Renegade Report gives us an inside look on what to expect from FSU’s defense in this Saturday’s match-up in Tallahassee for the Florida Gators.
Mark McLeod: Florida State’s defense has given up 92 points in the second quarter. Fifty-five of those have been in the past five games, one of which was a shutout. Yet, they’ve only allowed a single touchdown in the fourth quarter over the second half of the season. Has the coaching staff indicated a reason for this?
Brandon Mellor: “The Florida State defense has definitely shown that it is a fourth-quarter unit. I think that you can attribute that to both defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews and the amount of young players getting significant repetitions because of injuries. Andrews is a master at making adjustments as the game goes on and linebackers coach Kevin Steele specializes in that area as well. As for the youngsters, I think they gradually shake off the cobwebs and the nerves as the game progresses”.
Coach Bowden talked about turnovers winning football games. They’re minus eight (-8) and have only picked up five fumbles. Have the Seminoles taken advantage of their turnover opportunities during the second half of the season?
“Outside of two interception returns – one by Tony Carter against Virginia and another by Lawrence Timmons against Western Michigan- FSU hasn’t turned too many turnovers in to points. Andrews has stressed on several occasions that he thinks sometimes the young defenders are trying to hard to make something special happen and, in turn, they are missing opportunities”.
Florida head coach Urban Meyer praised the Florida State linebackers. I do think that he sees their athletic ability and their ability to run. What is your assessment of their play?
“If you were to ask me what is the one position on the entire Florida State roster over the course of the team’s down years that has remained a constant force, I am going to immediately point to the linebackers. Steele’s group of athletes are reckless and have a knack for making big plays. A perfect example of this is how quickly the unit replenishes itself each off-season. The Seminoles lost standouts A.J. Nicholson and Ernie Sims to the NFL are arguably better this year with Lawrence Timmons and Geno Hayes as their replacements. Buster Davis has gotten better every year since he first signed with FSU five years ago and he anchors the entire defense. The Seminoles are missing three talented backups in Marcus Ball, Derek Nicholson, and Jae Thaxton and it is still the most talented grouping of players on the roster”.
Speaking of running, Mickey Andrews’ defenses have always run very well to the football. It appears that some guys are just not getting through the blocks as well. That’s particularly true of the defensive line. Does this line run as well as some of those in the past?
“The defensive line, as a whole, has struggled this season. When starting noseguard Paul Griffin went down with a torn ACL in the second game of the season, defensive line coach Odell Haggins had to immediately shake up his roster to find the best four players across the board. His solution was to move Alex Boston to defensive tackle from defensive end he was left with nothing but freshmen and sophomores to come off the edge. Griffin’s backup, Emmanuel Dunbar, has not played a down of football all season with back problems and former Edgewater High standout Aaron Jones, another defensive tackle, has been in and out of Andrews’ dog house and has battled injuries. Only now is sophomore Letroy Guion beginning to step up alongside starter Andre Fluellen. For a while, true freshman Budd Thacker, an undersized defensive tackle that was supposed to redshirt, had been logging a lot of minutes”.
Have you seen the ineffectiveness of the offense lead to doubt in this defense- either through trying to do too much or aggravation?
“Sadly for Seminole Nation, offensive ineffectiveness has become a mainstay and the defense never seems to get bothered by it. In all honesty, I think they are used to being the anchor of the team. It has been that way for a few years now”.