Fisher: After looking at the film from the Syracuse game, proud of our guys to
overcome and play a great game. Syracuse has had a great year so far, very good team, played
some great games against Clemson and LSU. They’ve had a great year, very tough team to
Thought our defense did a really nice job in a lot of areas. Where we've got to get better on both
sides, the biggest disappointment for us on both sides, probably third down on our efficiency on
offense and their efficiency on defense. Gotta do a better job of getting off the field and staying
on the field in that regard. But we competed very well in the game. Not always with, like I said,
made mistakes, didn't play as well as we wanted to play, but kept playing and played the next
Did create big plays on offense, finished plays, got points in that regard. Cam [Akers] had some.
We had some big passes. Hit one big early in the first drive. Made some good plays there. Gotta
learn to close out a little better on offense and sure hoped we could of ran that football out and
got a first down and ended that clock, but defense held up and they got some plays.
But great effort by Derwin [James] at the end of the game which I didn't realize at the time, until
he came over, he got a piece of that field goal on the block. So it was a very good effort.
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 be always be pulling them out.
Doing a great job. Dabo [Swinney] does a great job. 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. Secondary is athletic. So, kicking game, they're always very good.
So, we need to learn from what we did, hopefully build some confidence. Again, ran football
well at times, created big plays on offense. Gotta get better on third down, but we scored points,
moved the football, had some long drives, had some short drives. When you're getting big plays,
you're going to do that.
Defensively, again, handling the whole passing game, the quarterback run game, had some plays
on the quarterback late and just had guys in the hole and just missed him. And had guys there to
do it. Just gotta play better.
But play a little smarter, play a little better. Some of those young guys getting experience, I
think, will be critical in the games so they can continue to play better. Excited about the way they
played, competed in the game and a good win.
Q. Looking at film, how did Hamsah [Nasirildeen] grade out, because he played the
majority of the game?
Fisher: Played solidly. Had a couple of real nice tackles. He missed a couple. He had
the quarterback in the hole one time, should have been about a four-yard loss, became about a
20-yard gain, and he's right there to make a plays. Took his eyes off. Was right there. But then he
turns around and bats -- long arms, defends ball. Made a great play down there, knock the ball
out, tried to throw it back inbounds.
That's all part of experience. You gotta go back in there. Some instincts to be able to do that.
Same time, you say, ‘Why would you do that,’ he says ‘I can throw it in there.’ There's some
things how to play in situations.
But very talented guy, very gifted guy. And is now learning our scheme, what goes on and how
to play the game. But very proud. He's a physical guy. Does a great job on special teams. Getting
better and better. He'll be a heck of a player.
Q. D.J. [Matthews], there's no reason to try to return that ball there? Is that the stuff they
play where they and get experience that they can’t really get in practice?
Fisher: No, poor decision. I hope so. We'll see. You get in practice and you do it. But
until you go out there in a game and do it, you want to go make plays, you've got to play
intelligently. It's not a smart decision right there.
And there's times you want to go do too much. That's what I say -- you want to do this and you
want…no, make the smart plays. If you make the smart, right plays your ability will take over
and hopefully experience you learn from. And that's what you find out. Now will they repeat
You coached them. You coached them before and they went out and did it. Okay, you coach
them again, make sure they do it. Hope they don't repeat them. If they do, you have to make
adjustments. But at the same time, those guys shouldn't, and I think they're going to be
Q. For your freshmen, this will be the first time they have been in this type of atmosphere,
this many people against them. How do you prepare for that?
Fisher: 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.
Q. Clemson has some sack numbers --
Fisher: 33 sacks.
Q. Are they getting it mostly from the front four or do they bring pressure?
Fisher: They bring pressure. But their front four. Lot of it is front four. Great inside
push guys. [Christian] Wilkins and [Dexter] Lawrence are both excellent. Wilkins can go in and
out. [Clelin] Ferrell and [Austin] 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.
Q. You’ve had a lot of great games against Clemson since you’ve been here--
Fisher: I've been watching them all. They've been phenomenal. High score ones, low
score ones. Won some shootouts, 49-38, one of them 51-something, then 23-17, 23-13, 16. I
mean there's been some phenomenal games.
Q. Can you elaborate then how this rivalry has helped shape the rise of the ACC?
Fisher: I think it has. I think their rise has come from their commitment to football.
They've been committed but their administration has done a tremendous job of spending and
doing and building. 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, a push step. Now just lately it's become Miami is so
great. NC State playing so well. And Virginia Tech has had 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.
Q. Derrick Kelly is banged up, is he going to be able to game back this week?
Fisher: We'll wait and see. I'm not going to talk personnel or injuries until I know
more about it.
Q. Auden [Tate] was a game-time decision?
Fisher: He wasn’t ready to go.
Q. Cam [Akers] is ACC offensive back and freshman of the week. Can he become that
special, dynamic player?
