At the halfway point, the Florida State defense has been the best side of ball for the Seminoles and they are often the reason why FSU has been able to keep games close. Defensive coordinator Harlon Barnett says that the bye week came at an opportune time as Florida State will have to run a gauntlet of ranked teams to close out the season.
“The good thing about our bye week this year is it’s in the middle of the year,” Barnett said. “We’re six games in and have six games to go, so let’s focus on the next six games and finish strong in the second half of the season. That’s kind of what we talked about.”
The first test for the ‘Noles in their return will be Wake Forest, a must win if there is any hope of making a bowl game, and the defense will face a test against an offense that has been successful.
“Even though they have a young quarterback in there, the core of that team has been together, the coaching staff and all that,” Barnett said. “So, they know how it works and how it flows. Absolutely, you can just see them just flow in their offense and getting things accomplished like they want to. They’re executing at a high rate and we have to go out there and do our thing to make sure they don’t execute as well.”
Part of that offense is speedy wide receiver Greg Dortch, who has amassed nearly 600 yards receiving and five touchdowns already this season. Dortch has also been successful in the return game with two punt return touchdowns.
“He has extreme confidence in his abilities and you can see that on film,” Barnett said. “So how he runs routes, how he does things like punt return, kick return, and those types of things. He s confident in his abilities and I think there is a chip on his shoulder as far as recruitment and his size, things he’s heard all his life. The combination of those things makes him the player that he is. He is a really good football player and he is going to be a challenge for us this weekend.”
As they continue to prepare for the Demon Deacons this week, Barnett said that the Bye week was utilized to reflect on what they’ve done well and not so well to this point.
“Absolutely, you’re always going to do self scouts on yourself and look at what we’ve done well and what we haven’t done so well,” the defensive play caller said. “Maybe add some things or throw some things out and things like that to make us better and more efficient on gameday. We definitely did that and feel like we’re moving in the right direction.”