Florida State defensive coordinator Harlon Barnett came to FSU with an excellent reputation as a teacher and molder of defensive backs. Much has been said and written about his desire to play press-man technique with his corners on the outside receivers. FSU has done this in the past under previous coordinators but maybe not with the discipline and consistency in technique you would hope for from a top program. We expect this to improve under Barnett and his staff. If the spring game is any indication, there is more reason for optimism in this area.
The most noticeable difference with the technique of the corners is their patience at the line of scrimmage. In press, patience is key for the corner to stay in front of the receiver and in-phase through the release. At times in previous years, we would see Florida State corners be too eager to jam and disrupt the receiver with their hands and as a result, they would not use proper footwork and find themselves out of position to cover the receiver. An off-balance CB is as good as beaten. The clip below is a great example of Kyle Meyers showing patience at the snap.
Keith Gavin initially releases vertical before working to the outside. Meyers is patient and uses his feet at the snap to maintain his inside leverage and stay in front. This forces Gavin to work around Meyers to the outside. Once Gavin makes his move, then Meyers can open his hips and throw his left hand (the off-hand) to jam Gavin and further disrupt the timing of his release.
Here is another example of a similar play:
Great patience by Meyers (top of screen) to work his feet until the receiver declares the direction of his release. Once he does, Meyers can throw his jam and turn and run with Gavin while staying in-phase on the fade route. Once Gavin looks back for the ball, Meyers can turn his head and find the ball, too.
Small changes in technique can make all the difference at any position. It is encouraging to see the Florida State defensive backfield executing sound technique at such an early stage in its development under a new coach. As we know, Florida State never has a shortage of talent in the secondary. Pairing elite talent with elite teaching and technique is a combination that should have Florida State fans very excited.