Telvin Smith says the light switch hasn't quite clicked on for players in FSU's new defensive scheme.
But it's definitely twitching.
"We don't have much time," Smith said. "So that's why I feel like it's such a grind moment and a grit moment right now to say let's go."
After the Seminoles' final scrimmage of fall camp, Smith said FSU's defense has installed most of its basic packages and has established an identity.
"We're still putting stuff in here and there but we have our base foundation set," Smith said. "We know what we're going to be. We know the main things we're going to have coming into games."
As of right now, one of those focuses is maintaining a solid run defense. The new scheme utilizes a number of hybrid players and defensive backs in more roles, but Smith said those players still have to be able to stop the run. And Smith added that working against FSU's sizeable backfield of James Wilder, Jr., and Devonta Freeman has helped in that respect.
"It's tough and in that situation sometimes we put a DB in there and tell them to go blow it up," Smith said. "That's just the toughness you have to have as a defensive player. The will to say, 'I won't let this player beat me, I don't care if he's 200 pounds more or 100 pounds more or 70 pouds more.'
You've just got to say I'm going to win this battle."
FSU does have defensive backs with size, like Karlos Williams, Nick Waisome, Jalen Ramsey and more. And Smith, a linebacker, said he's been impressed with what he's seen out of the defensive backs so far; even against the jumbo packages FSU is adding with 300-pound DT Jacobbi McDaniel in at fullback.
"We watched film one time and (Sophomore Cornerback Ronald) Darby got blew up by Jacobbi one time and he got up and was actually in on the tackle when the play was over," Smith said. "As long as we have guys doing that we'll be alright."
One challenge for that defense through most of camp has been the lack of true tackling with the running backs. FSU has been cautious and kept many of its starting skill position players in blue non-tackle jerseys for both scrimmages to prevent injuries, meaning the defense hasn't been able to try and take Wilder or Freeman to the ground.
"We're just trying to go in there and make sure we get a good thud and get our shoulders square, set our hips right," Smith said. "Just little things like that."
Run defense may be a point of emphasis, but the system is accomplishing one of its primary objectives, Smith said: creating turnovers.
"We're putting in these small checks here and there to say when this happens, we're going to roll to this or that," Smith said. "When we really get the communication down pat you're going to see a lot of turnovers in this game. Whether it's forced fumbles, interceptions or just tipped balls."
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