Florida Offense Faces Athletic FSU Defense

Florida State's speed off the edge of the defensive line has Florida offensive coordinator Steve Addazio worried. His offense has already struggled giving up sacks this season, and the Seminoles' defense leads the nation with 41. The Florida State defense doesn't need the blitz to get pressure on the quarterback.

"They're athletic," Steve Addazio said of the Florida State defensive ends. "They do a good job rushing the quarterback. They've always been talented. They're a team that does a great job at the get off. It's looks pretty typical to me of Florida State."

The Florida State defense isn't only about the pressure they bring from the defensive line. They have a group of linebackers that head coach Urban Meyer believes is the best the Seminoles have had since he took over as Florida's head coach in 2005. The secondary has speed and athletes to capitalize on mistakes.

Addazio doesn't see much of a difference from the Florida State defense this year and the dominant defenses they've had in the past. This year, they have more complicated schemes with first-year defensive coordinator Mark Stoops.

"They've got a really talented defense front end and back end," Addazio said. "They're athletic and make plays. Like every week, you go into the game looking for where you want to attack them. They're proven they can make plays on defense. We want to be careful with what we're doing."

The Gators boast a six-game winning streak over Florida State, starting a year before Addazio came to Gainesville as the offensive line coach. Despite the success over their instate rival, the offensive coordinator doesn't talk to his team about the importance of the streak.

"It's a rivalry game, and we make a big deal that it's a rivalry game," Addazio said. "We don't really talk about streaks. We talk about the fact that we're playing a good team in a tremendous rivalry game. It's one of the great games in college football history. The players know. This isn't a game where we have to build up hype."

There are multiple players on each side of the rivalry that were forced to decide between the schools. The key player in last year's recruiting class was Florida safety Matt Elam. After committing early to the Gators and growing up a Florida fan, he switched his commitment to the Seminoles late in the process.

He ended it by making a final decision at the Army All-American Game, announcing he would attend Florida and enroll the following Monday.

"It was a great team effort," Addazio said. "There have been long relationships there with Coach Meyer, his brother and others. There is a trust factor there with families. At the end of the day, people decided what's best for them. He's where he wants to be."

Elam is a key part of a freshman class that couldn't have been more heralded. Their development didn't happen immediately, and Meyer even said in the past that he wished their development had come earlier.

However, Addazio remains pleased with the progress.

Most of the impacts of the freshmen have come on the defensive side of the ball, but Addazio sees freshmen on both sides of the ball who are continuing to improve on the practice field.

"They're all coming along, just at their own paces," Addazio said. "Sometimes injuries slow guys down. There are a lot of reasons. I've never been a guy to have tremendous expectation of guys coming at one pace. You can wish guys to come along faster, but it's not how you start, it's how you finish. That's always how it has been, but recently there's been more attention on it. Now there is so much hype around players coming out of high school. It all plays into it."

The Florida coaches haven't considered the future of Jordan Reed yet. They know a decision will need to be made in the offseason about whether he will stick at quarterback or move to tight end, but for now, they're focusing on his role at quarterback.

The part that makes it easier is Reed's mentality. The Florida staff knows it's lucky to have three unselfish players at the quarterback position.

"He'll do whatever he has to do to help this team win," Addazio said. "That's his mindset, that's Trey Burton's mindset, that's Johnny Brantley's mindset. That's what is great about our team. Obviously (Reed) is a nice guy who is a good runner with a good arm. We're going to utilize that right now."
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