JIMBO FISHER: Looking forward to getting started this week. Coming off an off week, and we got to get back a lot of fundamentals and get a lot of things done and evaluate a lot of things, where we're at, what we're doing, things we can just tweak and turn a little better fundamentally in all three phases. Did a lot of that last week, worked on some future game plans, worked on some Clemson things. Looking forward to getting back full board this week.
Great opportunity for us. I mean, Clemson is a heck of a football team. We've played well the last few weeks and got a great opportunity in front of us, another big ACC matchup, great for our conference, great for our league, great for both teams. Two of the winningest teams in the country in quite a while, and Dabo and those guys do a great job. Defensively they're playing outstanding. Offensively got a dynamic quarterback. Playmakers outside, the backs. Like I said, on defense, up front, they're dominant up front. Secondary is good, backers run around and make plays. They're sound everywhere. They're on a great run and playing very well, and again, got a heck of a challenge but also a great opportunity. Looking forward to it, and looking forward to a big game this weekend.
Q. What were some of the things you saw from your team in the week off that you felt were areas of improvement?
JIMBO FISHER: In all the ways across the offense. I mean, the way we blocked, the way we ran, the way we ran routes, the way we threw it, the way we covered, the way we covered kicks, the way we kicked it. Our guys took it very seriously. There was not a time that they took as a relaxation time. They used it as a time to get better, and just the consistency and the mindset which they had fundamentally, that's what we went back to, a lot of fundamentals and things of that nature, too, to get better.
No specific, specific areas, but we had our -- we want to protect better and not just at linemen and all those guys making sure we're getting hats on a hat, which we are, but just techniques, just getting to a hat, but then you've got 11 one-on-one matchups, you've got to win them. Doing those types of things, making sure we're covered, make sure we're not allowing ourselves to be lackadaisical in any part of the kicking game and cover all those bases and make sure we're trying to keep our return game going in a good direction. We were inches from coming out the other day with a big return. One block, it was out the gate, and making sure we cleaned that up, and everybody is on the same page and take those opportunities.
When you play these real good teams like we play, again, like we've played a combined record of 17-2 and now it'll be 24-2 I believe when we play our opponents. We're playing a great schedule, so you can't leave any stone unturned, and make sure when you get those opportunities you've got to capitalize on them.
Q. The red zone gets a lot of attention. Talking to other coaches, they talk about inside the 40 mark. What changes inside the 40?
JIMBO FISHER: Depending on your field goal kicker. Also it depends how aggressive you are, but also if you can be too aggressive. Sometimes I went through stretches when I was a young coordinator, you were too aggressive there. You'd leave yourself hanging out, not being as patient, taking too many shots.
You want to be more patient, make sure you got into field goal range and did things like that. We've been pretty efficient for the most part. I'll say red zone I think we're seventh in the country, and one of those is -- we took a knee and the other one we had one turnover down in Miami on a missed signal, but other than that I think we're doing very well there, just got to continue to drive, and that's where teams tend to blitz you, that's where teams tend to pressure you, so you've got to take a choice, do you pop it or can you protect it and make sure you take your shots or can you pop runs and do things like that. I mean, it's all the way you play because you can be too aggressive and you can be too fast, both ways, just depends on what kind of team you've got, what kind of kicker you got. I went through a stage where we used to be too aggressive, always trying to score and take shots and do all that, then all of a sudden you're left with a 55-, 56-yard field goal, doesn't do you any good, know what I'm saying. Other than that, you've just got to make sure you know what your team is doing and what the other team is doing.
Editor’s note: Florida State is 7th in red zone scoring percentage, but just 37th in red zone touchdown percentage, underscoring the over-reliance on field goals. FSU is 80th nationally in points per trip inside the 40, at a paltry 4.52.
Q. Have you evaluated the offense?
JIMBO FISHER: We've got just to execute. We've just got to execute what we're doing. Like for instance, the North Carolina game, three times we get a stop right there, we drop a touchdown, have a 2nd and 3 and just miss a block up front, don't pick it up, and then we just missed that wide-open out route. We've just got to execute right there.
