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November 23, 2010

Jimbo Fisher

COACH FISHER: Hello, folks. We're looking forward to playing Florida this weekend. It will be a great challenge. We were very fortunate and excited about our win over Maryland last week. We were able to have a co-championship for the Atlantic Division.
Kids played very well to get six conference wins. Very proud of them. One of our goals was to reestablish ourselves in the conference, which I think we did. Very happy for our kids and the accomplishments they made.
But it was a very tough ballgame. Maryland has a very good football game and we're very fortunate to come out with the victory.
Looking forward to the challenge of Florida. Florida is a very talented football team, and we'll definitely have our hands full this weekend.

Q. You came into the recruiting game a little late last year but finished strong. You've already got a really strong class. What has it been like competing with Florida the way they've done so well under Urban Meyer?
COACH FISHER: What's it like to do what? I'm sorry you broke up.

Q. Just competing with Urban Meyer and Florida on the recruiting trail since they've done so well the last few years?
COACH FISHER: It's very difficult. Florida, as I said, established themselves as a great program. Urban's done a terrific job since his time there.
They're out there on the recruiting trail. They work very hard. We have our hands full in battling them. In every facet we ever touch, we go against them.
They're excellent recruiters. Florida's a great place, and we know that. So we have to work very hard to be able to get our share of players. It's a very big challenge.

Q. This game itself, how big is that for recruiting? A lot of the guys in the state grow up either Florida, Florida State or Miami fans, how big is is this game as far as recruiting goes?
COACH FISHER: I think it's very big. It has a lot of impact on a lot of young men. But I think you have to ask them more so than us, but it does have an effect. Kids look at that. They want to be in successful programs or programs that are heading in the right direction and doing the right things. That's why I think we're having success.
They feel good about where we're going. But, to them, it obviously makes a difference because they obviously want to be in good programs.

Q. This is the first time Florida State hyped up a player with an actual official Heisman campaign. Can you talk about the year that Christian Ponder has had?
COACH FISHER: I've been very please. He's been injured and banged up and we haven't played as well around him. But his leadership, and he may have played as good or better football this year than last year.
Numbers don't always tell the story of a quarterback and what goes on and what he's done. I'm pleased with his year and what he's done in leading us, and being a team leader and understanding. He's not selfish. Doesn't worry about numbers, he worries about wins. Feel very fortunate to have him and think he's had a great year.

Q. As big as this game is against Florida, are you or any of your staff members going to be keeping tabs on that N.C. State-Maryland game this weekend?
COACH FISHER: No, we won't. That's out of our control. We'll worry about that when the game's over. We'll definitely have our hands full with Florida with the challenges that are in front of us. We'll have to do a good job there. They'll keep our attention, I promise you.

Q. What has to be done differently this time to beat the Gators this time? Obviously, they've had your number in recent years?
COACH FISHER: Score more points than they do. That would be the same thing. They've had a great team. They've had great leaders. They've had two dynamic guys on offense and defense with Spikes and Tebow on both sides of the ball and they've had great leaders.
We have to establish ourselves, play consistent, not give up the big plays and be able to compete with them. If you watch them, they're extremely talented. Their offense is coming back around. They're doing things they used to do. Defense is tenth in the country so they do a great job there.
There are a lot of things we have to do. Be sound in all three phases, not turn it over to at least have a chance to be successful just like in any game.
But we feel very excited about the opportunity and like our team and the way we're competing. So we just have to play better in all three phases and find a way to make enough plays to win the game.

Q. Obviously no Tebow to worry about this year. Different set of challenges to this team as opposed to recent years?
COACH FISHER: They've still got a lot of great players. They have a lot of play makers, lot of speed, lot of size. Obviously, Tim is not there, which I'm not against. He's one of the great players in college football history, so that is there.
But they have plenty of weapons. They have plenty of ability to make plays on both sides of the ball. It's going to be a heck of a challenge.

Q. I didn't get a chance yesterday but I wanted to ask you as E.J. stepping in, and around the league, there have been a lot of substitutes and back-ups to step in and fill key position. You've had to do it on your offensive line as well. Can you talk about that and the value of being ready and the back up players?
COACH FISHER: I think the depth of your team, that is what separates a lot of the team that's win 11, 12, 10 game, the teams that aren't quite there to that edge because of the injuries and the problems you have during the season. You have to play a guy who is just not quite ready. I think that's why the depth of your program is critical.
We've had some offensive linemen do a very good job for us, couple guys on defense. E.J. came in and did a great job against Clemson. We've had young receivers that we're having to build into that role just like last week at Maryland.
So it's critical. I think when you start establishing yourself and getting the recruiting classes and getting the depth on your football team that you need, that is when you really start competing for championships in my opinion. Because the injuries are going to come, there is a year or two that they don't every now and then. But you have to be very fortunate that way, but the depth is critical. We've had some guys come in and really give us a big lift.

Q. Obviously you'd like to accomplish both. But from the input you hear from the fan base, what would mean more to them, beating Florida or winning the ACC? What would be more important to the fan base do you think?
COACH FISHER: I think they're both very important because we have to reestablish ourselves in the conference. Obviously beating Florida because they're such a great rivalry and such a great organization and such a great team.
I think both of them. If you ask them, I think probably you may split. Fans tend to probably favor the rival because of what they have to live with every day, you know what I mean? I mean, because our Florida-Florida State fans are so close and they work with them so much.
So probably from a fan base you'd probably say having success against Florida. But I think as a program, I think they're both just as critical.

Q. In your career have you ever had a circumstance such as this where you're coaching in a huge game and it is simultaneous to it that is of great importance to your team?
COACH FISHER: I want to say yes, because when I was in the SEC there were a lot of implications based off of teams that won and lost to be able to allow you to go to a championship game.
I can't remember. Might not have been the same day or not. One year Alabama was able to beat Auburn, I believe. It helped us get to a championship game. But I may be mistaken about that.
I don't remember one exactly like this. I know that for sure. So good thing it's going on while we're playing so we don't have to worry about it.

Q. Going back to the rivalry. Urban likes to do a lot with psychological things when it comes to rivalry week to pump them up a little bit more. This is a storied rivalry, but what do you say to your guys this week?
COACH FISHER: Just you have a great opportunity. Florida is a great program. You want to change the perception of yourself and reestablish yourself in the national limelight this is the chance to do that with success against a very good football program.
And you've got to remember not to play the game Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday. The game will be played on Saturday. You have to prepare to play it during the week and do a good job of getting yourself ready to play, and have yourself an emotional high on Saturday.

Q. You talked about the fans probably winning this more than the ACC. But with the players, how bitter is this rivalry with them?
COACH FISHER: It's big because they all played against them. They have respect for them, and they know Florida is a good team. But you always want to beat your rivals. It's very big for them. It's very big. They'll want to play very well, and hopefully they will play very well.

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