A "monumental" task (By Corey Dowlar, Warchant.com)
Florida State's defensive line will face a huge challenge on Saturday - literally.
The seventh-ranked BYU Cougars possess a massive offensive line that averages 317.4 pounds and six feet four inches across the board. That number seems a whole lot bigger considering FSU's defensive front averages around 270 pounds a player.
Defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews, who addressed the media at a press conference on Monday afternoon, said that Florida State hasn't faced an offensive front quite this big since the Champs Sports Bowl last December.
"That offensive line is about like what we played in the bowl game last year against Wisconsin," Andrews said. "Their smallest guy is 300 pounds, 340, two 329's, and a 308 or something like that. We can throw two of our guys together and can't get as big as they are."
Defensive tackle Kendrick Stewart knows what it is like to be outsized in the trenches. The redshirt senior, who checks in at 275 pounds, played at around 250 pounds just a season ago against the likes of sizeable teams such as Boston College and Wisconsin.
It is from those experiences that the senior hopes to draw from to find success in the mountains of Utah this weekend.
"We have experience against the bigger lineman," Stewart said. "We have to just take that and put it to execution. I like facing the bigger lineman, it is a challenge for me and I like to showcase my skills."
Stewart says the key to neutralizing big offensive line is by utilizing speed and quickness on the defensive front. Fortunately, that's something the 'Noles' front four has plenty of. Instead of locking up and hoping to win a battle of strength, Florida State will have to beat the Cougars to spots.
"The first step and different angles along with stunts," Stewart said of the ways to beat the size advantage. "I feel like we have the quickness to get around them. The key is to get a good takeoff, beat them out of their stance, and bring your hands."
Coach Bowden, who has seen his fair share of football games in the past, agrees.
"Number one, you better be quicker or you won't do anything," said Bowden. "You have to hope you are quick enough to get around blocks and stuff like that. It's going to be a monumental task."
CB Allen gets his chance (By Ira Schoffel, Osceola)
It might have seemed like an odd time for a celebration.
Florida State was still trailing midway through the third quarter Saturday night against Jacksonville State, and the visiting Gamecocks were driving deep in Seminole territory when Dionte Allen recorded his second pass breakup of the night.
JSU quarterback Ryan Perrilloux was trying to hit receiver James Shaw in the middle of the field on a second down from FSU's 16-yard line, but Allen was able to get his hand in the play and force the incompletion. Allen then jumped up and swung his arms from side to side in an exaggerated incomplete gesture.
When Allen watched the rebroadcast of the game on Sunday, he was surprised to hear the television commentators chastise him for the gesture.
"I did my hands like, 'Get that out of here,' and the commentator was like, 'Act like you've been there before.' But I haven't ever been there before," Allen said with a laugh following Monday's practice.
The redshirt sophomore has a point. Though he was very highly rated when FSU signed him out of Michigan in February 2007, Saturday's game was Allen's first real chance at extended playing time.
He took a redshirt as a freshman and then played through injuries for most of last season. He had three career tackles coming into this season.
But against Jacksonville State, Allen had what defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews hopes was a breakthrough performance. He recorded five tackles and broke up two passes.
"That was his best ballgame since he's been here," Andrews said. "He had a ton of big plays. He played really well."
Allen even recorded 2.5 tackles for loss, including a sack. And he believes he will only get better with every game opportunity.
"In the Miami game, I basically got my feet wet," Allen said. "In the last game, I just let it loose. I just went out there to have fun. I've been out of football really for like three or four years. It was exciting.
"But I've got to keep working and getting more comfortable. That's the thing for me now, getting the experience. I've put the work in, gotten bigger and stronger and am competing. It's experience now."
First real test (By Gene Williams, Warchant.com)
After a heartbreaking loss in the opener and a sluggish and downright ugly outing against Division 1-AA Jacksonville State on Saturday, many are beginning to wonder if the football program took a step back from last year's 9-4 campaign.
However, the players and coaches insist what happened in the first two games, especially last Saturday's effort coming off the difficult loss and having a short week to prepare, is not indicative of the 2009 Seminole football team.
"It was hard to get them up for Jacksonville State especially when you have two days (to practice)," head coach Bobby Bowden said. "I would be the same way when I was playing - you thought you had somebody you could beat no problem. It's hard to get up and you know, you can't get up every Saturday."
With a full week to prepare and a top 10 opponent on the schedule, the players should be 100 percent focused on BYU this week.
"We have a full week, we will get back into a rhythm of a normal schedule and having a lot of film to study off of it," quarterback Christian Ponder said. "It will definitely be a better test for us and we should play a lot better than we did in the last two games."
"To me, I think it is," running back Jermaine Thomas said of the BYU game being the team's first real test. "As a team, we went through a little adversity and I think we overcame it. I think we are going to put this thing together and go out there with everybody on the same page. We worked hard so we hate to see that go to waste."
Unlike the first two weeks, the coaches and players have real film of an opponent to study. With Miami breaking in two new coordinators, the season opener was more or less a guessing game for FSU's coaching staff. And with only two days of real practice last week, neither the players nor coaches had much time to spend in film study.
The situation will be very different this week against BYU.
"I think so," Bowden said of this game being much different than the first two. "They've got two games under their belt and had to show everything against Oklahoma. At least we'll have a much better feel of what they do."
Rarely is a non-conference game in week three a "must win" but a loss this Saturday and the resulting 1-2 record will put FSU in a huge hole that it may not be able to climb out of. That being said, a win over a top 10 team would dramatically change the outlook in the 2009 season.
"It's good timing," Ponder said of this weekend's game. "We are going to use this past game as motivation and it's something we are going to learn from. Now, we can put those to games in the past and we have a great opportunity this week. This could really be a changing factor for the rest of the season."
* It was announced on Monday that the inaugural meeting between South Florida and Florida State, set for Sept. 26 at Doak Campbell Stadium, will kick off at 12 noon and be televised by ESPNU.
* Florida State senior tight end Caz Piurowski has been selected at the Atlantic Coast Conference offensive lineman of the week, following his performance in the Seminoles' 19-9 win over Jacksonville State. He collected two receptions for a career-high 78 yards, including a 53-yard grab of a Christian Ponder pass that set up the Seminoles' first touchdown. That was the longest reception for an FSU tight end since Lonnie Johnson's 78-yard touchdown reception against Clemson in 1993.
* Head coach Bobby Bowden told Warchant.com that he doubted that defensive tackle Justin Mincey would play this weekend against BYU. He earlier told the Osceola that he hoped to be back for the September 26th USF game. However, fellow defensive tackle Budd Thacker did practice on Monday and is expected to play this weekend.
* Bobby Bowden confirmed with Warchant.com that Saturday's game at BYU will be a "sod game". The 'Noles are currently a 7-point underdog to the Cougars. FSU's last sod victory came in against Wisconsin in last December's Champs Bowl.
* Starting running back Jermaine Thomas, who was limited in the first two games because of a minor knee injury, said after Monday's practice that he is back to 100 percent health.
* Redshirt freshman rover Nick Moody told Warchant.com that he split time on the first team defense with senior Korey Mangum at Monday's practice.