Demanding Perfection

It's no secret Florida State defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews demands perfection. With the season a little past its halfway point, the play of his unit could almost be described as that.

The Florida State Seminoles (6-1) have given up just one rushing touchdown – Frank Gore's overtime winner at Miami in the opener – and boast the nation's second-best rushing defense (68.7 ypg).

It's been 11 quarters since the defense has given up a touchdown at all.

"It didn't take us long to see that the kids were plugged in," said Andrews, in his 21st season on the FSU sideline.

Scary thing is, the Seminoles have accomplished what they have largely without the services of three injured starters that were among those tapped to replace the six seniors that were on the first-team last season.

And the hard work is behind them: against Virginia and Wake Forest – the top two offenses in the ACC – the FSU defense surrendered just a field goal in each. (Wake scored 14 points on a pair of defensive scores.)

Next up is Maryland, whose offense has managed just two touchdowns in their past three games.

For the first time in over three seasons, everyone seems to be on the same wavelength.

"You develop staff chemistry just like the players develop team chemistry," Andrews said.

"I think that has carried over to the players."

A pair of players who exemplify that are free safety Pat Watkins and linebacker Ernie Sims. Both Tallahassee natives are starting for the first time this season.

Watkins has been forced play nearly every meaningful down of every game this season. Injuries to senior B.J. Ward – last season's starter – and backup Roger Williams has made Watkins a one-man show in centerfield this season. Thanks to that tenacity, he leads the team with three interceptions.

"We don't feel like we are the eighth ranked defense in the country [in total defense]," he said. "We think we are No. 1 and every week we are going to go out there and try to prove it."

Sims has helped bolster the run defense behind a line that has been without starters Eric Moore and Broderick Bunkley for the last three games. He has been named the ACC's defensive-back-of-the-week two weeks running after tallying a combined 17 tackles, three sacks and a blocked punt the past two games.

"Anybody that can be a bigger force on the football team and a defense than what Ernie is, it is just hard to imagine," Andrews said.

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