball where it had to get to.

Q. Did it ever cross your mind, when he was struggling, to make a change?
JIMBO FISHER: There's thoughts, but it's still a one-possession game. That's the way you've got to grow. Why pull a guy when it's a one-possession game? It's his game.

Q. Also the second fourth quarter comeback that he's led this team.
JIMBO FISHER: He's had two game-winning drives to take us down and have a chance to win. He keeps growing. Has a chance to be a good football player.

Q. Auden seemed like -- look on the sideline, and it seemed like he was hurting.
JIMBO FISHER: That's part of it. Deondre played all last year with the same thing. He is too. Did a great job. When you have a shoulder like that, you'll rest it during the week, and you'll play. There's going to be bumps and bruises.

At the end of a long game, it's going to be tough on him. He went in and made the plays he had to do. He's a mature guy and doing a heck of a job.

Q. On that final drive, the refs actually had to force him to come out of the game. He comes back in and makes the touchdown catch.
JIMBO FISHER: Nobody forced anybody. He was hurting. He could have kept playing. That's part of football. They brought him out. He got his composure and had a drink of water and came back in. He's competitive. He's tough.

Q. How did you feel at halftime? You kind of outplayed them --
JIMBO FISHER: That's what I just said. We're up three points. Ain't no sense. We're up by a possession. Let's go out, get a stop, and play. Then we gave up the big third down. Big third down, and they got it, and they got momentum.

Not bad, knowing that we had some opportunities, but at the end of the day, we were still ahead. Let's go back, play this half, and play our tails off. We made some adjustments in what we did and moved the ball even better in the second half.

Q. Any update on Keith Gavin and Trey Marshall?
JIMBO FISHER: No, I won't know.

Q. What do you think has been the biggest key really for Ricky, who really got going on the field goals?
JIMBO FISHER: Just staying, not getting bored. It's about repetition. The right step, the right foot, the right angle. And you say that, and you're like, not getting bored and not taking anything for granted and being able to repeat something over and over and over again. That's what a kicker does.

He has good steps, good timing, keeping his head down. His foot is hitting at the right distance from the ball. A kicker can be off that far and make it look like it's ten yards off. And he's being very consistent. As I say, not getting bored with doing something over and over and over.

Q. Jimbo, how hard is it to beat a team eight times in a row?
JIMBO FISHER: Especially if they're a good team, they're very tough. We had opportunities to do it. We sure could have done it today, but they made one more play. They did a good job.

Q. Going into conference, could you just elaborate on what your team will focus on.
JIMBO FISHER: Same thing what I just said. Just make a few more inches. Keep playing consistent. Keep getting better. Keep playing together in all three phases and get the critical stops and drives when we have to.

Momentum swings, we're handling that better. We're doing a better job there. Learn to keep building on the momentum.

Q. Jimbo, you said that Cam -- last week you said that Cam needed to work on not trying to score a touchdown on every play. It seemed like he really took that to heart.
JIMBO FISHER: On the north side, we worked hard on that during the week. Taking runs and making three yards, six yards, eight yards. Being patient and pounding up in there, and then they kept breaking out. You got to keep doing it. With that size and strength, he'll break tackles, especially later in the game as the game goes on.

Q. Do you think fans get frustrated with the slow start? Any kind of message you send them?
JIMBO FISHER: Keep cheering. Listen, those kids are playing their hearts out. We'll coach them better. Blame it on me. Keep being there for them. They're playing their tails off. Had a great opportunity with a great NC State game, a great Miami team, and an Alabama team. We played three really good teams. We got to learn to play better. Keep coming. Keep playing.

What's the message? I mean, you don't want to come watch them? I understand you're getting frustrated. I'm frustrated. We all get frustrated when we don't have success, but we line up and go again. That's what you do when you support something. Keep supporting us, and we'll end up having a good year.

I love our fans. Our fans were great today. They had a great atmosphere, great environment. I understand where they're coming from, and I don't blame them. I'm with you. We're used to winning all those little games. We're finding ways in the inches now, and we've got to make one more play.

Q. Akers and Patrick, they both had great games. Rushed for over 200 yards as a team. What does that say about your offensive line?
JIMBO FISHER: They're doing a really good job. They're pounding that ball up in there. We run block well. A couple of pass block things, and we've got to do a little better job in pass protection issues and what we're doing, but we're getting better. They were banged up and bruised up and played a heck of a defensive line, and we ran the ball really good.

If you take the losses out of there and some of the sacks -- because in college football, your rushing yards get taken off your sacks. You know what I'm saying? How many sacks did they have? Four? How many yards? You had sacks. Where is that stat at? Sacks, about 23 yards. Add 23 to your rushing. I mean, 23 more rushing yards than they had then. Pro football, those come off your passing yards. College football, they come off your rushing yards.

Q. Jimbo, early in the fourth quarter, you called a time-out right before Blackman threw that pitch out to Izzo. How important was that, especially when Blackman almost threw a pick there, on that first play before that?
JIMBO FISHER: That was really good. He just misread a coverage there. Young guys -- you don't want to start opening up, but when they do, one hairy thing when guys start mixing coverages, you have to be careful and pick your spots. Now he's growing more and more, and we feel comfortable giving him more and more. He made a great read on the next one. Got his composure back and made a great read on that play.

Q. (No microphone) how he responds?
JIMBO FISHER: He responds really well. He's fun to coach. I love being around him, and he understands it.

Q. Kind of seems like he flipped a switch?
JIMBO FISHER: Yes, that's what I'm saying. You start to see the game. These guys have played three football games. He's 18 years old. He never read side adjust, never read blitzes, never read -- I mean, all the things he's doing through and the composure he's going through, he's growing. I mean, he's maturing right in front of you.

That guy come down and made a throw on third and 15 right there and come down on a two-minute drive as an 18-year-old. He's growing. He makes mistake. He made a mistake on the first one. Throws a hitch out on the flat first play second half, they pick up 15 yards. Tried to make a big play right there but just made a poor decision.

But that's part of when you're young. To come back from that in the game, frustrated down and go make those plays, tremendous. He's just growing. It will gradually slow down more and more to him. The things that are happening, he saw a lot of different looks out there. He got the ball to tight end, hit backs, hit receivers. He found different ways to do it, and he's growing. We've got to continue to grow with him. We got to, on all our phases, just get better.

Q. (No microphone). And second half he kind of responded. Did you find yourself impressed by --
JIMBO FISHER: Yeah, he did. They're good coaches and good players. They did a good job. He made the throws. I think that big probably third and 20 got him going. He was able to hit another pass. Then we got a quick turnover, and all of a sudden the momentum comes. You know what I mean? They were in it, and it became a typical Florida State-Miami game.

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