Jernigan And Noles Focused On AU Ground Game

Florida State defensive lineman Timmy Jernigan and coordinator Jeremy Pruitt discuss Auburn's running game and the keys to slowing down the Tigers.

Newport Beach, Cal.--One of the top defensive tackles in the country, big Timmy Jernigan has seen enough video of Auburn's offense to know that he and the Seminoles face a stern test when the two teams face off Jan. 6 in the BCS National Championship Game in the Rose Bowl. From Nick Marshall to Tre Mason to Corey Grant to a strong offensive line, Auburn's offense is designed to run the football with a physical nature and then hit you with the big play.

That's something Florida State is prepared for said Jernigan, who added that when you face a team like the Tigers it puts an extra emphasis on doing your assignments and not getting out of position at every level of the defense.

"You definitely have to be disciplined and you can't play selfish football," Jernigan said. "When you get selfish playing against Auburn that's when you lose. Everybody has to play physical and everybody has to play disciplined."

That discipline is something that FSU defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt knows will be tested by Auburn's offense on Monday night. Very familiar with Gus Malzahn's system from his time as an assistant at Alabama, Pruitt said it all starts with eliminating the big scoring plays and limiting the damage in the red zone.

"You know, regardless whether it's a week, a month or whatever, the bottom line is you've got to be able to tackle in space," Pruitt said. "They're going to get ball carriers out in space. You've got to be able to get lined up. These guys go extremely fast. You can watch Coach Malzahn over the years, wherever he's been, goes really fast. Seems like he gets teams discombobulated a little bit. You've got to keep them cut off.

"You've got to eliminate the explosive plays in the pass game, and you've got to create some turnovers. They're going to make some plays. Once they get down to the red area you've got to make them earn it, try to hold them to field goals. Whether it's a week or a month, they get a month, too, they get the same amount of time. So I don't know that there is an advantage to that, but it is what it is, and that's the things that we feel like we've got to do to be successful in this game."

Limiting big plays may start in the secondary with the tackling ability of standouts such as Lamarcus Joyner, but defensively as a group Florida State's line must withstand the barrage from Reese Dismukes, Greg Robinson and the rest of the Auburn offensive line. Even if they do that there is still no guarantee they make the right decision because of Marshall's ability to run the zone read. Jernigan said that their experience against similar teams should help them in that regard however.

"We have faced a lot of option-type teams in the ACC with Clemson and Maryland," Jernigan said. "We get a lot of different looks, but as far as speed-wise we haven't seen anything like him. I think the advantage we have is our scout team quarterback John Franklin. He's been doing a great job just giving us looks. His speed, I feel like, is really close to Nick Marshall."

Preparing for the tempo from Auburn, Jernigan said they have worked extra-fast in practice to get used to the short turnaround between plays. With a powerful running game to deal with and a quarterback that can make plays all over the field, in the end Auburn's offense is centered around Tre Mason and his grinding approach between the tackles.

"His ability to really break tackles," Jernigan said of the thing that stands out about Mason. "He's going to make the first guy miss. He runs real hard. We really have to gang tackle him and get him to the ground."


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