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November 4, 2017

Jimbo Fisher

Tallahassee, Florida

Florida State - 27, Syracuse - 24

JIMBO FISHER: Very proud of our guys. Like I said, competed with heart, a lot of heart and soul. Didn't always play smart, didn't always do things we got to do. When you play young guys, that's part of what you're going to grow through. You got to learn to go through it, they got to grow through it. They got to learn, and you got to teach.

But their ability to compete and do things, you know, their heart and soul was in it. Got better. Learned to overcome, scored enough points, hit some big plays in the first half.

Third down, knew going in we weren't very good at all. We didn't do very good. They hit some big third-and-longs, which was very disappointing, some key things. A couple times I thought they had a little interference on one or two there, threw some guys out of the way. Would have helped, but didn't get called.

Our punter did a nice job in the game. Ricky hit a big field goal, was huge, right there in the second half. To do that... Our kids overcome enough, come out and won. Sometimes that's what you need. It jump-starts you. Got one down in the books, got to keep going one at a time.


Q. How impressed were you with your freshmen backs?
JIMBO FISHER: Blackman did a good job. Got to protect him a little better. Had some chances to make some plays. Misread some things. Had an opportunity to make a big touchdown throw. His toughness, competitiveness, able to make the big throw on the first drive was impressive.

Cam ran the ball extremely well. Had a nice little screenplay on one. Finished runs, hit the home run. Did the home run the right way, not craziness, but with good, hard runs, then split it and ran. He had an outstanding day. Very proud of him.

Q. Talk about the confidence of winning at home today, how that relates going on the road next.
JIMBO FISHER: Well, it is. You got to get 'em one at a time. You got to learn, to play, to fight through. That's the word, you hit the key word in ball: 'confidence'. All of a sudden, you pull those games out.

I've heard coaches say they won that close game, that close game, all of a sudden your confidence goes, all of a sudden it takes off. When you lose one or two, three like we have, all of a sudden, What's wrong with me? You know what I'm saying? Learning to get through that hump can be huge, believing in yourself. That's a big part of what happens. That's exactly right. Great question.

Q. Could have been a carbon copy of the Louisville game.
JIMBO FISHER: It wasn't.

Q. There were some other issues that kind of continue. What do you think the difference was in turning a game like that into a victory today?
JIMBO FISHER: Just keep trying, keep sawing wood. There wasn't no secret. Guts, make plays when you got to make 'em. They got a chance for the field goal, they missed it. Unfortunate for them. I hate to say that. I love our team. I feel for their kicker. I hate when that happens for a kid, because he's got parents and things, too. He made some good kicks in the day.

But our kids are going to keep fighting. I'm going to keep trusting 'em. What we have to do? Put them in position, keep learning from it, move on.

Q. (No microphone.)
JIMBO FISHER: He had some big third down stops. I wish he could have held onto that one. He made a big interception the first drive. If he could have held onto that one. Getting cut as he did it.

His heart and soul, his ability to compete. People question whether they're going to play hard, what they're going to do. Don't question that. Them kids play hard.

Q. What do you think are the most important things moving forward to try to make a bowl game this season?
JIMBO FISHER: Keep playing hard. Sawing wood. Don't worry about the bowl game. Don't even think about the bowl game. Biggest thing is playing well that week, practicing well. You got that responsibility in the back of your mind, 40 years of winning, 35 bowl games. That's the burden you came here with. Now carry it and play your tail off in practice and the games.

Q. Did you notice early on they were competing at the level you wanted?
JIMBO FISHER: They did every game. Last week they got shocked on the road. They have all year. Didn't doubt it in practice, when we went back to practice this week. All y'all did.

Q. Talk about the run game.
JIMBO FISHER: Akers ran the ball well, finished big runs. I'm going to tell you, we were one block away from about four more runs that gash. One guy misses a block, they're out the gate for some more. That's ball. Got to keep making 'em.

We're not playing efficient enough, not playing smart enough. I mean, a fourth down stop on an interception, throws it back inbounds. I mean...

Does it come from a bad spot? No. It's because he saw somebody there, thought he could catch it. It's from wanting to make a play. But that's what happens when you play youth.

