Warchant TV: Fisher on the Duke win
Back on the winning track. There's nothing like winning. Can't take that for granted. Makes a big difference. Proud of our kids, the way we battled. Came out, played aggressive early, played smart early, made some turnovers on defense that gave us a chance offensively. Wish we could have stuck them in the endzone, we didn't on either of them-one was before the half and we got a penalty and the other one we were a little shaky. But then we were able to establish the running game and hit big plays. We were able to hit some long pass plays, EJ would see them open and hit them open and converted some of those down there. Did a good job on third down. And in the second half we established a drive on the first one out of half, scored. Disappointed we had the one turnover. That was a nice catch by Greg [Dent] but he got hit and fumbled and they did the onside kick-that one onside kick, that one they hit high, I don't know what you do. We talked about it. We knew it was coming. We called it. Called it and saw it. That's a remarkable thing they do. Proud of the way our kids battled and fought and we got a long way to go but we're 1-0 at the end of the week and our goal is to be 1-0 at the end of each week. We gotta continue to grow each day.
Talk about keeping Duke out of the endzone.
I think the pass rush, we were able to-they couldn't establish enough running game and it reduced a little bit. And our rush-we were able to get back there-and we batted a lot of balls, not only sacked a lot, but batted a lot of balls, too. That was a good difference and we kept-we were able to run the ball on offense when we got it.
Talk about Devonta Freeman. He seems to be a natural fit.
He does, he can run. And when 3 opens it up, I mean, 3 can change the ball game. We played without him for a couple weeks-and in the Oklahoma game we were really starting to establish a mix of things-he creates-and what he can bring to the table, he takes the pressure off of them because you gotta play on the backside and you gotta do things. Devonta did a really nice job and the offensive line did a nice job of staying and pounding on the run.
You talked about pounding the run.
Exactly right, it can work vice a versa, I mean, every year people say you gotta run, gotta run, but if we're throwing it better, why can't we throw it some? They're hung up on running, and I want balance, but it's gotta be one and then we'll develop the other. It's getting there. We had a couple things we need to clean up.
You guys ended up being almost perfectly balanced between the run and pass tonight.
Three yards off, 242 running, 239 passing. We only threw 14 passes. That might be a first for me in the history of my life. 14 passes in a game…I don't know if I've ever done that-maybe in one quarter. I didn't realize that.
Talk about the combination on offensive line this year.
You got two guys starting on the right side, I mean, Bobby started one game and Faircloth never started. Center is there, Fahrenkrug-Fahrenkrug and Stork are getting better every week, Zebrie did a nice job. I thought our tight ends blocked well. Nick O'Leary got his first touchdown, ran a nice route and got open back there, but those guys did a nice job up front.
What do you think the win does mentally?
I think it builds your confidence. I say that all the time. We just haven't had a break. We lost a hard fought game against Oklahoma, battled Clemson till the end and still had some guys out at Wake-no excuses, but we established-I said it all week, I liked the way our team practiced. I thought it was one of the best weeks we had-the way they reacted to things and the way things are coming together. Hopefully this will continue and they'll remember how this feels and build one week at a time. Hopefully it will build confidence and when confidence comes, that's when it starts to roll.
Some people said the main problem the team had the last few weeks was that EJ was out. How big a factor was that?
He changes everything. Because his ability to create-when broken plays come, to scheme, and to use him when you have to, on options or quarterback running or whatever you gotta do, it adds another blocker and it makes the linemen better because they're one blocker up and people don't understand that. And his ability to make big plays and throw-he can do what a drop back guy can and what an option guy does-he's the combination of both guys. He just unfortunately got hurt in the wrong time in the wrong place. He makes all the guys better.
What's the status of Jacobbi McDaniel?
It didn't sound good, they're talking about a dislocated ankle or broken ankle or something like that. We go through one every week.
And Rashad Greene? He looked like he was warming up?
He did, he just wasn't-he came back out and tried to shoot it up, he didn't practice all week, and he came back out and it just wasn't good. It wasn't worth doing it. He wasn't healthy. He was maybe 70% and if you went out there you might miss him forever.
Will he make it next week?
I have no idea, I hope so.
Did you change the blocking scheme?
No, didn't change a thing. We went out there and got better and what we did. His [EJ] ability on the backside, you can't leave it, whether it's naked or plan to run or option. It changes. The defensive coordinator, he'd give you six pages of stuff on why it changes things.
Talk about EJ and the option.