Fisher: We'll see in time. If he keeps working. There's still lots of things he has to
work on. A lot of little things, open field running and things he can still improve on. I know that
sounds crazy, but there's a lot of little details in this game that as he learns what to do and how to
do it that we can have him do better. But he's a dynamic player.
He has the ability to be a really good player. That would be determined by how hard he works
and how much he keeps progressing and where he's at. But he can do some really good things.
Q. Do refs just not see horsecollars?
Fisher: I don't know. I don't know if he did or not.
Q. Does he have to be brought down?
Fisher: I'm not sure exactly. We'll get an interpretation. I ask those things all the time,
exactly how you call them. I don't know if it is or not.
Q. On the horse collar, seems like that's a play that's been coming up through the past few
years. It hasn't been called historically. Is that something that maybe you'd like to see
referees take a bigger look at?
Fisher: What they call is what we'll go by. That's out of my control. You're talking to
the wrong guy.
You have to ask them how they're going to call it or what they're going to call. I don't if it is or
not. I'm not saying they're right or wrong. If they call it, they call it. If they don't, they don't.
Q. Josh Sweat seems to be performing at a really high level in the middle of the season,
what have you seen from him?
Fisher: Consistency and understanding what the scheme is. And doing a great job in
the run. Pass rush, has got some pressure and things, but he's done a great job in the run,
especially how we had him playing. His strength and power allows him do that.
And Derrick Nnadi also did a great job inside in that regard. You saw Derwin [James] in the
game. I thought Derwin was outstanding in a lot of the areas in that game. Some of those guys
But Josh is really evolving into a really good player, complete player. And understanding his role
and how to play consistent every week, how to prepare what he's got to do weekly to be in
position, mentally, physically to make the plays he has to make.
Q. You weren’t real happy with the third and long conversions, had a lot of them in the last
game. After looking at the films, some tendencies, some things you saw you could fix?
Fisher: Just breakdowns. Guys should have -- had to have some good calls. We
clearly did miss some things. Then they made a couple of good throws and a couple good
You're in position to make plays, you've got to make plays. The ball's there and you're in man
under, throwing a comeback route underneath, it should never get there.
So technique. We have to do a better job of making sure we teach them how exactly we're going
to do it with technique and how they apply it.
And you can't give up the inside. When you're in man under, you can't give up on the inside
route, gotta block that off. We have to help them in technique, how to get them lined up, make
sure they do that.
Q. Offensively, what are some things hindering you guys from staying on the field on third
Fisher: Third down, we had a couple protection breakdowns and had a couple of
route breakdowns. Guys didn't run the right route.
James [Blackman] could have had one or two, then we had a couple of short yardages. Missed a
block, didn't block down with the receiver on the sweep that we should have had, would have
had one. And then fumble snap at the end, we didn't get up. He's got to get up under there, that's
The sneak, when they get wedged down in there, it's one of the hardest things to execute, believe
that or not, getting the snap, getting up there, because of the leverage the center has to get and
you as a quarterback have to get down.
Just all those fundamental things. Like I said, for three games before that we were doing pretty
well. We have to go back, make sure we're executing what we call, and hopefully we get some of
these older wideouts back and techniques and things we can do, it will help us out.
Q. I was watching the game on Saturday, and there's a fact that I found out, one of the
statistics -- that we haven't scored a touchdown in the third quarter. Why is that? What's
been the issue in third quarter and not getting a touchdown?
Fisher: I guess they've been stopping -- I guess they've got a wall up down there. I
don't know. Gotta convert coming out. I don't know if that's true or not. I don't know if that was
true. I hadn't realized that as much as you said.
Might have got some field goals, got some nice drives to start the half. Gotta score touchdowns.
Gotta finish and make halftime adjustments and then go out and execute.
Q. Kelly Bryant, what type of quarterback is he? Is he better than Deshaun Watson last
year, or are they both the same almost?
Fisher: 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.
Q. Looking back, I know when Deondre went down, obviously the hope is everybody picks
their game up and moves on, but looking back, do you feel like it took a while to kind of
Fisher: I don't think it's that. I think we played good teams. I think you had a young
quarterback and I think you had receivers go down.
When Auden Tate is going down in that second game, he's having the game of his career and
we're driving, moving the football like crazy, and all of a sudden you lose him.
Keith Gavin hasn't played very much, and you have them those guys in the deal. And defensively
hopefully you can step up and do some things. And your young backs are learning. [Jacques]
Patrick, first time, he's starter.
Then you lose [Landon] Dickerson, lose two or three of your backup linemen. It's not an excuse,
but that chemistry and that tenacity right there, where you're going with the ball, what you can
do, what they can do compared to what James [Blackman] could do at that time.
But we had opportunity. And that's where you hope there's a team that you could get the one
more stop or the one more play. So it's all a combination of everything.
