First-and-Controlled

The Florida State defense is most comfortable with its back against the wall.

Just ask Miami and Boston College, both of whom were victimized by fourth-quarter goal line stands after having first-and-goal situations from within the FSU 2.

"We poke our chests out because of the way we approach the goal line – with a balls-out attitude that there's no way that they are crossing the line," linebacker A.J. Nicholson said. "We know we work on this so much that they are not going to get in. It's not a maybe – we know that they are not going to get in."

Nicholson and company have surrendered three touchdowns in three games – a 34-yard touchdown pass to Miami's Ryan Moore, a 14-yard touchdown pass to Boston College's Will Blackmon and a 7-yard run from BC's L.V. Whitworth.

Get any closer than that and FSU turns it up a notch.

"Out on the field, you've got to play tough," strong safety Kyler Hall said. "When you get down there, you've got to turn it up some. We were down there saying, 'We've got them right where we want them.' It's a different mentality."

That mentality was groomed during spring practice and two-a-days when the Seminoles ended almost every workout with a goal line session. Offense vs. Defense. Winner gets bragging rights. Loser runs.

In most cases, it was the offense huffing after extra wind sprints.

Even during the season, Nicholson estimated the unit's goal line skills are honed every other day as long as FSU is padded out.

We probably scrimmage goal line more than any one particular situation," defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews said. "The biggest thing about the goal line is pure determination that you keep someone out of (the end zone). Truthfully our guys have what we expected them to do."

Against Miami, the Seminoles halted the potential game-winning drive after allowing the Hurricanes their only four third-down conversions of the game on a 16-play march. The result: a botched field goal try that cemented the FSU win.

It wasn't as critical to victory, but the defense also made a point on Boston College's final drive last Saturday. Including a penalty for defensive holding that gave the Eagles a fresh set of downs, BC failed to score on seven attempts from within the FSU 2. The result: a 28-17 victory was sealed when half a dozen Seminoles stuffed Matt Ryan on a quarterback sneak on fourth-and-goal.

"It's the ultimate situation for your adrenaline for your competitive spirit," Nicholson said. "They want to get in and we can't let them in…something's got to give and it's not going to be us."


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