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November 13, 2017

Jimbo Fisher

Tallahassee, Florida

JIMBO FISHER: After reviewing the film from the game, I'm very proud of our team's effort, their toughness, their ability to compete in the game. Showed a lot of perseverance -- fighting, scratching, clawing, getting back in that football game and having ample opportunities to come out on the top end of that.

Again, we have to learn to execute a few plays at the right time on both sides of the ball. Special teams, we had a couple mistakes there, too, with some penalties and some things that happened in all three phases, but at the same time, Clemson is a very good football team. We knew that. We knew we were going to have to play a heck of a game.

Two teams went out and competed. They were able to make a few more plays than we did. We had a few opportunities at the end of the game to get back in it after great second half adjustments with the players and the staff and had great opportunities there. Came up a few inches short on a couple plays that really could have snapped it open, but had opportunities at the end. They made the plays they had to do.

Our guys, again, scratched, clawed, fought, on both phases of the football game, and played a heck of a game of a competitive nature. We've got to make a few more plays at the right time.

With that, we've got to move on and play a very fine game against Delaware State this week. Questions?

Q. Jimbo, Brian Burns statistically had a huge game. He said after the game he felt like it was a long time coming for him. Was there anything he's doing differently recently, or what teams are doing with him?
JIMBO FISHER: Sometimes you just -- you process as the game comes together for you, and you see the opportunities and you make the plays. There's nothing -- he's always worked very hard, practiced very hard. I feel he's going to have a tremendous future in this game, and he's a very good football player. He just stepped up and played to another level there. Hopefully, he can keep the same progression the last three weeks of the season.

Q. Jimbo, what are some things that you guys can build on from the Syracuse win, how you guys performed at Clemson? You guys have three chances to be bowl eligible for the rest of this year.
JIMBO FISHER: We do. We need to play three good football games. But first we need to play one. We need to play one good football game and build on the positives. Look at the things when the critical moments are there and why we didn't make those plays and understand that sometimes, when you get in those situations, your instinct's got to take over, but you've got to stay disciplined in what you do and not try to want to do it too bad, you know what I'm saying? Want to make it too much and force that extra inch. You've got to relax and do it and do it so many times in practice it's second nature and have confidence to do it.

Like I say, making good decisions is there. It just seems like the ball is off your fingertips or can't pick one up or miss a tackle by a hair on a sack or something. We've got to keep fighting through it. That's the only answer. We've got to have technique, show them why, when it happens, and also thought process: What were you thinking? How are you thinking?

That's very much -- like you see me get with James coming off the field. Why do you talk to him? It's immediate that you have to understand a guy's thought process and at the time correct it.

I always say it's like -- I don't know, for lack of a better term, when your kids are little, if they do something -- when a baby does something little, if you don't correct it right then, sometimes they don't even know exactly what they were thinking. You've got to get exactly what they think when they do it and get them to bring -- as I say, regurgitate exactly their mind, thought process when they do it because the whole thing about those situations is thought process. You've got to have a thought process. You have to be instinctive, but you've got to stay disciplined within that instinct and not want to get the result too bad.

That's why a lot of times when he comes over -- me and him have never had an argument. I'm trying to get him to verbalize what he was thinking, what he saw, exactly when he comes off the field. I think that's the critical point through teaching. All of our players. Just when you missed the tackle, you didn't pick up the fumble. Why didn't you pick up the fumble? I'm using that as an example. That route is a hair off.

I think it's very critical because, when they can get it in that moment and why they're thinking, then you can correct it that much better because later sometimes it doesn't have the same effect as it does when it does that right there.

That's what we've got to keep doing with our guys and keep getting them in position to keep making plays. We're getting into position to make them; we just got to make them. We're there to make them. We're in the right place, got the right plays. We've just got to get them to finalize them.

Q. Coach, with three games left, has the topic of bowl eligible even come up in the locker room?
JIMBO FISHER: Our guys know that. You've heard us say 40 and 35. That was important to us. But at the same time, that's a goal. To get there, we have to play one good game this week, then another good game the next week, then another good game the next week.

Q. With a game like Delaware State, what are you looking? You've mentioned it twice. Just looking to play a good game?
JIMBO FISHER: Play like you did against Clemson. Go out there and play like you played against Syracuse, with the same enthusiasm and heart, except with better execution in those situations and keep executing and get confidence that you did it on the field and do it again the next time and do it again the next time. And repeat and create a habit because, when you create and play with a certain intensity and certain execution, you create a habit because, when pressure comes, habits come straight to the surface of what you believe. When you've had success and you've done it the right way, good habits happen.

