Florida State is 0-2 in ACC play and looking for defensive answers after being gashed by UNC. Can the Seminoles pick up the pieces as they prepare for Miami?
Florida State is preparing for its in-state test against Miami on Saturday night, and the Seminoles are doing so with questions surrounding Jimbo Fisher’s program.
The ‘Noles suffered through another dreadful defensive performance in their home loss to North Carolina this past Saturday, allowing Mitch Trubisky to complete 31 of 38 passes for 405 yards and three touchdowns. It was yet another in a list of subpar defensive efforts for a unit that also gave up 530 total yards in a blowout loss to Louisville and 313 passing yards to Chad Kelly and Ole Miss in the season opener.
As bad as things are for the Seminoles defensively, though, it’s something that Fisher has seen before.
At his Monday press conference, which was his longest of the season thus far, Fisher referenced a rough season he endured while on Nick Saban’s staff at LSU. It was a year in which the Tigers “could not stop anybody,” according to Fisher.
“Can you imagine that about a [Nick] Saban defense?” he asked.
Certainly, Saban is having no such issues at Alabama, where he has gone 105–18 and won four national championships in large part because defense is never a concern.
For Fisher and the ‘Noles to re-enter the College Football Playoff conversation in the near future, vast improvement is needed for coordinator Charles Kelly’s unit. It’s a defense giving up 6.9 yards per play, which is the worst ranking of any Power Five team, and one that has allowed 36 plays of more than 20 yards. The Seminoles’ defense has also surrendered 438.4 yards per game, ranked No. 94 nationally, and allowed 43.9 percent of third-down conversions to be made, ranked No. 102.
Fisher was asked how Kelly has responded to the poor efforts from his defense this season, and he said that his DC is continuing to coach and do his job. But it’s a job that may be in jeopardy, as such performances for a squad at a Power Five school comes at a cost. Just ask Vance Bedford, whose play-calling duties were taken away by Charlie Strong at Texas following the Longhorns’ awful defensive performance in a loss to Oklahoma State on Saturday.
Fisher said he has always been involved on the defensive side of the ball and has met with personnel on that side. It would not be surprising to see him be even more hands-on as the ‘Noles prepare for a road test against a Miami team that’s led by quarterback Brad Kaaya and the rushing duo of Joe Yearby and Mark Walton.
At the end of his presser, Fisher reiterated that his team’s current problems will be solved.
“We ain’t used to losing and we ain’t going to get used to it.”
Here are some other quotes of note from Fisher’s time with the media on Monday.
On the team’s overall defensive woes
“You’re never great until you’re great on defense.” He added that defense is what builds great programs.
On the notion that there’s a split between the offensive and defensive players
“The division of this team will never be there. They love each other and they play for each other.”
On Matthew Thomas and Josh Sweat jogging on the final play
“Those are loaf plays and will be adjusted. We’ll run gassers for each.” Fisher then pointed out that every team has loaf plays and being out of position sometimes makes it look like a lack of effort.
On the timing of the Miami game and it providing “a little more juice” this week
“It doesn’t help that Miami’s real good.”
On the run-pass option (RPO) issue that has been heavily discussed
“What you’re doing now [downfield] on offense is illegal. It should not be a part of football.”