There aren’t too many things to celebrate during this football season in Tallahassee. The Seminoles just lost their second straight conference game, the most recent being to the very beatable Wake Forrest Demon Deacons.
And as the season progresses, it’s harder to determine where the blame primarily falls, as each unit has been inconsistently good at times, and bad most of the time. But this past Saturday in Winston Salem, it was the defense that gave Florida State a fighting chance through the end.
In arguably their best game of the season, they held 22 points, the Deacs to their lowest point total of the season, and allowed only one touchdown in 7 scoring drives. They limited one of the ACC’s best offenses to 116 yards and 17.7 points beneath their season averages.
The spark plug for the Florida State defense was Emmet Rice. The RS Junior linebacker finished the game with career-high 14 tackles, nine solo stops and a tackle for loss.
Though it’s much harder to celebrate standout performances when they don’t come hand in hand with a win. And that won’t start happening consistently until Florida State can put together a complete game on both sides of the ball.
Not perfect, Just complete. So far all we’ve seen from the Seminoles this season are little spurts of promise clouded by primary undisciplined and unfocused performances from all units.
However, FSU defensive coordinator Harlon Barnett seemed optimistic that even in the loss, the stronger defensive effort is something the Noles will build on for the remainder of the season.
Here are some highlights from Barnetts discussion with media on Wednesday.
Q: Against Wake Forrest, you were showing the a lot of four man fronts, are you getting to the point now where you feel like you’re truly multiple?”
A: “I think so. We’re finally getting it down, understanding when and why we want to do different fronts and mixing it up on teams. We’re getting to the point where we could be considered multiple defense.”
Q: What’s the key to getting off to a great start and holding them to just a few points on field goals?
A: “We talk about starting fast all the time, and finishing faster. We weren’t finishing obviously at one point in time and so now we’re just trying to put it all together. We’re at the point in the season now where you just quit talking about it and you got to just do it and when plays are there to be made we’ve go to make those plays. Thats’s where it starts – it’s making plays. A chance to get off the field, let’s get off the field, whatever we need to do. All 11 guys must execute to give ourselves a chance to win each and every play.”
Q: Is there any concern about the defense becoming demoralized at all?
A: “Not at all. The guys are still locked in playing hard, enjoying it. Everybody obviously wants to win, winning is fun, we always say ‘Lets have fun,’ well you have fun winning football games. Thats our mindset. Guys are still determined, still working hard, and still believing we can get this thing turned around the way we want it to be.”
Q: Are they receptive to fixing the mistakes that you keep hammering on them?
A: “Absolutely, we’re demanding it out of them and we should start seeing the results here on Saturday.”
Q: Do you think the defense is doing a better job handling up tempo offenses and being ready for the snap?
A: “Yes, we really stressed that, and you see it all the time. Obviously we see it everyday, so our guys are kinda used to it… We stressed it all week about being able to get lined up that was ones of our keys to victory, getting lined up.”
Q: Are the linebackers playing better in general, if so what are they doing better?
A: “They’ve got a better understanding and a comfort level of the defense. They know what they’re supposed to be looking at and now you can just naturally play the game, it’s just about your ability now. They’re comfortable right now so they’re playing well.”
Though it seems gloomy in Tallahassee right now as the Noles sit 3-4, the season is certainly not unsalvageable if the defense can continue to improve and if Kendal Briles can resurrect his once-promising offensive play calling. They’ve still got two huge rivalry games on the schedule and are heading into next week’s Homecoming contest against Syracuse.
But it’s going to take more than just an improved defense to make it happen, as displayed so clearly on Saturday. It should start with more aggressive coaching.
FSU and LSU announced two game neutral site series Tuesday
In an effort to continue to beef up their out-of-conference schedules, FSU announced on Tuesday that they will play newly-crowned National Champion, LSU in two neutral site games coming soon in 2022 and 2023.
The Seminoles made the announcement through social media and their website that they will be playing the “Bayou Bengals” first in New Orleans and then, in Orlando:
Noles vs. Tigers set for '22/'23!!!https://t.co/nfLwLGhXE3
— FSU Football (@FSUFootball) February 11, 2020
Both teams will be given the benefit of essentially a “home-away-from-home neutral-site game” on Labor Day weekend. LSU considers New Orleans to be their second home and just won the College Football Playoff National Championship game over Clemson there on January 12.
The first game with the Noles will be on Saturday night September 4th, 2022.