Q. I'm sure you didn't see it after he was kicked out of the game, but did you have a conversation with Emmett Rice about how he --
JIMBO FISHER: We'll discuss it. Emmett had a hit which, unfortunately, was a targeting call. He hit the guy square and hit him high. I don't think there was any intent. He made a bad hit on a situation we've got to aim a little lower. We talked to him about how we do things.

Q. Coach, to follow up on Brian Burns, it seems like this season has been slow for him. Do you think this performance could be a springboard for him?
JIMBO FISHER: No doubt. Like I said, it creates confidence. It creates an I can do it. People say it's a rhythm, a zone, whatever. Sometimes the game just begins to focus, and what you're doing, you hit that stride. Hopefully, it will because we need him to play well the next three weeks because he's played hard all year.

Q. Just wondering how Jacques came out of the game. Did he feel fine? Were you pleased with what he was able to do?
JIMBO FISHER: He had a nice run on the goal line. Made another great short yardage run down in a hurry-up situation we had down there. We were using him well in the game. Had to turn to throwing the football at the end to get back in it, but he was doing a good job. He feels healthy and ready to go.

Q. The last month or so, it seems like Noonie, maybe even a little bit under the radar, has been really productive. Have you seen him kind of take a few steps --
JIMBO FISHER: He's getting better and better. And, again, learning not to go instinctive so much. You have to have instincts, but you have to have disciplined instincts. He's getting good at what he's doing, and we need him to mature and get better, because he can really make plays.

Q. How good has Derwin been this season for you?
JIMBO FISHER: Real good. I'll tell you what, he's been great as a leader, great as a guy to look up to, his enthusiasm in practice. I thought played an excellent game the other night. I thought he tackled well in space, made a lot of plays in a lot of situations. I thought he had a heck of a game. I think he's getting better and better and really falling into playing.

Because, again, you got to remember, he hadn't played for a whole year, you know what I'm saying, when you go into this year. I think he's getting better and better, and he played a heck of a game the other night. Played a great one against Syracuse.

Q. Do you think these last two games he's been the Derwin that he can be?
JIMBO FISHER: I think the opportunities have presented themselves, and he's made the plays. Sometimes the opportunities don't present themselves all the time. I don't think he's had a bad year at all. I think he's played well, and I think he's played exceptionally well the last two weeks.

Q. Jimbo, any concern these guys might look ahead past Delaware State?
JIMBO FISHER: I hope not. That's something as coaches we've got to bring up and bring to them. I don't think they will because I think they understand the importance of every game out there and, again, creating the habits. Once you start to play well, hopefully, you'll continue to play well. That's something we've got to address and make sure. I don't think so. I really don't.

Q. Jimbo, with the ULM game was added, but still Senior Day this weekend. What's the significance of Senior Day?
JIMBO FISHER: To reward -- you're talking about seniors, two or three guys, two guys for sure, that won a National Championship, 2013. They've been through '13, '14, '15, '16. They've been four straight New Year's, six bowl games, national playoff game, National Championship Game, the honor -- they're our true seniors. You've been to national playoff game, two New Year's, six bowl games, Rose Bowl, Orange Bowl, Peach Bowl, another game this -- I mean, the games they've won, the things they've done for Florida State, 10-win seasons, 12-win seasons, 11-win seasons, undefeated regular season, the things that have happened. Go out the right way, and we honor and cherish every moment they've been here, and I think we need to show them a great celebration.

Q. Jimbo, looking back on Saturday, how did James handle that environment? That's one of the toughest environments in college football.
JIMBO FISHER: I think in the beginning, I don't think it was crazy, but I think it took him a few seconds to get involved in the game, but he did a good job, and I thought he handled it. Sometimes -- again, he brought us back, made two great plays, had a heck of a throw to Noonie right down the middle. Inches off. Two perfect reads on other plays -- like Noonie said, I lost the ball in the lights. If he didn't, he catches it on that one or a hair more. He's making good decisions, and he made some mistakes, but for a true freshman, he had us in position to have a chance to win the football game.

Q. I think you saw the one to Tate. I think you guys had a pretty detailed discussion right after. What was that discussion?
JIMBO FISHER: Just about what he saw. He made the right decision. I said maybe put a hair more air when he threw and come out at the angling. I always talk to him when he makes a mistake: What did you see? Not about that. I make him regurgitate everything when he comes off the field. That's why. Because he's learning every time he's out there. Even when he's right. I make him regurgitate everything when he comes off the field because you can make a good play for the wrong reasons. So I make him tell me what he saw, what he thought.

What I'm trying to get him to train and do -- which I do with all young players and young quarterbacks, and I tell our coaches to do the same thing, thought process. What you saw, why you saw it, so when it happens again, you can repeat it, and if it doesn't, you do it.

We were going through the whole scenario. He made a good fake. First read was done. The high-low, the corner came, took the flat, he made the perfect decision and just a hair off. I was saying, What did you see? Just to make sure he saw it. If we had to do it again by the coverage, what coverage did he make? I make him regurgitate all the plays.

