Florida State will open up its Atlantic Coast Conference season against the Deacs Saturday at Doak Campbell Stadium (3:30 p.m., ABC) and coach Jimbo Fisher and his defensive staff can't stress the importance of discipline and assignment football execution enough.
"You've got to be physical, you've got to be disciplined, you've got to hold your gaps, keep leverage on the ball and train your eyes to look at the right stuff," Fisher said following Tuesday's 2 ½-hour practice. "They're just a good, aggressive, well-coached team."
The Demon Deacons (2-1, 1-0 ACC) average 283.7 rushing yards a game, which ranks second in the league. With 851 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns already, 10th-year coach Jim Grobe's team more closely resembles his squads which led the ACC in rushing four times between 2001-2005.
They should provide the Seminoles (2-1, 0-0) with a formidable test. FSU ranks 17th nationally in rushing defense, yielding 82 rushing yards a game.
On a hot day, Fisher came away from Tuesday's practice praising coordinator Mark Stoops' unit.
"The defense looked really good," he said. "I thought they were physical and nasty and moved around good. They made some good plays."
Florida State will need another collective defensive effort like it turned in against BYU, when the ‘Noles posted eight sacks and 10 tackles for loss while limiting the Cougars to 191 total yards. In order to do that they must contain a multi-pronged running game by the Demon Deacons, who count two quarterbacks – true freshman Tanner Price and redshirt sophomore Ted Stachitas - among their top four rushers. Tailbacks Josh Harris, Brandon Pendergrass and Josh Adams are equally dangerous in an offense that leans heavily on reverses, end-arounds and the like.
"Safeties, linebackers, defensive ends - everybody has got to stay disciplined," Fisher said.
Price is expected to make his second consecutive start and has left an impression on Fisher. "He can create plays with his legs," Fisher said. "He'll run some quarterback runs and get the ball down the field. He's going to be a good player."
The Seminoles are similarly balanced statistically on defense. Linebacker Nigel Bradham and cornerback Greg Reid share the team lead with 20 tackles each, but middle linebacker Kendall Smith (15), cornerback Xavier Rhodes (13), defensive end Brandon Jenkins (13), linebacker Mister Alexander (12) and defensive end Markus White (11) lead the team in stops. Not to be outdone, interior defensive linemen Everett Dawkins, Jacobbi McDaniel, Demonte McAllister and Anthony McCloud have combined for 29 tackles, including 10 ½ behind the line of scrimmage.
• Quarterback Christian Ponder was one of 11 FBS players nationally selected to the 2010 Allstate AFCA Good Works Team, which honors those who have made significant contributions in the community. For more information: http://www.seminoles.com/sports/m-footbl/spec-rel/092110aaa.htm