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Recap: James Coley Orange Bowl PC

Florida State Offensive Coordinator Press ...

Stream provided by the Orange Bowl.

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    James Coley is currently speaking.

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    Coley says that NIU's defense is well coached and has some veterans. They play extremely hard. They rally to the ball very well.

    'They are a bunch of guys who believe in what they are doing.'

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    Coley complimented defensive end Alan Baxter, defensive tackle Ken Bishop, and inside linebacker Victor Jacques. Said they are next-level players on NIU's defense.

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    Coley talked about Bjoern Werner. When Werner was a recruit, the Seminoles initially were looking at him as an offensive lineman. Coley talked about watching him play basketball at Salisbury and that they realized they just needed him on their roster. He said that upon his arrival in Tallahassee, it was clear early on in his time in Tallahassee that he was going to be a leader and be special on the field.

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    Coley talked about his role as offensive coordinator. He made it specifically clear that Fisher calls the plays. He said that during the week they are very organized about getting the gameplan together. He talked about the insight he is able to give and the insight Fisher gives. He was very complimentary of Fisher's strength as a play-caller.

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    Coley talked about Bryan Stork developing from a tight end who may become an offensive guard. He said that he did a great job of getting bigger and stronger and developed into a three-year starter. He will give you all he has. Coley said he is a tight end skillset (quick feet, hands) working at center.

    'Bryan has been one of our backbones with our big guys.'

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    Coley talked about Lonnie Pryor being a team player. He is selfless on the field and a great teammate/person off the field. He talked about Pryor's love for Florida State. He said that his passion is infectious to his teammates. He also called him the 'Mayor of Okeechobee'.

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    Coley on staff changeover - he said recruiting has been crazy having to pick up for the loss of three guys. You have double-duty - their areas, twice as many phone calls, e-mails, facebook, etc. But Coley said that the in-depth information provided on the prospects allowed it to be easy to pick up for that. He said that recruiting is the biggest area where the changeover has led to an impact on the remaining staff.

    With regards to coaching, Coley said that on his side of the ball they have still had Coach G (Eddie Gran) so there hasn't been an issue with that. He said Coach Eliot has really stepped up on the defensive side of the ball. He also said that the team is so organized by this point that the day-in, day-out process of preparation is already implemented.

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    Coley talked about landing Kevin Haplea. He said that it came down to persistence and making an impression the first time around when he chose Penn State. He said that it benefited FSU that they ended his recruitment the first time around on a good note because when he looked to depart Penn State, Florida State was an immediate option he considered.

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    Coley said he is 'very proud' of his seniors on offense. He talked about how they have developed as football players and men.

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    Coley talked about the motivation of the game being that you are back in the BCS for the first time in a while. You are also facing a team, that they see on film, as being pretty good. He said competitiveness should take over.

    'You notice they are well coached and they play hard.'

    He then dropped a solid cliche about how the players aren't looking at helmets or uniforms, but about how plays are going to be run against them and executed.

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    On returning to the BCS:

    'That was a goal, to win our conference and get back to a BCS game.'

    Coley talked about losing the ACC Championship in their first year as a staff against Virginia Tech. He said that returning to that point this season, winning, and advancing is a 'big time step up from where we were in the past.' He referenced players on the squad learning how to win.

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    Transcript of Florida State offensive coordinator James Coley's press conference at the Orange Bowl

    THE MODERATOR: Coach, we welcome you here and welcome to South Florida. You all have been here for a few days now. How have preparations gone so far.

    JAMES COLEY: Good. Yesterday was our first day. Our guys were really sharp. They're focused. We had a great week of preparation in Tallahassee. But actually yesterday was our best day.

    You know, sometimes when you give these guys a couple days off when you install new stuff, it sets in, and I thought EJ was really sharp. I thought our receivers were on cue. The timing was actually better. So being our first day, it's interesting to see today. Let's see how they respond.

    We got out of staff meeting right afterwards, and we were watching the entire practice, and everybody was pretty pleased with how our players played.

