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October 16, 2017

Jimbo Fisher

Tallahassee, Florida

JIMBO FISHER: After evaluating the film from Duke, as we look at our team, starting to get closer to the team to which we thought we could be and getting better. Envisioned that the thing where we're getting to. Offensively, developed much more of an identity. Ran the football extremely well in the game. Duke was seventh in the country, I believe, going in against the run, and we knew we wanted to establish the run.

I thought both our backs ran really well. Offensive line for the most part blocked on the run really, really well. I think on third down they were second in the country in giving up third downs, under 25 percent. We had one of our best days getting better on third down and establishing. We established right out of the gate with a good drive getting James off to a good start and the team off to a good start in the first drive; actually two drives. We had three drives with over 83 yards, four with ten plays or more.

But at the same time, we had to finish more. Should have been 34, 37 points on the board somewhere 34, 35, somewhere in that range, and then a shortened game. You only had really those eight possessions that regard. So it was more like a pro game, because their possessions were long, our possessions were long.

But at the same time, you got to finish better. We had a couple untimely penalties, a couple holding calls, and two guys on the ball. Hurt us in a couple situations. Need to finish on the big play a little better. Could have got in the end zone one time, but -- then missed a block down on the first drive of the second half. Started the first half very well, started the second half very well, long drive, in control of the game. Missed one block on those drives that set us behind.

But at the same time, defensively we played very well for the most part. Gave up a couple third and longs, one time on the third and 17, we lost contain. Got everybody covered down, got a loop stunt, just completely lost contain. He gets outside and then the scramble rolls and they make a throw down the field. We can't let that happen.

They gave up one drive, and our defense did a great job, I thought, on the second interception, we were throwing it away and got hit on sudden change when the game was tied, they did a great job. They punted it to us, and we did a heck of a job with a 90-something-yard drive, coming right back to win it. Two big third downs and James again grew up and made big plays, stood in there and took a couple of hits when he had to, but you have to on third and long.

Thought Logan Tyler was outstanding at punting the football. I thought he was a game changer in the deal and the way he did those things.

Again, Ricky had a nice solid day, had the short field goal and P.A.T. Thought we keep being consistent in the kicking game, doing a good job in that regard. Like I said, we're getting much closer, still a lot of things to work on. Need to put more points on the board.

Had a big play on defense, too, on the turnover. I thought on the trick play, we got back there, heck of a hustle by Rice breaking out the sack, we got the ball tipped and up in the air.

Again, winning on the road, nice win on the road, six wins on the road, getting better. Lots more efficiency when you grade the film and you go back and have corrections and mistakes, not half as many. Still got to equate into points, and we gotta translate that and that's the next step and I think we're headed in the right direction.

Q. You mentioned the efficiency needing to be better and needing to translate into points. What are things you can do better?
JIMBO FISHER: Like I said, we had two penalties. A first and ten on the 20 and got a penalty on the holding call. Had two guys on the ball, which I ain't going to touch that. We're down there to get points. I can look at the film and see.

And then we had running out the clock at the end. We had a 30-yard gain close to the 50. Eventually come down to a couple penalties. And then one bad decision by James; third down, he should have just go ahead and checked it down, took the field goal and got up 10-0 after the holding call, and that's about it. It's that simple. I mean it's that simple in what we've got to do.

Q. I know you said you didn't want to touch on it, but what was the call? What did they say happened? It seems like you don't think that happened.
JIMBO FISHER: They said a guy was covered up; we had an illegal guy downfield. One guy is a yard off the ball, and another guy is over a yard and a half off the ball.

Q. With those plays, though, I know you don't like to use the word frustrating, but it did seem in that game like you guys were close, 35, 38 points.
JIMBO FISHER: That's what I'm saying, it's there. But you still have to go do that. That's not close as in good enough. But the reason why the things are happening, they can see it, the vision, they come off. The consistency in drives. Third downs, we were 6 and 13, we were much better. Picked up third and long, picked up third and short, broke a third and short for a big one. Should have broke another one. If a receiver releases outside and runs off when the other one did, the other third and short that he popped out probably scores, the first drive of the second half.

