There has been much debate among Florida State fans as to whether the unprecedented defensive collapse resulted from a lack of talent or a lack of coaching. Knowledgeable FSU fans now realize that the collapse was primarily caused by poor coaching. The recruiting rankings (which are very accurate) show that the talent has been there. And the best job landed by any of the fired coaches is an assistant position at West Georgia. FSU fans understand how bad it was. West Georgia. It's not a stretch to suggest Florida State had the worst defensive coaching staff in the country.
But much of the nation doesn't follow Florida State as closely as FSU fans. And they've seen story after story of how a new coordinator or coach was supposed to turn around an offense or defense only to see that unit get even worse. So forgive the rest of the college football world if they are a bit skeptical of the potential for a significant defensive turnaround in the first year under the new defensive staff. They assume the talent level is not where it needs to be to facilitate a significant turnaround. But yesterday, I was lucky enough to fall into a great opportunity. A Tomahawk Nation contact had a chance to chat with an NFL scout. And his comments could go a long way towards convincing you and others who don't closely follow the 'Noles that FSU is undergoing anything but a typical coordinator change.
" FSU's defense was easily the worst defense I've seen from a marquee program in the 12 years I've been doing this. If you squint, you'll think you're watching film from a Div.II team. The angles that were taken, the shoddy schemes, the miscommunications, I've seen footage from spring games that were more coherent [FSU's Spring Game on Saturday was after only 12 contact practices]. We had been doing a film session on a bunch of small school linebackers in a row, and then somebody put on the footage of Dekoda Watson. By that point my eyes were a little blurry and I was like, What school is this, expecting to here something like Norfolk St. It took a minute to realize it was really Florida St."
Ouch. A guy who feeds his family by evaluating college prospects says the defense looked as poorly coached as those in Division II (which does not always offer scholarships).
"The defense isn't the goldmine of talent it was in the 90's and earlier this decade, but there is still plenty there. It's just that the last few years, the guys who have been coming out are so poorly coached they're behind the 8 ball from the get go. (Patrick) Robinson has all the measurables that a guy like (Kyle) Wilson has, but his technique is just so poor."
"The same goes for Dekoda Watson. He has just as good measurables as other 4-3 LBs in this class, but he's severely behind in the technique part of it. It's so apparent for all of FSU's players that I have to pin it on coaching. If they ended up going to a program like UF or UGA, they would've gotten proper coaching and probably both be solid 1st rounders."
I know the defense looked much improved in the Spring game, but some part of me feels sorry for the elite athletes who chose the Seminoles during the lost decade. Granted, most of the players who were robbed of competent instruction played on the offensive side of the ball and the defensive coaching was at least acceptable for all but the last few years, but it's pretty clear that many of the players who made it to the NFL did so on physical talent alone. If I'm a player who chose FSU during the "Lost Decade", I'd be angry. Because I would have been lied to and told I was getting great instruction when the instruction I would receive at Florida State wasn't even competent. Florida State failed many of its student athletes for more than a decade.
But it is a new decade and there are many reasons for hope. Jimbo Fisher already fixed the offense, taking it from one of the worst in the ACC to one of the best in the country. And with the talent on hand, there's reason to expect a big turnaround during the first year under defensive coordinator Mark Stoops.
It's not normal to see a huge turnaround during the first year of a new coordinator, but clearly Mark Stoops and company are not stepping into a normal situation. In the somewhat unprecedented situation presented at Florida State where the difference between talent level and coaching was so great, looking to the one-year turnarounds of other teams under new coordinators probably isn't as effective as one might think.
What do you think? Can you recall a larger offensive or defensive coaching upgrade than the Andrews-Amato-Allen to Stoops-Hudson-Eliot exchange that FSU pulled?