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November 8, 2017

Jimbo Fisher

Greensboro, North Carolina

JIMBO FISHER: Very proud of our team the way we competed with Syracuse. Very hard-fought victory. Syracuse is playing great football this year. Done a great job. Dino and the guys have really made a heck of a improvement on that team, and they were a very good football team. We were very fortunate to come out of that. Our kids played very hard. There's some things we've got to continue to work on and grow on as a team, but very hard. Their competitiveness and nature to win and made some big plays on offense. Defense did a nice job. 3rd down they gave up a couple plays and we've got to do a better job on offense on 3rd down, something we had been doing on both sides but something we've got to continue to work on.

In those regards, very excited to go play Clemson as far as what they mean and kind of program they are and what Dabo has done up there, but at the same time it's going to be an extremely difficult game. They're by far the team that is the most complete team that you play on offense, defense, special teams, and we'll have our hands full and have to play a great game.


Q. The defense has six takeaways this year, which I'm sure is well below what your typical expectations would be. I'm curious how much of that might be related to just the fact that you've been in so many close games and maybe they're a little reluctant to take risks on a play to try to jump a route or something like that, that they're playing a little less aggressively than they typically would in past years?
JIMBO FISHER: No, I don't think that's the case. I think turnovers come in bunches sometimes. You've got to make plays. We had a couple opportunities to make a couple more in this last game. I don't think that has anything to do with it.

Q. Is it just a matter of luck then?
JIMBO FISHER: No, you've got to make turnovers. You've got to create pressure. You've got to hit your quarterback, and when you get opportunities to catch a ball or strip a ball or get on a fumble, you've got to do that. We've had a couple opportunities, which we haven't, and we've got to create some more situations where we pressure them where guys make bad decisions. But also we've played some guys where quarterbacks have made good decisions with the ball and taking care of it.

Q. What is Jacques Patrick's status for this weekend? Will he be able to play against Clemson?

Q. How has he looked --
JIMBO FISHER: He's had good practices and looks well, and he should be able to go.

Q. I know you spoke in your intro about Syracuse just a little bit. Just to go a little further on what you think about what that team has looked like since Dino Babers has taken over a year ago?
JIMBO FISHER: Tremendous, just the eyeball test. Their strength, their size, ability to change their bodies in the weight room, they've done a great job. You think about what they've done this year, they played us to a one-possession game, had a chance to win the game. They defeated Clemson, Miami was 20-19 with two, three minutes to go in the game and had it all the way down and LSU was like 26-24 or 28, something like that. Last year all those games were blowout games against them.

You think about the significant changes they've made and what they've done, he's done one heck of a job, and then they've won the games. They're dynamic on offense. They've got players, and defense has done a really good job. I think he's done a heck of a job.

Q. And I asked this to Dabo Swinney, as well. It's typical in the Atlantic Division for people to think of Clemson and Florida State, but to see how this division has improved, what you can say about how teams have really come up and made this a very difficult division to play in?
JIMBO FISHER: Extremely difficult. They've made it extremely difficult. And like I said, a year ago you could go back and look at it, it's one of the best divisions in football, period. You look at any division in football across the country, I think it's definitely one of the best ones if not the best.

Q. What's your assessment of your run defense as you get ready to take on that Clemson ground game?
JIMBO FISHER: We've played pretty well in the run. Like I said, Derrick and Josh and those guys, but you're going to have to be very physical, and the thing they do to make you commit to it so much, which creates all the one-on-ones in their pass game. And then their quarterback runs, that's the thing, it really -- they get up numbers that way when the quarterback runs, and they run a lot of different runs with him, so that makes it extremely difficult. We're going to have to really, I mean, find ways to add guys to the box when you have to, but at the same time, you can't make yourself too vulnerable, so it's going to be a hard mix.

Q. Just talk about Blackman; how is his development going, because last week against Syracuse it didn't look like he turned over the ball. How is he improving?
JIMBO FISHER: He is, all the little fundamental things daily and the situations he's in and the experience of being in those situations and being able to execute your fundamentals, and like I say, not worrying about winning and just worrying about playing, and he's doing a much better job. He's improving in all areas across the board with reads or game situations being able to create plays. He's getting better.

Q. And talk about how dangerous is it to play down at Clemson; how great is that environment to play for an away team, and how are you going to get ready for that environment because they love their football down there?
JIMBO FISHER: No, they do. Everybody -- there's a lot of people in the South that love it, that's for sure, and they definitely do. They allow the noise, the crowd noise, you practice with it, you have it out there in your practice so the guys can communicate and do those things, but you still can't simulate it. They've got great players and got a great program and great tradition, always have.

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