It all gets back to today. Everybody looks for play calling. Play calling, the best plays are when they're executed. The worst plays are when they're not. What you've got to look at was the play there or was it not there, and then why was it not there. Did we miss it fundamentally, did we miss it here, was it totally covered, whatever it may be.
I mean, when you get into play calling or execution, either one -- and execution is part of coaching, too. You've got to make sure when you call it they can catch it or throw it or run it or do whatever, and you've just got to keep focused and execute it.
Q. There have been little mistakes. Seven games into the season, is that a concern?
JIMBO FISHER: We just reviewed back through the last couple seasons. As I said, you pull your notes out every time there's a break. It's funny, they're almost identical. You'll have a different -- you may have a different part of your team that you may say, man, we've got to get better here. It may change year to year, but the quotes and how -- I have a set of notes that we do off weeks, and when I look back and reevaluate, okay, off week we need to do this, this and this. Usually there's a couple things, always kicking game is in there all the time because you get so nervous when you coach the kicking game. On offense there's always two, three little things that may vary like from three years ago it was two things, then the next year it was two other things, then two years later it was two of the things you had three years ago, know what I'm saying, just funny how you go back and forth all those evaluations and where you're at in those situations.
It's always something. I mean, you look, am I calling the right plays, am I putting us in the right positions, are we asking the right people to do what we're asking them to do. There's all kinds of things. Is there injuries, what is it. Sometimes I put health. Big problem, big issues are health, need to get healthy. And certainly one year I had -- a lot of the mistakes were there, but the guys weren't healthy and able to do some of the things that you want to do, and it's funny. It kind of goes in a circle. Just comes right back to you in different ways.
Q. Clemson under defensive coordinator Brent Venables has always had a consistently good defense. What's kind of the pattern? What does he do year after year?
JIMBO FISHER: First of all, gets good players. Go look at the draft picks of the defensive guys. If you want to be a great offensive team, defensive team, I say it all the time, you've got to get good players, and they've had good front guys. They're very multiple. They pressure you. They'll put a lot of pressure on you, force you to execute and make plays. There's no gimmes.
What I'm saying, there's no lay-ups and things you can just -- you'll have a chance to get, and they make you execute and play tight coverage in the secondary. Try to make a solid catch. They on occasion will give up a play or two like happened to them in the Alabama game or busted coverage or something. They're very multiple, extremely multiple in what they do. Do lots of things, lots of coverages, lots of different -- a multiplicity of things which they do, and as I say, sometimes it will get them in trouble, but most of the time they execute the heck out of it. They do a great job, and they've got good front people and they blitz you and give you different looks. I mean, they do a real sound job and got good players and play hard.
Q. With a defense that gives you so many different looks, is it difficult to prepare a younger quarterback
JIMBO FISHER: It is. I mean, you always have to go against all the different things, what you can do and how it matches up against them and the looks and what's good and what's not bad, so you have to make sure in your game plan that you're putting him in the right position or you're giving him a look, one or two things to do or maybe even three things. You've got to know exactly when you see that what you've got to get to.
Q. Is it more common for a defensive tackle to slide to defensive end?
JIMBO FISHER: It's just what we did with [current Oakland Raider] Mario [Edwards] and those guys. I mean, Mario Edwards did a lot of that. We see DeMarcus Walker do it at times on pass rush. Now, DeMarcus was a little bigger. You saw it -- like I've said, you saw Mario Edwards. Where is Mario Edwards playing right now? You saw him for three years do it, and he could play in, but he was also one of those big guys. It's hard. Not many guys are athletic enough to do it, and he does a really good job of it. He's a big body, strong, but has great quickness. Those guys that do it are guys that kind of grew into it. Usually they're very athletic, usually played other sports, if you ever watch them, have been other-sport guys and have grown into and have a lot of fast twitch, and he does. He's a strong guy. I use Mario for an example. I joke with him, always joked about it, but those types of guys.
Marcus Spears was like that for us at LSU, and we had a couple other guys like that, a 300-pound end, 305-pound end that played tackle at times and went back and forth. I've been around a few of them that do it but they're very hard to find, they really are.
Q. How is redshirt freshman quarterback Deondre Francois doing after taking some hits --
JIMBO FISHER: Good. He's been good. He's willing to practice, great practice, going to have a great week.
