Noles Relying on Range in Secondary against High Power Clemson Offense
The Florida State Seminole defense has full understanding of what they are up against this weekend. When the Clemson Tigers roll into town, they will be bringing a fast paced offense with a seasoned, 30+ TD passing QB and two of the ACC’s best wide receivers, one of which with an solid argument for being the best in the nation.
Florida State is yet to be truly tested down the field, but that will undoubtedly end on Saturday night and Clemson is the first team that has the athletes that are capable of making it interesting. This is something that Lamarcus Joyner and company seem to be eagerly anticipating.
This season, the Noles are hoping that more depth and range in the defensive backfield will help curtail and possibly completely stifle this type of productivity.
Currently, the Seminoles have two veteran, battle tested defensive backs who have seen many of College Football’s most recent big time receivers and lived to tell about it in Xavier Rhodes and Lamarcus Joyner. Both players are all-conference type defenders who have held their own or bested the likes of Notre Dame’s Michael Floyd, Oklahoma’s Kenny Stills and Ryan Broyles and South Carolina’s Alshon Jefferey. The lesser known components of the FSU secondary are not too shabby at all either, but Saturday will be their moment of truth in proving what many already suspect about their talent.
Starting opposite Lamarcus Joyner at the other safety position is junior converted cornerback, Terrence Brooks. Brooks is 5-11 and weighs in just under 200 lbs. He possesses the range and coverage ability of a corner but is more than willing to come up and get his nose dirty in the running game as well. His presence will have to be felt if FSU is to be successful in slowing Clemson down through the air. The advantage that Florida State has in fielding two safeties that are not lumbering and clumsy in coverage by virtue of being former corner backs is absolutely huge. Terrence Brooks and Lamarcus Joyner have the type of skill sets that would put them in immediate contention to start at corner for almost any other team in the conference right now.
The range that the aforementioned DB’s bring to the table will come up big in helping to support true sophomore Nick Waisome, who is the least experienced and most over-matched piece to the FSU puzzle in this game. To be clear, Waisome is an excellent cover corner talent and will make plenty of plays for the Seminoles this year, but at 5-9 inches tall and 170 lbs., Clemson’s physical and very skilled receivers will be a tough draw. How well Waisome responds to this challenge is yet to be seen, but knowing that Lamarcus Joyner and Terrence Brooks are back deep for security will be a ton of help.
Outside of the four starters, Florida State feels very good about nickel back Tyler Hunter (6-0, 190 lbs.) as well. In fact, given the opponent, it is probably best to regard Hunter as a starter because the Noles will likely play a ton of 4-2-5 to handle the passing attack. Hunter is another hybrid DB in the mold of Terrence Brooks, but is probably a bit more physically gifted. The true sophomore shined on Saturday in shutting down Michael Campanaro, Wake Forest’ leading receiver and holding him to just two catches for eight yards on the day. What makes that feat even more remarkable is that Hunter was not covering Campanaro on one of those receptions, a three yard pick up that was blown up by Nick Waisome. As stated, the competition that rolls into Doak on Saturday is a different animal, but Hunter seems to be ready for the test.
Key reserves will certainly be called upon at different times in the game on Saturday as well. Florida State has gotten solid to excellent snaps out of youngsters like Ronald Darby, Keelin Smith and Karlos Williams. All of which boast tremendous talent and match up well with size and speed. True freshman Ronald Darby is cleanly the second fastest player on the roster, but at nearly 40 lbs. heavier and three inches taller, backup safety Karlos Williams is easily in the top five. Keelin Smith is a huge corner at 6-3, with great length who is developing at a very nice pace. The players coming off the bench will pack a punch and bring some explosion to the field when they play and it will be much needed, because Clemson’s wide receivers most certainly bring plenty of their own.