Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich
Some coaches throughout the league, like Tom O’Brien, have come out and said our backup guy is going to play. Cutcliffe said it, but Jim Grobe said no way, Riley’s our guy, that’s it. Are you trying to get E.J. [Manuel] in? What’s your philosophy on that?
Jimbo Fisher: I don’t have a problem with it. I think he’s ready to go in a game, but I think you have to be careful to say, ‘I’m definitely going to do this. I’m definitely going to do that.’ We’ll play it by ear and how the situations go.
How has he looked over the summer? That was the first time I’ve actually seen him in person, and he looks like an incredible athlete.
JF: He is. He’s a phenomenal athlete, and he’s a better person that he is an athlete -- highly intelligent, great leader, he’s harder on himself than I ever thought of being. He’s just one of those guys who holds himself to a high standard, a natural leader. I think he has a great future here. I’m very happy with him.
Do you think he missed a beat at all from being out in the spring, or no?
JF: I don’t think he’s missed it, but it didn’t help him. He could be further along in some developmental things, but he’s a guy who, he didn’t waste that time. It’s not his personality. Once you get to know him, you’ll understand.
When I talked to Christian [Ponder] he told me he’s so comfortable with the playbook, and some of the receivers have told me he’s like a mini you out there. How good is he with the offense right now?
JF: Very good. He knows when they screw up, how they screw up, what they’re doing. He’s in a comfort zone, he really is, in what he’s doing and how he does it. He’s taken that role.
It sounds like everything is great. Where are your concerns going into this Miami game?
JF: The unknown about just youth, guys you’re counting on to take a significant role, just from the youth and inexperience you have. The talent and attitude has been great. Can they handle it? There’s going to be a moment or two one of them will mess up, but the good thing they’ve done, even at practice, there are not disastrous moments. Last year, we were the youngest team in the country. Nobody was younger than we were. They played a lot but now I have to give them starting roles. That’s the biggest concern. It’s just a matter of getting a little bit of experience.
How tough does Miami look on film? They’ve got a lot of young guys, too.
JF: They do. They’re actually a little older than we are, believe it or not, but we’re very similar. They’re athletic and can run, and physical like they always are. Typical Miami football team.
Do you like opening with that game, or is that an October game?
JF: It doesn’t matter, it’s what they want us to do, that’s what we’ll do. If you had your preference, you’d probably say no, because you’d like to find out what you are, who you are. Each year it depends on the type of team you are. Are you experienced? Are you not experienced? That whole gamut of things.
So you think this will tell you guys where you are very quickly?
JF: I think it could, but I don’t know either way with this game. You can’t put too much into it. You have success, it goes to their head, they don’t work harder just because you have a little success. It doesn’t go as well as you think, it means they’re good, they’re just a little young at times. You’ve got to be careful judging too much off the bat with this game, either way.
What about in terms of the overall picture? I know nobody has come out and made a decision one way or another, but there is this whole NCAA issue of the wins for [Bobby] Bowden, it may or may not be his last season. How much does all that matter to you, because you’re the next guy?
JF: It doesn’t. We all know the contracts and what’s going on. We don’t even think about that or talk about it. That’s never even part of our thought process or our daily routine.
But as a guy who works for him, is it fair to say you’d probably like to see him keep those wins? What are your thoughts on that?
JF: Oh yeah, I want it for him. Because he did nothing wrong. As soon as he was aware of the things that were inappropriate, we took action. That’s what people keep forgetting. We turned ourselves in. We weren’t trying to hide anything. And no coach was a part of it. We suspended them. That’s the thing we keep forgetting out there. If you’re responsible, you’re responsible. If you’re not, you’re not. If he went to court, he’d be innocent. They’re putting him in jail.
Because you are going to be the next guy, do you have a grasp on the whole team maybe better than most offensive coordinators would? Are you keeping an eye on everybody?
JF: I do, I try to keep an eye on everybody. I put myself in that position now, what I would do here, what I would do there. And you have to for recruiting. The guys we’re signing now will be the guys when I’m here. The type of guys we’re signing and why we’re signing them.
Well the future looks pretty bright.
JF: It really does. I’m going to tell you what, I think we could be a very good team this year and after this year we could be a really, really good team.