Q. Was the bye week good for him?
JIMBO FISHER: Oh, no doubt, it was. Let’s you heal up and gets the soreness. Know what I'm saying? If you can play, there's a difference in playing, playing when you're banged up, but the soreness and things, get that worked out, get extra rehab, take the pressure off of it.
JIMBO FISHER: I don't know mentally that he was in a bad place. You say that, but mentally sometimes you get used to playing like that and you get into it, you can stay in that groove, and it can go both ways. It doesn't hurt I don't think, but I don't know. You'll have to ask him that, I guess. Probably would say yes, I'm sure.
Q. Is healing from soreness and injuries the best part of the bye week?
JIMBO FISHER: Both, it really is, and just gets your mind away. I mean, the coach is right there but not having a game and getting back to school and some of the things -- there's lots of pressures on these kids. You see it across the board. It's more pressure now than ever, and I keep saying that. People don't buy into it, but you see it by how guys play every week. Look at the teams across the country, how they play up and down and school and all the things that are going on and the social media pressures that go on, and are you in, are you out, all that type of stuff.
It's good for these guys just to get that break, just to take a deep breath, say, I ain't got a game this week and we'll practice hard and I can relax just a little bit.
Q. You've played some outstanding quarterbacks this year. You have another one on Saturday. How does he compare to the other guys you've played?
JIMBO FISHER: Oh, he's as good as anybody. I mean, you watch the consistency he plays with, he throws the deep ball, the short ball, can run. But to me, his competitiveness, too. He's a great competitor and always finds ways to make the plays, know what I'm saying? He needs to be one of those guys. That's just a characteristic that you either have it or you don't, know what I'm saying? And he does it. He's a very, very special player, he really is.
Q. How important is it for them to have a guy like running back Wayne Gallman who can complement that can give you that threat?
JIMBO FISHER: It does, and the physicality, him being physical and getting in there and making him a two-headed monster. They can run it inside with power and play without -- and then throw the screen games and all the stuff they do and then put him on the edge on the runs, and when you fake it to Gallman you've got to respect him so much. It makes a big difference, it really does.
Q. Even with your offense, what have you seen from wide receiver Mike Williams last year this year gives him that --
JIMBO FISHER: Oh, he does. He's covered but he's never covered. You back shoulder and you throw it high, the body, the range, the catch radius, all those types of things, then he's got great athleticism and speed, and they utilize him on the backside a lot and in single coverages a lot. He's a really good player.
Q. What could be difference between him and other receivers you've seen? You've seen a gamut of everyone.
JIMBO FISHER: Probably just pure size, and then the athleticism that goes with it, with the catch radius, with ball skills. He's a heck of a player.
Q. Are there things you can take from the game last year?
JIMBO FISHER: No doubt. I mean, they'll study them in there, too, but at least you know you can do it, know what I'm saying, and you've got the capabilities. But at the same time, the field position was huge in that game. One of the things in that that we did, even though offensively we didn't score much, we moved the football very well, had leads early, had chances to take leads, but we would move the football even to midfield, and they would punt and they would start -- if you go back in that game, they started -- they would have two or three 1st downs and pick it up for a 1st down but then they would be at midfield. If you remember, each team kept starting way back, and to be able to move the football I think offensively really helped us in that regard, too, so they didn't play on many short fields.
But if you play these guys on short fields, they become very tough, know what I mean? But defensively we had some success, but they still had a lot of yards and eventually made some plays, but we played them pretty well, as well as anybody did I guess you could say.
Q. I know you want to get off to a fast start but how imperative is that against a team like this with those weapons on the other side of the ball?
JIMBO FISHER: Well, you do. You need to get out of the blocks, you need to get confidence, whether it's offense or defense. Both sides get off the ball to a good start. If you can continue to move the football, maybe get points, then hopefully have some stops early in the game to get you confidence, because you know they're going to come in and do the things they've got to do. Anytime you play a big opponent, it's always -- if you can get that lead quickly, it makes a big difference.
