Jimbo Fisher says Dabo Swinney and Clemson "are taking off"
|Thursday, November 9, 2017, 8:01 AM- -|
Jimbo Fisher and Dabo Swinney have had their share of battles – blowouts, high scoring affairs, nail-biters and last-second wins – and Florida State’s head coach expects Saturday to be no different.
At 3-5, the Seminoles haven’t exactly had the season they or anyone else expected, but at 3:30 Saturday afternoon all of the lows and struggles of the 2017 season go out the window.
“I don't know about it being a chance for the seniors to make a statement. I think it's not just the seniors, I think in general. And you better because you're playing a great team on their home field,” Fisher said during his weekly press conference. “You better be ready to play a great game, not just to show that. But that you're going to compete. And there's a lot on the line as far as we have for pride and things that go on and how you want to be perceived yourself of, anytime you play, how hard you play, how well you play. And you want to improve your stock in what you provide here for young players, for example, how to compete and do things well.”
The ‘Noles will bring a bevy of young players to Death Valley and Fisher said they will have to mentally prepare for the atmosphere they’ll face.
“You go play. You block it out. Can't worry about it. And you have the crowd noise and all that, you've got to experience that, too, gotta go through it,” he said. “You gotta get ready to compete and understand who you're playing. Listen, they ain't going to give you anything. You gotta go earn everything. Better have your sleeves rolled up and have your helmet buckled tight, be ready to play. They're a great team, a great program.
“There's the secret: Gotta go play, hopefully, play well and play intelligently. When he's at the PGA, had a bad leg and he made that putt: What were you thinking about? Thinking about taking my putter back, the line I had to hit, what speed I had to hit. He wasn't saying that wasn't on my mind. And people have a hard time fathoming that if you're not in it. If you think about that, that's the guys who fail. The guys who think about what they've got to do at that particular time are the guys that succeed.”
Clemson has been better than Florida State for the last two years, but Fisher said he saw Swinney and the Tigers as an up and coming program long before that.
“Always had good players. Go back, look, they were supposed to beat us -- in '10, they had it,” Fisher said. “And then we won in '11 and -- but '12, they came in, had everybody back, we won 49-38. And '13 we hit it. '14 they hit. Now '15 was a possession game up there, which was a great game. Just got done watching it. Missed a few things. Missed a fourth and one, and third and one and fourth and one, and they got whatever the score is, 16-13, with six minutes to go in the game. And last year, 37-34, back and forth in a shootout, and what we were doing. But their commitment, building the facilities, building things they've done, the commitment to coaches.
“And Dabo, and his players, he's done a great job. He's a great coach. He's adjusted and done things, and they've added to the program, and they've created -- surrounding things around. And the commitment they've had. And they're taking off. And they've always had great tradition. I felt this all along, even when we were winning those games, they were a tremendous program. We were just fortunate enough to make it one more play. And lately, the last few years, they made the one more play. It's kind of nip and tuck. But they've done a great job in their commitment to things and their investment.”
The reason for Clemson’s ascension to college football prominence? Fisher said it is Clemson’s commitment to the highest in the administration to the coaches and players.
“I think it has. I think their rise has came from their commitment to football. They've been committed but their administration has done a tremendous job of spending and doing and building,” he said. “Not just building, but all the things behind the scenes. I know their AD very well. And he's done a great job. And Dabo has done a great job. Their vision to do things. And they've got good players and got great tradition.
“I think us and them have, in the beginning, push step. Now just lately it's become Miami is so great. NC State playing so well. And Virginia Tech has great tradition. Pitt and all those guys, all those people are doing a great job. Louisville. You go down. Georgia Tech. You go through the history of it up and down. And our league gets better and better. And Clemson has been a huge part. Right now they've done a great job.”
“Hold on. You can say he's better than Deshaun Watson, that's a big statement. But at the same time he's unbelievably productive. He's made a lot of runs. In that game -- he's their leading rusher. 220 pounds, 6'4". Like a big tailback. He's making throws and making plays and he's leading them to wins. In essence, when you say better than Deshaun Watson, he's doing the same thing. His record is the same. The quarterback, that's one of the things you count on: Guys making plays, doing things. And that's big praise. But this guy is a heck of a football player.”
Are they getting it mostly from the front four or do they bring pressure?
“They bring pressure. But their front four. Lot of it is front four. Great inside push guys. Wilkins and Lawrence are both excellent. Wilkins can go in and out. Ferrell and Bryant and all those guys are all natural pass rushers. Really good guys, will be high draft pick guys. They bring pressure with it. It's a mixture.”
Overall thoughts on Clemson
“Our guys played extremely hard, competed well. It's a great win, it's getting over a hump. Hopefully, you can build on it. We better build on it quick because we play a great team this week, play one of the top four teams in the country. Clemson is playing very well, come off a big win with against North Carolina State, who as we know is a very good team, played very well. We had a great game with also.
“They've been in some battles all year, Clemson has. They seem to always be pulling them out. Doing a great job. Dabo does a great job. The quarterback can run, did a great job running the football -- big and physical. Receivers are fast, big young backs, defensively their front is outstanding. Linebackers are big and physical. The secondary is athletic. So, kicking game, they're always very good.”