After a subpar performance by the Florida State defense in 2014, the 2015 version had plenty of question marks heading into the season. The loss of PJ Williams, Eddie Goldman, Mario Edwards Jr., and Ronald Darby to the NFL, all four were drafted in the first three rounds, left plenty of holes that needed to be filled. In addition to the personnel losses there were quite a few people questioning whether defenisve coordinator Charles Kelly was the right man for the job.
Through the first three games of the season those questions have been answered. The Florida State defense is dominating their opponents, flying to the football, and forcing turnovers again. They are allowing just 10 points and 256 yards per game so far this season. They're giving up 3.98 yards per play through the first three games, which is 16th in the country.
Redshirt senior defensive tackle Nile Lawrence-Stample was very happy with the defensive performance by the Seminoles against Boston College. He had a lot of praise for coach Kelly and the way that he's prepared them.
"I think coach Kelly has done a hell of a job showing us the right steps on getting to where we want to get," Lawrence-Stample said. "We’re obviously not there yet, but I think he’s doing a really good job of pressing on us and keeping our heads right. Getting us in the direction of being a Top-5 defense in the country."
Florida State posted their first road shut out since 2003 against Boston College on Friday night. Not only did they not give up any points, they forced two turnovers and star defensive back Jalen Ramsey scored on one of them. The defense was so dominating that the Eagles never crossed the Florida State 38-yard line.
Head coach Jimbo Fisher couldn't say enough about the job the defense did against the Eagles.
"I thought our defense was outstanding," Fisher said. "That's the first shutout we've had on the road since, I think, 2003. I think that was a tremendous effort. I think those guys did a great job of keeping contain on the ball, being physical at the point of attack, adjusting to formations, and playing the different things they did. I thought our defense was outstanding."
The Florida State defense played exceptionally well all around. The Seminoles allowed just 56 yards through the air and only 30 of those came from the receivers. Coach Fisher praised the secondary for what they did, but noted that without everything clicking they wouldn't have done so well.
"Those guys are so multiple," Fisher said. "They tackle. They’re long. They’re big. They’re very good football players. We’re getting pressure. We’re getting the ball out on time. The ball’s having to come out. When that happens it’s usually a combination of everything. The rush, ball out on time, the coverage, playing disciplined, keeping great leverage on the ball. They’re good players. We have a very good secondary."
The defensive line and linebackers really stood out against the Eagles. Boston College only managed to gain 3.2 yards per rush and 139 yards overall on the ground. That's the lowest mark that the Eagles had posted since last October against Clemson. Redshirt senior safety Lamarcus Brutus was very impressed with the way the front seven played against Boston College.
"I'm very proud of the front seven," Brutus said. "I told them before the game that it starts up front and we'll take care of the rest. It was going to be big for them tonight, especially with the type of offense that they run and the big guys that they have. Three tight ends at a time. We needed them to show up big and they did."
While it's only three games to start the season, the Florida State defense is setting the tone for the rest of the season. They've sent the message that they're hungry this year and that they're back to playing Florida State defense.