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December 4, 2010

Jimbo Fisher

E.J. Manuel


Virginia Tech – 44
Florida State - 33

COACH FISHER: Awful tough one. I thought Virginia Tech did a very nice job. They did a great job on 3rd down at converting and making some big plays on their conversion downs and not only converting but making big plays. Tyrod did a great job of keeping plays alive in the second half and they were able to run enough. We had some opportunities to match.
They come out in the second half and I think scored the first drive, and we had a three-and-out, and then they scored, and we come back and scored. And then we're driving again mid-field and we had a route on us and then we dropped. And then on 4th down, we threw a highball and then they scored and we come back -- yeah, we got that return back and then that kind of got ahead of it and then we couldn't get it back then.
They were hot. We didn't slow them down at all in the second half, and they played a great ballgame and they deserved to win the ballgame. Hopefully, we'll learn from this, get a little better. I was proud of the kids the way they competed, kept fighting, chances in the game. I thought -- when they dropped that touchdown early I thought that hurt us, dropped the first drive there, really could have kept it tight at halftime. Hopefully young players on this team, get in this environment some more and maybe we'll excel the next time.

Q. Can you explain the Ponder decision?
COACH FISHER: Yeah, at the end of the week, he was still banged up, and they drained some fluid off his elbow and it wasn't fluid, it was blood. And when you start draining blood, you've got to be a little careful. It wasn't -- I wasn't going to jeopardize his future for one football game, and it just needed rest. It was still sore and he was having a hard time later in the week.
Early in the week it wasn't bad, but then it started getting really sore later in the week and started getting hard. It wasn't worth taking a chance on his future and his career.

Q. What was the common thread on those 3rd downs? Was it anything defensively that you weren't doing or --
COACH FISHER: I mean, we weren't doing a lot of things. Tyrod was keeping plays alive and we had cover them all and he would scramble making the plays and either running it or throwing it, and he was creating those situations. And we've got to get better pressure on him, got to get the ball out of his hand, and make sure we stay with guys down the field.
And they had a couple routes right there late, that one big one that they hit the crossing routes on. They hit two of them on the same play on the second half that they did a nice job on.

Q. When was the blood issue with Ponder?
COACH FISHER: It was later in the week. It started on Thursday and we thought -- Wednesday or Thursday and we thought we could still be okay with it, but then the doc said it wasn't worth taking a chance.
We got to talking and he was still really sore. He wasn't sore during the week. It usually stays sore and usually gets better, and it wasn't getting much better later in the week. So we just made the decision that it wasn't the right thing to do.

Q. Could you talk about just E.J.'s performance? He obviously played pretty well for the most part.
COACH FISHER: I thought he did. We had two tough plays. The one the first half, I don't really want to put it on him. Their linebacker made a great play. He dove and tipped the ball, and then, of all things, it tips and ricochets back to their guy who's looking the other direction, who catches it and runs it in for a touchdown. That's just a great play by them. Sometimes those things happen. I thought the rest of the first half did a great job.
Second half he come out, he played well, had the high throw on 4th down that caused the second interception, but we should have had the 3rd down catch earlier and we would have been there, but that's part of growing. And the one time he slipped, we had a post route. They were in zero coverage and we had double post on them. We're was going to have a chance for another big play, feet just slipped out.
For the most part, the guy made plays late, competed well, kept his poise and composure. I was very proud of the way he played in the game, I really was.

Q. E.J., when did you know you were going to start and what was your reaction? Obviously, during the week you didn't know you were going to start.
EJ MANUEL: I found out I was going to start, I guess, Friday in walk-throughs. Thursday we had our light practice. Just you have to go every week and practice like you're going to start. Being a second string guy, you never know what's going to happen, and that's when I found out.

Q. Oklahoma game where the game was out of reach you wanted to finish the drive and finish the game. Talk about what that means to E.J. and the offense?
COACH FISHER: There's more reps in those situations and it makes our kids want to quit, and we tell them all the time we're not quitting. Virginia Tech kept throwing the ball, which they should have. When you call timeouts -- they scored, that was great. But our job to keep playing hard, do the things you've got to do to keep trying to win and teach these kids not to quit, and for them to work some two-minute offense, work those situations, get in the game and be able to do it, and have belief that you can take it down the field. Then it's just more time and you play until the zeros go on the clock. I mean, I know everybody wants you to do everything that way, but I don't believe in that, and I wouldn't expect them to do the same thing. They were trying to score at the end, which they should have been.

Q. You guys went after their freshman corner pretty frequently in the first half. How much better was Tech's defense in the second half when Carmichael played?
COACH FISHER: I don't think that had anything to do with it, I really don't. I just think we -- that we had a three-and-out that got stopped on the run. It was a run. In the second, we dropped the ball and then we overthrew a ball. And that situation in the second half, I mean, over there, we were still moving it, and the other drive we'd score and they just kept scoring. The thing with them was offense. Their offense just -- I mean, the defense, they play well, but offense, we couldn't slow them down in the second half. That was the key.