    Q. EJ's season we learned recently has been involving his mother's health issue, as well, him having to play through that adversity. What have you seen in the growth of him this year against that backdrop, and also what should his legacy be at Florida State?

    JAMES COLEY: You know, it's been a tough year for him. Whenever you have someone dear to you, whenever you see them struggling with an illness, especially at a young age, it's tough. But the great thing about this job is you see these freshmen, and then by their fifth year you see them come in as young pups, and then you kind of see them seasoned, you know what I mean? Not just as players but also as individuals.

    So you saw him take that with stride and he's learning to become a professional at this. It's demanding, it really is. Some guys, they say these kids go to school for free; it ain't free, not at all. They work. When you have those times where you're struggling back at home, it's tough. But he persevered through it.

    His legacy? He's our top percentage quarterback in the history of Florida State. He's a winner. He red shirted his freshman year. We've called upon him every year because of injuries, and he's come in and saved his first season as a red shirt freshman, saved our season by getting us into a bowl game. He's a competitor. He's a fighter. You watch him play, and the guys who played with him will tell you best, ask them next door, they love that guy. They'll run through the wall for him.

    Q. Northern Illinois's defense, Coach Fisher talked about them being very sound. Can you talk about what they do and the challenges they present?

    JAMES COLEY: Yeah, they're a 4‑3 defense. They're well‑coached. They have some older players who play extremely hard. As a group they play extremely hard. This is probably the hardest‑playing with regards to morale, rally‑to‑the‑ball group that we've seen, one of the top that we've seen this year.

    And obviously their success getting into this game is‑‑ this is a product of it. They are a bunch of guys who believe in what they're doing. So that's our challenge. They're going to have conviction on what they do, and that's what we're pushing with our guys, conviction in what we do, and let's let it meet on the field.

    But you have certain players that are extremely‑‑ that are good. They're going to play on the next level off of their defense. No.90, defensive end, 93, defensive tackle, those guys are real good players. The middle linebacker is a tough kid from Miami, Victor, and I think he went to Christopher Columbus. Hard‑nosed kids. They have the right 11 playing.

    So that's what we're facing. We're facing a team that's going to come out there, and they're going to be willing to bloody their noses and get after you and play all 60 minutes.

    Q. Could you talk about the development of Nick O'Leary, one, his blocking, and two, yesterday Jimbo said he thought he'd probably catch 30, 35 balls this year, he has 19. What has been the reason why maybe he didn't have those numbers?

    JAMES COLEY: Development has been‑‑ very pleased with it. He is a guy who's 235 pounds, 6'4", 235, and he's playing at the end of the line of scrimmage in a pro‑style offense, and he, week to week, goes against some defensive ends that are 280, 275, and he's giving up some size. He's really bought into being a technician because he has to because he's giving up sometimes length and size. And he's bought into the fact of sacrificing particular plays where he knows that he's outsized and out‑strengthed.

    He's giving up a lot of numbers physically, you know, and I'm‑‑ from springtime when you play against our defensive ends, Bjoern Werner and Brandon Jenkins before he got hurt, you saw him get better, and then in the summer you saw him battling, which was a good sign, because when you go against our defense, it can be rough.

    As far as him developing his full game, I thought he's done a great job this year. Now, 19 catches, there were certain games we thought he could get more, and the ball just didn't go that way because of coverages. There are certainly plays called for him to get one‑on‑one match‑ups, and we ended up scoring touchdowns off of those plays because the safety would jump on the tight end like against Duke, we had a couple post routes and actually we were trying to work‑‑ where we were trying to get on their middle linebacker and work option routes because we thought that would be a good match‑up, and the safety was buzzing down and doubling Nick, helping out the Mike linebacker and we were hitting Rashad and Rodney over the top of post routes.

    You know, it's going to go that way sometimes, but we expect him‑‑ what did he have, 11 last year? He's had 19 this year including a two‑point play. We'll see how he finishes up the bowl game and then next year hopefully that'll double, as well.

