Twice this season, Florida State's defense has rebounded from pedestrian starts to shut down opponents.
Against Pittsburgh, Florida State gave up a nine-play, 80-yard touchdown drive to start thegame. But for the rest of the game, Pittsburgh averaged drives of 5.3 plays and just 24 yards.
Nevada showcased the same trend. The Wolfpack came out firing with a 13-play, 64-yard, 7-minute drive on its second attempt trying to shorten the game. But that was the only sustained drive Nevada could cobble together. The rest of the game, Nevada averaged just 4.1 plays and 12.5 yards per drive.
Florida State player say only minor adjustments were made.
"It's really just the mall things," safety Tyler Hunter said. "The little details just somebody not running up field or taking on blocks and not trying to do too much."
Head Coach Jimbo Fisher said the opening series is typically harder on defenses since offensive units have a week to prepare. The opening sequence often includes well-schemed plays and creative shifts and motion.
"Teams watch you on film," Fisher said. "That first 15 plays, teams really scheme the heck out of you. So you're getting the best of them. When a defense does get on its heels a little bit it does happen in the beginning."
But FSU's plan is to be an attacking, aggressive defense this season, and it's hard to do that when the unit is on its heels to start the game. Defensive back P.J. Williams said getting out of the gate faster will be important as FSU gets into the meat of its season.
"We've got to come out a little faster," Williams said. "We just need to stop the run, do what we've got to do, do what the coaches tell to do and just come in hard. We have to just start the game off a lot better."
There's also still a bit of a learning curve with the new defensive scheme and approach put in by new defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt. Williams said the players are still learning to implement all the ins and outs of the scheme.
"In these last couple games, especially learning coming in with this new defense, it's just learning what they do," Williams said. "I think we can do better. It has a lot to do with the new defense."
But, as Fisher pointed out, FSU's bounce back has been ruthlessly efficient so far. The Seminoles are currently No. 8 in NCAA total defense with 255.5 yards allowed per game and average just 4.4 yards allowed per play.
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