October 20, 2013

Joyner's big play sparks dominant defense

Lamarcus Joyner has talked about leadership in the weeks leading up to FSU's game at Clemson.

He and fellow senior Telvin Smith felt the weight and responsibility of their time as leaders for FSU's defense. How they get to set an example now after waiting behind older players for years.

Joyner set one heck of an example Saturday night in Death Valley, almost single-handedly wrecking Clemson's offense in the first half.

On Clemson's first play from scrimmage, Joyner came on a blitz, sacked Tajh Boyd and ripped the ball loose. FSU's offense turned that turnover into seven points. On Clemson's third drive, the Tigers pushed into FSU territory before Joyner again came on a blitz and ripped the ball from Boyd. The second fumble was recovered by Mario Edwards Jr. and returned for a touchdown.

"It was really big because in games like this it's so important to get the momentum switch in your favor," Joyner said. "To be able to come out here and play against Clemson and not just against the 11 men on the field but also the crowd, I think we did a good job."

Calling FSU's defensive performance on Saturday a 'good job' is a colossal understatement: FSU took one of the most prolific offenses in the country, led by a Heisman candidate quarterback and an offensive guru in Chad Morris, and shut it down. Clemson managed just one score against FSU's first-string offense and only scored it second touchdown in garbage time.

The early turnovers turned the game for Florida State and sucked the wind out of Clemson's offense before it even got going. That comes as a sharp turnaround for FSU's defense, which struggled early in games in the first half of the season.

"I mean, that was crazy," safety Terrence Brooks said. "I'm glad we started fast. That's what I really wanted. Seeing all of us going out there like, 'Hey we started fast, ain't no slacking. Joyner got the fumble…and we just Jameis take care of the rest.'"

The Tigers did not recover, and in large part because of what Joyner continued to do on defense. He finished with eight tackles, two fumbles forced and one interception. Joyner created three of Clemson's five turnovers by himself.

"He's like an energizer bunny," coach Jimbo Fisher. "I'm glad he's on my team."

After the game, amidst questions about to how FSU's defense was able to shut down Clemson a year after losing 11 players to the draft, Joyner went back to leadership. He said for the first time in recent memory, FSU isn't shying away from the history and pressure of national championship history.

"I think my four years here this is the first brotherhood I've been a part of to embrace that challenge because of the tradition and history we have and there's so much pressure to put that back up," Joyner said. "And we're doing a pretty good job of it.
"You look at last year you have a bunch of talent but you have talent with no belief. We lacked leadership. No one embraced leadership. This year … Everyone is embracing leadership. And it's a brotherhood."

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