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Florida State Syracuse Jimbo Fisher Scott Shafer Transcript

The head coaches for Florida state and Syracuse discussed their upcoming game and their programs. Transcript via ACC.

Jeff Gammons

JIMBO FISHER: Well, very proud of our team coming off a good win against Wake Forest. I thought our defense played extremely well, did a great job. Some of those young guys are really developing and providing us a lot of depth in key areas. Our secondary is getting healthy again with our corners now really looking physically like they did at the end of last year as far as getting over nicks and knacks and some pulls, so getting some back on defense is good, special teams and things. I thought our kickers, of course, Roberto was outstanding. Cason Beatty did a nice job kicking the ball. Return game we know as far as those two things on special teams, coverage, kicks very well. I thought offensively we started off with two turnovers, which we don't need to do, then we got in a groove and moved the football and had some key injuries at center. We had Ryan Hoefeld come in and did an outstanding job at center, who we think is going to be a really good player for us. Rashad Greene went down, had two young freshmen really step up, Ermon Lane and Travis Rudolph, and our young backs Mario Pender and Dalvin Cook filling in for Carlos Williams, who got nicked in the game. We had a lot of adversity, and our offense, I thought we overcame it, moved the ball very well, had a very solid day, and then continued to have a good week of practice and get better. Got to go to the Carrier Dome, play Coach Shafer. They do a great job on defense, very multiple on defense, different blitz packages, different looks, come at you from all different angles, create a lot of turnovers, their defense does. The Carrier Dome is always a very tough place to play, loud, noise, and I know it's a homecoming so it'll be packed so it'll be a very challenging situation as far as that goes. Offensively I know they lost a quarterback so we'll have to prepare for two different quarterbacks. Got to get that preparation in and be very sound in the kicking game because they do a great job. Any time you go on the road it's extremely challenging, so we have a lot of tough challenges this week, but hopefully we'll have a good week and continue to progress as a team.

Q. Obviously you talked about going into the Carrier Dome, going up against a team that now has a new quarterback situation with the starter going out. How have you assessed that in practice and gone up against that because there isn't a lot of film out there except for Austin Wilson with the time that he played?

JIMBO FISHER: Well, you have to go off the film you have, look what they have, and then you know the other young man, and they've made comment, is a very good athlete, so you may have to think of more quarterback runs and draws and things of that nature, but at the same time can still throw the ball. And you play against wildcat situation, you kind of almost play against that every week when you play running quarterbacks, so from that standpoint it does help preparation that we have that in our repertoire for our packages, but at the same time, how play calling is going to go and those things, you have to sort it out through the game, so it's going to be a very challenging test for our defense.

Q. And then as far as playing inside of a dome as opposed to what you're used to in Tallahassee, what can you say about that experience and what you try to tell your guys about that. It can get hot in there sometimes, it is going to be homecoming, so that entire environment that you're preparing for?

JIMBO FISHER: Yeah, it will be. It's going to be very hostile. We had to play in a dome, of course we were in Dallas this year. We did that earlier in the year against Oklahoma State, but it's a much larger place than the Carrier Dome. The Carrier Dome from what I understand sits down on top of you much tighter, like I said, gets very hot, and it can be a very tough, tough place to play that way and noise. Those are the things we have to prepare -- we have an indoor facility, so we'll try to simulate some of those things in our indoor and also crank up the crowd noise where it's deafening inside to try to prepare as much as you can. But you never can prepare for all of it. The only thing you can do is do the best you can do.

Q. I think because last year people kind of expected you to come out and dominate an opponent from the very first minute again this year and it's obviously not the case, what have you found the identity of this year's team to be?

JIMBO FISHER: Extremely competitive, understand how to win, play together, nothing seems to bother them as far as situations, and a very tough, tough team. I think we're, like I say, still scoring a lot of points. Defensively we're getting much better as time goes on. I love our kids. I think we have an extremely good team, and very proud of the way we've done things.

Q. And also, how is Rashad looking for this week?

JIMBO FISHER: Well, we'll find out. He's actually going to be able to practice today, run around with some individual drills. He's been cleared to do that, and then we'll judge as practice goes and make decisions. If he has any recurring things he won't get hit today, and then if he does, if he's okay today, he could possibly get hit tomorrow and get banged around a little bit. But as of right now, he's progressed extremely well. At Wake we didn't know if this would happen, and his responses have been really good, but there's still a lot of tests and situations he has to go through.

