Anticipating What Florida State Will Bring

Florida State struggled to win 19-9 against Jacksonville State last week, having to come from behind in the final minutes of the game. However, that wasn't the true face of the Seminole program. Total Blue Sports caught up with a few Cougars on offense to get a clearer picture of what they'll face at LaVell Edwards Stadium this Saturday.

There has been a lot of talk about how athletic and fast the Florida State Seminoles are. This talk has come from both the media and the FSU fan base. For that matter, even the Cougars of BYU acknowledge that those that grace Florida State's roster are quick and athletic.

"Florida State is a very athletic team," said Cougar offensive lineman Terence Brown. "So just like with Oklahoma, if we stay within our technique we'll be fine. Florida State is quick, athletic and they're bounce-around-type guys. They're more finesse, speed guys than power, so they're more finesse guys and aren't going to bull-rush as much. With that being said, if we stay within our technique we'll be in the right spot to open up holes for the running backs and give Max [Hall] some time and we'll be alright."

Opening up holes against finesse guys isn't quite as easy as it may seem. Nevertheless, the Cougars feel equal to the task.

"We were confident going into the Oklahoma game," Brown said. "Now that we accomplished what we did we're even more confident because now we know where we are as a team. I think if we continue to prepare the way we've been preparing over the last two weeks, we're going to be ready each and every game."

Center R.J. Willing has seen the difference between how Oklahoma used their speed up front in comparison to how Florida State uses their athletes to make plays in the trenches.

"As far as Oklahoma goes, Florida State's defensive line is a different beast," said Willing. "Oklahoma focused on being stout and taking up the gaps. Florida State is so quick they feel they can penetrate and cause trouble that way, so they come off the ball really fast and aren't the biggest guys we'll face. On the other hand they probably will be the fastest guys we'll face, even more so than Oklahoma.

"I mean, [Oklahoma defensive tackle] Gerald McCoy was freakishly fast, but Florida State will all be fast. When you have a defensive line that is fast like that you have to focus more on the fundamentals and have proper technique. You have to keep your head back and [avoid] leaning and punching, whereas when you have bigger, slower guys on the d-line you can get away with a lot of stuff, but when you have quicker, faster guys you really have to focus on technique. So this week that's been the big push, is focusing on our technique."

Last year, Oregon State used a "get skinny" technique with their speed guys against the offensive line of USC to help capture a 27-21 victory over the Trojans. The idea of the technique is designed to further disrupt the timing of the offense. USC tailback Joe McKnight rushed for only 10 yards against the Beaver defense, and that was coming off a 105-yard performance against Ohio State the week before.

With the Cougars expecting Florida State to use similar technique, the additional problems the Cougar offensive line will have to contend with will come by way of blitzes.

"They play a four-down line defense with three linebackers," said Brown. "They play mostly man defense and bring some blitzes and things like that. What helps them by going man is that they can bring more guys on blitzes. Most times in zone blitzes you just going to bring five blitzers, but with Florida State they'll bring six, seven and sometimes even eight. So we'll be ready and Max will have a hot read, and there you go."

"That kind of defense does free up some guys to be used for other things in their defense," Willing said. "They can bring the house and can afford to because they can man up against your wide receivers, so that also has been a big emphasis this week in working together to pick up the blitzes that they run. We've been working on how to handle that situation so when they do bring a lot of guys we'll be ready."

As stated by Willing and Brown, the key is man coverage which frees up the linebackers to zone blitz from various areas on the field. Florida State will look to apply pressure on Hall and the Cougars of BYU.

"Just in watching film on Florida State, they're a man-based defense," said Cougar wide receiver McKay Jacobson. "So that's what we expect, but you're never 100 percent sure until you play them. I think they'll come up and play man, but either way I'm excited to go out and play in our first home game of the season."

"I think Oklahoma and Tulane played man on certain situations," said quarterback Max Hall. "I think with Florida State they can play man on any given down and can play it most of the time, so we just got to be ready for it on every down. With the other teams we kind of knew when they would do it, like on third-and-medium or down in the blue zone. Now we have to be ready for it any time, so we have to be good with our checks and different things that we've got going on."

During the Tulane game, the Cougar offense ran some plays designed to attack the man coverage defense. Some things worked and other things performed less than expected, giving the coaching staff a good idea on what to change and how to further attack the Florida State defense.

"Yeah, you change things up a little bit because it's a little different," said Jacobson. "I like it more when a defense plays us more man coverage because it's just you and that guy. Sometimes you don't have to worry about specific things when running a route. For example, even though a linebacker might not be guarding you when you run your route, when you come down in your route to find that window for the ball you don't have to worry about a linebacker flying out to you. You just have to worry about the one guy that's guarding you.

"It's kind of nice in that sense and really just kind of fun to go out there and do some shake and bake in your game. You have to just be more precise in your routes. You don't have to think quite as much, but you do have to be more physical in your routes because the defensive backs are closer to you and on your hip more than in a zone. The big thing is just focusing on your routes and being precise."

Two Jerseys

Freshman tight end Braden Brown is already being cross-trained as a tight end and fullback. Now he's received an additional responsibility: being cross-trained as an offensive lineman to help add depth up front.

"He's being trained as a tackle and most likely will be listed there, primarily for the rest of the year," said Coach Mendenhall. "He will carry two jerseys into the game and if we need him at tight end, and when we need him at tight end, similarly like Oklahoma did, he'll have another jersey."


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