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October 6, 2010

Jimbo Fisher

THE MODERATOR: We're joined by Florida State head football coach Jimbo Fisher. We'll ask for a brief opening statement and go to questions.
COACH FISHER: Very excited about the game this week. It was a great win we had last week against a very good Virginia team. We're happy to be able to go on the road and have success. Virginia we thought had a very good ballclub. Hopefully be able to carry over and take some of those experiences with us on the road to Miami. We know it will be a little different environment down there in Miami. It will be a big game. People will be pumped up. But our kids will be ready to play. We're looking forward to the challenge. It will be a great one, that's for sure.

Q. Could you talk about the problems that Hankerson presents at defense. Combination of size and speed. How difficult is that to game plan against a guy like that?
COACH FISHER: You're going to take the whole teleconference up (laughter).
I mean, he's a complete receiver, like you say. He's unique in that he has great size and speed to go over the top of you, make the big plays, run away from you. At the same time he's a great route return. Most big guys don't have body quickness like that. He can stick his foot in the ground. He has shake. He uses his hands in tight coverage well. He can run with the ball after he catches it. He understands what he's trying to do on offense as far as where the zones are, how to set zones, how to get leverage on man.
He's an extremely tough match-up. Like I say, you never stop guys like that. You hope they don't kill you totally, that you can contain them, somebody gets help, occasionally they miss a throw or get pressure, something like that.
He is a complete player and we are definitely going to have our hands full with him.

Q. Usually cornerbacks are smaller. Is that size difference a big deal?
COACH FISHER: It can be, yes. I mean, it definitely can be. If you don't get him help, they don't belly up on him. Hankerson is a guy who can really use his body well. He understands how to do that. That's why people like big receivers. Those guys can get very athletic. Those big guys don't sometimes have great balance and body control. He has it all. He has speed, balance, body control. He can be a nightmare, he really can.

Q. Jimbo, guys are obviously not flat on offense. With Ponder healthy and Datko back, do you think you can be even better?
COACH FISHER: I think we can. We'll get some consistency. I don't know if we'll be better this week because we're playing such a great defense. We're number one in sacks; they're number two. They're going to be a great defense. We know that.
It will give us some consistency getting back where we're going. Our receivers are maturing, doing the things they need to do. We just got to keep evolving our offense in different ways. People say, Why are you worried about the throwing yards? I'm not. We're still throwing the ball efficiently, we've just been able to run the football. That's the great formula for winning football. You got to be able to run the ball on offense and stop the run there.
As we get back and hopefully we can get the consistency level up and get the same guys in there week in, week out, we can start to get a little healthy, which is hard to do at this time of this year, hopefully we can continue to grow on offense. I don't know what we are, 430. We're scoring points, good on third down, good in the red zone. There's a lot of growth left on offense, that's for sure.

Q. You talked about how you're leading the nation in sacks. What was it about Mark Stoops that made you think he was the guy that could turn this defense around? What were your expectations?
COACH FISHER: Expectations were, I thought we could be very good. I said this before. I think our talent on defense is better than our talent on offense. I don't mean that in any slight. I think we have good players. I think we have some young players that had to learn. Mark has done a great job with great talent. I've seen him do it without great talent.
Our staff is doing a great job. I think our kicking game, people don't realize, our kicking game and special teams is helping our defense. We're controlling the ball on offense. I think it is a team deal. But I think Mark is doing a tremendous job of getting the guys to understand what they got. We're mixing zone and man. D.J. and Odell are doing a great job in coaching the rush guys. Having Greg Hudson, who has been a coordinator his whole career, helps in all the aspects with what we're doing with the linebackers.
They're getting it, they're understanding it, they're buying into what we're trying to, and they're hungry for success, and they're playing well.

