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Florida State quarterback E.J. Manuel
What is the mind set of your team being expected to win?
“The mindset is great. I think nobody is really focused on the expectations, but more so just going out there and practicing well and taking care of square one first and everything else will follow.”
Are you guys more concerned on what you guys need to do to execute or is it more looking at them to try and see what you can exploit?
“Both just like any opponent. We’ve spent plenty of time, we’ve had such a long time between our last game (the ACC Championship) but we’ve spent a lot of time watching film on these guys so we’re prepared. Coming into this week I wanted to have a lot of film under my belt and so I did that. It’s a team that we haven’t played before [and] that we haven’t seen a whole lot, but they earned their right to be here just like we did. So we’re not going to think this is a lesser team or a lesser opponent, we still got to go out there and prepare and play well.”
The perception is you should come out and handle [Northern Illinois] pretty well, what is the team’s reaction to that and how do you deal with that?
“I think we expect it as well. Not anything against those guys, but I think whoever we’re going to play that is the way we want to think. That we can come out and play well, if we execute like we’re supposed to we’ll win the game.”
Anything in their defense you are looking to exploit?
“They have good players, they have good speed when you watch on film, but not anything dissimilar to the guys we’ve played before. They have a good team so I think the biggest thing for us is to worry about our offense and focus on that and we’ll be fine.”
How hard is it playing with your mom battling cancer at the moment?
“She is doing well. My mom has a good tone of voice when I call her since I can’t see her during the season. I can tell how she’s feeling, if she’s having a rough day or a good day. My mom has done a great job. It was tough, but I can’t allow it to be a deterrent in what I do. My mom didn’t want that to be a reason to cause me not to play well. “
This is your last game how will you be feeling with all the emotion with what your mom is going through?
“I will be locked in on our game and my mom wants that. I’ll be locked in on my last game as a collegiate player, being in a BCS game [like] the Orange Bowl this is what you work for and we’ve got to this point and I’m not going to allow our team to fall short of it.”
Florida State kicker Dustin Hopkins
How’s been supporting E.J. and his mother after being diagnosed with breast cancer…
“It’s very important because of how close we are and how close our families are. Our families are real good friends too. Getting that prayer chain going of being there for somebody you love and somebody you just want to see the best for.”
All the talk is about Northern Illinois being in their first BCS game, but it’s the first BCS game for you guys as well, how is that like…
“There is a rich history at Florida State and you are kind of upheld to a standard of play that people were used to seeing 15 years ago. It is a little unfamiliar but at the same time whether it’s a BCS game or some other game you are going through the same preparations, same practice, basically the same everything. So as great as this Orange Bowl is, at the same time, bottom line we are preparing the same way to win on the field and I think that is what’s important.”
How do you guys stay loose…
“I think when you put 120 guys in a room, we are pretty loose just given the fact that we have quite a few pranksters. Looseness is a great thing, but on the field I think sometimes at practice it’s also good to get homed in. I think we’ve done that too to get focused in at practice and keep the joking for the breaks or whatever it is. I think a sign that we’re ready is knowing where we’ve been and how we’ve played and
overcoming some adversity by coming from behind. Just knowing your guys and knowing how we’ve played in the past and carry it over to this game.”
Florida State wide receiver Rashad Greene
How excited are you to play in the Orange Bowl…
“It’s very exciting. Everybody is all pumped up. We are not too excited and not too ready for the game we still have a lot of preparation to do as far as practice goes to get prepared for this game, but everybody is excited. It’s been a minute since we’ve been a part of a BCS bowl around here at Florida State so it’s very exciting for us. We are all ready to go out there, compete and have fun.”
What have you been stressing the most this week in practice…
“Details. Those small details will take you a long way. Execution and most importantly, Jimbo says this before every practice and every game to go out and have fun. That’s the main thing, to go out and have fun."
What was the difference this year to get you to the Orange Bowl…
“That team chemistry. Coming together as one, playing together as one. It makes a lot of difference. People may not realize it, but how you come together as a team makes a difference on how you play on the field. We get used to each other, start trusting each other more. We are able to do a lot of execution because we trust and believe in each other.”
What is your take on Northern Illinois…
“I give them a lot of respect. They won their conference, you have to respect that. They won ten games. That’s something to look at. When you see them on the field you see they play together. Their execution of little details. They are a very well coached team, so you have to respect that as a player to go out there and prepare for them.”
FSU running back Devonta Freeman
On whether or not they were surprised that they were playing NIU:
“I was kind of happy for their program that they actually got a chance to be in a BCS bowl game. It was kind of shocking because I thought we would be playing Louisville instead of them. But I definitely don’t take them for granted or look at them down in any type of way because they practice hard; just like we practice. I think they deserve to be here. They got here on their God-given ability. The media is going to say a lot of stuff, but they deserve it. I think it is a great chance for them to show that they can play a great game against us.”
On whether or not they are taking NIU lightly:
“No, we practice hard. Coach Jimbo (Fisher) always preached to us that it doesn’t matter who we play; just go out there and play like it is your last game. So I know we are practicing at a high level like we were playing in the national championship against a great team.”
On what he thinks NIU is bringing to the table:
“We are looking for them to come out and play us very hard, very tough, bring a physical game, make a lot of trash talk all night; I just think they are going to come out and give us their best.”
Chris Nee of 247Sports.com. You can follow me on twitter @CNee247.
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