From The Coordinator: Tough Love For Defense

Defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer says that one of the luxuries of having veteran Ryan Simmons at middle linebacker was that when he either yelled at or ran the other linebackers, and even the entire defense, that Simmons could tell his teammates that it is not because Spencer doesn't like them. Quite the contrary.

It is because Spencer believes they can be better, and he believes that a combination of about seven defensive players with a good deal of experience cane combine with a group of about 12 players that have played some and then a group of players that are brand new to big time college football. But those pups have come a long way in August.

Those pups factor at several spots like cornerback and safety, but especially at linebacker where two true freshmen and maybe three will play and will need the leadership of the aforementioned Simmons, a player that Spencer has leaned on some this August.

"Ryan hasn't disappointed me one day throughout camp," Spencer said. "His preparation for the game, his preparation for camp and his preparation for practice – they're all what you want to see in a leader. We've even tested him a few days out there, but he's consistently been a guy who gets the job done. He has earned that distinction with the rest of the team."

The defensive line is capable of getting the job done. Even the secondary, especially the safeties, where there is a lot of youth present in the two-deep, has looked more comfortable and settled better than I know I expected.

The key will be to keep the Seminoles from launching their blitzkrieg attack. The kind of game where they roll up big numbers early thanks to turnovers and three-and-outs from the opposing offense and flat play from the opposing defense. The Cowboys are determined that they will get neither on Saturday night.

"It's a ballgame, though, so nobody here knows what's going to happen," Spencer said of the importance of keeping the FSU offense quiet. "Nobody can even think about what's going to happen, so we'll deal with that moment when it comes.

"We can come out and play great at first, but there will still be a lot of ballgame left. If they come out and bust a couple of big plays on us, will we shell up for the rest of the game? No. That 60th play and that 70th play have got to be played just like the first and the second."

Yes they do, and if the score is close then they will be a lot more fun to play as well.


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