The ability to be there, make it. How about the ability to make that play? Things like that. But the running game, those young guys, playing Stanford Samuels, playing Kaindoh, Cyrus Fagan in the game. All those young guys. Because of injuries, guys banged up, they're getting their opportunities. They're going to be really good players. They got to learn, got to go through it all.

Q. The defense made some really big stops in the second half. Ended up with 95 plays. Is that part of the reason why maybe the defense faltered a little?
JIMBO FISHER: No. Had their plays and opportunities. Too many -- getting off the field on third down. When we get third-and-long, we got to figure out a way to do a better job. Got to pick up a couple more on offense. Shame, we shouldn't have been out there. Third and one, get that snap executed. That snap doesn't come up like that. You got to clean that up.

But they shouldn't even have been out there. Offense, we should have got a first down there, ran the clock out.

Q. Two long runs for Cam, big touchdown pass at the beginning. Was it nice to finally get the offense some chunk plays?
JIMBO FISHER: If you don't have chunk plays, you're not going to be a great offense. You can draw it up any way you want. You can draw up drives. 12, 14 play drives are all great. Don't do a lot of those. The Duke game, we didn't score points, but we had four drives at 14 plays or more. That's hard to do. It's a challenge.

But you got to hit chunk plays. You got to finish in big areas. They did. That's the key. It's like hitting three. If you can shoot twos all day, but you got to have some threes in basketball. Got to hit your home runs. Guys, when they get in space, they got to finish runs, put it in the end zone. Proud of those guys for doing it.

Q. Ricky and Logan made some big plays on special teams for you.
JIMBO FISHER: Yes, huge. Hit good punts. Logan had a really good day, then he missed a couple there at the end. Could have had an unbelievable day. Ricky hit the big field goals. It was good.

Q. (No microphone.)
JIMBO FISHER: We finish up every day running the 50, 52 somewhere in that range. We feel very consistent with him. It's just like a normal kick, he feels very comfortable.

Q. You gave D.J. another shot after the fumble. He gave you a good punt return. Anybody else you could put in?
JIMBO FISHER: Ain't a lot of people left to put in there. Who else you going to put in there? We've tried them all. We done it all.

There's another example, D.J. wanting to go make a play. That ain't the time to make a play. Youth and ability, all you guys, you understand. This guy, young guy got ability, he's a five star. Yeah, but you got to learn to play. They got to go through trials and tribulations. He's wanting to go make a play. Got the ball coming out second half, give me a fair catch and go.

He is natural as the day is long doing it. He's extremely natural doing it. Probably one of the most natural I've ever been around as far as catching the ball. Just got to learn to make better decisions. That's going to come with experience. How do you get experience? Put him in the game.

Q. How redeeming is this win? You spoke about the doubt your team has after last week.
JIMBO FISHER: It feels good. Got to go do it again. Locker room is happy. That's the whole key. I mean, when guys say, We're not having fun. You don't have fun when you lose. You have fun when you win and have success. To do that, you got to go prepare to have success. You got to practice, watch film, play hard. You got to go do it. You got to fight, scratch and claw.

That locker room was happy. They were happy. It's great to see it in their face. As their coach, like I say, I have kids, too, that play ball. I know they're happy when they do well. As a coach, you love seeing that look on your players' faces. You love to see the joy in their eyes when they succeeded, had something good happen to them.

Q. With all the pressure their offense puts on defense, do you have to maybe not concede some things, but not get worried about the yardage?
JIMBO FISHER: You do. I think we got a little soft on a couple things there. We got to play more aggressive in certain situations. They did a nice job of containing things. Again, it was mainly the third down stuff. Had them a lot of third and seven, eight, nine, ten. Got to do a better job there, we know that.

You do concede some things. I think we could have tightened some things. But I was very proud of our defense, the way they competed.

Q. To have a guy like Nnadi lead you in tackles against a fast offense...
JIMBO FISHER: We practice what we do. When you play like you do, he's a zero nose, if they double, they're going to free some other guys up. Single blocking. You're not going to single block him, get the push.

Derrick, as I said, played unbelievable football all year. Unbelievable leader and great guy.

Q. (Indiscernible) Akers was the first one to run up to give him a stiff arm after the takedown.
JIMBO FISHER: I don't know. He need to go back and pick the quarterback up. I appreciate that. Say something, then walk away. You get a 15-yard penalty. Just like Derrick Kelly did in the Louisville game. All of a sudden now you get in a push, then what happens? You get 15.