Q. Last four games you didn't get off to a fast start offensively. Do you feel like as a coach you would rather do that?
JIMBO FISHER: Last three games, what did we do? We had a 3rd down -- last week was a high snap, cost us on the first play. We had a big play, and then 3rd down and 5, he was just come open late, and they pushed the pocket and we had to throw it away. In Miami we missed a cut. It's a touchdown. Then on 4th down we went for it and they tipped it. It's a touchdown. They made the play on the short yardage to Dalvin, it's a walk-in touchdown from about 30 yards out.
I mean, and then what was the game before that? I wouldn't say we got off to a slow start, we didn't score the points, but you had three drives, we missed field goals. If you make those field goals, you're in great shape. We dropped a touchdown. That's the three I just talked about. We're moving the football for the most part except for Wake. Wake the first time we had a three-and-out. And anytime we started the game, the rest of the time we got a couple 1st downs. That's usually the first of your goals, to get a couple 1st downs, then change field position and do that. You want to finish drives, which we usually did pretty good around here over the years doing early in the game, but we've just got to relax and make the plays, just let the plays come to you and don't overpressure yourself or try to do too much, just play the play.
Q. As a coach, do you stress that?
JIMBO FISHER: Yeah, you do, you stress about the importance of executing. We do it in practice. That's why we do things in practice early, to change up drills sometimes to really get them to focus early so you start off fast and you can maintain fast, but it's just like turnovers sometimes, you say go get turnovers all of a sudden then you try and you screw them up, then all of a sudden turnovers come in bunches, know what I'm saying? You've just do what's right, play the play, be fundamentally sound, put your hat where it's supposed to be, catch the ball, all those type things, and just play the game and don't put too much pressure on yourself, but also have an urgency that you know you've got to get focused and do what you've got to do.
Q. I know it's encouraging you're moving the ball.
JIMBO FISHER: Oh, we're moving the football very well. What did we have, 480 yards a game? I mean, good in the red zone, those things, just got to finish on points early. Just got to keep doing it.
Q. How is senior receiver Jesus ‘Bobo’ Wilson doing? Has he been able to get back into things?
JIMBO FISHER: He will be. There may be some time out there today, we'll see. I checked with [head athletic trainer] Jake [Pfeil] early. He was coming in and getting treatment at the time and getting better, so we'll see.
Q. I want to kind of like big picture here, a couple teams after winning titles aren't playing for one, weren't quite as sharp the next year, be that you guys in 2014, Ohio State last year, Clemson maybe not quite as sharp this year. Why do you think that is?
JIMBO FISHER: Carolina Panthers, you name it. Because people are going to study you. You're successful. People mark you. You're earmarked, then it becomes distractions or as I say clutter. All of a sudden you're doing this interview, you're doing that interview, you're on SportsCenter, everybody in the world, you're a hero, you're a this, and don't think all those things off the field don't turn into clutter for these guys. It takes focus away from their main job. When they were nobody and no one knew who they were and they were playing their tails off, it's fun. Now all of a sudden -- and you don't want to disappoint. I don't want to be arrogant and not go do this. People ask you to do things. People do this. Teams study you in the off-season. Teams get your tendencies.
I mean, it's just a whole gamut of things, and it's human nature, and sometimes the main thing is the main thing, but not as much as it used to be. I mean, distractions that come from teams that have success or maybe -- that's why I say Alabama, what they're doing right now is really tough to do. There's not many people doing it. There's not many people do it in the NFL. I think the Patriots, what they do is really amazing. I think when you have -- your sole focus and you're driven, I think that's where infrastructure really comes in, and I think the Patriots tremendously understand it.
You go watch some pro football, why the same teams, there's an infrastructure guy. Just like in college football, the infrastructure I talk about, your off-field people, all the things that go on, the things you have in place are as critical in today's time probably more than they've ever been in the history of sports, and the people who can afford to do with the infrastructures off the field and eliminate clutter and keep those things relegated to a certain amount of time and things that can help keep focused and keep developing and player development and all those things are extremely critical. Most people don't have the tools to do it.
And then plus sometimes then you've got to go through it once to really understand what's clutter and what's not clutter. I mean, everybody in the world telling you how great you are; you're doing this, you're doing that. All those things to these kids at 18 to 22 years old is extremely, extremely tough to do.