Q. When you look back at the Oklahoma game, how much of that was sort of a bad perfect storm for your defense? Thinking about that, how much did you actually learn from it? Has it contributed to the last three performances which have been significantly better?
COACH FISHER: I think it has. I think one of thew reasons, their talent level was pretty good. Like I said before, I don't think anything we did in the Oklahoma game was scheme or schematically unsound. I think we had a hard time lining up to the speed of their no-huddle. Miami has done no-huddle in the past. I'm sure they'll come out and do it, play it, use it in some form. They do it a lot, too.
I think the speed of that, Oklahoma got hot, it was their day. We didn't get lined up to a lot of it. There was a lot of adversity with a tough situation with young guys. I've said that. Our guys have responded to it offensively, defensively, special teams. They took it as a learning experience. It wasn't that we couldn't correct those mistakes. Our guys have continued to grow in that aspect.
We're playing nowhere close to perfect, but they're responding to the things we're asking them to do. They understood that was just one game. You can let one game beat you; you can't let the same team beat you twice. We did a good job of that coming off that game.
But it was a learning experience. They got to realize the urgency you have to play with when you play great teams or teams go no-huddle.

Q. You've been around this rivalry a little bit now. Do you think it's coming back? Do you think both these programs are coming back to where they were 15 years ago or so?
COACH FISHER: To say 15 years ago, we still got a ways to go. I don't mean that we can't get there or won't get there, either one. That was probably two of the most elite programs in the country at that particular time.
I think we're both headed in the right direction. Miami is ranked up there high. We're in the polls. I think we both got a lot of great young players on our team. The future looks very good. Both teams seem to be recruiting well and doing those things. I think we're heading in that direction. We're around a lot of good players, if we can just keep building our programs.
But Randy has done a great job of getting them back in it. We're trying to get back to that same level to keep up with everybody else.
I guess it's the first time both teams have been ranked in a while. I do think they're heading in that direction. I mean, to say we're at the level we were 15 years ago, I don't think we're quite there yet. At that time they were probably the two most elite programs in the country at that time. I think we are heading in the right direction.

Q. Coach Bowden used to say folks would put on his tombstone, He played Miami. That rivalry, because of the implications, in-state, in part defines a coach. I'm wondering your view of that. This is your first shot at that kind of game.
COACH FISHER: Yeah, I mean, coaches want to be known to win big games, be able to beat your rival, win championships and all that. That's ultimately what society says about that.
Like I say, Coach Bowden, he won some of those games, he lost some. It is a big game here. It's one of our rivalry games. We understand the importance of it. Hopefully we'll play well and coach them well. That is something you have to look at. That's the measuring stick. It should be. That's one of the reasons you want to be at Florida State, is to be able to be measured in those circumstances.
It was funny. I always think of that. When you talk about Coach Bowden said that. I remember when they talked about Tom Osborne for all those years, Nebraska. Couldn't win this, couldn't win that. All of a sudden he won three national championships in four years.
I think we learn from those mistakes if you make them. Hopefully you don't make them again. You evolve from them. But you are measured by them. I do understand that.

Q. Jimbo, what do you see as the keys for your defense in facing Jacory?
COACH FISHER: Jacory presents a lot of problems. He can throw it short, he can throw it deep, he can scramble. He stands in there and takes pressure. He is one of those guys that stays in that pocket, holds it till the last second and still can been accurate and make decisions while he's getting hit. That's going to be a great challenge for us.
We have to try to win the down and distance war. Down and distances are more favorable to us. But the think about him, their big play-ability, he does have that ability whether you pressure him or not to stay in there and make throws.
We're going to have to try to give him different looks, try to keep him off balance as much as you can. He's a veteran guy. Hard to do that consistently. May be some great individual efforts outside with those matchups.

Q. Jimbo, along the lines of what you just said, 10, 15 years ago these were probably the elite programs in the country. There was an amazing run there where the national championship came out of it almost every year. As a head coach now in this modern era, you are building toward that, is it realistic for two in-state programs to stay on that level for as long as they did?
COACH FISHER: I think it is for one reason, in that you're in a state that produces a lot of football players. You're in the largest producing state in America for football players. The one beside you in Georgia, you have two of the top four. I think it is from that aspect. You may knock each other out when you play each other. I think it's very capable of being done here. You don't have two, you have the ability to have three. Florida was right in there, too.
I think it is in a state that produces as many football players as the state of Florida does.
THE MODERATOR: Coach, thanks for being with us today. Good luck this weekend and we'll talk to you next Wednesday.
COACH FISHER: Thank y'all very much.

End of FastScripts

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