December 26, 2012

Florida State won't switch to 3-4 under Pruitt

Despite hiring two defensive coaches with plenty of experience running a 3-4 base defense, head coach Jimbo Fisher said that Florida State will not switch its base defense under new coordinator Jeremy Pruitt.

Pruitt has plenty of experience in the 3-4 scheme as an assistant for Alabama the last three seasons, and new defensive ends coach Sal Sunseri also coached at Alabama and employed a 3-4 defense as Tennessee's defensive coordinator last season.

Fisher said Pruitt and Sunseri will be able to add plenty of wrinkles to an FSU defense that ranked second in the country to only Alabama in total defense this season, but that the base defense will remain a 4-3.

"If you look at us this year we were both," Fisher said. "We were a 4-3 that got in a 3-4 a bunch. I think that's very important to do. We'll be a 4-3 team, but we'll be able to stand them up, like we stood Bjoern (Werner) and Brandon (Jenkins) and those guys up and did different things and be able to move people around in nickel and dime packages, and with the players we've got I think it will really fit what we do."

Like it was under former coordinator and new Kentucky Head Coach Mark Stoops, Fisher said the defense will have multiple looks. FSU moved it's defensive lineman around plenty this season, ran nickel defenses with regularity, and employed what it called a 'six-pack' dime package on third-and-long situations.

Still with two former Crimson Tide assistants joining the staff, Fisher said FSU's defense will look for even more ways to get the most from it's athletes on the defensive side of the ball.

"We'll keep parts of our defense and we'll add to what we've got and then Alabama brings a lot more different things to the table," Fisher said. "Different packages, from nickel packages, blitz packages and then different things that I think will really feature the exploits of some of the players on our team. Like a lot of the safeties, the linebackers, in different packages we'll be able to exploit and use."

The fact that Pruitt and Sunseri have worked together before in the same system will make the transition a smooth one in January Fisher says. He pointed out the fact that both guys have bought into the same type of mentality at Alabama as Fisher is trying to cultivate in Tallahassee.

"When you believe the same things then you don't have those controversies," Fisher said. "You talk about chemistry of staffs but it goes back to your beliefs. But when you come off the same tree, it makes those transitions a little easier."

The other reason Fisher thinks the transition from Stoops to Pruitt will be a successful one, is the fact that Pruitt is a defensive backs coach like Stoops. With the way offenses are spread out, Fisher believes that secondary and linebacker coaches make the best coordinators because they know how to match their coverages with the looks up front.

During his interview with Pruitt, it was the 38-year old's ability to answer questions about stopping spread teams on the white board that assured Fisher Pruitt was ready to be a coordinator despite limited experience at the college level.
"When he got on the board his answers to playing spread things," Fisher said of what made him sure Prutt was the guy. "He's had some great success against the open teams that have been very successful like (Auburn head coach Gus) Malzahn and all those guys in that league. The way they've played and done those things. We had a great rapport and there's no doubt he's ready to be a coordinator and I think he'll be a very good one."

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