And Noonie getting used to the ball more. The ball he gets on that side of the field, he's got to put it in the end zone. We haven't gotten him in the offense a lot. He hasn't gotten a lot of plays. When he gets to running and playing, you'll never get him on the ground in that. He was just so happy to get the ball out in space, like that hasn't happened for him in a while.

That's not a criticism of him. But as we get this going and we're getting very close and you hit those one or two little big plays and you get that executed -- like the first drive of the second half, we could have scored there. We had perfect plays, miss one block on second and seven and we have a guy wide open in the right corner of the end zone and we're going to him, the guy is blocking outside and slid off. He was down on the guy, physical and just slid off, that's where James got the sack in that regard.

There's a few inches. We've got to keep fighting for them. But the things are there, and we've got to do a better job in coaching them and putting them in that position and there. But it's very close. The efficiencies of running the football, the balance, runs, throws, mixing the ball around; every receiver caught it; backs caught it, tight end caught it, you know, different backs running it. The fullback got involved catching a couple of passes in the game. Vickers did a great job blocking, and he had a big catch for 20-some yards in the game. You're starting to see them evolve in that regard. But you've got to put points on the board.

Q. Jimbo, you held Duke to 10 points, but defensively, were you looking for more pressure up front, or was that the game plan --
JIMBO FISHER: We got pressure. One thing they do, they get it out. Now, there was a couple times, though, two or three times I thought we -- now, Sweat had a big hit. Burnsy hit the quarterback four times. Tell you what they did a good job of, they batted about four balls. They got penetration and got their arms up. I'd like to have a little more pressure, we gotta get some more internal pressure a little bit. Sweat had a big sack in the two minute and he got a big hit there one time on the third down, it was third and five, and the guy got hit just as he released, and Burns did too. But we're inches from getting a couple more negative play sacks that way. We've got to continue that and what we're doing and cover down a little bit better in the middle right there.

Cover our linebackers a couple times on the draw -- we've got to read the draw when they lead it and go collapse it, which we did in the second half. First half, that was what was getting us. They weren't reading the draw and collapsing it down and play the pass coverage a little bit better.

Q. How important is what Logan Tyler was able to do the last couple of weeks? He had a 60-yarder the other day.
JIMBO FISHER: Huge. We've looked hard, made live looks, made it go at it. He's worked on some technique things and just really grinding. He had been hitting the ball like that during spring and most of camp and had that one bad game the first one. Sometimes you get nervous, but now he's relaxed, and you can see the talent level which I love on him.

He has a game-changing leg. In other words, what I'm saying is can change field positions so easily with one kick. When you do that, man, it's huge.

Q. Jimbo, obviously, with what happened at Louisville last year, is this a game that your team and coaching staff is taking personally?
JIMBO FISHER: No. All games -- that game's over with. Different team, different place. You know what they're capable of. You know that guy that has the ball, that guy is the most dynamic player in college football, because when you do everything right, you can't get him sometimes. They're well coached; they do a great job. You don't take any of that personally. If you take it personally, then it gets in your head, and then you can't play; you make bad decisions. You've got to play the game with the team you have right now, with the team they have, and you've play the game to compete. They had a great game; they got us. Okay?

Let's line up and play this week, this year, look at the mistakes we made, look at the things we do, see what they do and apply it to our team and play.

Q. You guys have had a lot of success on the road recently. Do you attribute that success to anything specifically in your preparations?
JIMBO FISHER: I'll be honest, and as crazy as it sounds, you have less distractions for players. You get away. We leave -- by leaving on Thursday night, you get away. You get a great night's sleep. You get up and do academics all day, get all your academics done until noon that day. We have the tutors, we have everybody with them. They get as much or more done then than when you stay home because of the meetings and the way we have to do things.

