How to handle FSU's defense

"

They're really talented all across the board, so you can get yourself off schedule if you can't run the football on them on first and second down, and you get yourself into third-and-long, third-and-medium, and it becomes an uphill battle.

" -- Boston College offensive coordinator Ryan Day

"When I was there last year, you watched [defensive tackle] Eddie Goldman practice, and you'd say to yourself, Oh my god, this guy is going to be so good," Coley said. "The younger guys were just as talented or even more so than the guys who were drafted."

Florida State proved him right in a 41-14 win over Miami on Nov. 2 in Tallahassee -- Miami's first loss of the season.

While scouting FSU's defense in preparation for his game, Coley said he noticed that Florida State switched from a 3-4 defense at the beginning of the season to more of a 4-2-nickel scheme by midseason, which allowed standout defensive back Lamarcus Joyner to flourish.

"If you go 3-4, he's just a cornerback," Coley said. "If you go 4-2-nickel, now you have him as the SAM nickel to the field and he's orchestrating everything. ... Lamarcus Joyner is taking up most of the ground. I think Clemson was preparing for a 3-4, and they did the hokey doke and switched to that nickel, TCU's defense. That scheme really utilizes the personnel they have because you want Lamarcus Joyner in all the action."

Pitt offensive coordinator Joe Rudolph said he also noticed Florida State's ability to change schemes -- midgame. Rudolph said the Noles went from a 4-3 to a 3-4 in the season opener. FSU held Pitt to just 96 rushing yards and two third-down conversions.

"Scheme-wise they present you with problems when they are able to kind of line up in a traditional four-down defense and then they can shift with the same personnel into a three-down defense, a 3-4 look," Rudolph said. "That can [pose] problems. They're not afraid to man up in their personnel on the outside and load the box and force your hand and challenge your formations, especially when you're using a tight end and fullback, or two-tight-end sets."

Rudolph added: "We hit them on some things that we kind of challenged what they were doing a little bit; there was some good back and forth, but there's a difference between just being athletic and being good football players, and they have a good combination. They're very athletic, they can run, guys can tackle, they can get off blocks and make plays. You don't patronize someone by saying he's a really good athlete. They're good football players. In a game like that, you have to play exceptionally clean. You have to put yourself in the absolute best position to be successful."

Clemson offensive coordinator Chad Morris thought he did that -- then the Tigers turned it over on the first play of the game.

It was just the start of Clemson's offense coming undone in a shockingly lopsided 51-14 home loss. Mario Edwards Jr. scooped up Tajh Boyd's fumble and ran it back for a touchdown, helping the Noles to a 17-0 lead just 12 minutes into the game. Morris said the only thing his offense could have done differently that game would have been to eliminate the four turnovers.

"We didn't help the cause and they got in a situation when they were up on us to where they could just sit back and say, 'Hey look, you're not going to beat us with a big play,' and let their guys up front go to work," Morris said.

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