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FLORIDA STATE UNIVERSITY FOOTBALL MEDIA CONFERENCE
October 30, 2017
COACH FISHER: Looking back at the film from the Boston College game, it's a fact we weren't very good in that game.
We didn't play well at all. It was a game in which we were beaten in in all three phases, offense, defense, special teams, coaching, everything. Coaches and players, we've got to do a much better job. And we collectively as an organization didn't fulfill what we needed to do in that game for sure.
Our fans deserve better than that. They deserve us to play better than that, deserve us to compete better than that.
In the other games in which we did not win, but we were, as I say, we were outscored in those games. We had technical issues. We made a few mistakes here and there, but we competed extremely well. Not saying we didn't compete hard in this game. But we're not at the right times to match intensity or match scores.
The other games, we were able to match the score, match a score, get back, maybe make a mistake. In this game we did not do that enough, and that's something we have got to make sure don't let happen. And we had opportunities to do it and we had some missed failures and some things that I think if you score then or make those plays then you have a chance to really change the momentum of the game.
That's what we never were able to do. But our fans deserve much better than that and we need to play much better than that. That's plain and simple.
Q. From your perspective, what needs to change to get this thing moving in the right direction?
COACH FISHER: Our execution in key moments. How we get prepared and understand what we've got to do and understand how to relax and make the play at that moment and also keep the intensity and keep the fire, no matter what happens, keep playing the next play, keep playing the next play.
Kids, there's a want-to in there but you've got to go out and execute and we've got to go coach them in that regard. That's exactly what's got to happen. It's not brain surgery, but we've got to make sure that we have people that present it the right way, prepare it the right way and execute the right way.
Q. You touched on the (indiscernible). Did you not see that Friday night?
COACH FISHER: I think there was energy and passion. I think when you've had young guys and they've had two or three or four times that that thing has happened, I think sometimes you go: Oh God, you know what I mean? And instead of just saying just keep fighting, instead of just looking at it, as I say, looking at a fire you go fight the fire.
And I think that happened. I think there was passion. I think there was want-to. Because you go back to the goal-line stand. We had three plays on the one-yard line, they play their tails off on defense. They give effort.
And offense you still move the ball, whether we did in the second half it wasn't lack of effort; it was lack of the execution. First half we moved the football. We didn't finish the drives. We made two critical mistakes on turnovers. They cost us in those situations.
But you just gotta -- you can't -- even when you sit back, as I say, it's like a boxer, once he gets hit in the face you gotta keep coming no matter what, with passion and desire that way instead of going back and evaluating everything, you've got to push. And that's something we had done before. And on our way to things and we were able to make it very competitive in the situation and that's what we've got to get back to.
Q. Is that the most frustrating thing?
COACH FISHER: Yeah, it was, I think it was. And getting that -- not that there wasn't no fight. But to respond immediately, you know what I'm saying? And we could have.
Q. (Inaudible) how is he in the second half? (Indiscernible)
COACH FISHER: The first half was when he had mistakes. But the first half we had opportunities on the goal line. We have (inaudible) is there. And as I say flash looking.
If you look at something what I call flash looking, sometimes you go through something too fast. You don't let it slow down and read, and you get that with young players sometimes. There's an opportunity, and you look at it but you don't slow it down and read it just the right way.
And on the second one, the second interception, had the same thing. Looked outside in instead of inside out, we had a nice slant route that we're gonna pick up a first down, be in points range in that regard.
The second half, made some things, but guys around -- we missed two short yardages, a third-and-one, a fourth-and-one, dropped a pass on the first drive for a first down, had an opportunity to get a first down.
It wasn't just him as much in that half, but I thought the opportunities in the first half he could have taken better advantage of.
Q. Is he that important --
COACH FISHER: A little bit but those are things we have to do in certain games. But those are things that we rep extensively. And he's executed very well at times. But sometimes with young players -- and you want to go do a lot. You say, okay, I want to make sure I make the play and sometimes you, not say try too hard but you just go too fast in your mind mentally. You Know What I'm Saying? You've got to slow it back down and some of the drives like he did later in the games earlier in the year.
