You may have noticed over the past couple weeks– and you will definitely notice this afternoon– that Florida State is playing more of a defensive package that is a variation off the dime to defend the spread.
“It’s not so much they’re trying to burn us downfield because everybody in our secondary is pretty fast and they know that," said junior safety Terrence Brooks. "But I feel like just the teams really try to scheme us more and get people open and try little things to just get our keys off and get our eyes in bad shape. But we’ve been doing a pretty good job of that, we get more in tune as the weeks go on.”
It was likely on film before, but NC State really exploited this against Florida State's defense. Almost akin to death by 1,000 cuts, opposing offenses are trying to spread Florida State's defense out and then run crossing routes and hope for picks to develop while they grind out drives.
Anyone who has watched Florida State over the past several years knows exactly the kind of offense I'm referring to, and with two very good, possession-style receivers of their own you can expect Duke to attempt it Saturday.
Lately the Seminoles have been rolling out a package aimed at mitigating this approach, they call it the six-pack and it's essentially a modified dime package.
When teams try to spread Florida State's defense out, the 'Noles bring six defensive backs and a linebacker on to the field (in addition to their usual four d-linemen). What Mark Stoops does is asks Terrence Brooks to come up to the line and play the nickel or dime role (depending on alignment). The 'Noles also bring sophomore S Tyler Hunter, the usual nickel-back on to the field and put sophomore Karlos Williams back at free safety.
Telvin Smith, with his speed and athleticism, is the linebacker in this package.
“That’s pretty much dime, just get me down there and play a little bit of nickel, well I guess that’s more dime because I face more tight ends," said Brooks. "I’m a little closer to the line and if there’s a number two out on the boundary I’ll go out and guard him or three by one I’ll go out on the third guy so I’m either two-weak or three-strong, but it gets Karlos in there too, that’s why I like that package.”
The package brings Florida State's athleticism out in droves and makes it harder for teams to have success spreading them out. There are no longer match-ups to be had one-on-one for opposing offensive coordinators.
“It just puts more DB’s on the field," said junior LB Telvin Smith. "Because they’re just trying to get match-ups on us so the coaches out there have a plan and we’re just out there trying to execute.”
Now the match-ups start to work in Florida State's favor.
“That’s more of just a speed type package for teams that are trying to stretch us out and throw it all over the place," said Brooks. "Telvin he can cover a lot of ground too. He’s been doing that [a while]."
Telvin Smith is more or less the linchpin of the package. While he's good in coverage, Stoops has also given Smith some flexibility to roam and make plays while he's on the field. Smith is a highly instinctual linebacker, I wrote earlier this week he's as good as he wants to be as long as he can harness his agression.
Part of the benefit of the six-pack, is that sometimes he doesn't have to. Obviously he has responsibilities on many plays, but with the ability to tie up a line with the front four and the ability to account for all five skill players and the quarterback with an extremely athletic secondary, Smith does occasionally find spots to free-lance.
“I feel like they try to coach me to a point where I’m assignment perfect but at the same time I still can go out there and make that instinctive play at times," said Smith.
"[Coach Stoops] will call a coverage so I can make that instinctive play so I don’t feel like they’re trying to take it away from me I just feel like they’re trying to build on and make me a better athlete on the end of the day.”
Definitely watch for the Six-Pack as the 'Noles take on the Blue Devils on Saturday.