Long. Size. Big hands. He's got the quickness of a little guy and he's so long with the ball, he can reach and do things and he's strong. You got 6'5, 245 pounds and can run four five. And he's long and he's smart and he's tough. Gotta get him reps and gotta get him in the game. He is a natural option guy, for somebody who never runs it, he's got it.
What about it is so effective?
I think we block well. Lonnie Pryor had a heck of a day, thought he blocked very well up front. He hits that thing and can stick that foot in the ground and change direction, he's strong. And he's got burst. He's got a burst. It's not an ooze, it's an umph! It's an explosion. He can run.
Are you at the point where you're starting to trust your backs in there?
You are. The second half we wanted to play James more, but Devonta's so hot, why would you take him out? Then we got him in there and I thought James ran well when he was in there. Ty didn't get as many and Lonnie-Jermaine had a seven yard carry in the second half. Devonta got hot so we just left it there.
Were you concerned about the team mentally last week, coming off the losses?
I was, but this team keeps believing and stays together and they got together and grouped and they knew. The reason-why are things happening? That's what you gotta go back to. That's the magical thing in the world, when something's good or bad, why is it good? Why is it bad? If it's good and the why is wrong, you could be in trouble. Or it looks bad and the why is not that bad and you can fix it? Then it's not that bad. The why was close-I'm not saying we've arrived, we got tons of work to do, but the why wasn't that far off. It was just a matter of details and when you put 3 back on the field, it changes it around.
Talk about the effect that going at a higher tempo had today.
I think it did. We liked the rhythm. I think it's good sometimes to do it, do it, do it, and then stop and jump back in. It keeps you off-balance and we can do that anytime and our young guys like it and we're trying to develop that rhythm on offense.
You seemed to rattle their quarterback on defense.
We brought a lot more pressure and created different looks in the secondary. Created nickel, six pack, went dime. Got guys to cover more, played more man, played tighter. Allowed that rush and we were rushing the passer and getting back there. Mixing looks up. Gave them a bunch of different looks. Gotta give multiple looks. I gotta tell you, that guy's a good quarterback. I like that quarterback. I think he could play in the NFL, I really like him.
Talk about Bjoern getting his hands up on the ball.
Size matters. It makes you play in a small area where you can't see long and you can't see down the field and you can't make the ball and throw it as long. And getting those hands up-that's why I like long, big guys up front-they put a hand up-and they say, oh what a terrible throw, but a lot of times you'll look and there's hands right in the lane of the receiver. Those long guys sometimes do more by accident than other guys do on purpose. Their hands and their length. Size matters. That's why I'm so adamant about having a big football team. A big athletic football team. It makes a difference.
You guys kept a lot of defensive starters in late.
They had momentum, they scored and were down two scores near the end and you don't want to keep them going. But we rotated all the time. You say starters, but who else are you gonna put it? You played all four ends the whole game, played about four tackles, played all the backers and you played the whole secondary-ain't nobody much left.
Does having Moody back help?
It does, makes a difference and the other guy keeps getting better and I hope Karlos Williams will get in that secondary a little more. I think he's really starting to get comfortable and we're gonna start getting him mixed in more, because, I'll tell you what, that guy's a good football player. When he returns kicks-I'll swing him on my side.
How's Xavier Rhodes?
Good I think. His knee or ankle-he played the rest of the game. We'll see where he's at.
After a month, just to get some young guys some work-
And just a win. It felt really good. We're still a young football team. When you look out there, there's only two starters-Bert and Zebrie started and on defense you had Bradham and Parks-that's it.
Yep, we're a young football team.
You guys got a couple turnovers-
We did, it was big. I wish we could have converted, got a field goal in one and the other in the half, it was weird, hard to throw it and got a penalty, but still, it takes momentum and takes possession away and takes time away. They were hitting great. Had a chance to make three, I thought there was an interception we could have got.
It was just a cleaner game.
We executed. We played with some consistency, we could establish the run and third and fourth. You move the ball in a consistent way and then when the big pays come-that's the way you gotta play football. It's great to have the big plays, but you gotta play with consistency-boom boom boom boom. That's the sign of a mature team that can execute play in and play out and can stay focused and do what it does.
It felt like the team was playing with more confidence.
We were. We came in with a mission. They said, look, we don't care what people say or do, we gotta play good football. We've had some bad luck, some things we created, whatever it is, we-as athletes people doubt you, and this doesn't make them not doubt you, it's only one week, but we gotta move on and we gotta do what we do and play football. And be a family.
Was that message sent out early?
Throughout the week. From day one. Pull them together and circle them up and understand it.