By Tim Linafelt
Seminoles.com Senior Writer
@Tim_Linafelt on Twitter
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – With an unusual schedule leading up to a Thursday-night game at Louisville, Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher held his usual Monday press conference on Friday.
As usual, Fisher touched on a variety of topics. Here are five takeaways.
1) He believes the hardest part of schedule is yet to come.
Yes, Oklahoma State, Clemson and Notre Dame are in the rearview mirror. But Fisher believes that Florida State’s remaining five games will be its most difficult.
That stretch includes the upcoming Thursday night visit to Louisville, rivalry matchups with Miami and Florida and home dates against Virginia and Boston College.
“These last five games, to me, will be the toughest part of our schedule – bar none,” Fisher said. “I think these teams are all getting better.”
2) There’s not much secret to Louisville’s defensive success
The Cardinals might have the most impressive defense Florida State has faced this season. They rank first nationally in total defense, third in rushing defense and 12th in passing defense.
Fisher said Louisville’s success begins with fundamentals.
The first thing that jumps out to me is that they tackle well,” he said. “They get great leverage on the ball and they tackle well. They have done a good job of pressuring the quarterback, mixing things up and mixing coverages. … They cover well and they create turnovers.”
3) FSU’s secondary might have had fewer breakdowns this season than you think
FSU’s pass defense has appeared vulnerable at times this season, which could be the product of several things – new coaches and personnel among them.
But Fisher said Friday that last season’s pass defense, which ranked first in the country, might actually have had even more coverage breakdowns. They just weren’t always as obvious.
“I think we had more last year than we did this year,” Fisher said. “Sometimes the pass rush or somebody else would make a play and you wouldn’t notice (the coverage lapses) because the ball might not get thrown.
“It’s no more than we’ve ever had, it may even be less, to be truthful with you because at the beginning of last year we had tons of those with the young guys.”
That said …
4) Jalen Ramsey is steadily improving at the ‘star’ position
Ramsey might have been a little bit a victim of his own success.
He had an outstanding freshman season at safety and seemed a natural fit to take over Lamarcus Joyner’s spot at the “star” nickel corner. But, talented as he is, Ramsey still had to adjust to his new role and responsibilities.
Ramsey’s role is the jack-of-all-trades. He rushes the passer, covers receivers and supports the run defense as situations dictate.
(He’s) getting better and better,” Fisher said. “Really is starting to learn how to rush the passer in different ways … coverage-wise, tackle-wise, he’s really emerging as a dominant player.”
Fisher reminded that Joyner too had to make get comfortable with his surroundings before playing his way into All-American honors.
“Joyner had a lot of mistakes there, too,” Fisher said. “He’d just run by you, then turn around catch you.”
5) Fisher won’t be showing any footage from FSU’s last visit to Louisville
There might not even be any footage to show. Florida State last played at Louisville in 2002, when the unbeaten Seminoles were beaten, 26-20, in a rain-soaked overtime contest.
That game also occurred on a Thursday night, but, unsurprisingly, Fisher downplayed any significance of a game played a dozen years ago.
“That’s a long time ago,” said Fisher, who was an assistant at LSU at the time. “I remember the rain. That’s all I remember from that game. … When you get into weather like that, man, anything can happen.”