"They're not going to let anybody beat them in their house," Seminole defensive end Darnell Dockett said.
The Seminoles (5-1) have been forced to outscore teams rather than dominating opposing offenses this season. FSU had hoped to avoid that scenario, especially after returning eight starters. But as has been the case most of this season, the big play has eluded the Seminoles, who surrendered 441 yards in last Thursday's home victory over Clemson.
FSU defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews admits the Seminoles continue to have far too many breakdowns.
''I just think we're not a good defense right now,'' Andrews said. ``Too many people are making mistakes. We have people in the wrong gaps, we have people who are not in the right rush lanes, we have people not being disciplined. We have no consistency right now.''
While FSU has 17 sacks, up significanctly from this time last season, the Seminoles have seemed to lack their overall dominance up front. When FSU does get needed pressure, the young secondary falters, specifically, the safety positions. Four different players have seen a majority of the action -- Kyler Hall, B.J. Ward, Jerome Carter and Claudius Osei, who has been hampered by an Achilles injury since the preseason.
''We'll see if we can get some answers this week,'' FSU coach Bobby Bowden said. ``Last year, you had inexperienced cornerbacks. This year, you've got them back, but you've got inexperienced safeties. We need to see if we can get it corrected.''
Cornerback Stanford Samuels says the Seminoles' defense can handle the criticism by staying together.
"For the most part, letting them know it's a family – we love them," Samuels said. "(Against Clemson), that was the only thing I was saying. I wasn't getting on Kyler, getting on Claudius, getting on Jerome, getting on B.J. … I was just letting them know we're in this regardless. We're going to take the criticism together, we're going to work out of this together."
Linebacker Michael Boulware also is admittedly frustrated by the Seminoles' lack of big plays. Boulware and Dockett are considered impact players who have underachieved thus far.
Clemson, for example, kept the heat on FSU with its quick-strike offense, one that notched passing plays of 59, 42 and 41 yards. Receiver J.J. McKelvey led the receiving corps with five catches for 117 yards. Willie Simmons completed 17 of 27 passes for 293 yards and two touchdowns.
"I think offenses are running away from me and Darnell," Boulware said. "I think Darnell's getting double-teamed just about every play. It's very frustrating. I'm used to making a lot of big plays, getting my hands on the ball. It's not happening right now, but I just have to stay patient. … If I stay patient, my time will come. Sooner or later, the balls will come my way."
Andrews says the biggest change his unit can make thi week can be found in the heart.
''The best adjustment you can make in football,'' Andrews said, ``is to tighten your chin strap.''