    Q. You kind of had a big hand in the recruitment of Bjoern Werner. What was it that stuck out about him, and also when you guys realized he could play defense could you have fore seen the type of year and couple years that he's had?

    JAMES COLEY: You know, it's funny, I went up there, and we definitely wanted to offer him as an offensive player, and we were thinking more in the lines of tight end or center. And when we went up there, that didn't go over well. I said, I know, I gave him the positions in his face, and everything was just like total depression. He walked away, and I was like, wow. But the coach pulled me to the side, and he said, you know what, coach, you need to watch this kid play basketball. He's just learned how to play basketball but you get to see him move around. It was probably 15 degrees outside. They had an indoor gym, it was in Connecticut up in the mountains. I'm from Miami so I'm definitely not prepared. I was in that gym, I was dying to get to that car.

    But I went in there, and I just watched him play. And you can see his athleticism running up and down the court, jumping. He wasn't an interior guy. You saw his skill set. He was fouling everybody. They stood no chance. We pulled out the game film again, and then I kind of put two and two together, we were like, well, you know, they're asking him to do this, I've seen him do that, and then I called Jimbo and told him, this kid is‑‑ he's a big athlete, and he watched the film again, and at the end of the‑‑ after they showered and all that, we offered him as a defensive end. So it went from extremes there. It went from us going in there kind of thinking maybe this guy‑‑ Will Tye was there as a tight end, maybe this guy is a center, tight end type of guy, big body, and it turned out that, no, he was a lot‑‑ his athleticism, he can play on the perimeter, he can come off the edge.

    It doesn't surprise me. He came down here as a freshman, and we were telling him you've got to get used to the humidity and you've got to get used to the heat, and he worked out on his own the first several days to get used to this humidity in Tallahassee.

    By the time they were doing 110s as a group, their sprints in the summer, he was one of the leaders as a freshman. He was telling guys, get up, get up, and the strength coaches were all‑‑ from his first day, everybody that's been around him just raves about him, whether it's academics or the strength staff or his position coach. So it's no shocker.

    And you know what, certain guys‑‑ one thing you always question sometimes when guys don't grow up around this game is do they have the instincts to play, especially on defense, and he has it. He understands the game. Sometimes he probably understands it better than some of the guys who grew up here and have been around the game their whole lives. He's studied it. But very proud of him.

    Q. I know you grew up in Miami and I believe near the Orange Bowl, the old Orange Bowl?


    Q. Can you talk about some memories of the Orange Bowl and how much you went there growing up and what it's like without it there, and also the difference in playing at Sun Life?

    JAMES COLEY: You know, I grew up on Northwest 4th Street and 18th Avenue, about two blocks from the Orange Bowl. The Orange Bowl was‑‑ as kids in that community, that was our playground. Hide and seek and running onto the field and throwing the football, getting chased by the security guards, getting out of there, and parking cars. You might have parked at my house if you went to one of the games.

    But that was a‑‑ that was always the bright side of a working‑class neighborhood was the games on Saturdays, the games on Sundays when the Dolphins were there. I always thought it lifted up the community. As kids you'd go outside and see the Goodyear Blimp. That was a big deal.

    Yeah, you know, it's weird because I recruit Miami‑‑ it's weird driving down 17th Avenue and not seeing the OB. It's a nice baseball stadium, a nice park, but you miss it. You miss seeing that stadium. We played there in high school. That was our home games. But yeah, it was a nice deal.

    Q. I wanted to ask you about the arrangement that you guys have with the staff. I don't think you're the only offensive coordinator who doesn't call the plays. Virginia Tech does it, too. How has that arrangement worked out for you, the fact that you're offensive coordinator but you don't call the plays? Is that okay with you?