So we do a great job there. You kind of sequester yourself together. You know why you're there. You're not out -- no friends, no people bothering you. I love playing -- I'd rather play here in Doak Campbell with all these fans and all that loud noise and all that good stuff, but at the same time, it does bring you together and your mindset and how you do things is huge. It really is.

Q. Jimbo, with Dickerson being out, starting Kelly there, and then put Ball out at tackle, how did those two guys do?
JIMBO FISHER: I thought Kelly had a good, solid game. He played well. Ball had some youth mistakes at times on his sets, got to set a little tighter, a little more vertical. Just anxious getting out wide, but blocked well, didn't have any penalties, got lined up. One twist guy came off on him, but for the most part, played a very solid football game for his first start. He's got a chance to be a really good player if he keeps it up. He's athletic and long.

Q. Have you ever coached against anyone quite like Lamar Jackson? What does he do that's so unique?
JIMBO FISHER: I mean, the complete ability to read and throw down the field and create long plays, throw it short. And then the complete ability not just to run or run over you, but I mean you can't get your hands on him. As I say, my term, like I say, he's deer-like, you know what I mean? That fast twitch that can just jump sideways. Like I tell him, I ain't never seen a deer be slow, ain't never seen a deer need to stretch. Whatever it needs to do, it just takes off and jumps, runs, does whatever, and that's kind of like he does. I mean he's right there, and all of a sudden you'll have him, and he has an instinct to move in a certain area, and you've got three guys around him, and all of a sudden they don't touch him. There's unique players like that. I tell you what he is, too, he's really tough and competitive. If you really watch that film, he's an excellent competitor and a very tough guy too.

Q. I know there haven't been many quarterbacks quite like him. Have you ever coached a receiver or a skill position player like that?
JIMBO FISHER: I've had some skill guys that are in that mold, that are that fast, or could be a little faster or twitchy like that. But they don't touch the ball every play and weren't able to throw it and make the decisions he does and all that. You'd have to say a Michael Vick type guy. I mean he's like Vick was back in the day. I remember all those great teams in the National Championship Game, I remember that whole defense they had there, there was a ton of first-round guys that couldn't touch him. If I remember, Virginia Tech was winning going into the fourth quarter, and a lot of it had to do with him, just trying to get him on the ground. Nothing against nobody, he's just one of those types of special athletes that comes around every so often.

Q. Hey, Jimbo. Talk about Louisville's defensive line. Last year when we played against them in Louisville, they kind of gave Francois a run for his money all day because he kept coming in different corners. Is that one thing we have to work on this week to protect the quarterback a little against Louisville?
JIMBO FISHER: We're going to have to. Now James Hearns goes right here in Lincoln, from right here in Tallahassee, does an excellent job on the end, big rangy, athletic; stands up, gets down, can rush. And Trevon Young, the other guy, athletic, long guys, man. They can rush and bend the edge inside with Richardson, Bailey, all those guys, Robinson. Those guys are all big, physical guys. And they've always got good players. Their front guys are big and long and look like our guys. They're athletic, and they're a really good team and play very physical. There's no doubt.

They put pressure, and like I say, Greenard leads them with 11 1/2 tackles for a loss. He leads them in sacks with five, No. 58, and he's listed as a backup. So you know when that goes, you're in trouble, when your backup has the most tackles for loss. He started versus BC, but in sacks, you're pretty good.

Q. I wanted to follow up. Third downs, I was looking at the stats from last year against Louisville. We were two for whatever. Is that something we have to work on better against this Louisville squad?
JIMBO FISHER: No, I want to stay there. (Laughs). That's something we're working at as a team which we got better at, spent a lot of time on. And here's the thing on third down, first and second down have a lot to do with third down. We all get on third down conversions, but we had three third and shorts last week, we converted, some third and five and six, and converted two big third-seven-pluses on that last drive, and we're getting better in all those areas, but we gotta make sure we're in makable situations. These guys can't just lay their ears back and kill us.