Q. Same token, how beneficial would it have been to play a game in between Alabama and
Fisher: It would have been very beneficial, because you gain confidence. You gain
numbers. That's what I keep saying: The big thing is -- and I know it's hard -- people don't
believe this, but at the same time when you go win a couple games early and all of a sudden you
get on the field and you win and you start to feel better about yourself, it allows you to have
A lot of times that's what carries you through. Confidence is a very critical thing. That could
have been. We don't know. You really don't know because you never had it. So you can't say that
for sure. But that's one of the reasons you like to play those kind of games right there where
hopefully you can have success in. But that doesn’t guarantee it either. Still gotta go out and
Q. You've been coaching against Dabo now for I guess eight years. When did you see the
Clemson program starting to rise to this? Did you see it coming?
Fisher: Always had good players. Go back, look, they were supposed to beat us -- in
'10, they had it. And then we won. 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, a 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 adjusts 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 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
Q. You said on that last play, Derwin got a piece of the block of that field goal. Matthew
Thomas, first field goal attempt, got a block. On two blocks, something you guys saw on
film, you take advantage?
Fisher: No, something we work on every day. We work on, whether it's punt -- I
think we blocked two punts. That's two field goals we've gotten a hand on. That's something we
work religiously on daily.
Sometimes, when those things come, you get them. Sometimes they don't. You just gotta keep
practicing where we think we have the best opportunity. And it's something we're always
committed to doing.
Q. For your guys, especially some of the seniors, this game, could it be an opportunity for
them to show they're still capable of coming together, being the team that they expected to
Fisher: I don't know about that. 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. 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 your history of what you
provide here for young players, for example, how to compete and do things well.
Q. Just got done facing Syracuse with Dino [Babers] in his second year – Mark [Richt]'s
doing a good job in his second year in Miami. In building a program, how important is that
Fisher: I think they all are. And it's not just what the second year is, it's what your
plan is and how you implement it and what people give you, the pieces to put in place.
Seems like they are. Their players, they're big, stronger. Think of the games (Syracuse) played
this year. They've beaten Clemson. Miami was 20-19 with three minutes to go and had four
turnovers. They had four turnovers in that game.
LSU was 28-26 or 26-24 with two or three minutes to go in the game at LSU. That game was at
Miami and the other one was at their home place.
They played some great football. You look at it, they're a very good football team. Defensively,
offensively, they've done a great job. The scheme they have, their quarterback does a great job,
two experienced wideouts.
And Dino is a good football coach. It is very important not just for your second year but any
year. But you see progression in things that you have to have to be successful.
Just like what he had here: We needed an indoor, needed a dorm. We needed to be able to help
recruiting, all those things made a big difference in your progression but you can't ever stop.
You've got to keep pushing.
I'm not saying that here, I'm saying anywhere in your program, what's the next step you gotta
take. And if you ever do, you're going to get passed up. And you gotta keep growing.
Q. You've gone to Clemson a couple times with backup quarterbacks, where maybe people
have expected you to have a tough time, but you play well in your games --
Fisher: 35-30 and 23-13 or 16-13.
Q. What's the key to the mentality going into a situation like that?
Fisher: 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
There isn’t a secret: Gotta go play, hopefully play well and play intelligent.
Q. The players after the game said that they respect the bowl streak; they really want to
keep it going, but they also understand they can't focus on that. What's the balance and
how do you --
Fisher: You set your goals. But if you set and dwell on the outcome of the game, like
I say all the time, if you set and dwell on the score, you forget to play the game. You've got to
play and prepare. You can't let that paralyze you.
I said it's a burden you carry. It's part of why you want to come here. We've had a great history,
great tradition, great longevity; you've had great everything. That's one of the reasons that
attracted you here; you win. We're successful. There's a way we do things.
But you can't let that paralyze you. You've got to go play and do the things you've got to do to be
successful and practice that way and understand that. Compete your tail off.
If you're not, go back and do it again and not feel like, okay, if I didn't do that, should I walk
When you're in it like that, as a player or coach or anything else, that's what you have to do. And
that's any game you play.
I always say don't look at the scoreboard. That sounds crazy. Well, no, play the next play. You
understand the situation and that. But just concentrate on what you've got to do.
I always say, do you ever hear Tiger Woods say, when they ask him what he was thinking about
on that putt, 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.
Q. You're a big advocate of having a football-only complex. What are some of the other
commitments you'd like to see the program make?
Fisher: This isn’t the time to get into all that. You have to do that, for development
and commitment to things you have.
And those things are a major, major deal. Unfortunately, in this business, when you get into the
facilities business, you're never out of it. You're never out of development.
Your company can never quit growing. Whether it's that or behind the scenes things, support
staff, all that can never happen. It can never go away.
If it does, people fly by you like crazy. And there's numerous examples across this country. If
you don't understand that, you're missing the boat. Now, it all has to be relative to what you can
do, when you can do it and everything else. But at the same time, if you don't, it can pass you by
very, very quickly.