Refocusing on Defense

For two straight weeks, Florida State's defense has gone into practice with some problems to correct. A loss of focus caused uncharacteristic play, starting against Wake Forest and peaking in the loss to Virginia. Practice has been simplified to hopefully put an end to their slip.

Practice was a little different this week, at least for the defense. Fundamentals were stressed again and players went back to examining the basics.

"We wanted to simplify everything," said AJ Nicholson. "Some of the guys were a little confused out there, including myself sometimes. At least we want to know where we should be."

When Wake Forest began to pick away at Florida State's normally reliable defense, it was really the first signs of an impending slip. The Seminoles started giving up big plays, personnel was out of position, and for the first time this season FSU had to rely almost entirely on the strength of its offense to pull out a win.

And with the Demon Deacons behind them, things got worse before getting better.

What went wrong against Virginia can be summed up as this: the Cavaliers outperformed a group that lost its focus for a half and let its mental edge slip. It resulted in costly penalties and a seeming inability to stop UVA when needed.

Virginia was able to capitalize on the opportunity with a performance beyond anything Florida State anticipated.

"I think more so they came out and played one of their best games that they are going to play all year," said Kamerion Wimbley. "They just happen to be in the right places, make the right calls and they came out with the victory."

Cavaliers quarterback Marques Hagans bought time, fleeing from a pass rush that was rarely ever to catch up. Coverage in the secondary slipped, and Hagans made plays on the run.

"I think he showed us more than we expected," said Wimbley. "I think he played up to the best of his ability in that game. He gave us his best shot."

But it was an easy problem to fix. By the time the team returned from the locker room after the half, the area that needed improvement was glaring.

"If y'all want to beat them, you're going to have to pull together, get rid of these foolish penalties and get at them," Pat Watkins said. "We came back from adversity. It's just too bad we didn't play the first half like we did the second half. There were a lot of dumb things that we did in the first half."

In back-to-back games, the Seminoles allowed season-highs in passing and rushing. Containment became and issue, and players were missing assignments and out of place. Another noticeable deficiency was a lack of takeaways, though that doesn't concern many of the players since opportunities were still created.

"I don't think we came out and played this game any different than we've played other games," said Wimbley. "Just on defense, we couldn't get any turnovers. We had some opportunities then we get a penalty and it gets taken away. Turnovers will come."

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