    JAMES COLEY: Yeah, absolutely. Coach is‑‑ he's the head coach. He's called plays for a long time. He's very successful. He knows a lot. He walks into meetings and he'll bring up stuff that he hasn't done in a while or stuff people are doing now, he's done it before, and it's an ongoing‑‑ we're all learning around him. But you know, the way it works‑‑ I guess what you're asking is how does it work for us. He's got a lot of head coaching duties that he does, and we, especially myself, I try to get all the information to him so when he walks into these meetings it's very productive and we're not sitting around there and there's not a lot of wasting time. His questions get answered right away with regards to schemes and how‑‑ what our opponent is doing. And then during the week I script the practice to the things he wants to see, and I kind of organize the week out for him so that on Saturdays he's ready to go.

    It's worked out well. It's worked out well.

    Q. Could you talk a little bit about the development of Stork at center and how he's come on to be a second‑team all‑ACC and what Lonnie Pryor brings to your backfield?

    JAMES COLEY: You know, Bryan Stork was a kid that I recruited originally as a tight end, maybe an offensive lineman, and he was light when he came on his official visit. He was probably around 235 pounds. He knew he would have to be‑‑ play offensive line just because of the guys we had at the tight end position, and Coach Trickett really thought he could be a good guard‑center type of guy if he can gain the weight, and he did.

    He's tough. We call him Red Beard. He's got this beard, and it's red, and he kind of looks like a pirate, and he barks, and he's a team guy. They all follow him, the offensive line. What a great story his story is with his father passing and him kind of trying to‑‑ he raised himself up the ending of his senior year, and coming to Florida State, having to get bigger and stronger, and he's been a three‑year starter for us. He's a guy you want at center. He's a guy that will lay it all on the line and give it all he has. You can't ask for anything more from him.

    Athletically he's a tight end skill‑set wise playing center. So he's quick, strong, he's got his big hands, and when he locks up on guys, that's about it. He does a good job torquing guys. Brian has just been one of our backbones with our big guys.

    Lonnie Pryor, the mayor of Okeechobee, he's awesome. As a football player, very unselfish, makes plays in games when you need plays. Lonnie is a guy who's like, give me the ball, and sure enough, he'll run somebody over and get a 1st down or catch a ball from the backfield and change field positions. Outside of the game, he's unbelievable. He's the type of guy that you want your son to have a locker next to. He's a team player. He's a big community guy. He loves‑‑ both those guys.

    And then this recruiting process when you recruit guys, something that always stands out, there's guys who would like to play for Florida State, and there's guys that would die to play for Florida State, and both those guys love Florida State. That's their school.

    So when we play games, when we play rivalry games and stuff like that, it means a lot to them, and that's infectious to the rest of the guys. They see how much passion they have in those games, and they know what's on the line because they know those guys do things right. So those are two big leaders for us, both those guys.

    Q. I'm just curious if you can talk a little bit about the staff turnover and how you guys have juggled losing assistants and gaining assistants and what practices have been like. Could you walk me through that and where you are right now?

    JAMES COLEY: Yeah. You know, recruiting is crazy because you lose three guys and you've got to take up their areas in recruiting, and those guys did a great job where it was pretty easy to pick up. So you kind of do double duty. You have your area and you have somebody else's area. You're double the phone calls that night.

    But emails and Facebook and all that stuff, it's extra. But those guys did a great job where it was easy to come in and you had all the information already provided on the prospects, and you knew who you were recruiting. It wasn't someone that they only spoke with. The way Coach Fisher sets this up, it's area recruiting, but a lot of people were involved in the recruiting process.

    That's been the biggest thing.

    On our side of the ball, Eddie Grant is still here, you know, so Coach G, he's still at practice, and we're not missing anything he's doing, special teams and all that. And on the other side of the ball you have Coach Eliot has kind of stepped in for Coach Stoops, and he's been double‑duty type of deal.

    I think the biggest area whenever there's turnover like that where guys get promoted and get other jobs is in recruiting. I think the staff and the team by the time you get to a bowl game, you know order, so guys pick it up‑‑ even senior players, they see it and they stepped up and they have a leadership voice in defensive meetings and stuff like that.

    But recruiting is always the toughest part.

