Florida State's Run Defense, Still a Work in Progress

Melina Vastola-USA TODAY Sports

After allowing 56 yards on 11 carries in the first quarter, the Seminole run defense only surrendered 72 yards on the ground in the final three frames.

After a contentious first quarter, the Florida State Seminoles thoroughly outplayed the Nevada Wolfpack over the remaining 45 minutes of action. FSU's run defense proved to be a liability in the first quarter, as the Wolfpack averaged just over five yards per carry.

Nevada found success early when running read-option dives up the middle, as the Seminoles' defensive line struggled to crash on the interior. That changed mid-way through the second quarter when the FSU coaching staff made the necessary adjustments to clog the "A" and "B" gaps.

Star nose-tackle Timmy Jernigan Jr. gushed praise about new defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt's ability to make adjustments on the fly, "That's where Coach Pruitt is a genius. He knows his stuff and we believe in him and that's the biggest thing which is believing what he has to say."

This was a strange game for FSU, as they expected the Wolfpack to run a high-tempo offensive attack. However, Nevada was unable to run their typical offense due to the a sprained knee injury suffered by starting quarterback Cody Fajardo during the team's Week 2 contest against UC Davis.

Without their starting quarterback, Nevada had virtually no chance of hurting FSU through the air. This made the Wolfpack one-dimensional, which is why it was surprising to see the Mountain West team move the ball on the Seminoles via runs up the middle.

FSU's defense had some struggles early on, which was something noted by Terrance Brooks and Timmy Jernigan Jr. after the contest.

"We were a little shaky coming out of there in the beginning," Brooks said when asked about the slow start. "But I feel like that's just something we need to keep working on to get better at. Not coming out slow, just taking a punch from them."

The biggest concern against the run in the first quarter for the Seminoles was sticking to assignments, which can be difficult against read-option plays.Brooks pointed to disciplined play when asked about how the units' performance against Nevada's rushing attack improved after the first quarter.

"Just staying on your assignments, knowing your keys, staying disciplined and just being more aggressive," Brooks said. "I feel that really helped us, just going hard and doing your assignments that much harder."

From the mid-way point of the second quarter on, it was clear that FSU had solved Nevada's rushing attack. Clogging the interior and playing disciplined football sparked the blowout that soon ensued, but the Seminoles' run defense must continue to improve on a weekly basis.

This was just the second game in Coach Pruitt's scheme, so growing pains are inevitable. Progression across the entire defense will be crucial in determining how successful the Seminoles' defense will be. For now, it was encouraging to see FSU's defenders quickly making the adjustments necessary to spear the Wolfpack and their rushing attack back West.

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