Q. I know all these big offensive weapons always get the recognition, but talk about how Roberto was able to go from being a red shirt to the best kicker in the country and the model of consistency he's given you guys?

JIMBO FISHER: He has. I think he had a great mentor in Dustin Hopkins and being able to prepare himself mentally and how to limit kicks during the week so he's at his best on Saturday, but then he has unbelievable work ethic. Of course his fundamentals and talent are tremendous, but when you combine that with a very intelligent young man, a guy that works very hard, he's a tremendous, tremendous football player, there's no doubt.

Q. I know the offense wasn't as good for Syracuse last week, but how will you guys look to attack their defense, especially their middle linebackers that have impressed so far?

JIMBO FISHER: Well, you have to account for them. Their backers blitz. I know Williams is the leading sack guy in the conference. They bring multiple packages, different looks. Up front they bring different looks, and it's extremely challenging, create a lot of turnovers, so we're going to have to be able to identify, put a hat on a hat and still we're going to have to block them because they're very physically gifted.

Q. Talk about the wide receivers. I know Greene probably will play on Saturday if he is cleared to play, but talk about Jesus Wilson being the No. 2 wide receiver to Greene and how will he step into that role on Saturday.

JIMBO FISHER: I don't think there's any doubt. I think he played outstanding almost every game this year that he's been in. He can run with it, he can go deep. He's short, he's got great ability after he catches it, and then you combine that with Ermon Lane, Travis Rudolph, Kermit, Christian Green, those guys all have a lot of ability and have played extremely well, especially the last two weeks. But it's a big step up, but I think it's something that he will definitely handle. I've been very pleased with his progress.

Q. You said you're playing in the Carrier Dome on Saturday and you're going to simulate it in the practice facility. Is it tough to simulate a stadium that you haven't been to before because I know Florida State hasn't been there since 1987 or sometime in the '80s.

JIMBO FISHER: '91. I think it was '90 or '91 when T-Buckley was up there and had a great punt return. Yeah, but there's nothing you can ever simulate to match that, but you've just got to try to maybe noise and that type of stuff as much as you possibly can.

Q. I wanted to ask you about Syracuse safety Durell Eskridge. He's a Florida kid, grew up in Miami?

JIMBO FISHER: Miami Central. Very good friends with Devonta Freeman.

Q. Kind of a two-part question here. Is he anybody that you kind of remember being on your recruiting radar at one point, and has he jumped out on film since you've been looking at Syracuse?

JIMBO FISHER: He was a guy we knew about, was a very good player out of high school, and he does jump out. He had a big pick six if I'm not mistaken at Notre Dame, big, long guy, can cover a lot of ground, very physical when he gets there, has great speed and change of direction. We think he's an outstanding player.

Q. How close are you with Bobby Bowden, and what kind of role has he played in your life?

JIMBO FISHER: Coach Bowden, I'm very close with Coach. We don't speak a lot right now because he's speaking everywhere and I'm coaching as far as that goes. But I always consider Coach Bowden a mentor, a guy that was very influential in the early years of my coaching when I first became a coach because I played for his son Terry and with Jeff, coached with Tommy. I've been around -- I've coached with every Bowden: Tommy, Terry, Jeff, and Coach Bowden. I've been around their family, stayed at their family home, went different places with them. They were all very influential in my coaching career early, and Coach Bowden and the philosophies and things that I did as a young coach, standing around talking to him a lot, dealing with kids, how you deal with issues, how to deal with problems, being a father figure to kids, being some of the reason that you're the last hope they have to be able to be successful in life. A lot of those philosophies and beliefs, and also coaching philosophies came from Coach Bowden. I have the utmost respect for him, and he was a tremendous influence in my coaching career.

Q. What's it like for Jameis Winston to balance his time and energy between training for football with you and then also baseball?

JIMBO FISHER: Well, I mean, he's able to compartmentalize from season to season. He does that very well. I mean, he's handled it very well because he's been very successful in both. He does it probably as well as anybody I've been around.


SCOTT SHAFER: Well, we're looking forward to hosting the No. 1 team in the country, maybe one of the best teams in the last decade in college football. Florida State has done a great job, as we all know, under the leadership of Coach Fisher at really putting a special team on the field. It'll be a great challenge for our kids. We're working hard to prepare, and with that, any questions?

Q. I wanted to just look at obviously getting back to practice, you're in a unique situation. I know you don't want to give up the quarterback and what's going on, but how do you feel Mitch Kimball and AJ Long and Austin Wilson have looked being given this opportunity later on in the season?