FSU will, then play “hosts” in Orlando against the Tigers the following year on Saturday night September 3rd. The Noles recently played a season-opening game with Ole Miss, whom they defeated, at Camping World Stadium in 2016.
New Seminoles head coach Mike Norvell had this to say in the school statement about adding the games coming soon,
“I’m excited about this series,” head coach Mike Norvell said. “Florida State has a rich tradition in Louisiana, the home of many former Seminoles including Warrick Dunn and Travis Minor, and all three of our national championship teams had at least one player from Louisiana. It continues to be an important area for us now. We added two players from Louisiana in our first signing class, and it will be great for them and other future Noles to be able to play back in their home state.
This series matches two of the iconic brands in college football, and I know our fans will have a great time in New Orleans and Orlando. I want to thank our administration for all their hard work on this and for continuing to pursue first-class experiences for our student-athletes.”
These will be the 10th and 11th times that Florida State and LSU will meet. The Noles hold a 7 – 2 advantage, including winning four straight games in the series. It is the first time the two schools will have played since 1991.
Further, Florida State is 9 – 2 in their last 11 games opening a season on a neutral field. The Seminoles were to have played Boise State in Jacksonville last Labor Day weekend, but the threat of Hurricane Dorian moved the game to Tallahasse.
That’s where the Broncos upset the Seminoles and sent coach Willie Taggart into a second year spiral that resulted in his firing in November.
The Noles are also 8 – 2 all-time in games at the Superdome with the most prominent one coming in the BCS Championship Game win over Virginia Tech in the 2000 Sugar Bowl.
Deion tells Dan Patrick he’d consider coaching Hurricanes
NFL Hall of Famer and former Seminoles All-American defensive back Deion Sanders is making the rounds for broadcast outlets at Super Bowl 54 in Miami,. And it’s not just his NFL Network duties that made some news on Tuesday. Rather, it’s an interview, where he expressed more desire for coaching college football and maybe, even in the city where he currently is working this week.
Sanders appeared on The Dan Patrick television – radio show Tuesday in advance of the 49ers and the Chiefs meeting for pro football’s title at Hard Rock stadium Sunday night.
— Dan Patrick Show (@dpshow) January 28, 2020
And, while most of the interview centered around the NFL and the Super Bowl match-up, Patrick naturally turned to Deion’s desire to apparently be a head coach in college football and maybe, as soon as next year.
This subject came up after Sanders was apparently under consideration to possibly be the new head coach at FSU, when they fired Willie Taggart in early November. The school and AD David Coburn did confirm that they had a serious formal discussion with “Prime Time” about building a staff, etc.
That’s when Patrick turn the questioning to Sanders’ son and what might test his loyalty to FSU and possibly, coaching at a hated-rival like the University of Miami.
“What if ‘The U’ called?” Patrick asked.
“You know what is so funny, cuz I saw that when I was watching you on television (earlier in the day when Patrick said he would ask Sanders about Miami). My son is a phenomenal quarterback. My youngest son. He has a plethora of offers. We’re going to visit ‘The U’ on Saturday,” Sanders said.
“But would you coach the U?,” Patrick quickly asked again.
“You know what. You never know,” Sanders replied leaving the door open, like most do.
“Are you a ‘package deal’ with your son,” asked Patrick?
“I’ve never been a package deal with any-body,” Sanders shot back, which drew laughter from the studio audience at Patrick’s Super Bowl show site.
Now, the Hurricanes have obviously floundered for much of the 2010s, including 2019 with first-year coach Manny Diaz struggling mightily down the stretch of his first season. Miami lost it’s final two games to finish 6 – 6, and then, were shutout humiliatingly by Louisiana Tech 14 – 0 in the Independence Bowl.
Miami has swapped offensive coordinators after Diaz fired Dan Enos after just his first season. The Canes have hired former Auburn and SMU play-caller Rhett Lashlee to replace him. And, they secured Houston dual threat transfer QB D’Eriq King for this season.
Sanders was a two-time All-American at Florida State (1987, ’88), and won the Jim Thorpe Award during his final season playing for the Seminoles in 1988. He was selected in the first round of the 1989 draft by the Atlanta Falcons and played in the NFL through the 2005 season.
His elite level of play earned him inductions into both the College Football Hall of Fame and the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Sanders has been analyst for the NFL Network for the past 10 years and clearly has the desire to try something else.