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BYU v. Florida State: The Tomahawk Perspective

This may be the most informative point of view from a Cougar opponent yet this year.  I was able to connect with the head writer at SBN's Tomahawk Nation, Bud Elliott, to get a pulse on the Florida State fans for this week's match-up.  In addition to this interview I would look into Bud's thoughts on what happened that last time BYU faced a Mark Stoops defense.

VTF: FSU's confidence level, is it sky high because BYU is coming to town or shaken after the Oklahoma loss?

BE: We think the proper terminology here is "quietly focused". After witnessing some of our younger (more boisterous) players learning the true meaning of the word humility at the hands of Oklahoma, we feel as if FSU will be ready to play on Saturday. We look for sounder fundamentals such as tackling and assignment recognition as well as a greater attention to detail.

VTF: Which quarterback is FSU best prepared to defend (based on the makeup of their defense), Nelson (run, option) or Heaps (downfield passer)? After Oklahoma threw all day long on them, they would probably prefer to face Nelson.

BE: Not so fast. Landry Jones threw towards the sideline most of the time with OU's receivers dancing past the poor tackling mechanics of our corners. The gameplan versus OU was to stop the run and take everything away from the deep middle. Heaps due to his skillset and youth would be preferable.

VTF: How do FSU fans feel about FSU's secondary? Is it a young group? The defensive weakness or strength?

BE: Frosh Lamarcus Joyner is a first year player; true sophomore CB Greg Reid is a first-year starter, red-shirt frosh Xavier Rhodes is a starter, as is safety Jr. Terrance Parks and Rs. So. Nick Moody. FSU fans have come to realize that, in effect, our entire secondary should be considered freshmen due to the complete lack of development over the past few years. Couple that with change in schematic philosophy (from man-to-man to zone responsibility), and it's not too hard to figure out how a talented group playing at a high level of execution completely torched them last Saturday. ACC opponent NC State has been obliterated by injuries over the years, but started all freshmen last year in their back 4 utilizing Tom O'Brien's zone scheme. NCSU would go on to give up almost 7.9 yards per pass in all games last year (96th worst), and an atrocious 9.2 yards per pass in games against FBS teams with winning records (110th worst). FSU, for comparison, gave up 9.4 yards per pass last week to OU.

VTF: When LaVell Edwards left BYU's program there was a lot of adjustments to be made by both the fans and the players, with a similar figure in Bobby Bowden now gone at FSU, what is the general perception of the fan base and what if any differences have been made in the program thus far?

BE: There are really two schools of thought here. On one hand you have people who love Bobby because he ran one of the best programs in college football. On the other hand that program did not play in the 00's. Any time a legend is forced out you are going to have parts of the fan base upset.

Fortunately most fans seem to believe we've got a good one in Fisher. He didn't do so hot in his first test but he has dramatically changed the program. Fisher has changed the way FSU recruits by more closely vetting potential recruits instead of relying on recruiting services. FSU's staff size has dramatically increased with nutritionists, assistant coaches, tutors, therapists, and the like. Right now if feels like FSU is playing catch up with the rest of the nation in terms of program infrastructure. Here at tomahawknation we believe that Fisher has us on the right path but it's going to take some time to get there.

VTF: Florida State and BYU both fell out of the top 25 this week with road losses. Is Florida State a top 25 team? Do you consider BYU a top 25 team?

BE: I believe most fans feel that FSU should be ranked 24th or 25th. However, we also understand that the fiasco the rest of the nation, and more importantly the pollsters witnessed, was reason enough for FSU to be dropped from the top 25 to 31st. Nevertheless, despite it being the first real test for the defense which has been overhauled and changed from man coverage to a zone coverage, after less than 30 days of practice in this new zone scheme, and OU's no-huddle attack, we feel that ultimately we will wind up with a defensive national ranking in the 40's, which would be a huge improvement from last years ranking of 108th. We expect the offense to resume firing on all cylinders as our new WR's gain experience, and that last weeks offensive struggles were just an aberration due to an elite Oklahoma defense, and FSU having to abandon their game plan due to having fallen behind so quickly.

As far as BYU being a top 25 team, at this point of the season I would have to say no. BYU struggled in the season opener against a not-so-good Washington Huskie team, were handled by a better Air Force team, and are in a rebuilding year. That is not to imply that I expect this game to be a blowout by the Seminoles. I think the Cougars will come to play and it could very well be a close game through the first couple of quarters, or at least until FSU's depth wears down a out-manned BYU team playing on the road and in unfamiliar heat and humidity.