D Encourages O

A disturbing trend has been slowly emerging for Florida State over the past few weeks. The formula goes like this – start slowly, ride a spectacular defensive performance then do just enough offensively to win. Playing in that manner helped cost the Seminoles in their loss to Maryland and threw a scare into them for a half Saturday against Duke.

"We felt like we had to pick up the slack for the offense and get it going," cornerback Leroy Smith said. "It's a team thing and we have to balance everything out. I took awhile to get going but I'm pleased with the effort in the second half."

Smith, who netted one of FSU's three second-half interceptions, said that he and the rest of the defense was patient with the offense but that a few players stepped up at halftime to provide some incentive.

"You won't play your best all the time and as a football player you should know that," he said. "We were somewhat disappointed with our play early on and we wanted to fix that as soon as we came out from halftime."

The Seminoles led just 9-7 at the break, with the Duke touchdown coming courtesy of a Chris Rix interception late in the second quarter. The Blue Devils had to drive just 24 yards for their only score. FSU's defense made them take 4:28 to get there.

Once the Seminoles go to the locker room, several defensive players had something to say.

"Oh man, there were a bunch of guys that stepped up," tailback Lorenzo Booker said. "It got us going."

Linebacker A.J. Nicholson was among them.

"We just offered them some encouragement," said Nicholson, who tallied a career-high 14 tackles. "People will respond if you give encouragement and you saw that today."

The defense pitched a second-half shutout while Wyatt Sexton engineered a pair of touchdown drives after the break. The game marked the second time this season FSU has held its opponents to single digits.

"Things worked today because of chemistry," safety Jerome Carter said. "Everyone came together, executed and did their job. When one person doesn't do their job, this team doesn't work.

"We wanted top play hard on both sides of the ball and eventually we connected and got things going."

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