Q. James Blackman, this is his introduction to college football.
COACH FISHER: Very tough.
Q. How do you expect him to continue on after --
COACH FISHER: I expect him -- he responded well that's part of it to me. You have to grow in it and learn from it. We have to teach him from this, and he has to learn from it. But his attitude and demeanor are very good.
It matters to him. He cares. Been watching the film with you on the way back on the plane. He sees it -- man, I should have done that, I should have done that. I knew to do that, I knew how to do that.
And so did a lot of players in that regard when they're watching film. It's a process. You have to go through it. Sometimes it happens. And now you have to go back, make sure you reboot it, like I say, reboot him back up, make sure he understands what he does and go play.
Q. Is there a difference between how he is dealing with versus how the seniors and upperclassmen are dealing with it?
COACH FISHER: Not at all. I don't think so at all.
Q. (Inaudible) wondering because of his drive and what he's done --
COACH FISHER: Amazing. I talked to him right afterwards. Literally on the way back we text and talk and it was amazing conversation. We reminisced about a lot of times when we recruited and almost didn't come and going to change his mind in a Burger King parking lot. We had two-hour conversations. He weighed 194 pounds and everybody told me I was crazy for recruiting him because he wasn't big enough. The whole ball of wax.
But, I mean, a guy that has always been told he's too small, too this, too that. All he does is play and lead and have a passion and a heart that's second to none. One of the top guys I've ever been in my life. And he impacts that on other guys in what he's done.
Even there, the Jags, when they drafted him thought he was too small to do this and do that. Had a $50 million contract. I think his first contract was 211,000 guaranteed. I think it was 211,000 guaranteed. This one hits 50 million. I'm not sure the total thing.
But just shows you what a guy -- if you quit listening to what they say, as I say, what's going on out there -- no, you're not big enough, you're not this. We'll go get another guy eventually. All he does is line up and play and becomes a difference maker and helping turn that organization around. And I can't be happier or more proud.
We stay in close contact a lot. He's a tremendous human being, very special to me. He's been through some good times with him and tough -- just his maturing all the way through here.
A lot of things we're having conversations about now, when we didn't do this, didn't do that, he didn't do this, he didn't do that. Now he's just, yes, sir, he'll listen and go 100 miles an hour. And what a joy and so proud of him.
Q. You guys had him back in the spring to talk to the team. What sort of impact does having a guy like that on the point do for current players, future players, that kind of thing?
COACH FISHER: And a guy that was highly recruited, but not a superstar. He was considered that. And his passion, he put his heart out there. Why he did it what happened.
And when he asked me for a couple of years, he tried to play ball, but be the student and have a good time and you talk about total focus. He focused, but he wasn't -- in how he finally had to make that connection. Once he bought in he understood everything that coach said.
And why I used to ride him so hard, and why I ride him so hard, and why I was so disciplined on things, and why we run the process which we run. He said, if you trust their process, it will guarantee you to come through. That's the thing he kept saying to them.
Q. The next month and everything in light (inaudible) and opportunity for your freshmen and sophomores to lay a good foundation of (indiscernible) and the right way to do things to respond to adversity?
COACH FISHER: No doubt, how to deal with that, how to deal with it if it comes in the future. And also for your upperclassmen to how they want to set an example for those young guys and if they get fortunate enough to move on. Because there's going to be tough times and tough things that happen.
So I think it's an excellent opportunity. That's what we're looking for. Guys that want to be the solution.
Q. Speaking of tough, the (inaudible) players last couple weeks offer some encouragement or --
COACH FISHER: I talked to them all. Jameis, there's bunch of them -- J.B., those are guys that are pretty (indiscernible). Tons of them.
We talk -- Da'Vante, Telvin, Joyner at times, Xavier Rhodes at different times. You name it, they've all -- they all still feel that bond here of what we've built and the things we have. (Indiscernible) and just telling them believe you, do what you say, stay true to the process and the things we did and it will all work out.