Q. To follow up on that, what did you do specifically, what were a couple things you did in 2014 to try and eliminate that clutter?
JIMBO FISHER: Well, you try to put people in place, you put your, as I say, your sports psychology group together to explain things to kids. You try to explain what they're going to do. You talk about not defending anything but attaining it, trying to go after another one.
And the thing that that team had which was amazing to me, I think in that aspect we get the great respect for the '14 team, even though it didn't play at the same consistency level the '13 team did, the thing it had, it had some tremendous, tremendous competitors who could raise their game when they really had to, and just not -- and now enough young guys, then you also get young guys on a team which you get in college, which we had to be very careful of, which is what I call the entitlement syndrome. Well, you won it, we're going to win it again and somebody is going to go make the play, instead of thinking -- we always have a saying, a play don't care who makes it. Somebody make a play, don't matter. You go make a play. You be a difference. I think trying to emphasize those things, and we did it to a point, but obviously we didn't do it enough. We didn't win that championship again.
But it was a really -- it's very challenging, but it's also -- when the kids go through it, it's very educational for them. That's the good thing in pro ball, you get to keep a lot of the same guys so you get to go through it again. But there's a lot of programs you've got to put in, a lot of things you've got to do.
Q. After the Wake Forest game, sophomore defensive end Josh Sweat said he thought himself and some other defensive guys were starting to take on as much pressure and not playing loose or free. Did you sense that?
JIMBO FISHER: No doubt. All those guys come in, Josh Sweat is the No. 1 player in the country. Everybody thinks he's three and none. I'm going to be a top-10 pick. You don't think his family and everybody else, him and all -- you don't think that grinds on these guys? I mean, it wears on them, guys, and then all of a sudden they go out and become result oriented, which a young kid will do.
I’m not saying him, I'm just saying in general that's what happens to a lot of these kids when they come in. They become result oriented because I'm expected to do this, I'm expected to do that, and they measure themselves unfortunately by social media. They want to go read what everybody says about them, what they're thought of, did I play a great game, did I not play a great game. They put such undue pressures on themselves today, and as I say, getting kids to ignore that, getting kids to stay off of that, getting kids to worry about what they can control and how they play and how they prepare. That's kind of what I'm talking about right here.
I mean, it's the same thing. That's why the pressures of these kids today, it's crazy, especially those highly recruited guys because now we're wining and dining them. Not us, I'm talking about when they're all the camps and the openings and all that stuff, and I know it's all great, but at the end of the day, it puts a ton of undue pressure on these kids now. There are expectations and results about what comes on.
I don't think it's a good thing, I really don't. I know it's here to stay and we're going to do all those things, but all that attention and media, I think it hurts them, and I think they finally realize -- the other day, all them people used to talk real nice about them talk real mean about them, and you know what, I'd better go back and play. I joke about that, but that's a fact of life. They've got to go back to, you know what, let me just play. Let me go back to remembering why I came and why I wanted to play, then all of a sudden that maturity kicks in and they start playing. Hopefully that's what happens.
Q. Having a game like this week’s in primetime, does that add extra pressure?
JIMBO FISHER: No, I don't think once you realize it's about football. Once you realize it's about football, it doesn't. If you're worried about everything else, it does.
Q. Is it crazy to think a two-loss could make it into the College Football Playoff?
JIMBO FISHER: Anything can happen. If you can figure out college football right now, tell me. I mean, you're not going to. We're in a crazy time right now. You don't know what's going to happen. But no, I don't see that. I could see it happening, I could see it not happening. It wouldn't surprise me a lick.
LSU the first year after I left, they lost one of them, and didn't they lose the last game of the season to Arkansas? I mean, and they still got in and won a National Championship, so that can happen there, I'm sure it could happen in the playoffs, and you've still got a lot of -- isn't there a lot of matchups still left to play in there somewhere? I mean, it could happen.
Q. You mention Alabama, did you have a chance to watch the game this weekend?
JIMBO FISHER: Very little. I watched some. I didn't watch a lot. I watched some. I got here and there, messing with the kids and doing stuff. I saw some. I saw a little bit of their game.
