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Jeremy Pruitt Implementing an Attacking, NFL-Style Defense at Florida State


Florida State is lying about its defense.

They tell you that it's not a new defense. It's the same one with new terminology. And it may not look much different to the untrained eye.

But this isn't your older brother's Florida State defense. This one has more teeth.

“It’s a totally different defense as far as no more reading, it’s more just like see it and go," said DE Mario Edwards.

“I feel like with this defense we’re around the ball all the time, I feel like. Like I don’t know how, but I mean, I feel like it’s unstoppable," joked CB Nick Waisome. "There’s always an answer for something. I feel like if a play is made on us it’s because of a miscommunication or something like that, but I like it.”

“Just the look of the defense overall is a lot different, we still cover just as much, I can’t really explain it you’ve just got to see it," said S Terrence Brooks. "But we definitely switch it up a lot, we got a lot of different guys coming, we got Christian Jones playing some D-End at some point, got D-Ends dropping into coverage, it looks real good to me.”

Does that sound like what you've been seeing the past few years under Mark Stoops?

There are a lot of similarities between the two defenses, but also a lot of differences.

“A lot more blitzes, I mean I’m blitzing a lot more coming off the edge. Just our blitz schemes, I feel like I like it a lot, it gives us a chance to make more plays," said Brooks.

“It’s a very complex defense but it’s really good for us I feel, we’re still just as aggressive but I feel like it does mix a lot of things up and confuse the quarterback a lot.”

The team will use different personnel groupings, give lots of different looks and make calls and changes at the line. It's an evolved, highly complicated defense that's going to take some time to get completely comfortable in.

But so far things have been going well as the teams transitions into it.

“It’s been OK, it’s not been too bad because everybody’s got the work mentality, everybody’s on the same page wanting to learn the defense," said LB Telvin Smith. "I feel like there’s no selfish guys, everybody’s putting in time, so when you’ve got that attitude out there, there’s always great things that’s going to happen.”

One of the biggest differences between the two defenses, is the approach to teaching it and what is expected of the players in terms of knowledge of the defense.

“Stoops made it really, really simple," said Brooks. "I mean somehow he did it. I feel like he was a genius for the defense to be that good but so simple.

"This defense is very complex but we’re actually getting it down really good. Pruitt teaches a lot of the in's and out's of the games as of like how to run to the ball, how to be in our stance, what to look for in linemen and and anything like that and I feel like we’ve been doing a lot better just by picking up those little things.”

Perhaps the biggest paradigm shifts in terms of the teaching that's being done though is that now the team is teaching the players the why, and not just the what. Players aren't just learning their assignments, they're learning why they have those assignments and how it all fits together with the rest of the defense.

"You learn more of the concepts of the defense versus just an assignment," said DE Dan Hicks. "Like you know your assignment now and why you’re doing it and where your help is and where your help is not and where you’re supposed to be so they just really break down so you just understand the defense yourselves."

“Most of our defensive plays if you understand the concept of it, it clicks together," said LB Christian Jones.

“Actually it kind of helps you predict what the play should look like on the opposite side of the ball because you run these certain plays [and looks] and if you understand the concept you know why they’re running it so you know what to look for,” added Hicks.

That knowledge gives the defenders more confidence and allows them to be more adaptable. It also prepares them better for the NFL.

“Nothing against the defense from last year but this system makes you feel like a football player," said DT Eddie Goldman. "You’re making all these checks, if you see something you’re going to change it, we get a little bit of freedom as a D-Lineman too.

"It makes you feel like a real football player.”


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