Third-rank Clemson is not the only team off this week. The Tigers’ next opponent, No. 15 Florida State, is also is off this week as the Seminoles prepare to host Clemson in a key ACC Atlantic Division Showdown in Tallahassee, Florida.
FSU head coach Jimbo Fisher spoke to the media on Wednesday during the ACC Coaches Teleconference. Here is a transcript of the call, including what he said about playing the Tigers.
COACH FISHER: Coming off a hard-fought game against Wake, thought our kids played extremely hard in the game. Defensively I thought we were outstanding. I thought our front is really getting healthy and I thought they played well. We covered people well. Pressured the quarterback. Did a great job on defense and when sudden changes, did a great job that way. Played very well offensively. I mean, we had a (indiscernible) 200-yard rusher — I mean, receiver and 100-yard receiver. Moved the ball well. Didn’t finish some drives I wish we would have. Missed a field goal.
Had some opportunities to put some points on the board. Just didn’t move the ball well and have to play with a little more consistency in what we’re trying to do. But at the same time it’s not things that can’t be fixed or issues that we can’t work through. Played very hard the week before against Miami and then had some great outings before that.
Still comfortable with where we’re at and still trying to get those young guys in, and they are starting to make a big difference, some of the young guys on our team, offensively, defensively, special teams-wise.
So midseason funk, I think the off-week came at a good time. It’s been four hard weeks at camp, and seven straight games, so it’s been 11 weeks. Try to heal up a little bit, but also get better fundamentally, and come down this stretch run with a great Clemson team, NC State team, Boston College, Syracuse and Florida. Got to come down this stretch and be ready to play.
Hopefully we’ll heal up and get better, and just continue to improve. We’ve got some great opportunities in front of us and still got a lot to play for here coming up in the next five weeks. And just anxious to watch this young team grow as we keep developing.
But again, proud of the guys, the effort, the toughness they play with. Got to play a little better execution at times and get our best ball ahead of us. And I still think it’s ahead of us because I don’t think we’ve come close to playing our best football yet, which is also very encouraging because the attitude and things in practice and things have been good and we’ve been practicing better, so we’ll continue to grow. Questions.
Q. Did Wake do anything on offense or defense you didn’t expect?
COACH FISHER: No, they really didn’t. They had a couple wrinkles like you do in a game, but they pretty much stayed with what they were going to do. They do what they do very well. They are well coached. Played great leverage on the football on defense and offensively, have great discipline.
Q. Is the bye week coming at the time you want it to come this year?
COACH FISHER: Yeah, you know what, it actually is. I think midterm, like I said, it’s been 11 straight weeks with camp and seven games. I think it’s at a very good time right before you go back.
I kind of liked it a couple of years ago when we had two bye weeks, I think these kids do. I think the wear and tear on their bodies and things that go on is very important. I think especially at this age when you add school and all these things, I think it’s hitting us just perfect.
Q. You talk about not hitting on all cylinders yet. When you look at your offense, what’s your biggest concern right now?
COACH FISHER: Well, I think we’ve moved the ball extremely well. We’re averaging 475, 480 yards a game, and about 38 points game, we’re doing really well.
But just playing with more consistency. I think long passing situations, I think where we’re getting some of our pressures and I think we can eliminate some of them in the game the other day. We dropped a swing pass, we missed a run here, a block there, that could have put us in better third-down situations which we have converted very well all year for the most part on third down.
But just making sure, and which I think everybody struggles with — when you have to throw it third-and-long, people can lay their ears back, it gets tough on everybody. But it does on everybody. That’s just football in general.
Q. With the offensive line having struggles in pass protection, are they trying to do too much?
COACH FISHER: No, they are doing — no, they are not. And like I said, all their struggles didn’t come on the offensive line. We had a couple sacks on our running backs and one or two on our tight ends.
So when you put those guys in pass pro, now they have to get better. Now they got beat by some good people, but their technique and things has got to get better. So it’s not all on the offensive line, and I’ve said that before. So don’t let’s go down that road too much, now. Now they had a couple things that they didn’t block, too.
