When Florida State takes on Michigan in the 2016 Orange Bowl, the ‘Noles will see a familiar face on the Michigan sideline in Wolverines defensive coordinator Don Brown.
Brown has faced Florida State at two different schools. He was the defensive coordinator at Maryland when the Terps were in the ACC back in 2009 and 2010.
More recently, he was the DC at Boston College in 2014 and 2015, going up against the Seminoles twice in that span. The 2016 Florida State roster has one player in particular that squared off against Brown’s defense both of those years — running back Dalvin Cook.
Not only does the Massachusetts native have two years of game experience against the versatile back, but in both games his defenses essentially stopped Cook in his tracks. Despite this, Brown doesn’t take the 2015 Heisman finalist lightly.
“He’s a very, very good player. I would say if he’s not the best, he’s one of the top three players we will have played against all year. I have great respect for his toughness as well.”
In 2014, Cook’s freshman year, he ran for 76 yards on 14 touches, good for 5.4 yards per rush. During the teams’ last meeting in 2015, the Miami native was held to his fewest all-purpose yards total the entire season. On 15 rushes, the running back that finished the season averaging 7.4 YPC had just 54 rushing yards, 3.6 YPC. It was not much better through the air, where Cook finished with six receiving yards on two catches.
In addition, Cook had a touchdown against every opponent during his 2015 season — except Boston College. Of the 28 total touchdowns in his first two seasons on campus, Cook had zero when facing BC.
In total during those two games, the two-time all-american had just 4.48 yards per carry over 29 rushes and a total of 147 yards on 33 touches. To compare that to his career numbers, Cook averages 6.48 yards per carry and 6.99 yards per touch over his entire career.
Brown’s efforts and coaching ability have not gone unnoticed by Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh ,who spoke about the first year Michigan defensive coordinator in his Orange Bowl press conference on Thursday.
“Don is a tremendous coach and teacher, first and foremost, one of the very best. I haven't been around better, in all phases, in terms of relationships with the staff, with the players, with his football acumen at the very highest level.”
This season, Brown has led a Michigan defense made up of 10 senior starters and Jabrill Peppers that finished 2015 allowing 4.46 yards per play, already fourth in the country, and made the unit even better.
Thus far in 2016, Michigan is second in the nation, allowing 4.06 yards per play, mostly thanks to its incredible passing defense. The Wolverines allow just 135.9 passing yards per game, a full 20.4 yards less than the next team that has played only 12 games, the Florida Gators. When the ‘Noles played that UF squad in its final regular season game, FSU QB Deondre Francois was held to just 138 passing yards, 122 yards fewer than his season average. The same fate could very well take place vs. Michigan in the Orange Bowl on Friday.
Although Don Browns’ teams are a combined 0-4 against FSU, the ‘Noles should tread lightly as the coach has proved his ability to shut down even the best of Florida State’s players over his coaching career.