I love that. Myself, I probably would have done it. I probably would have got up myself and said something. I understand that. But like I tell them, Do as I say, not as I do, okay?

I understand that. At the same time, again, toughness. The guys who play with great toughness and intensity, you go the to play with intelligence. There's a time to do those things, pick your moments. You got to be smart.

But I love the competitiveness. He's right there for his teammate. They're going to fight for each other now.

Q. Next play, takes it to the house.
JIMBO FISHER: Oh, yeah. I mean, he was wanting to play. He's competitive. He was ready to roll.

Q. On the third-and-one, did you see that James was down? Did he tell you he was down?
JIMBO FISHER: He said he was down, on his knee. He picked it up, his knee was on the ground. I saw him I thought pick it up. When we asked him, he said it was.

You got to get down. That ball gets pinched off. As crazy as that sounds, people say, Get a yard. When people get two ones on you, the hardest thing to do in the world is run a sneak because the pressure it puts on the center. Get both hips in there, you get knocked back. You can step aside. There's an art to it. It's a lot harder than you think. That's kind of what happened on that play.

Q. The one for 13 on third down?
JIMBO FISHER: Awful. Got to go back and work at it. I knew going in, third down. We had done a real good job for a while. Early we struggled, then for about a three-game stretch we were really good, about 50%.

We just got to go back and practice it, make sure we know what we're doing. Some of that was them. Some of that was us. It was a mixture of both.

Q. (Question regarding President Thrasher.)
JIMBO FISHER: John is unbelievably supportive. He loves athletics. He's for us 100%, what we're doing. He's happy, there supporting us. Good or bad, John is always there. He's in the forefront. An honest guy. You can talk to him, get good answers. He's one of the best guys I've ever worked with. He's a straight shooter like I am. We don't have to mix words. He's a happy guy who supports all of his athletics in this school. He's a tremendous guy.

Q. With the big runs, is it Cam being more confident and patient?
JIMBO FISHER: Learning what to do. We're blocking better. We're getting better blocks. Also our receivers did a good job downfield on second and third levels, which allowed him to make some cuts. His patience to know his scheme, what's going on.

Q. When a bowl is now very much a possibility, is that important for you and your staff to keep that incredible streak going at FSU?
JIMBO FISHER: Yeah. It's part of the obligation you got here. Nobody's ever won 40 straight winning seasons, 35 straight bowl games. Yes, I mean, that's very important.

At the same time, you can't let that paralyze you. You got to understand how you got to go play in the game. Like I told them, If that doesn't make you strive to want to practice hard, play hard, the legacy.

I'll tell you what, the respect. The 2009 team that gutted itself back in and made those plays to keep the winning bowl streak alive like we did against Maryland. Throw a pick with three minutes to go. Remember that day, throw a pick with three minutes to go. Defense walks out, they punt the ball to a little guy named Greg Reid, who wasn't supposed to catch it inside the 10, reaches outside the line, brings it back to the 40. Then another freshman quarterback who had three interceptions in the game. E.J. Manuel. Scrambles and runs down to the five, Lonnie Pryor scores, we go on. The pride that team had to keep that alive, same thing this one has. Hopefully they'll do and play through it.

Now, there's a lot of ball. We got a lot of football we got to play, successful big wins we got to have. They're playing for it. Ain't no doubt. It's very important to them. That's the legacy of this school. That's one of the reasons they want to come here, one of the reasons I wanted to coach here. It's big. But you got to go play.

Q. (Question regarding the rescheduled game.)
JIMBO FISHER: Most likely will. We'll have to talk to Stan, we'll see. Make those decisions, let us know.

Q. You seem irritated that people suggested the team quit.
JIMBO FISHER: I am very irritated. You said it.

Q. (No microphone.)
JIMBO FISHER: Wait a minute. You sound like a player now. I ain't the only one that made a mistake. He made a mistake, too.

Q. You said it.
JIMBO FISHER: I did say it. But you said it, you did (laughter).

They didn't quit. I know what happened, I know why it happened. That is something. That's something you're never going to see us do. You can write that.

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