But also we had some back issues, we had a tight end or two issue. Just got to get better on the whole area and we’ll work on it this week.
Q. With Sean having the experience playing Clemson the last two years, how much do you want to see him help Deondre prepare for this game?
COACH FISHER: Oh, he always does. He’s always a super teammate in preparing what we’re doing game-plan wise and ideas and things that goes on. He’ll always be a big part of that. That’s what he does and he’ll also be ready to play. He’s one play away from playing. And I thought he last week had an outstanding — his ankle is really starting to get healthy, the last week to two weeks, I thought he has practiced extremely well.
Q. Why do you think the defensive line has played better here the last couple of weeks?
COACH FISHER: I think as much as anything it’s health. I mean we’ve gotten healthy. Sweat took a couple weeks off of surgery. Nnadi had an ankle for the last four weeks that he’s gotten healthy. Chris and those guys have gotten better. And I think some of those other younger guys, DeMarcus has always played at a high level.
And now you have three or four of those guys in there doing that and Wally has gotten better, he’s gotten in there, Fred Jones has improved. I think their health, first of all, and then because they were really banged up there for awhile, which is no excuse, you’ve got to play. But I think it makes a big difference and I think some of those younger guys and depth and right now we’re able to rotate more bodies and keep more guys fresh.
Q. Is the way they played the last couple weeks the way that you anticipated this group would look when the season started?
COACH FISHER: Yeah, they are starting to play up to their potential which again health has a lot to do with that and they have a chance to be a good group up there if they can just keep playing at the level they are playing.
Q. With Ricky and the missed field goal on Saturday, is it technique or just something with the young kicker just with consistency and stuff?
COACH FISHER: Just young, and he hit those kicks all camp. He’s been hitting them. He’s a hair off to the left. I mean, and you know, just got to keep working and staying consistent. When he hits the others, I mean, I think he’s, what, 14 of 19 or 13 of 19 — 14 or 19. And three of those came in one game so he only had one miss in two other games.
I’ve been very pleased with his performance so far. Every now and then with a young kicker, you’re going to miss one here or there.
Q. Just on DeMarcus, when he was deciding to come back last year, did he talk to you or the coaching staff any about his decision?
COACH FISHER: Yeah, I spoke a lot with him about it. Now I’m not saying that’s the reason he came back but just trying to get him the right information and how are thoughts and views on things and where he could develop and what other people saw him as, you know what I mean.
DeMarcus is a very good young man about gathering all of his — I thought he did it, not because he came back, but the way he went about it of listening to people to get the proper information to make a good decision. He showed a lot of maturity.
Q. With a team like Clemson coming up, this team has had — your team has had a habit of getting off to slow starts at times in big games. How do you address that and what are you doing that obviously —
COACH FISHER: Always address that. But if you keep pressing it, sometimes it can make it worse. You just have got to practice — start practicing different ways, which we have, and get energy and create energy early in games. You’ve got to go out there and do that and just understand the energy.
But there will be energy in this game I think from the get-go, because, I mean, of the rivalry and the importance of it and it’s just a big game and it will be a — it will be a great atmosphere. Just got to come out of the blocks and play well.
Q. When you look at them on tape, the offense has got most of the core people back from last year’s team that were very good but they kind of had to rebuild their defense on the fly. When you look at them on tape, does this defense stack up to what you saw a year ago?
COACH FISHER: Oh, yeah, I mean, the two big tackles inside 94 and 90, are really powerful guys. The ends, big 99 and 42 and all the guys they rotate in can really bring pressure. The linebacker, (Boulware), has been there a long time. He’s a leader, makes calls.
34, the backer, the secondary guy, there’s a lot of the same secondary guys. They have lost some, but still they have all played and played significant roles. They are dynamic and their bringing blitzes from all angles and the different kind of things they do, but they are a very did defense. I mean, just look at their numbers and what they have done. They played very well.
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