You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to myPalmBeachPost.com

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.

GREAT REASONS TO SUBSCRIBE TODAY!

  • IN-DEPTH REPORTING
  • INTERACTIVE STORYTELLING
  • NEW TOPICS & COVERAGE
  • ePAPER
X

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and bonus content- exclusively for subscribers. Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks

X

Welcome to myPalmBeachPost.com

This subscriber-only site gives you exclusive access to breaking news, in-depth coverage, exclusive interactives and bonus content.

You can read free articles of your choice a month that are only available on myPalmBeachPost.com.

Defense has keyed Seminoles’ turnaround


Florida State’s defensive players were frustrated. Five games into the season, the Seminoles had allowed 35.4 points per game.

The defense was supposed to be a strength of a team that had playoff aspirations. And instead it was the main reason for a 3-2 start that left the Seminoles on the brink of sliding out of the top 25.

But the defensive turnaround in the Past five games has been remarkable. Behind a nasty defensive line and an improving secondary, the Seminoles have allowed just 17.8 points per game — half the total from the first five games.

No. 18 FSU (7-3, 4-3 ACC) had one of its best defensive efforts of the season in a 45-7 rout of Boston College on Friday night. The Seminoles held BC to just 71 offensive yards until a final drive against FSU’s backups that went 75 yards for the Eagles’ only touchdown.

“We pressured the quarterback,” coach Jimbo Fisher said. “We covered very tightly. Played great leverage on the football.”

FSU’s last shutout came in 2015, a 14-0 win at BC. And the Seminoles nearly did it again, forcing BC to go three-and-out on nine consecutive drives.

The past two weeks, FSU had struggled on third downs. NC State nearly upset FSU by converting 8 of 16 third-down opportunities, and the prior week Clemson was 7 of 17. But FSU held BC to just 1 of 12 on third-down conversions.

“It just gives you more confidence, lets you know we can be that defense that shuts them out no matter what,” junior linebacker Ro’Derrick Hoskins said. “Go out there, stopping the run, making them pass, stopping the pass.”

FSU is also applying more pressure on quarterbacks than earlier in the season. The Seminoles had three sacks Friday, lifting their total to 33 and surpassing FSU’s 2015 output (32 sacks) with two regular-season games and a bowl to play.

Senior DeMarcus Walker had a half sack, giving him 11 on the season and 23.5 sacks in his career. But the sacks this season have been coming from everywhere: six players have at least two sacks, including freshman defensive end Brian Burns (5.5) and junior defensive tackle Derrick Nnadi (4.5).

Nnadi said the Seminoles were pushing for a shutout, but by that point Fisher had substituted liberally and was giving opportunities for second- and third-teamers to play.

“All we were saying was, ‘It’s our end zone. It’s our end zone. We have to make a statement,’ “ Nnadi said. “Throughout the season, we’ve had problems. We just had to stay focused on our technique. Just finish it.”

The Seminoles didn’t start the season like they wanted. But the team still has significant goals in sight — defeating Syracuse to finish the ACC schedule and then Florida to wrap up a “state title.” Then there’s the opportunity to play in a second-tier bowl game, and potentially a 10-win season.

And FSU can credit the defensive turnaround for the strong finish.

“They all have grown, because they’re learning how to prepare and practice,” Fisher said. “They’re learning to play the game mentally and psychologically the way you want to play it.”


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Sports

Miami baseball misses postseason for first time in 45 years; Florida State to host regional
Miami baseball misses postseason for first time in 45 years; Florida State to host regional

Florida State's streak of regional appearances is now the nation's longest, coming at the expense of the University of Miami.  The Hurricanes (31-27) are staying home after 44 straight trips to the NCAA postseason. Miami won its pool at the ACC tournament, but the late push was not enough, and the NCAA Selection Committee said the Hurricanes...
Now that Josh McRoberts has opted in, what’s next for him and the Heat?
Now that Josh McRoberts has opted in, what’s next for him and the Heat?

Josh McRoberts #4 of the Miami Heat posts up Jordan Clarkson #6 of the Los Angeles Lakers during a game at American Airlines Arena on December 22, 2016 in Miami, Florida.
Miami Dolphins betting big on Julius Thomas at tight end
Miami Dolphins betting big on Julius Thomas at tight end

Can Anthony Fasano be a factor in the passing game? He hasn’t been one in years. (Getty Images) Last year, the Dolphins got minimal receiving production from the tight end position once they lost Jordan Cameron early in the year.
College players with defensive reputations continue to intrigue Miami Heat
College players with defensive reputations continue to intrigue Miami Heat

    Oregon’s Chris Boucher blocks the shot of Cal’s Jabari Bird during a game this season.
WATCH: Twins’ Miguel Sano pranks coach with rubber snake
WATCH: Twins’ Miguel Sano pranks coach with rubber snake

When you’re winning, being loose and having fun in the dugout is natural. The Minnesota Twins are leading the American League Central division with a 27-20 record, even after Sunday’s 8-6, 15-inning loss to the Tampa Bay Rays. >> Read more trending news The players are in a good mood, and so was pitching coach Neil Allen until Miguel...
More Stories