Q. I know you've still got a Bowl game to go, but given the relative youth of this team how good do you feel about 2011 and beyond?
COACH FISHER: I mean, I like the direction we're going. I told our students -- I thanked them for the work they did and setting a standard of how to do things, how to prepare, and how to practice. And our young guys have to carry that legacy on. There's a lot of guys that have been in this situation. I think the environment was good for them to learn from. And you have to get in these situations, and they played well all year, I think, performed well all year. And I had a lot of young guys make a lot of big plays, and I feel very good about our future, I really do. I like the way our program is going.

Q. I'm curious, Tyrod is a guy who's kind of right up the road. Did you watch him at all from the sideline and what did you think of his performance?
EJ MANUEL: Yeah, definitely, I was watching the game when I was on the sideline. I thought he played great. Tyrod has always been that type of player to move around, have key plays alive with his feet, and then still look downfield and deliver a good pass, so he played awesome. I mean, the whole team played great today.

Q. Can you just take us through what happened on that second pick there, because obviously you guys were still in the game?
EJ MANUEL: It was my fault. I take full blame for the interception or something like that. It was just me, the ball, I didn't have it in my hands correctly, like I should have, and it got away from me when I was on my release and that's what caused it to sail and go over the top of Willie, because Willie had the drag, it was an S and H drag. I'm sorry, y'all don't know what that is, but it was a drag. And Willie had it, and I just overshot him and it was an interception, so it was my fault.

Q. If Virginia Tech is the measure of this conference, how close is Florida State to catching them?
COACH FISHER: I mean, I think we competed in the ballgame with them. I mean, we really did. They made a few more plays and had some mature guys at the right positions. But like I say, I feel very good about where we're going and being able to compete with everybody in our league, I really do, especially as young as we are and the confidence we're growing. And hopefully we can keep building on this in the off-season. I feel very confident we can compete with everybody in our league, I really do.

Q. Question about the last touchdown pass that Tyrod threw. It looked like the safety was blitzing right in his face. Can you talk about that play? It looked like he deeked him a little bit.
COACH FISHER: He did. And he was supposed to peel on the (indiscernible) and the end went for a little bit and didn't keep carrying the guy. And he did it, and so -- because he would have had him in man. We brought four weak, brought the wheel and the free safety off the weak side, which is a hot for them, released it back, he gave enough ground and our end was supposed to peel, and he did for a little bit, he just didn't carry him down the field and Tyrod made a great play. He just kept giving ground, kept his hands high, and flicked it up high. That's what you've got to do handling the blitz. That's what an experienced quarterback can do. He did a great job.

Q. E.J., obviously it's a loss, but what can you take out of this performance, throwing for 288 and putting up 33 points against this type of defense?
EJ MANUEL: You can always take something positive out of my game whether you win or lose. Obviously, we still have one more game to play, so just move on to it. Take the mistakes and turn them into positives the next time you get a chance to play. So definitely this is a huge boost of confidence for our team and our organization as we move on in the future, just that we can get here and that we can make plays and hang in the game and things like that. Obviously, we want to win. So in the future, we'll just learn from it and remember how to get back to this position and win.

Q. Coach, in theory Virginia Tech was supposed to be somewhat vulnerable against the run. What exactly -- they seemed to have a lot of success shutting you guys down that way.
COACH FISHER: They played the run very well. They bunched the box and had six, seven, eight guys in the game. That's how we were having success in the passing game and getting on the edge. In the first half -- at the end of the first half, we were still moving, running, throwing, we had a good deal. The second half, we just got behind, had to keep throwing the ball. That's what happened in the second half. You couldn't stay with the run; you had to abandon it because they were scoring every drive and got up three scores. And when they got up three scores, you know, you didn't have time to keep running the football. The fist half, I mean, we didn't run it great, but we had some pretty decent success in the first half with the option, had a couple of nice zone runs up there, and a couple good plays.

Q. I know not where you want to go, but can you talk about Atlanta and the Chick-fil-A Bowl?
COACH FISHER: I've been to that Bowl three or four times in my career. They do a phenomenal job. Anything involved with Chick-fil-A, they're first class. They do a phenomenal job. It's one of the best Bowl games you can go to, the way they treat you, the hospitality. Atlanta is a great down and playing in the dome, it's a great environment there and it's a great atmosphere. And again, playing an SEC foe, so we'll have a great opponent and look forward to that challenge. It's a great venue, it really is. It's, I think, one of the best Bowl games I've ever been to as far as the way they treat you and the hospitality and things that they do.

Q. At the end of the first half with both teams moving up and down the field, what were your thoughts at that point about how you felt?
COACH FISHER: I knew we were going to have to match and keep up, and I thought we could maybe make some adjustments at halftime and slow them down and get that taken care of, because I felt we could still move the football, which we did. We just didn't have enough at-bats. They kept it for long drives and kept it away from us. We only with 60 plays, and probably eight or ten of them came at the end of that last drive, you know, in what we did.
But I knew it was going to be a scoring match. I just hoped we could make some adjustments at halftime to slow them down enough and maybe win it 35-31 or somewhere in that nature right there.

End of FastScripts

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