Q. What were your takeaways, not just from Alabama but the other games you saw this weekend?
JIMBO FISHER: Same things I say, the ups and downs and the pressures and the being able to perform every week. Anybody can get beat at any time. And how they get beat, and I mean, you're in it long enough, those things are going to happen. You've just got to coach through them and try to be sound in all phases of your team. And I know I didn't even realize Ohio State was a blocked field goal, and they're kicking to go up 7. Isn't that what happened? Or am I off on that? That they got returned for a touchdown. I mean, who's been as consistent as anybody. I mean, Houston they're playing super, SMU has been struggling all year. That just shows you every week you've got to be ready to play, ready to jump out there. I mean, how Auburn played this week. Know what I mean? Those are the things off of my head that I thought, wow, you've just got to keep playing, and any week anything can happen, and go play. But it's college football. It's 18 to 20 -- like I said, the pressures and everything now, it's all as crazy as it's ever been. Just keep playing. Learn to eliminate the clutter.
Q. You said late last week you didn't expect sophomore defensive back Derwin James to be ready this weekend. Where is he at right now?
JIMBO FISHER: It's on a timetable. There's no way to judge this thing. They're just going to do it on the timetable of history because you can't MRI it and say -- they know he's much farther along than most people are, but it's never been -- if you chance it, then your chancing on tearing everything -- so it's just a time thing. I think he is healing very fast and very quickly, but there's a certain amount of time they're going to hold because there's no prep for it and there's no way to judge and look at MRI or see that it's totally that way. Know what I'm saying? Unless what they've got on timetables from what I understand. That's the way it was explained to me.
Q. It must be tough since he's such a competitive guy --
JIMBO FISHER: Oh, kills him. Kills any of them. It does. But you've got to ask him to think big picture about his future and what goes on. Like he said, he thinks my future is about my team, which I understand. But we've got to be smart. I would never -- I'm not going to ever do anything like that.
Q. Say there’s a scenario where James is ready in three weeks. Normally most kids, they would try to redshirt him…
JIMBO FISHER: Yeah, you ain't going to redshirt -- yeah, you play him. He's not staying for a fifth year anyway. Hope he stays for a fourth. But you don't know that. I mean, you don't know that. You would play him. But you'd have him get right in the bowl game, things like that.
Q. Sophomore defensive back Marcus Lewis didn't play a whole lot this past week. Is that a matchup thing
JIMBO FISHER: He's all well. We just have some other guys who are playing really well and we're having a lot of success, so we didn't even take it up. He's fine.
Q. How good will your receivers have to be this week?
JIMBO FISHER: They could be really good. A lot of man-to-man coverage, a lot of one-on-one opportunities, and you've got to make those big plays and chunk plays. You've got to do it, and those are going to be critical. I think that any time that position in general changes -- when you've got great wideouts, that determines how people going to play you tremendously. Wideouts are probably more important now than they've ever been in the history of football.
Q. How would you describe sophomore defensive back Tarvarus McFadden’s season?
JIMBO FISHER: He's played really well at times and he's had some bad plays. He's learning to play with much more consistency and what you still want him to do, and to understand out there you have to have a short memory and you're going to get attacked all the time and you've got to play with great consistency and great confidence, and you can't take a play off because out there a play there is usually six points on the board, and he's had some he's given up and he's rebounded very well and played very well, and he's getting better and better. He still has a ways to go. I don't mean that in a bad way. I think he's developing and has a great attitude and has a chance to be a really good player.
Q. The last couple games in general, how has McFadden bounced back from the North Carolina play?
JIMBO FISHER: Seems to be well. I don't know if he had a pick at Miami, but he had one -- did he? Oh, he had the end zone. That was critical right there at the end. Yeah, big play there. Last week had a big pick. Got beat on one play right after, and one there was -- they had a jump ball, whatever, but played very well. I think he's done well. He has a short memory, learning that, and learning that out there you can't -- as soon as you start to pout out there -- not saying pout, I guess it's a bad word, but feel sorry for yourself because you got beat, all of a sudden they'll come at you again, and I think he's learning that, getting much more mature and has rebounded very well.
—Transcript via ASAP Sports. Any errors attributed to them.