FSU’s Much Improved Defense

Coming into this season, there were many questions surrounding FSU’s second year defensive coordinator Charles Kelly.  Kelly was definitely faced with a tall task when he was promoted from linebackers coach to defensive coordinator after the 2013 season.  Not only did he have to switch disciplines on short notice, but he also had to deal with Florida State fans’ unbelievably high expectations after the 2013 team finished as the most dominant college football team of all time.  That year the ‘Noles boasted the #2 total defense in the country, allowing on average only 250 yards per game.  Jeremy Pruitt, the defensive coordinator of that elite defense, left for Georgia to fulfill a lifelong dream of being a defensive coordinator in the SEC.  

Though the talent was there in 2014, considering there were 4 players who got drafted last year and a handful of other draft prospects on the defensive side of the ball, the defense never seemed to reach its full potential.  Charles Kelly certainly had his tribulations, including giving up 41 points to NC State, 35 points to Georgia Tech, and of course 59 points to Oregon in the Playoff semi-final.  Florida State had fans an obvious reason to be concerned.  

Terrance Smith (Photo: Getty Images)

Terrance Smith (Photo: Getty Images)

However, this year, fans should be pleasantly surprised with the success its defense has found.  In 2014, FSU gave up 25+ points seven times.  In 2015, the Noles have yet to give up 25+ points in a single game.  The Noles even faced one of the best offenses in the country in #1 Clemson this past weekend and held them to a very respectable 23 points.  FSU’s run defense has been stellar this year, allowing only 5 touchdowns through 9 games.  Led by the veteran Nile Lawrence-Stample and the emergence of Derrick Nnadi and Giorgio Newberry, the ‘Noles defensive line has been the most impressive, often closing up holes and stopping the running back before the linebackers even have a chance to get downhill and make a play.  To complement the front seven, Florida State has two top flight corners in Marquez White and Jalen Ramsey.  These two have been extremely impressive in coverage and their physicality has played a big part in the success of the run defense.  Also, the emergence of freshman safety Derwin James has injected range and athleticism into this defensive unit.

The ‘Noles have a chance to continue their impressive run and make a statement against a very good offense in NC State.  The Wolfpack are coming off of two nice offensive showings against two teams that are top five in total defense, scoring 41 against Clemson and 24 against Boston College.  Having senior linebacker Terrance Smith back from injury played a big part in FSU’s success against Clemson, and should prove to be a key factor in this week’s matchup vs. NC State.

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