We’re excited to be back at home this week. It is unbelievable how fast the season has
gone. We have more opportunities here at home, and this is… where you hope to be. It’s
what it’s all about. You work all year to put yourself in position to have a chance to achieve
your goals. And… 100-something days now, we’ve only hit one goal. And here we are down
the home stretch now.
We’ve got an opportunity to do a lot, but… the rest of our season really hinges on these
next four quarters… this is championship football for us, and I know at the beginning of the
season, when the schedule came out, a lot of people probably felt like it’s going to come
down to Clemson-Florida State, the last conference game for each team.
And that’s exactly what it’s come down to. There’s zero difference for us. Nothing has
changed. Whether they were undefeated, or we were undefeated, we have to win the game
to win the division.
It’s Clemson-Florida State… I know Jimbo [Fisher] is probably frustrated just simply
because they’ve had some tough games. [Deondre Francois] gets hurt, they’ve got a lot of
injuries… they’ve had three games come down to the last play of the game. And those things
affect momentum and so forth and confidence. So let me just tell you… this is a very
I know we have a lot of people here who keep up with the recruiting rankings, and we
haven’t won a battle yet (with Florida State). I don’t think we’ve beaten Florida State in
recruiting. Maybe… we have.
I don’t know, but I don’t think so. I think they’re one or two every year, so they have a
bunch of guys that can play.
They’re big, and strong, and athletic, and have speed everywhere. These are the biggest
wideouts… I mean, these guys are huge on the perimeter. [Ryan Izzo]’s a very good player.
[James Blackman] has gotten better. He’s a young player. He’s very talented, he can throw
the ball down the field.
They do a really good job with their formations, creating a lot of opportunities downfield
with some of these pass protections. But the biggest thing is, they want to run the
football… and we’ve got to be able to win that matchup.
This [Cam] Akers kid is a great back. I don’t know if [Jacques] Patrick is going to play or
not. He’s a great back. Like I said, [James Blackman] can push the ball down the field. He’s
got a strong arm, but he’s not a big guy, but he’s a tough kid. He’s a very tough kid. He’s got
a good future. [Nyqwan Murray], the receiver is a great player, very skilled and physical.
So this is a tough matchup. This is Clemson-Florida State. This is what you expect… all you
got to do is turn on the tape as a coach, and you know what you’re looking at. You see a lot
of things that present a lot of problems in getting ready for this team.
So there is a big challenge there defensively. They’re big and fast and strong up
front. They have a bunch of them are back, a ton of starters back from last year.
A lot of people picked this team to win the national championship, and those people who
picked them, they picked them for a reason. That’s what people do in the offseason, they
look at rosters, they look who’s coming back, they look at recruiting rankings. They look at
all that stuff, and that same team is still there.
This defense has got a ton of skill. Derwin James is a freak. He is as good a player as you
are going to see this week. The guys up front, [Derrick Nnadi] is a load inside Josh Sweat
and Brian Burns are all good players.
They have a left-footed punter. That’s a little different going into this game. We’ll work
hard on that. And [Christian] Groomes is a left-footed kicker, so he can also do some
punting for us, try to give us a little preparation going into the game.
We’re excited about it. Like I said, it comes down to four quarters… and you’re either good
enough to get it done, or you’re not. We’re looking forward to the Valley. I know it’s going
to be a great crowd, a lot of energy. We’ll be ready.
What position group on Florida State do you think is the most talented?
Like I said, they’ve got I think every offensive lineman back but one from last
year. They’re very talented there. First thing you think of with Florida State year in and
year out is their skill. The running backs, receivers, the DBs, linebackers. They always have
guys that can move, and this is no different.
Coach, what’s the status of [Mark] Fields and [Marcus] Edmond? I presume
if one or both are able to play we won’t see Ray-Ray [McCloud] at corner again?
I don’t know. I don’t know if we can presume that or not. Mark [Fields] did not practice
last night. We just put him in what we call our yellow protocol, just to kind of assess him a
little more, see where he’s at.
Marcus [Edmond] has been practicing. He just hasn’t been game ready. He just hasn’t been
quite confident enough to go play at the level that he wants to play at and we need him to
play at. But we’ll hopefully keep progressing through the week. We’ve just had one day of
practice, so we’ve got a long way to go.
When you get to this point in the season, how hard is it to navigate practice and how
hard to practice, and to hold up and stuff like that?
I think that’s something as a coach you have to always pay attention to. This is game 10.
We’ve been practicing. These guys grind all summer long. They put a lot into the summers
around here. There’s a lot of work, and then you’ve got a long camp. We play a very tough
schedule. Every single week is a challenge.
Every week, I mean, it’s a challenge. Everybody’s got guys banged up this time of year, so
we do everything we can from massages to yoga on Sundays to… as I manage the schedule,
the practice schedules, we get to kind of midseason, I start tweaking some things schedulewise,
whether it be rep count… times of periods, usually cut that down.
But at the same time you have to get ready to play week in and week out You must have
enough preparation time. But I think this time of year less is more. I really do. I think we
are who we are, and… we’re either good enough or we’re not. The biggest thing you can do
is make sure your guys are fresh, as fresh as possible, mentally and physically, and ready to
play on gameday.
Coach, in a game like this, as you get to the top of the hill at home, a big game
obviously, what are some of your final thoughts as you touch Howard’s Rock and run
down the hill knowing what’s at stake at the bottom?
Really it is just the same as every week. We just know this is the four quarters. It’s got a
finality to it, but it’s really the same every week, because if we hadn’t taken care of business
against Georgia Tech, those four quarters, if we hadn’t taken care of business against Wake
Forest, those four quarters, hadn’t taken care of business of Boston College, those four
quarters, then we’re not in this situation.
So that’s why we say every week is the biggest game of the year. We try to create that
mindset with our players, because that’s what it takes. If you don’t have that focus it’s hard
to get to this point. So it’s really just that level of intensity for me every week. It really is.
The only difference this week is if you’re able to win it they’re going to hand you a
trophy. It’s playoff football. Every regular season game is so important in college football
with the system that we have. It really is. It’s critical. It is just the same intensity, and we’re
excited to go play.Reply