Q. Jimbo, with Lamar Jackson, was there anything that you took away from last year as far as better how to contain him coming into this game?
JIMBO FISHER: Yeah, see if you can get 13 guys on the field. Get an extra guy on either end and come off. That would be the best way to do it. (Laughs.

You've got to mix. You can't give him the same looks. He's got to have different looks. But at the same time, you get yourself out of position and we forget. It's all Lamar, Lamar, Lamar, and all of a sudden they've got good receivers, they've got good backs, tight ends. And Bobby know how to use those guys, so they feed off of that. They run the zone read, they run the counter with him. They run every run, a backward run with an extra blocker. So that makes it extremely difficult on how to play him, and he can run like that.

Q. Jimbo, did that game almost feel like an ambush at some point, because you guys -- nobody knew that Lamar would be quite what Lamar became. Earlier in the season, you guys had just lost Irwin James, and it just seemed like one of those perfect storms.
JIMBO FISHER: And it was a weird deal because if you remember, when it happened they scored early, but then we had rebounded and had a nice drive, and it was 14-10. Remember in the second quarter, we hit Auden Tate on about an 18-yard touchdown. It was 14-10 with about ten minutes...

And I knew they would be pumped up, because they had played two teams that were lesser teams, and that was their big team. And if you remember a couple years ago, Muhammad Ali was there and that whole night and it was a big deal to beat us, and we were able to come out there and have a heck of game with them, and that was a big game for the league. I knew they'd be juiced.

And then when we recovered from I would say the onslaught, you know what I mean, we matched their energy and then played really well and got to 14-10, and the next drive, you remember, there was a third and eight we had a ball tipped that we had a guy covered. Something crazy happened. I don't remember what it was. And they were able to pick up a third down and got it. Then all of a sudden, we had a missed assignment and turned the wrong way and knocked the ball out of our hands, if you remember right. That's all it was. We had scored two drives in a row, it was 14-10, and then they got a third down conversion somehow on a play that we should have had, and then they scored, and then the next play, I think we opened the wrong way on the fake, and the ball hit the back, and they fumbled and they got it back and scored.

All of a sudden, it just snowballed, and it was. Then it became special teams, and they fed off of it and they were prepared and did a great job. But they were ready to play, and I thought we had weathered that storm, and then we were just too young to handle it at that time, and it was a shame because they got an onslaught, and it shouldn't have been nothing like it was. Then we punted bad. Remember we hit a bad punt in the middle of the field and it came up short. They returned two big punts in that game. They hit us in all phases.

Q. You say it's two different teams; it's a different season, but you had a lot of kids that were on the field that day. As a coach, do you want them to remember what that was like?
JIMBO FISHER: Yeah, you remember what they're capable of, that this can happen, but, no, I've got to go prepare and play. I mean you see it every year. Who was I watching the other night? Somebody had played somebody and had an unbelievable game against them. As a matter of fact, it might have been Lamar and them against NC State. I remember the game he had against NC State and NC State plays their tails off against him the other night.

You've got to remember what that guy is capable of. You always know. I mean the fear -- it's like the famous heavyweight, when he fought George Foreman, no matter if you beat George Foreman, you'd better know that right hand, if he catches you with it, he's going to knock you out, you know what I'm saying? And you know with Lamar, you cannot let up any play, any section of anything they do because what this guy's capable, but you've got to go play. It's a new year, new team, and do what you do.

Q. Is that easier said than done with 20-year-old kids, though, to not get caught up in the emotion of it?
JIMBO FISHER: Nah, sometimes it is; sometimes it ain't. Sometimes the youth of it makes it better. The guys feel, hey, all right, you got me that time. It's like at the park, you beat me 11-0, okay, I'll come back and play and I'll beat you this time. You know what I mean? I'm going to compete against you. Not saying I'm going to win. Youth can also be very helpful, because young guys, when their pride gets hurt, they bounce back usually pretty good.

