Press Conference: Jimbo Fisher

Florida State football coach Jimbo Fisher talks with the news media in advance of his team’s game on Saturday with Virginia.

Pretty good defense you’re facing this week?

“Very good, they are 12th in the country, and seventh in scoring. You go watch VMI, watch Richmond, they are a very go program and then go watch Southern Cal. Southern Cal had a couple of plays, they (Virginia) drove down opening drive and then threw an interception in the end zone. Drove back down again and scored, went down to the 20 or 30 and didn’t score points, they could have won that ball game very easily. This is a good Virginia team. I have been impressed, very impressed, and that is without Dowling, their All American corner. He is going to be one of the top 15 picks in the draft; he will be back and their starting safety, so that will be two players back that haven’t played. They are a very good football team.”

Why are they so good defensively?

“They have good size up front, big six foot five, six foot six guys, eat space. Even when you block them they don’t move. Linebackers run well. They mix their coverage up, mix their fronts up. Safeties are active and they have corners that can walk up and they want pressure you, press you and mix their coverages. They have got good personnel and do a good job.”

Coach Groh isn’t there anymore, but when he was he emphasized defense. Are they any different now?

“Al has been around, he is part of the Parcells/Belichek tree, so he has been around some of the guys, knows what they look like, know how to recruit the, and get the big bodies. They have changed schematically from him, they are a 4-3 team, not a 3-4, but the coaches have done a great job and don’t have to back from what they are doing. They have their own pedigree and their own work during their careers. They are good on defense. They are also good on offense. Physical on offense, quarterback can throw the ball, got some wideouts that can play well, big physical back, and always have great looking tightends. I always remember that watching them. Can catch, can run, can block. They have a good looking team.”

Your first road game didn’t go very well. Will you change anything this time around?

“No, we will keep the same routine and the things we do. We will handle situation better, be more prepared, and know what to look for. I really felt last time we were not acting up, we were focused, I think we faced a good football team that was really ready to play. Hopefully we will be ready to play. We better get up early because it’s going to be a noon game, so we better be up early and ready to roll.”

What they big differences from a coach’s perspective going on the road as to playing at home?

“I think the biggest thing is that sometimes it helps you. If you think about it, the last few years we have played just as well on the road as we did at home, or better probably. Sometimes when you are rallied up, bunkered down at your hotel, and you are around your coaches and meetings, and it’s only you. That is why we switched up this home environment to have a lot of those same qualities, where we are around each other just as much as when we are on the road. That is what we are trying to do here now. The big thing is when you get to the stadium, dealing with the adversity, the noise, and the swings in momentum, those folks are not on your side. You cannot listen to the crowd. It’s like when a coach is yelling at you. Don’t listen to the tone of his voice; listen to what he is saying. It’s just like that when going on the road. Don’t listen to the crowd, think about the game, play the game and control what you can control, and hopefully we have learned those lessons from our last trip and that we will be able to deal with it a lot better this time.”

What is the update on the left tackle situation?

He’s (Andrew Datko) hurt. They will go day to day, but we are expecting to play Henry (Orelus) and (Garrett) Faircloth. We will decide during the week and how they play. We will mix them both in there and see what we do.”

What is the biggest difference with our defense this year compared to last season?

“We are playing good solid ball. I think there are a lot of things. I think when you realize the average starting field position for Wake Forest was at their own 19 yard line, you are winning the kicking game. They are starting at their own 20; we punted one time in the game. You have to remember on the offensive side of the ball we had six drives of eight plays or more. That keeps an offense out of whack and keeps them out of rhythm because they are all off the field, and that is how we want to play, which is to play together as a unit. Now the defense is playing very good. They are keeping great leverage on the ball, we are battling, and the guys up front are doing a tremendous job applying pressure with four. Playing the run, they corners are being disciplined, our safeties are too, and Mark (Stoops) and them are doing a great job of coaching. We are playing together as a team. Special teams, offense, defense very well, but our defense I think is playing tremendous right now and they need to continue to grow and have to remember how to prepare and remember why they are having success. They are staying in good situations and good field positions. When they are bending, they are not breaking in the red zone, they are having a lot of pride, creating turnovers, and I think they are starting to play with confidence.”

Can you talk about Brandon Jenkins development? He is no longer just a speed guy is he?

“No he is 253 pounds now. He can take the run, he can take the pass, he can pressure the pocket, and he can push the tackles back into guys. Everyone thinks of ends as speed guys, but that is not necessarily true. You got them, but you have to have power too. He is both. He has power and speed because he is a fast twitch guy, he is a good athlete, he can bend, he can play low to high, and he is learning to use his hands and counter move. He is learning to get that first move, and when they counter he is learning to counter back. He is athletic enough and he has got great instincts. Brandon is a guy who feels the game. He is a guy you will always see tipping the ball, falling back on a draw or screen, those kinds of things, he has a great feel for the game in my opinion.”

Mike Harris seems to have great instincts too?

“Extremely. It’s amazing. He gets a pick the first game. Tips one and gets Xavier (Rhodes) an interception, then he causes a fumble. Gets in about 22 plays and makes five tackles. Sees, feels, takes great angles, and can play. He does a great job in the nickel for us. Understands the game and teaching and leverage, he does have very good instincts. He was actually an offensive player his whole life. He was an option quarterback that just ran the ball. A lot of people recruited him out of high school as a tailback. I remember him out of high school and he just ran the ball all over the place. He has earned a role on this football team. He will continue to grow and play. He is a very good football player and a great kid. He works his tail off. You also have to realize what he has been through, just losing his mother in the last few weeks, and just coming back, being part of this team and being productive. Just the character he has and what he is doing. He is a tremendous young man.”

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