SCOTT SHAFER: There were some good things yesterday at practice, obviously a lot of things that we need to continue to refine and work at, but the work ethic of the kids and their excitement, knowing they're going to get an opportunity, has been great. We're just looking to clean up a lot of things from yesterday's practice, simplify some things down, and continue to prepare for this Florida State team.

Q. And then as far as the wide receivers, they had started to grow, there was some talent that was showing itself with Terrel Hunt. Now that they're in this new situation, how have you seen the rest of them respond to the situation?

SCOTT SHAFER: They've responded well by just coming to work every day. They're trying to encourage and bond with the other quarterbacks and try to come up with some good rhythm. You know, they've been really working hard at it.

Q. I just want to ask you, this was the game last year that ended Julian Whigham's season. What's the feeling when you have to leave a town and leave a game and leave one of your players back in the hospital? And secondly, talk about his determination to get back from where he's at right now.

SCOTT SHAFER: Yeah, well, it's one of the hardest things as a coach because you worry about these kids and their well-being. So for Julian, it was difficult. Luckily his family was there, and between his family and our medical people and my wife Missy, we all kind of got together there, and once he got out of the hospital and everything, tried to work through the difficulty as well as we could. But it is very hard to leave a kid behind, and you worry about him. But it was good to hear his voice the next morning and to know that he was in good spirits and that he was looking forward to bouncing back as quick as he could, and he's done that. His diligence to work hard and get through an injury is admirable, and he's looking forward to getting back on the field against Florida State here at home.

Q. I was just curious when you told George about the demotion if looking back on it there's anything you would have done differently, be it the way you told him or the fact that it was over the phone?

SCOTT SHAFER: Well, it wasn't over the phone, but I think that's between George and I. A difficult decision, tough decision, but as you look back, you don't want to live in the 20/20 hindsight mode because that's not reality. So we move forward. Obviously not easy, difficult situation for all involved, but at the end of the day, George and I and the whole staff are united, we're united today, and we agree to move forward and work hard together for the betterment of the team because we definitely understand the team and the kids are our number one priority, and that's our focus now. So you get over the hurdles in the road and you stumble a little bit here and there, but you fight back together for what's in the best interest of the team, and that's where we are today.

Q. Assuming there was a conversation between you and George and possibly others after he addressed the media last night, what was that like, and how did you guys kind of come to this footing moving forward where you have a united stance?

SCOTT SHAFER: Well, the statement I gave is the end and start point of all the discussions we had, one-on-one and as a staff, and we sat around a room and we talked about it like a family, and we made the decision to move forward, like I said. To be honest with you, I'm anxious to get back on the field and do right by these players. I'm anxious to get the kids together for our pre-practice meetings and step it up and move forward as men. It's up to us to lead the right way, and we're all looking forward to doing that today.

Q. I believe Jimbo Fisher spent some time with Julian in the hospital when he was left behind, as well. Did you ever talk to Jimbo about that? What did that mean to you guys and your program?

SCOTT SHAFER: Oh, yeah, you know, yes, he did. He stopped by to check in on Julian. Boy, that meant the world to both Julian and I. You know, it just really showed that Jimbo does care about the kids, whether they're his players or our players, and I think for me it spoke volumes to his character.

Q. When you announced the changes at offensive coordinator, you used the word unselfish to describe George. In light of his comments last night about saying he never would have left Arkansas if he knew a demotion was possible, how would you explain that kind of disconnect between your words and his words?

SCOTT SHAFER: Oh, just like any relationship any of us have with people. You're going to have emotional times, and I know George was emotional. This morning we sat, we spoke, he apologized to me, and we decided that we wanted to move forward together. There's a sense of -- there's truly a sense of excitement to do so. Like I mentioned to Steven Bail there a couple minutes ago, the whole focus is on moving forward for these kids, these kids that are a part of our team, and I think it's a great opportunity to learn and use this situation as a life lesson for them. I think as role models and adults, it's our duty to do a great job making reparations with our own relationships so we cannot just talk the way but model the way, and that's what we're doing today moving forward.

Q. Do you think that partnership can continue beyond this season?

SCOTT SHAFER: You know, we don't deal in the what-ifs, we deal in one day at a time. That's a creed that I believe in. So George and I together with the rest of the staff and this team are fighting to win the day, understanding that you can't look too far down the road and you can't look too near or behind yourself to move forward. You've got to win every minute the day that you're living, right here and now, and that's how we're approaching it. If I had to go through a difficult time like this, I would do it again with George McDonald.