Q. (Indiscernible) after a game like that, you've been so close to them. A game like that, what is it for self-reflection like, how did we get to 2-5?
COACH FISHER: Very easy. You step back. And you gotta reflect on, how do we get back to the kids and teach them and make it a teaching point.
You know what I mean? And how do they learn from this and move on? And how we're coaching, how we make a difference in each of our individual meeting rooms.
Each coach has to make a difference in each individual meeting room to get guys to make sure they're doing the right things and seeing the right things.
And how we talk to them, how we move them, how we meet, how do we do anything. What is your individual responsibility as a coach to get guys to make sure they get the message and respond and handle things the right way and see the upside of things instead of the downside of things.
And that's going to be the constant message. It's just like in life. You can sit and worry about what's wrong with you or you can worry about how you get better. That's two things. You can go to the doctor and figure out how to get better, or you can sit there and dwell like some people do on what's wrong, you know what I'm saying? And you've got to move forward. And that's what we're reflecting on.
Scratching our brains 100 ways. Got any suggestions? Got any? Y'all got any? I'm open. Give me some. Now, wait a minute, y'all got questions. I thought y'all had -- oh, you write all the answers. Wait a minute. Y'all don't want to go on the record with that? Huh? You don't want to be accountable for that, huh? You're just like the dadgum players sometimes.
Q. With that reflection, was there anything you felt you personally needed to change after --
COACH FISHER: Yeah, again how we're making sure we're getting the message across to our players and what we do with the game plan, and how they gotta compete and why it's important to compete and what do you do. Meet with your team leaders, meet with the guys to make sure those issues and things go.
And you always ask, is there something -- always ask our players, something else I can do to help you? Had that conversation last year with Dalvin, when everybody knows, thought he was pressing early. You know what his suggestion was to me? Come back and coach me like I'm a freshman. That's exactly what he told me -- coach me like when I first walked in, the same way.
Put your foot on me, stay on me and ride me like you do, like you used to do all the time. When we do that good things happened. We went back to getting it. A lot of things in that regard in what you do.
I ask our guys that, you see guys that their performances (indiscernible) sometimes will not quite play enough, and I'll say, hey, what can I do to help you? What do you think is the issue? We ask our guys that all the time to help them respond to coaches. We self-reflect a lot in that regard.
Q. You guys had two days in a row of stretch and stride. This will be the seventh game in a row you played. What are you looking from your teams with that hard stretch going on?
COACH FISHER: It's just the ability to be able to compete and be resilient and come back and prepare and be ready to compete in the game and give our fans the kind of team on that field that's competing their tails off like they should see. That's what the whole goal is.
Q. Going back in time. James Blackman gets injured, not injured, but when he goes down and gets hit hard and gets back up and goes into the next play like it never happened, is that just the type of guy he is?
COACH FISHER: Yes. And that's the type of guy most all the guys that ever played quarterback here are. Go back, look at them. They've all -- from EJ with the shoulder that he had. Played with a broken leg the whole second half. Ponder with arms. Jameis. They've all had that. Sean. They've all had that great competitive nature. And if you're a quarterback, very competitive -- Deondre, think about what he went through last year. It's just part of the business.
Go look in the NFL. The Brett Favres of the world, the Peyton Mannings of the world, all those guys that have those long game streaks, things like that, that position -- if you're not a competitive sucker, boy, you have a hard time ever just being an elite guy and making it.
COACH FISHER: Offense right now. Keeping him on offense, the numbers, where we're at.
Q. With D.J. and Tamorrion are they --
COACH FISHER: D.J.'s played some times. Tamorrion had a -- I don't mean that. He had a setback with his family, where he missed almost over a week of practice here recently. He had a death in the family. He wasn't here. So that set him back a little bit.
But he got back and was hurt. Not hurt, but had a nagging injury. He got pretty healthy. Hopefully he'll get in the rotation. We were trying to get him in last week. Hoping to get him going.
Q. When you talk about the changes, can you make drastic change --
COACH FISHER: You can't drastically change things.
