November 3, 2013

FSU defense makes a statement, stuffs run

Before Florida State took the field against Miami on Saturday, defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan called out his teammates.

"I challenged them, the linebackers, I challenged the defensive line also," Jernigan said. "I challenged (Mario) Edwards and (Eddie) Goldman and (Nile Lawrence-)Stample and said we have to take it up another notch. We've been playing to the coaches' standards and have to take it to the next level."

The message was clear, even before kickoff: Miami's powerful running attack presented a real challenge to Florida State's defense. The Seminoles had been dominant in recent weeks against spread-based teams but had an ugly blotch early in the season against run-heavy Boston College.

Florida State spent most of the game Saturday proving that it can indeed stop the run. The Seminoles suffocated a Miami running game that was one of the most productive in the ACC. Miami accounted for just 83 net rushing yards on 29 attempts, or just 2.9 yards per carry.

"You're not going to run the ball on us," Jernigan said. "We had to prove a point. In the first game Boston College came out and did a great job against us. They came out and ran it down our throats. We've just been working hard to show that's not the defense that we are. We can stop the run and play the pass.

Florida State made its point with plenty of emphasis. Against Boston College, FSU's linebackers were critiqued for not coming up into gaps quickly enough and being passive on the edge. The Seminole backers had no such trouble on Saturday.

FSU had six tackles for loss for a total of -34 yards against Miami. During one stretch of the first half Miami went backwards five out of nine offensive plays.

Terrance Smith led the way for FSU with 10 tackles, while MarioEdwards Jr had two tackles for loss.

"Ever since Boston college game we've had a different mentality," Smith said. "Nobody's going to run the ball on us, that's our goal. We're a lot more focused and a lot more hungry and nobody's going to out-physical us."

Florida State was even able to stop the run with defensive backs. With Jernigan and the defensive line clogging the middle and forcing Duke Johnson and the Miami running backs to bounce runs outside, players like Lamarcus Joyner got in on the action as well.

"After that nightmare we had against Boston College I felt it was my job to step up there in that box and help out," Joyner said. "And show my support to be a complete football team."

Joyner finished with six tackles on the game, tied for second on the team.

The win Saturday added another chapter to Florida State's dominating defensive run and answered the final lingering questions about the Seminole defense. In the four games since Boston College, FSU is giving up an average of 4.2 yards per play and no opponent in that span has topped 326 total offensive yards. Miami only managed a paltry 275 on Saturday.

"They made nice adjustments. They were able to take on blockers. I think we've grown from that and we've practiced like that. You play those great teams, they can line up and bloody your nose."

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