Warchant - Man's game: FSU defensive backs enjoying change in approach
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Man's game: FSU defensive backs enjoying change in approach

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Sophomore cornerback Tarvarus McFadden has given up some big plays, but he leads FSU with five interceptions.
Sophomore cornerback Tarvarus McFadden has given up some big plays, but he leads FSU with five interceptions. (Gene Williams/Warchant)

It’s an extremely small sample size, and there’s no guarantee that it will be the plan of attack in two weeks when Clemson comes to town.

But after enjoying their best two defensive performances of the season -- limiting Miami and Wake Forest to a combined 25 points -- Florida State’s starting cornerbacks are letting their voices be heard. They have greatly enjoyed the recent switch to more man-to-man defense after struggling earlier this season with more zone schemes.

“We’re playing man-to-man defense,” senior cornerback Marquez White said Saturday evening, when asked to explain the Seminoles’ improvement. “Man-to-man defense and rushing up front, getting after the quarterback. I think that’s when we’re at our best.”

The statistics certainly make that case.

Through the first five weeks of the 2016 season, Florida State’s defense was one of the nation’s worst by virtually any measure imaginable. They were shredded in the first half by Ole Miss, the entire game by Louisville, and they gave up at least 35 points to both USF and North Carolina.

Then last week, the Seminoles limited UM to just 276 yards of offense in a 20-19 victory. And on Saturday, they held Wake Forest to 252 yards in a 17-6 win.

Since the switch, there generally has been tighter coverage on opposing receivers, and there have been far fewer coverage breakdowns caused by miscommunication in the secondary.

Both White and sophomore Tarvarus McFadden, the Seminoles' other starting cornerback, said they feel much more comfortable now than they did earlier in the season.

“That’s why we got recruited here -- to play man-to-man defense,” White said. “We didn’t come here to play zone … or anything like that. We came to play man-to-man, and I think we’ve got the people to do it.”

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