Q. Is that happening in the offseason?
COACH FISHER: Or you re-evaluate. Sometimes there's drastic changes. Sometimes there's moderate changes. You have to evaluate that based on why things happen and what you have to do in your evaluations.
And you've got to make changes. Now you've got to reach people in different ways, gotta do things different ways and get them to understand what we gotta do.
To say, all right, we're going to run a new offense or run the wishbone, or run 3-3 stack defense, those things, because it's still the knowledge of what the players know and how you do it. Just gotta get them to do it better and find the right time, right places to get them into that.
Q. Do you think this season necessitates drastic changes?
COACH FISHER: No. I mean, at the end of the day, I'll say this, you're 2-5, but you're one possession. If we get a stop at Miami, we score, then we give up -- and the other games, we win at the end of the game. And you are sitting here 4-2, 5-2, are you really any different? That's what I keep saying.
You are, as far as record-wise and perception and probably confidence and reality and some things that allow you to push forward, but at the same time, the same issue -- and that's things you always gotta walk. So we'll adjust as according.
Q. Any update on the injuries (inaudible)?
COACH FISHER: No, they won't be back.
COACH FISHER: I have no idea. They keep telling me they're getting better. But won't be ready now.
Q. Is your offense, from freshman quarterback, freshman running back, wide receiver, how hard is it to run your offense in that kind of --
COACH FISHER: Any offense, not just our offense. I mean, any offense. Because it's not just their ability, it's what they know in the game, the experiences that they go through.
But at the same time, you put the load back -- I could say, just the load going on No. 3 compared to where 9 was, where he could really, didn't have to have the whole load, you know what I'm saying? And that benefit. Makes it tough. But at the same time, that's all -- you can't worry about that.
You gotta do the things you can do to find yourself to be successful. And that's the hand we're dealt. And that's the one we've got to go coach.
COACH FISHER: Solidly. I mean, we're missing short yardage the other day, which is very critical in the game. And one of them, if we don't get tripped, probably a 80-yard touchdown. You don't want to hear that, but that's the truth.
We get caught by a shoelace, had a chance to make some plays there. But they've done better. They've gotten better. They played hard. And we're improving.
Q. Wondering how you've seen see Syracuse evolve under Coach Babers and kind of what makes them a challenge?
COACH FISHER: I think, first of all, defensively -- everybody talks about them offensively. But defensively they do a really nice job.
They've got good players. They give you a lot of different looks and different things that go on, and done a real nice job that way.
Special teams, got a good return guy. Quick guys. They're very good with the football and do a great job blocking. And offensively, the quarterback, Dungey, makes a big difference for them, having him back. And he can run and throw and the experience in the games he played.
The receivers, two of them had over 60-something catches. And Ishmael, of course, is catching a bunch of balls. They're running the football much better. And I think their involvement in the thing -- Dino has always done a great job. He's a great guy and a really good football coach. He's done heck of a job.
Q. Their version of tempo and stuff is similar to what you've seen already in the season?
COACH FISHER: It is. They go fast and different tempos. But it's similar to the other guys in what they do. And they do it very well. And the quarterback, have an experienced quarterback and tough sucker, boy, he's a competitor.
Q. (Inaudible) with that offense and the tempo, how can you replicate that in a practice?
COACH FISHER: We do that all the time. I hate to say that. I mean, you rep it in your (indiscernible) -- but as far as the duplication of it, what you have is two offensive lines and two groups. While one group is already at the ball, while the other guy runs the play, the defense has to run back and the other group is already set up.
So you're running two offenses at the same time. They have two offensive lines, two offensive scout teams. So when a play is ran that's 10 yards down the field, the other group is already at the line of scrimmage, waiting on that play, defense has got to run back and hurry up, get lined up, do that. It even runs at a faster tempo than they would in the game.
So you duplicate that every day. Now, the execution of it and the athletes in it, I mean, to answer your question, that's different. You still can never duplicate how good they are or what they do. I mean, to a certain point.
But the tempo of it, getting lined up, getting your alignments and making your calls, those type of things, you've gotten very adequate at that, because that's kind of the new normal at this point.
