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What went right, wrong on defense for FSU vs. Georgia Tech

Noles’ defensive line dominates at home

Charles Mays/Tomahawk Nation

The Florida State Seminoles were back in Doak Campbell Stadium after a bye week hiatus to face the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets. FSU headed into the matchup on a three-game losing streak, with their last win coming over a month ago against Boston College. The Noles struggled against a handful of ranked opponents, much of which had to do with experience and situational mishaps. That wasn’t the case in today’s victory as the Noles defeated the Yellow Jackets 41-16, securing their first win in October.

FSU had star defensive tackle Fabien Lovett back in the starting lineup, after missing multiple games due to injury. The Seminoles finished the dominant performance with three pass breakups, three QB hits, four sacks, 10 tackles for loss, and 61 total tackles. It looked like a healthier group that was more connected and comfortable playing with each other. If the Noles can continue the success they had rushing the quarterback, they’ll be a difficult team to play against program this season.

First half

The Seminoles started the match on the defensive end, forcing an automatic three-and-out from the Yellow Jackets. FSU stuffed GT’s run attack and hurried the quarterback on the final play of the drive, sending an early message to Georgia Tech. The Noles opted to go for a fourth and three attempt on their first offensive drive, which came up short, putting Georgia Tech at their own 33-yard line.

Defensive coordinator Adam Fuller sent a blitz package to the Yellow Jackets, forcing a third and 14 attempt. The Noles played great coverage, giving GT little time to search for the first down. FSU’s offense was back on the field with 10:34 left in the first quarter. The Seminoles were defending the Yellow Jackets at the 25-yard line after a fumble from the offense in the red zone.

Despite a short field for Georgia Tech they were unable to convert a touchdown, requiring a field goal attempt. The Noles were scoreless with 3:58 left in the first quarter, looking at a 3-0 deficit to the Yellow Jackets. After a long drive from the Seminoles' offense, quarterback Jordan Travis led them down the field to score the first touchdown of the game. FSU led 7-3 at the end of the first quarter.

Georgia Tech earned a first down for the first time in the contest in the second quarter. It looked like a miscommunication issue for the Noles since that was their only major blow-up to that point. The Yellow Jackets had a third and 12 opportunity and were unable to convert, leaving them in their own territory yet again. The Seminoles didn’t have trouble finding the end zone, scoring a 78-yard touchdown just a couple of plays into their drive.

Florida State cornerback Renardo Green nearly picked off GT’s quarterback on the way to another routine three-and-out for the Yellow Jackets. Subsequently, FSU gave up another fumble to Georgia Tech, giving them a chance to put points on the board yet again.

GT’s offense had no answer for Florida State’s defensive front. The Seminoles bulldozed their way into the pocket multiple times, resulting in long attempts for the Yellow Jackets, including a third and 29 call. Following a touchdown from the Noles, Florida State earned a sack on the first defensive play and just one yard on second down. The Seminoles' defensive front was looking phenomenal with the help of Lovett back in the lineup.

FSU ended the first half with a 24-3 lead. The Noles recorded two sacks, eight tackles for loss and 32 total tackles in the first 30 minutes.

Second half

Florida State was supposed to start the half with the ball, but GT decided to go for an on-side kick that was successful. The Seminoles' defensive front played well, but the secondary might’ve left their cleats in the locker room. Linebacker Kalen DeLoach had a nice pass breakup after a sack from Leonard Warner, but Georgia Tech scored an easy seven points with blown coverage on the right sideline. The score was cut to 24-10, just a few minutes into the third quarter.

The Yellow Jackets secured a first down on the opening play of their offensive drive and followed that up with another first down on the very next play. Georgia Tech was finally airing it out and it was paying off. The Noles couldn’t seem to stop the 8-10 yard throws, playing it safe to try and prevent long gains from GT. A false start from Georgia Tech put their offense back on the bench.

The Noles gave GT an easy entrance into their own territory at the start of the fourth quarter and it looked like Georgia Tech was drawing up a touchdown drive. They converted a fourth and three to get to the 35-yard line and quickly pull the ball in the air again to gain another first down. FSU’s secondary was playing poorly against the scramble and couldn’t seem to read where the ball was headed.

Georgia Tech played their best drive of the day, getting them within the 10-yard line with four downs. They rushed the Yellow Jackets down to their last breath of air, putting GT in an uncomfortable fourth and three attempt that was deflected by cornerback Greedy Vance.

FSU plugged in their backups at almost every position with less than four minutes to go. Tech managed to score once more as the clock ran to zero, ending the game at 41-16.

Standout players from FSU vs. Clemson

Defensive back Jammie Robinson

Robinson hasn’t shown anything excessively flashy this season, but he continues to be the Noles rock. He’s been asked to play through multiple points in the field and never disappoints. The safety had one and a half tackles for loss and 12 total tackles in the win.

Linebacker Tatum Bethune

Tatum Bethune had an All-American first half against the Yellow Jackets. Granted, it was against a substandard team, but it looks like he couldn’t stopped against any offensive scheme. Bethune finished the game with one and a half sacks, one and a half tackles fo loss, and four total tackles.

Linebacker Kalen DeLoach

Every week DeLoach gives more reassurance that he’s going to play on Sundays. The speedy linebacker ended the contest with half a sack, one tackle for loss, and six tackles, making an impact inside and outside the box.

Defensive end Leonard Warner

Warner took advantage of open gaps and opportunities he had when the offense focused on Verse and Bethune. He was patient with his attack and read the quarterback very well, leading to one and a half sacks, one and a half tackles for loss and four total tackles.

Defensive end Jared Verse

The star defensive end had an incredible day against the Georgia Tech offensive line, despite much of his success not being on the stat sheet. Verse had half a sack, two and a half tackles for loss, and five tackles in the game.