Q. Jimbo, Jacques is obviously running really well. How far has he come from when he was a freshman? That was something you had to harp on a lot.
JIMBO FISHER: It was, and just learning who he was as a back, the type of back he is. Just like we're doing with Cam right now, the type of runs you've got to make will lead to big runs. The thing Jacques is doing, too, the pass blocking, the chipping, all the different things, the route running, where he's got to be. There's so many things that go into the intricacies of an offense. We see the runs and that, but the timing -- I always say this. I always say offense is so hard to be consistently good at at times because of rhythm and timing. Ad he knows where to be on checkdowns, how to chip, where a guy's going to need help. He made a pickup the other day on that play that we hit Noonie on that there was a twist inside. I mean it's an unbelievable twist, and we got picked. The guy came around. After the block, he's taught, because of that look, to check the A gap before he goes out. He checks it, here comes a guy free, hits the guy right in the mouth, and we're able to stand up and throw that ball to Noonie and pick it up.

I mean it's things that people never see that made that play going. It's not just the running and things. I mean it's just all the little things, how you got to help out. It's like, when you're helping your neighbor. Hey, I need a little help here with trimming this tree, and you don't do much, but you go over and just hold something that allows him -- the things to function. He's doing so many of those things, it's crazy.

And what's better, he takes pride in it. He takes a lot of pride in it. And understands, when you're young and you're told you're the greatest, just give me the ball and I'll go score. You know what I'm saying? And all those guys understanding how to really play team football. And he's doing great -- and leading on the sideline and doing a really good job.

Q. What does a guy like Derwin, what can he provide to help you guys defend Lamar Jackson?
JIMBO FISHER: Well, I mean different looks. Multiplicity. Whether he's going to match up and cover somebody and let somebody else rush or blitz or play coverage or what it might be. Or him himself on the edge getting a better athlete and space on the guy things like that. So I mean it's a multiplicity of where you can use him. Whether he takes something away and lets somebody else do something or allow him himself to do something.

Q. (No microphone)?
JIMBO FISHER: No, not decoy. When you're covering somebody, you're ain't a decoy, that ball can come to him.

Q. (No microphone)?
JIMBO FISHER: Well, you've got to account for him or you've got to account for other guys too. I mean how your matchup is or how you think, all right, because maybe allow two guys on the inside. Maybe it frees Nnadi up, because now he gets on the edge; he's out there, you gotta play that. Now it lets Nnadi -- I mean or whatever it may be. I mean it's not to that extent, I don't think, but his versatility can create a lot of problems.

Q. Jimbo, following up on Jacques, it seems like he also embraced Cam. There was so much hype about Cam, but he calls him his little brother. How helpful has that been in terms of a leadership standpoint?
JIMBO FISHER: You know where that comes from, in my opinion? Devonta Freeman and James Wilder, Karlos Williams, Dalvin Cook. You ever watch -- you remember when Freeman and Wilder used to run? You'd think they were twin brothers. Those three guys on the side and all those guys, they were all highly regarded. One of them make a play, they were more excited for the guy than they were for themselves.

They did that with Dalvin. You know, when Karlos and them were here with Dalvin, he did that for him, and Dalvin did that for Jacques. Understanding, you need two guys; you need three guys. And it's the team concept. And listen, when you know you can play and you're a good player, you don't -- all right. Listen, I'm going to get mine. I've gotta have this guy help me. You know what I'm saying? It's supreme confidence in yourself, and I think it's been passed down.

Q. Jimbo, I believe you have four turnovers in five games. Is this just a cyclical thing or is there something you can do more to create more turnover opportunities?
JIMBO FISHER: Well, you just got to play hard and get tips. Turnovers come in bunches. You've got to play sound play football. You can't go play for -- you start gambling, now things come. You've got to rush the passer, make the ball come out early, be in tight coverage.

