"It is rushing it," Florida State coach Bobby Bowden said. "It will be a challenge."
The fifth-ranked Seminoles (3-0, 2-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) begin their mad dash Saturday at home against struggling Duke (1-2, 0-0 ACC). Expected to flick away the Blue Devils with little or no effort -- FSU is a 45-point favorite – the Seminoles will begin immediate planning for next Thursday night's game at Louisville (1-2). The Cards are at winless Army (0-2) Saturday.
FSU ends its whirlwind trifecta with a another Thursday night game at home against Clemson (2-1, 1-0). At home against Ball State (1-1) Saturday, the Tigers are off next weekend, giving coach Tommy Bowden an extra week to prepare for Papa Bowden and the Seminoles.
" As soon as this game (Duke) is over,we won't even have time to look at it," Bowden said. "We will have to get right one Louisville. It is rushing it, but they have the same problem. But Clemson is a little bit different. I didn't even realize they had an open date. It will be a challenge."
The defensive challenge facing the Blue Devils will be getting more pressure against a tested offensive line. Duke's five starters – tackles Drew Strojny and Christian Mitchell, guards Daryl Lewis and Rusty Wilson and center Luke Ayer each have played all 213 offensive snaps this season. Wilson posted a team-high 88-percent grade as the Blue Devils rushed for a season-best 240 yards.
While the Seminoles are averaging 2.3 sacks per game – FSU had four sacks at Maryland -- they've been able to put noticeable pressure on opponent quarterbacks. FSU has 30 quarterback hurries, paced by four each from Jackson, Dockett and end Eric Powell.
"We've been playing good at times but at times we haven't been playing as good as I want," defensive tackles coach Odell Haggins said.
"Travis is finally getting healthy. Dockett is finally getting healthy. Travis played pretty good the last game. It's coming a long pretty good. We are getting it (pressure), but we have to get it with better consistency. A lot of people fail to realize I would rather get a hurry, an inteception or an incomplete than a sack at times. That's just as good. I like to get a sack. If I can get a quarterback on the ground, get him to throw the ball away on third down, we get the ball back. Teams are throwing the ball quicker now. Keeping people in, blocking longer."
Against Maryland, defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews and Bowden were looking for a few playmakers from a defense that allowed 50 points in its first two games while only forcing four turnovers -- three fumbles and an interception. Well, FSU registered four turnovers in the first half and cruised to a 30-0 advantage.
While the Seminoles don't figure to be tested seriously by Duke's 103rd-ranked offense, that will not prevent Andrews from watching for disciplined execution, better tackling and more consistency. More sacks also will continue to be a goal, though Andrews has been pleased with the Seminoles' pressure.
"If we had our choice, we would take pressure over sacks," Andrews said.
"Hurries create intercepts, create bad plays. What you get out of sack, you move the ball back five, six, eight yards, whatever you got. The results of what come out of great pressure is an intercept, a tote-off, a chance to make a play. That's what we're pushing for. We would like to have more sacks, yes. If we had a preference, we would take more pressure."
DAVIS BACK: True freshman linebacker Buster Davis has been welcomed back to the team with open arms. Davis spent last week going through a series of conditioning drills intended to demonstrate his commitment.
"I just had to think about some things," Davis said. "I had some personal issues I had to take care of. I'm back. I'm feeling good."
Davis said that the time apart from the team helped him focus and reaffirm his commitment to football.
"It was difficult, but I made it through," Davis said. "I prayed about it every night. I was tired, but I prayed about it and got through it. I'm back with the team now, and that feels real good. I feel a lot better about myself and what I'm capable of. I just want to produce and hopefully get some reps."
Davis, who has not yet gotten into a game, says that he does not expect to redshirt.