On today's teleconference, FSU head coach Jimbo Fisher offers his thoughts on this week's matchup against UVA:
QUESTION: Having just played Miami, how much do you invoke the Miami game, the Virginia/Miami game, to familiarize yourself with Virginia and the challenge?
Very much so. You have to watch that game. Of course, we watch them all. Coaches, we don't leave anything unturned. It gives you a great feel for how Miami had to scratch and crawl to get back in that game. It shows you how dominant and physical Virginia is. I think it's a big eye opener for our kids. Miami played tremendous against us. How good Virginia really is, we're going to have our hands full.
QUESTION: Up here in Virginia, we keep an eye on E.J. What has he meant to you? When you don't have him, how has that impacted you?
Tremendous. We all know his physical gifts, his size, speed, arm talent, ability to make throws, just make plays.
But the thing about E.J. to me that always intrigued me was he's 18 going on 30. Very mature, the guy you want to be the face of your organization, and our players do. They feel his presence not only as an athlete and a player but as a leader. When he is not in, it does affect us. I think after our young quarterback came in, they felt very well. But they lost their leader, their voice, they lost the head honcho, for lack of a better term. It does affect us.
When he's in there, our guys feel more confident, they feel better. They always feel if E.J. is on the field we always have a tremendous chance to win. It's never over till it's over. I think that gives your program a great sense of security. He's just a phenomenal young man all the way around. He represents everything that's right in college sports, but also in life in general. He really does.
QUESTION: The mental and physical approach for this one. It's pretty apparent that Virginia with that big old line, they come in and try to mash people. It's like you have to man up and brawl with them.
QUESTION: So mentally what do you say to your defense along those lines? Do you just challenge them physically to man up and get in there and battle?
They're physical, yes.
You know it. Their defensive line is very big and physical also. It's the same way. They're a very physical football team. They run it, stop the run, play great defense that way. That's what you have to do. Listen, guys, we can talk this a hundred ways, but there is no easy way. We're going to have to defeat blocks, be great technicians. We can't think we're going to go in there and be stronger than them. We have to play with great leverage, guys have to fill their gaps. They can throw the ball also. They do a good job there, too. Our guys are going to have to in their minds mentally understand how physical and tough this game is going to be. We're going to have to be able to control the lines of scrimmage. We just tell them straight up.
QUESTION: Did you bring heat after Mike Rocco? I have noticed at Virginia, they are so good at taking a back. You think the back is going to block on a blitz and they slip him out. Am I seeing that right?
It does affect you because a lot of folks assume the guy will block. You have to be aware of a free releaser. Whether you butch him, when you contact him no matter what, some guys will do that. You can butch him or you have a guy for him. There's different ways to handle that. You have to be aware of their guy every time. Their back, 33, big play in the Miami game. Locked up on a linebacker, ran him on a slant, 70-yard touchdown. That was a big one. They use him multiple ways. You have to be aware of all their guys. They do a great job with their tight ends also.