When those things happen, take advantage of the opportunities; tackle in bunches, strip the ball. Again, creating pressure to the quarterback and different things in that nature, and then creating negative first-down plays. Creating first and second- down plays to get negative to try to create long yardage situations to make people take chances, in that regard, too, and just keep playing hard, sound defense. And when you get a chance to make a play on the ball, you've got to make a play.

Q. I was wondering if I could ask a little bit more about Johnathan Vickers. Was he initially receptive to making that move and have you seen him kind of embrace being the guy who gets the block and gets the game-winning touchdown?
JIMBO FISHER: Oh, there's no doubt. Johnathan is a great guy and he's learned that role. He can catch the ball and now we're starting to incorporate him in the run game more, catching the ball out of the backfield, a complete guy, again, little unsung hero things in what you're doing. He sees that's where his role was, and he got very good at it. He's being very unselfish and doing a good job.

Q. With Cam, you talked about at the beginning of the year how he wanted to break every run. How have you seen him develop into a more patient runner?
JIMBO FISHER: I mean we're educating. Jay's doing a great job of educating him every day on where the run should go, not the result of the run. The read takes you here. You stay here. You push that pile. You hit that hole. You do this. Trust everything about the process about how he does it. Jay's doing a great job of that. We're trying to do that offensively. And then that natural instincts -- because what I think happens, when you're trying to break touchdown runs, it goes back to my saying. See a little, see a lot. See a lot, see nothing. He's seeing everything with trying to bounce around instead of training his eyes to read the blocking scheme in front and reacting, and all of a sudden that road's taking you to where you got to go and now the big runs are starting to come.

Q. At wide receiver, do you have hopes of getting Keith Gavin and George Campbell back in the mix this week? Or what's their prognosis?
JIMBO FISHER: We'll see in time. We'll have to wait and see.

Q. This is going to be kind of an odd question. Do you enjoy -- if you weren't coaching against him this week, would you enjoy watching Lamar Jackson's film?
JIMBO FISHER: You enjoy watching any kind of player who's dynamic like that because you don't get to see those guys like that all the time.

Q. But as a coach, I assume you don't rewind it and like, oh, wow, look at that play; that's an unbelievable play, I want to watch that again.
JIMBO FISHER: Oh, yeah, I would, if I'm watching film, if I'm watching defense, go back and say wow! Because then you look back and say, how did he do that and what did he do? Is there certain keys, the way he moves, does he cut a certain way, does he spin a certain way, does he always look a certain way? Is there certain things that happen that he likes to do? You study it as you admire it.

Q. Has there ever been an opponent, going back in all your years, that you really admired and made a point of watching his film and rewind it?
JIMBO FISHER: Oh, lots of them. I do. I mean I respect other guys and people who play the game and play the game hard and play it the right way. I have -- I mean, there's been receivers, been offensive linemen. There's been phenomenal offensive linemen I went back and watched, running backs, quarterbacks, I mean defensive linemen. Some of those guys I played against and coached against, Lord Almighty. I mean, you sit there, and you're crying as you're watching them, but you just admire the ability and the admiration of how to play the game.

Guys that have been on your team. I've been on teams with guys and used to go watch the defensive film of certain players just to watch them play. Guys that I've been here with. I mean I respect guys who play the game the right way and have that certain ability.

Q. Jimbo, you mentioned how James is giving you good information when he comes off the field. How about after reviewing film week to week? Is he not making the same mistakes more than once?
JIMBO FISHER: No, he isn't. He doesn't. He comes in -- he'll come in after watching the film and have his iPad have a list of questions, did I do these things wrong? And I'll have my list of things and just things that interact. He likes that interaction and things and doesn't repeat things a lot -- there's a couple things, there's things that are harder that you got to work more time on. They're not polished. But you see him getting better and better each day.

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