The other day, I ran a piece about Florida State’s defensive philosophy, as communicated by new linebackers coach Raymond Woodie. And Woodie went into specifics, particularly with regard to pinpointing the most crucial constituent element of a successful defensive approach: pursuit. Below is an image that Woodie used to define this critical term.
Just as the overriding philosophy emphasizes the mental approach to defense, so does this onus on pursuit stress what’s between a player’s ears as a prerequisite to what ultimately transpires between the sidelines. That is, per the slide above, if pursuit is the key to defense, then what it takes to excel at pursuit is largely a function of attitude. Effort, mental toughness, and consistency: they’re not measured by combine-style quantifiable metrics. And even the trait that seems physical at first glance, speed, is really defined as more a cognitive accomplishment, a reflex nurtured via preparation.
Pursuit drills were a staple of FSU’s practices under Jimbo Fisher, as well. They usually occurred during the opening periods of practice that we were allowed to view— while the media was still permitted to observe the beginning portions of Florida State practices. They typically consist of the offense lining up and throwing a hitch pass to a receiver, who then runs down the sideline with the ball. The drill is not over until every member of the defense sprints to touch the ballcarrier.
Spring practice begins on March 21, and you’ll be hearing plenty more from us about this new coaching staff, just as the Seminole defenders are sure to hear a ton about the significance of pursuit.