    Q. Kind of speaking of recruiting, one guy that you guys had a week to recruit was Kevin Haplea. We haven't had a chance to talk to you about his recruitment and bringing him in. What was that experience like, having such a tight window to bring a guy on as a transfer and what he's done for you this season.

    JAMES COLEY: Right. I don't know if it was really a recruiting deal; you know what I mean? That's why whenever you‑‑ obviously the first time around, he picked Penn State over us, and that's where his heart was then. But there was something about us in the process that we stuck out. But it was pretty fast when they released him. He made contact with us, and then of course we remembered him as a player, and he came on an official immediately, and he made his decision as soon as he got on campus.

    But it was pretty quick. Good kid. I know you guys spoke with him. I read some of those articles. He's smart, tough, good mix in our room, good mix on our offense. Those guys all travel together up north, Sean Maguire, Kevin and Josue. They bring a lot to the table.

    Q. Not everybody on this team was here for some of the darker days a few years ago at Florida State. Could you just talk about watching these guys go from where they were when you got here as an assistant to playing in an Orange Bowl and what it would mean to cap off the season with a win?

    JAMES COLEY: Right. You know, these guys that came in here during‑‑ as freshmen, there was a lot of transition, a lot of things taking place, and they've‑‑ like I said, it's great having this job because you kind of‑‑ you see a finished product. You see a guy change. An immature kid or just shy, to a guy that's going to talk. Next door, I'm dying to go over there and see Rashad talk. He's quiet, but he's a sophomore so he'll be different in two years and be a different guys from experiences of seasons and instances on the team and stuff like that that will make him different.

    But like EJ, I'm proud. You see EJ and you've got a good feeling inside because you saw him develop in this process. You saw him go in games, and it's, hey, man, we need this win, and I've got you, Coach. One of those deals.

    You saw it early in the process where you don't know if it was really‑‑ you're like, I hope he has this, you know what I mean? To now you know it. You feel it. You know he'll lay it on the line.

    Yeah, these guys, these seniors, Rodney Smith, I'm very proud of them. I'm very proud of them.

    Q. Coming into this game you're going up against Northern Illinois' defense. What's your motivation kind of just going up against them? You get into the Orange Bowl kind of expecting to go up against kind of a big powerhouse school and then it's Northern Illinois's defense. What's your motivation going up against them?

    JAMES COLEY: You know, you're playing in a BCS Bowl game. This is the first time we've been here together as a team in a long time. It's a great setting, great environment. You're going against a team who‑‑ we get to watch them, the fans don't. No one watches them every day on film. We get to watch them. And as competitors, you notice, hey, that defensive end, that guy is pretty good; how can I win on this block? Or you know what, that corner to the field, man, he's savvy; I can't fall asleep and lay one out there and get a pick. You know what I mean? You watch them on film and you notice they're well‑coached and they play hard.

    As players, the players, they're not looking at their helmets, they're looking at how plays are going to be successful versus what they do; you know what I mean? They don't care about the uniforms or anything like that; they're watching how good they are because they got here.

    I think our guys realize that, and our guys, there's a lot of respect towards what they've done this year, and I don't think a motivation at all is going to be an issue.

    Q. I wonder if you could talk about this game through the prism of the development of this team under Jimbo. Talk about this as a spring board to Florida State eventually launching itself back into that top, top elite tier in college football.

    JAMES COLEY: Right. You know, that was a goal. The goal was to win our conference and to get to the BCS game, to get to this Orange Bowl. That's where our‑‑ it starts off with your Conference Championship. When we got here as a staff the first year, we played for ACC Championship against Virginia Tech, and we lost that game, and we knew what it was like to go to that game. We didn't know what it was like to win that game as a staff, as players.

    So this year I thought getting there, winning that game, now we know what it tastes like. Now we know what it's like to get into this big game, BCS Orange Bowl. Yeah, it's definitely a big‑time step up from where we were in the past.

    And you see our players grow. They know now how to win, win not just critical games, conference games and then the conference championship games. The Orange Bowl is going to be a great game Tuesday night.

    FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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