Q. Just also (inaudible) defensively?
COACH FISHER: Personnel decisions, I'm not going to have a public discussion on. I don't mean that in any disrespect -- I don't ever do that. Talk to the players involved, and if things are different, they're different; if they're not, they're not. But I don't want to do it publicly.
Q. This is your eighth season. You're about to coach against your fourth head coach at the University of Florida. What does that say about the nature of this program, or the nature of this sport where you're about to coach against your fourth different coach at the University of Florida?
COACH FISHER: Never thought about that until you just said that. I stay in my cocoon. But it's a shame, because Jim McElwain is a heck of a guy and a really good football coach.
And I've known Jim and worked with the same kind of people, and he's been very successful in a lot of ways and led them to two SEC West titles. I don't know what that's about, but it's the nature of our world today.
I don't think just in sports, but I think it's pro sports, college sports, politics, everything is instant gratification, the ups and downs, and you make changes and you move on. That's just the way our world is today.
And it's a shame. It really is. And I wish Jim and his family nothing but the best. But, like I say, he's a really good guy. And their players, it's tough, that's tough on players, too, now. Very tough.
Q. Akers on Friday night, Friday night with the halfback pass to Murray, are you going to use that more often? Because that was a very good play by him throwing that football. Looks like he could be another quarterback if you need him.
COACH FISHER: He's working on tailback, he's doing pretty good there. But he can throw the football. He has a lot of multi-dimensions, as he fits into our offense better and he really starts to understand everything, we'll be able to use him in different ways and different places, that's for sure.
Q. Talk about Eric Dungey, the quarterback from Syracuse. Looks like he's getting better each year. What did you see from him last year and what do you see from him this year?
COACH FISHER: Very good player. Can create plays by scrambling or quarterback run. Very tough guy. I remember watching a few plays in that Miami game. I happened to see it. We were on the road. I can't remember where it was. His hand's all banged up and bruised up and he just keeps playing and throwing, competing in the game.
He actually threw some picks in that game, then had them right back in the game. Talk about a competitor now. You're talking about a guy who can really play, makes the difference for them and makes them go. He's a heck of a football player, heck of a leader.
COACH FISHER: A lot. Kaindoh was playing really well. You saw he had a big tackle and strip in the Louisville game. One on special teams. Now he's evolving into the defensive scheme and playing.
Stanford Samuels is doing a great job. Marvin Wilson is in that group, in there playing. Who else am I missing? Trying to think. But all those guys are making a significant difference and going to have to. Going to have to build up the depth as you go on and for their future, because you have to count on them in the future, too. They deserve to play. They practice well.
Q. With the early signing period coming up, how important is it to kind of have it because you have teams that might be making changes with coaches and just having players in the fold, just by how things are going with --
COACH FISHER: It is. And that's the one thing, our recruits have all been very strong. They've been very supportive, very good. And the guys are there, guys have been at the games and things and that's great.
But to go ahead and get -- the good thing is you get part of that class out of that way and get it done so the coaches can really focus on the final part of the class in January, where you're not having to go back and deal with 12, 15, 18 guys you're still trying to hold on, as other people are trying to get back in on.
It's a big deal. And it will be interesting. First time we've had it and how that all pans out and what you guys -- who you think will sign and who will sign. They can always change their mind right up to the end. It will be really interesting.
Q. I think the period gives coaches a little bit more power just to have players and things like that. But do you think the players might kind of take some into consideration a little bit more, maybe a program might be changing coaches, maybe I want to wait a little bit longer?
COACH FISHER: No doubt. If your mind's made up, that's fine. But for a change in the place you've made your mind up to, I don't think there's any doubt. I'm sure guys will wait to see or maybe they have -- that's where you may see teams push that up more and make their changes as soon as the year is over instead of waiting so that -- because of that first signing period.
Probably going to change administratively, too, if you think about it. You'll probably know who those coaches at those places are going to be a lot quicker, too, because of the early signing period, too. Most likely, I would think.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you.
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