That's what we go through on the sidelines with all those guys because it trains them how to think, and you have to think in a certain way to be successful.

Q. Coach, you've had these conversations with James now for going on eight games. How has his thought process changed since the first game?
JIMBO FISHER: So many little things that you see. You say in results, but how he sees the game, situations he sees the game. Maybe doesn't always -- sometimes it shows up in results, sometimes it doesn't. But his ability to have the game slow down and think and make the right decisions and do those things and how he articulates things, it's ten-fold. He's growing tremendously. He's growing tremendously.

Q. Jimbo, physically, how is James doing after that game? That was a game that he was probably hit the most on defense.
JIMBO FISHER: No, he's fine. He came out, and he's healthy.

Q. Is he going to be kind of limited this week?
JIMBO FISHER: No. There's nothing wrong with him. He's fine.

Q. Jimbo, in the second half when you had to pass more, how did the offensive line do?
JIMBO FISHER: We pass blocked well. That's why we got back -- that's why I said the first three drives, we had seven runs but we had no yards the second half, first two out three drives, we had three runs in the first drive, didn't produce anything, but we hit passes. And they were playing the run. They were playing it. They were forcing us saying that we think we're going to have to. We liked our matchups in the pass game. Our play action game, we had some opportunities, and we had another drive we had three runs and didn't really get anything. At least it kept them honest.

Then we got hot. Made the drive, missed Noonie. Went down and scored and had the great pass and missed Noonie when he was inches over. We missed Tate. Had things open when we wanted. Then we made the big play, the trick play, and then we come back.

Our pass protection for the most part was good. One or two guys on a twist that didn't slide off, which was tough sometimes. Took a few shots, and they protected pretty well. We got guys open and moved the football consistently. That's how we had to move it.

Q. I know the focus all year has been on this year and each week to week, but do you think having to play all these young guys on offense, can you think about the fact that that should help in some regards next year?
JIMBO FISHER: I hope so. Again, if they don't just play and they think the right way -- I know that sounds crazy, but that's why I keep making these guys talk to me. That's why James, every time he comes off, we have discussion. It's not -- you'll see me: Why? Why? I ask why when you do it right. I ask our guys all the time: Tell me why you did it because, if you don't know why that happened, you can never repeat it when you need to good and you can never fix it when it was bad and do it. I think from that standpoint, if we can get our guys to understand that, yes, there is a silver lining that they've been out there when the lights are on and when it mattered and how it happened and see what happens and what's necessary to play well.

Q. Coach, this is the first time you've really coached a true freshman in game action like this. How has this kind of been for you, kind of dealing with this -- dealing with a rookie, dealing with somebody who kind of --
JIMBO FISHER: Like coaching. It's exciting. You know, you wish -- you take three steps forward and start to take a step back, then you take another step forward. And that's part of coaching. That's coaching young players. And building his library of knowledge, the things he can apply and what you can apply for him going in the game.

Then you've got to pick sometimes what you need to win the game. You have to pick and choose. You have to be very careful not to exploit him, but at times you do have to exploit him because your team may need that part of his game to win or the other receivers.

Also, it's finally good that hopefully our receivers are starting to get back healthy so they can all play again, which I think will be huge for him. And also practice because a lot of them haven't practiced. They played, but they haven't practiced. They don't get that continuity in practice consistently.

Hopefully, getting that back. Hopefully, you'll see him grow in how he's playing, but it's been -- as I say, it's coaching. Coaching is always a challenge. Coaching is always a great wealth of trying to get people to understand how you want them to think and what you want them to think and how to think like successful people think and have that thought process.

As crazy as it sounds, as frustrating as it can be, and you don't always get the results you want, but at the same time, exhilarating watching them progress, and that's what you're in this business for. If you don't like that, you shouldn't do it.

Q. How much of the play calling has kind of improved there? How much has he kind of known or picked up the last couple weeks?
JIMBO FISHER: A lot. He really has. Understanding -- okay, he'll start to come in on film. Coach, we did that last week. That would be real good this week. You start to see those conversations that are being had, yeah.

Q. Jimbo, I always talked about the freshmen on offense. The freshmen on defense are playing a lot too. Does Hamsah have a chance to be a real guy?
JIMBO FISHER: He's got a chance. He's athletic. He's long. He's multi-dimensional. He can play up. He can play back. Has great ball skills for a big guy. He's physical. He could be a special teams player, and he has a chance to be a very good football player.

