FSU Football: Has FSU Defense Really Improved That Much?

FSU Football

Dec 31, 2015; Atlanta, GA, USA; Florida State Seminoles defensive coordinator Charles Kelly (C) reacts against the Houston Cougars in the second quarter in the 2015 Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl at the Georgia Dome. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

FSU football has looked better on defense over the past two games. However, has the defense actually gotten that much better?

FSU football and defensive coordinator Charles Kelly came under fire after the first five games. Statistically, the FSU defense was worse than the horrific 2009 FSU defense.

Think about that, a FSU defense with more talented players by far, was actually worse over the five games.

The ‘Noles were giving up over seven yards per play and allowing teams to score over 30 points per game. Explosive play after explosive play from alignment failures, lack of hustle and mis-communication.

However, over the last two games the stats have improved a great deal. Was it a result of the FSU defense getting that much better?

fsu football

Oct 8, 2016; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Florida State Seminoles linebacker Jacob Pugh (16) pushes off Miami Hurricanes quarterback Brad Kaaya (15) after Pugh made the sack during the first half at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Matchups

I don’t want to rehash that entire article as you’re free to check it out as we told you how the FSU defense would matchup with the Miami offense here.

The Miami pro-style offense and statue for a quarterback in Brad Kaaya allowed FSU to simplify things to the max. Essentially, they were allowed to play man-to-man without the threat of the quarterback hurting them with his legs.

However, the FSU defense normally doesn’t play a lot of man-to-man because they play a ton of teams with spread offenses.

Furthermore, it could be that the Miami offense simply isn’t as good as what the cupcake of a schedule they played early on would have us to believe.

For example, the much maligned UNC defense held Miami to 13 points in Miami last week and 5.3 yards per play. The same UNC defense that’s ranked No. 63 in the nation according to S&P + metrics.

Oct 15, 2016; Tallahassee, FL, USA; Florida State Seminoles defensive back Derwin James (3) talks to running back Dalvin Cook (4) before the game against the Wake Forest Demon Deacons at Doak Campbell Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Melina Vastola-USA TODAY Sports

Oct 15, 2016; Tallahassee, FL, USA; Florida State Seminoles defensive back Derwin James (3) talks to running back Dalvin Cook (4) before the game against the Wake Forest Demon Deacons at Doak Campbell Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Melina Vastola-USA TODAY Sports

Wake Forest Was A Bad Offense

We told you the Wake Forest offense was not very good prior to the game. However, we were interested in seeing how the FSU defense would fare against a spread offense.

The Wake Forest offense came into the FSU football game averaging less than five yards per play. The S&P + metrics told us that the Wake Forest was bad, and they are now ranked the No. 101 offense in the nation.

However, the FSU defense held Wake Forest to nearly a full yard less per play than their seasonal average. They didn’t allow a touchdown to Wake Forest, extending the streak of Wake Forest not scoring a touchdown in Tallahassee since 2006.

The FSU defense dominated the line of scrimmage, didn’t take plays off for the most part and created opportunities for turnovers.

So yes, the Wake Forest offense was bad, but the FSU defense dominated that game the way they should have.

fsu football

Oct 8, 2016; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Florida State Seminoles tight end Mavin Saunders (88) celebrates during the second half against the Miami Hurricanes at Hard Rock Stadium. FSU won 20-19. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Conclusion

I do believe the Miami pro-style offense allowed the FSU defense to mask some communication issues in the secondary.

The Wake Forest roster is severely outmatched when it comes to talent across the board, and that was evident in the trenches.

However, the emergence of Ermon Lane at safety is promising. True freshman Dontavious Jackson looks promising as well.

There were less coverage busts against Wake Forest. Players were in position to make plays for the most part, but there were still some tackles missed that will cost against a team like Clemson.

Do I expect the FSU defense to shut Clemson down? No, I don’t. However, I do feel a bit better than I did say two weeks ago.

The FSU defense will have two weeks to prepare for Clemson. On the flip side, Clemson will have the same amount to prepare their offense to face FSU.

FSU will not be able to play much man-to-man against Clemson. They will not be able to physically impose their will the same way they did against Wake Forest.

So that game on October 29th will give us the real answer regarding improvements to the FSU defense.

This article originally appeared on