Defensive Tone

Florida State led Duke 9-7 at the half on Saturday at Doak Campbell Stadium. And nobody was happy about it either. With linebackers Ernie Sims and Buster Davis leading a tirade, the Seminoles defense vented its frustration at the offense inside the lockerroom at the half. According to players, it was an outpouring of emotion directed at no one in particular, but everyone in general.It must have worked, too.

Florida State needed a big play from its defense early in the fourth quarter to put Saturday's home game against Duke away.

Trailing only 19-7, Duke had a first down at the Seminoles 4. Quarterback Mike Schneider, pressured by several defenders, tossed a pass that safety snared in the end zone.

The Seminoles' defense produced five turnovers, but did allow the Blue Devils' 171 yards offense in the second half, after yielding just 59 in the first half.

"We had some opportunities there and just couldn't finish it,'' said Duke coach Ted Roof.

"We had some chances in the second half, but we weren't able to get it done.''

FSU got it done, thankfully.

"When you come out against a team like this, it's hard to get everyone's emotion (up), get the crowd involved and play the best we can play," a quiet A.J. Nicholson said following the game.

"We still have to improve."

Players pointed to the fiery halftime speech by linebackers Buster Davis and Ernie Sims as a needed boost.

"That's the first time I ever spoke," Sims said.

"Even though it's my sophomore year, I believe that I need to step up as a leader. On the field, I show up. But I think I need to speak out loud. I just took the initiative and spoke out loud and said what I had to say."

FSU returns to practice tonight for a short turnaround -- the Seminoles play at North Carolina State on Thursday. FSU also remains squarely in the ACC title hunt and, under the right circumstances, could win the title if there's a three-way tie.

Nicholson said the Seminoles need to get back to business in a hurry.

"When the offense scored (second half), the defense picked it up," Nicholson said.

"When the defense makes a play, we feel like the offense should pick it up. We are working together to accomplish the same goals."

Nicholson admitted he heard the boo birds at game's start.

"You hear it but you can't do too much about it," Nicholson said.

"The coaches are supposed to put the players in position to win. So, I am trusting that coach Bowden and the staff will do that for us.

"So, you have to do what you can, and just handle what you can. I put my faith in BB, (Bobby Bowden) and whatever Big B says, we are going to roll with it. We need to get back into the film room (Sunday) and study them. We will enjoy the win for a little bit, but we need to get back to work in a hurry.

"We have to finish strong. We have to finish strong."


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