Q. You talked about silver linings, with Kaindoh and him and Stanford Samuels and Taylor's a sophomore, is there a chance these guys coming back have something in 2018?
JIMBO FISHER: Yeah, again, we have a chance to have a very good football team, if they keep developing, and our attitude and culture keep developing with it, and they take it to the next level of how -- just like Cam Erving was here the other day, and he said, Just like we went through. I said, What do you mean? Got to keep understanding why they play and what they want. Sometimes you have to -- we all got knocked down. We had to go through some tough times to get to where we were going, you know what I'm saying?

Even '11, when we got hurt, and '12, we thought we had a chance and let one slip away and got to the Orange Bowl and had to go again. They're all going through it. Don't ever lose your why. But understand, if you don't grind through those things -- all the old players, it's funny, they see themselves in these kids and remember where they were when they first got here in the program when we were 6-7, 7-6, going through the same scenarios to get to that championship in '09 and different times.

It's funny here -- which we don't always think about as coaches, but as players, they're very supportive in that realm.

Q. In 2011, you all had that three-game losing streak.
JIMBO FISHER: Lost the quarterback, had a bunch of injuries, and then won a bunch.

Q. Can you see that same kind of thing happening with this --
JIMBO FISHER: I do because you're a play away. When you see the competitive level which the kids want to play with. Now we've got to get them to play competitively and play even to make the play, but that same spirit, tenacity, want to is there.

Q. Coach, Wally's played a lot more, Wally Aime has played a lot more the last couple weeks. What have you seen from him?
JIMBO FISHER: Wally gives you a good pass rush guy, he's fast twitch guy, playing the run better with his hands and being more physical and can create pass rush. And when he does, he's a lot more consistent.

Q. Jimbo, I'm sure you don't want to make excuses for the season overall, but has this been -- looking back at your career, even as an assistant coach, do you remember a season where it seems like this much adversity and the schedules and just different things?
JIMBO FISHER: Not to the extent it went, and to have key people go away, you know what I'm saying? So, again, you learn as a coach, too, every day how you're going to handle it, what goes on, and it gives you something to revert back to.

Again, the thing I'm the proudest of is our kids and the fighting spirit which they have and the ability to allow you to keep pushing them. There's no doubt. But that's what life is. You never know what's around each turn. You've got to figure it out and move on.

Q. Going back to 2011 again, after that 35-30 loss at Wake Forest, that was only your second year as a head coach and that was some real adversity. Panic is not the right word, but how did you handle that with a team that wasn't expecting to lose and then they were on a three-game losing streak?
JIMBO FISHER: You understood why they lost, explain to them why we lost, and go back. Stay true to your basics and what you believe. Like I say, go back to fundamentals. Like I tell them, when you're in a game and something's going wrong, go back to your fundamentals. What you were coached every day. Hear the coach's voice in the back of your head. Hear the coach saying this, hear the coach saying that.

All the coaches I'd ever been with, stay true to your values, stay true to your beliefs, understand. Always ask the why. If that's why, then make a change. If what everyone else thinks is why it happened is not the reason, don't make a change, you know what I'm saying? As far as how you change, what you coach, what you do in the game plan, what you do.

Everything in this world is based off this why. Why? Why was it successful? Why was it not? Evaluate and then make changes accordingly, and that's what we tried to do then. At that time, we didn't do a lot and did a couple little things here and there and tweaked some things and learned our players and adjusted.

Q. Jimbo, you've been here in 2009, 2011, this season now, and even the success you've had in '13, '14, when these moments are kind of happening like this where you see the potential, they're just an inch away or a play here, a play there, and to see the light at the end of the tunnel, you've seen both sides of this, is it frustrating now? How do you kind of deal with this knowing it's going to happen?
JIMBO FISHER: It's not frustrating. It's coaching. It's life. How can I say it? It's not for myself, it's because you want the kids to feel it. You want the kids to get it. I always said, it's critical that they get it before they get out of this program because they're going to use these same values in life, and it takes what it takes. That's the other thing you've got to remember. The standards can't change. Standards for success and what you do, how you practice, the amount of time you put in. The standards don't change. They are what they are. It takes what it takes.

That's why you've got to get them to understand that, and then as coaches, we've got to make the adjustments and see.

Q. Coach, you talk about kind of getting it. Do you feel like this team gets it or still to be determined?
JIMBO FISHER: We're getting it. We haven't got it, or we would be over that hump, but we're getting it, and their will to get it is there. You can see that in their spirit to compete. You know what I'm saying? But at key moments, again, you can't go totally instinctive. You've got instinct is great if it's guided by discipline. And I don't mean it's not in discipline, you know what I'm saying? I'm saying you've got to have a gauge on yourself to how you think.

It goes back to how you think. Goes back to what I'm talking about. Thought process on each play. What you're trying to accomplish, what you're trying to do, and what your parameters are. You've got to stay in that. The only way to go through that is experience. That's called life. You've got to push yourself through that.

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