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Defensive lessons learned from FSU football’s win vs. Boston College

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Domination in Tallahassee.

NCAA Football: Boston College at Florida State Glenn Beil-USA TODAY Sports

Boston College’s inept offense makes a lot of defenses look good. But on Friday night against Florida State, the Eagles’ impotent “attack” made the ‘Noles appear to be the dominant, suffocating unit many thought it would be entering the 2016 season.

And while BC is really, really, incredibly bad at offense, tip your cap to a Seminole squad that played fantastically sound, fundamental defense and pitched a shutout until Boston College scored a late TD to salvage a 45-7 result.

Florida State’s defense dominated at every level from the jump, save a 39-yard BC run that included what should have been a holding call. Still, it doesn’t happen if FSU doesn’t lose backside contain. And if the Seminoles’ domination was obvious to fans, it was also readily apparent to the Eagles’ offense, as I was told by someone privy to the Boston College sideline that their offense had all but given up after falling behind 14-0 in the first quarter.

It’s not what you want to hear if you’re a BC fan, but it’s somewhat understandable when you consider that nothing worked against a Florida State defense operating primarily out of its 3-4 package that allowed the much-improved Jacob Pugh to remain on the field. It started up front, with a defensive line that had its way with the Eagles from the jump. Defensive tackle Derrick Nnadi led the way with 1.5 tackles for loss including a sack, and the ‘Noles finished with nine tackles for loss on the night. Boston College tried to use some screen and draw action early to punish the ‘Nole D for its dominance up front, but to no avail; an early screen was impressively disrupted by FSU safety Ermon Lane.

The DL provided clean gaps for the linebackers, who played probably their best game of the season, coming downhill to fit forcefully time and again. Matthew Thomas and Ro’Derrick Hoskins shared the team lead with six tackles apiece, while combining for three TFL. The Eagles amassed just 96 rushing yards all night.

And while the LBs were also quite stout in coverage, the Seminole secondary was downright filthy. BC QBs combined to complete just 4-13 passes for 50 yards. Tarvarus McFadden was in shut-down mode again, and probably should have had a pick six in front of a representative from the Thorpe Award who was on hand to observe, while Kyle Meyers continues to show promise in coverage working at the star spot in FSU’s dime package.

Big picture: FSU allowed just 146 total yards, 3.0 YPP, and one third-down conversion on 12 BC attempts. And all of that was bolstered by a 75-yard garbage-time touchdown drive against the ‘Nole reserves. Before that drive, and excluding a throw-away one-snap BC possession to end the first half, Florida State forced the Eagles into nine straight three-and-outs spanning the second through fourth quarters.

Yes, it’s Boston College. But the Seminoles haven’t always demonstrated the talent gap that they hold over numerous opponents the way they did on Friday night. We’ll see in the coming weeks if a corner has truly been turned, but this weekend’s performance was certainly an encouraging step in that direction. FSU Head Coach Jimbo Fisher was succinct and appropriately ebullient in his praise of the effort: “Defensively, we were outstanding.”