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Whiteboard Wednesday: How do FSU’s new pickups fit in the Seminoles system?

A portal full of players

Tomahawk Nation is bringing you more and more analysis about what the Florida State Seminoles will do under their new staff, breaking it down to each of the important coaches and their philosophies. We discussed Adam Fuller’s defense in an early whiteboard Wednesday.

As we delve into the nitty gritty, we know there are some concepts that bear explanation. Coaches install defenses in steps, and we’ll do the same. After reading up on the basic coverages, come back here to learn more about Split Field Coverage.


Welcome back, welcome back, welcome back! Season’s over so it’s time to analyze and talk ball my friends.

If you’ve been paying close attention the Mike Norvell and co. have been very busy in the transfer portal. Recently the FSU coaching staff has landed three impact defensive players and I want to look at how they will fit into the defensive scheme.

Before you hit the back button because I said that dirty word (defense), please just give me a chance. I know Twitter Experts want Adam Fuller fired but he was stuck with a defense hamstrung by a lack of talent and fits.

Pass Rush

Say hello to Jermaine Johnson and Keir Thomas. A pass-rushing specialist and a utility knife.

We all know how important affecting the quarterback is and we saw how bad a defense can be when their ends don’t get home. Take a look at what you are getting in the portal and then take a look at what you had. It doesn’t take a football savant to figure this out.

Let's talk about it a little deeper though. There are situations in a game where you ask your ends to contain a QB, play action gets them on their heels, or a QB can step up with a lack of interior pressure. We saw plenty of examples last year of each of the three things listed, but far too often the ends lacked the necessary twitch, burst, or moves to win one on one.

Look at the clips from Johnson and Thomas you see burst, twitch, and leverage.

Get the picture?

Looking at Fuller’s 4-3/4-2-5 hybrid defense, he asks the field end to impact the QB. Last year this was not something that happened but Johnson brings a proven commodity to the position.

Thomas should step in at the Fox position (the boundary side) and his role will be a little different. More emphasis on stopping the run will be placed on Thomas but when third down comes we will see him pin his ears back. Thomas greatest asset though could be his ability to slide inside and matchup against guards. Getting Thomas matched up on a slower player should benefit the ends as the QB will not have a pocket to step up into. This one gap mindset (we are going to dig into this more) also helps your blitz packages. Suddenly Keir Thomas has impacted two or three positions.

So while this is not a scheme breakdown (those will come), I hope this is a good start in understanding how important these portal additions are. While we work through these next couple of weeks we can look more at how the newest additions fit the scheme and change the outlook of the program.