The Florida State defense received plenty of criticism after last week's shaky performance against Boston College. This week was a different story. The FSU defense pitched its first shutout of the season, beating the Maryland Terrapins 63-0. Surely there are some criticisms to be made, but initial impressions and a final set of stats point to an almost perfect outing for the Seminole defense.
Coach Jimbo Fisher was sure to point to the impressive defensive effort in his post-game press conference: "As good as we played on offense today, I still think the defense played better. I really do."
Jimbo also touched on the issue of "eye discipline," something he harped on all week leading into the Maryland game: "Our eye discipline was excellent. This team here (Maryland) was harder to do it against than last team (Boston College)... It allowed us to make great decisions about what we wanted to do. It allowed us to play with our athleticism."
With its spread, fast-paced, read-option offense, Maryland certainly tested Florida State's defensive discipline. The 'Noles responded well, not giving up any huge plays. In fact, the defense allowed only 234 yards on 57 plays, good for an average of 4.1 yards per play. Before starting quarterback, C.J. Brown, left the game with an injury, FSU held Maryland to 90 yards on 23 plays. All that to say the defense held its own the whole game. But perhaps the most impressive defensive stat: Florida State locked down the Maryland rushing attack, holding it to 33 yards on 25 attempts.
After the game, starting defensive end, Mario Edwards Jr. said, "They came out with a lot of trick plays at first. The whole week in practice we had to work on eye discipline. (We had) to make sure we did our job and not try to be super heroes. That's exactly what we did out there."
Starting linebacker, Telvin Smith, added, "We were so disciplined in the way that we played. They didn't really get to make big plays on us. That was the thing that helped us out out there."
Discipline was definitely key to the powerful defensive showing. But, preparation was at the root of the discipline.
Linebacker, Terrance Smith commented on the defensive preparation, saying there was a lot of focus and attention to detail in the week leading up to the Maryland game. Mario Edwards Jr. also commented on preparation. He stated that the prior week of practice was "probably the best week of practice all season."
Starting defensive tackle, Timmy Jernigan, who rarely speaks out, reportedly gave a pre-game speech that fired his defense up even more. He preached on the importance of discipline and team play. When a guy like Timmy Jernigan speaks, listen. The defense certainly listened and responded. "Maybe I need to give more speeches or something," Jernigan jokingly said after the game.
If the 'Noles wants to keep dominating defensively, they will need to heed Jernigan's serious remarks on the importance of discipline. The biggest test comes in two weeks as the Seminoles head to Clemson. Preparation will begin next week for that game, and surely defensive discipline will again be central in that preparation.