In his almost three decades coaching the defense at Florida State, Jim Gladden was instrumental in recruiting big-time athletes like Derrick Brooks, Andre Wadsworth and Peter Boulware. What he's noticed is the reason that Florida State struggled so much over the past decade is that the recruiting just wasn't the same as it used to be.
Gladden: If you looked out there four or five years ago when we played Florida, all you had to do was look on the field and look at the disparity of talent between the two teams. It was drastic. When I was standing on the field watching them, their talent level was much better than ours. It all comes back to recruiting.
When you have guys like Wadsworth, Boulware, (Corey) Simon, (Marvin) Jones and Brooks, those guys are the standard. Once you get that kind of guy in the program and you are winning national championships and playing at that level, that is the standard that you recruit to. You don't settle for anything less. You recruit to that level, if you settle for anything less then the only thing you can do is go downhill - you don't sign a guy just to fill a roster spot. By doing that you are able to maintain the level of player you are accustomed to.
We have done a very good job in my opinion in the last three years of bringing that talent level back up and right now I'm very impressed at what we have on that defensive front. At the defensive end spot, my whole deal was toughness and speed. If he can't run, he can't play at the level you want him to. You want guys who can play fast, who are stronger and bigger guys who can run. If he can't run, don't sign him.
Jim Gladden's five criteria in recruiting a Florida State caliber player: These are the five rankings I had on every player I talked to, and if they weren't 5 for 5, I went to the next guy:
1) Can he graduate from Florida State? If he can't go to the next guy.
2) Is he dependable, a person of character? Will he obey and try to do what you ask him to? If he won't, then don't sign the guy. I went to the guidance office and looked at the transcript. You can't depend on the undependable.
3) Is he tough? If he's not tough and won't hit, go to the next guy.
4) Can he run? If he can't run go to the next guy.
5) Can you beat the Gators with him?
Comparing Bjoern Werner and Andre Wadsworth
I like Bjoern Werner. I think he has a great future ahead of him, he's tough, big, strong and he can run very well. He can change directions and he plays very hard. He wants to be good, he's an intelligent guy. He's been on the Dean's List nearly every semester. He tries very hard and is very coachable. I compare him to Wadsworth - but, he hasn't done it yet.
Who is the best player on the FSU defensive line?
Brandon Jenkins is a very good prospect, I think Werner is a better one because he is bigger and stronger. Werner compares to Wadsworth. Jenkins' greatest asset is his speed. He can get past those tackles before they can get set. You have a speed rush which is his basic technique; he gets up there and beats the blocker.
Is there another Ron Simmons on the Florida State roster?
Tank Caradine is a very strong and powerful kid. I like Timmy Jernigan a lot. He looks like a little Ron Simmons to me, a younger Ron Simmons. Odell Haggins was a nose tackle and he played really well, so did Corey Simon. We had some good interior people - Derrick Alexander and Larry Smith - your games are controlled in the line of scrimmage, the team that can dominate the line of scrimmage is going to win.
Today's defensive scheme versus the one FSU played with in the late 90's
Peter Boulware and Reinard Wilson, in their senior years, those two guys had 40 sacks between them. Forty sacks between two guys! We led the nation with about 60 sacks and those two had 40 between them. The schemes have changed, when we played in the early to mid 90's, we changed it from read and react defense to attack on the snap. Instead of reading blockers, we read the ball. Everyone's eyes were on the ball.
We tried to create a new line of scrimmage two yards behind the line of scrimmage on every play. It was a destructive scheme for the offense, people had trouble getting the snap. We were in their backfield before they could do anything about it.
So then the shotgun came about, it helps the protection, he (quarterback) is able to get the ball and get it off. People learned how to block it and devised hot routes and converted their pattern according to their defense. We were in attack mode all the time back then and the defenses were ahead of the offense. Now it goes in cycles. Consequently, defensive coaches have had to go back to the read-and-react so we don't create big gaps. The offensive coaches have devised ways to create vertical seems in your front and there was a time period where the offenses got ahead of the defenses. But now we have gone back to a mixture of that. We would attack on the snap and read on the run, that was our philosophy in the mid to late 90's up until Mickey (Andrews) retired.
Giving Credit to Steve Spurrier
Steve Spurrier and the Gators were No. 1 and we were No. 2 in 1996 when we beat them on our field. The commissioner of the SEC was the head of the Sugar Bowl where the national championship game was. He finagled it for the rematch in the Sugar Bowl and we had to go over there and play them again, Spurrier changed his complete offense for our game. He kept a tight end in the game and two backs the whole time and he kept Wuerffel in a shotgun. They had a tight end to one side and the backs away from them and Danny away from them (as well) and they slid the protection to the tight end and double teamed the open end with the two backs; so they had good protection and time to throw the ball. Those are some things that offensive coaches have done to attack the style of defense.