September 13, 2011 - by
53 Weeks Later

Sept. 13, 2011

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — The statistics don’t lie. Florida State got better as a defense last season after a lopsided loss to Oklahoma on the road in week two.

The Sooners, who must now come to Tallahassee for a matchup between two top-five teams this Saturday, hung 47 points on FSU in that ballgame and rung up 487 yards of total offense in the process. As a defensive unit under then first-year coordinator Mark Stoops, the Seminoles wouldn’t give up that many points or yards in any game for the rest of the season.

And they still haven’t two games into the 2011 campaign.

“I am glad that we had a little wakeup call,” Stoops said about the outcome in Norman Okla. on Sept. 11, 2010. “We weren’t prepared for that test. That was our fault as a defense. We can make a million excuses why but the bottom line is we didn’t play very good. I think we did learn from it and we got better and we grew as the season went on. That was the good part of it. “

Brandon Mellor
Brandon Mellor Senior Writer
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That growth saw the ‘Noles’ defense hold nine of their remaining 12 opponents under 20 points. Five of those opponents were limited to less than 305 yards of total offense and two didn’t even eclipse the 200-yard mark.

Stoops admits that for whatever reason, the Seminoles were not properly prepared for last year’s game against Oklahoma. 

From players being out of position to missed tackles, FSU was out-manned and out-gunned in that ballgame while still learning the nuances of a new defensive scheme and mentality being implemented by Stoops, who had replaced longtime defensive boss Mickey Andrews.

“There’s going to be times when we get may get beat here or there,” Stoops said. “There were some things in that game that we didn’t play very good. I think we addressed them. The couple things in particular really weren’t a problem the rest of the year. That’s the one good thing from our team, if we continue to do that, if we learn from our mistakes, if we correct them, if we get better and move on then that’s the mark of a good team.”

In addition to improved defensive play last season that lead to a nation’s-best 48 sacks, the ‘Noles have been a menacing machine on defense through two games in 2011. 

Against Louisiana-Monroe in the home opener, FSU permitted less than 100 yards through the air and less than 100 yards on the ground. A week later, Charleston Southern was unable to even generate 100 yards of offense combined and had just eight yards at halftime.

Florida State is currently third in the nation in total defense at just 137.50 yards per game allowed.

The FSU defense has gotten more and more comfortable under coordinator Mark Stoops in the last year.

“You can see how comfortable we are in the second year under Coach Stoops,” starting safety Lamarcus Joyner said.

While the FSU players are growing more cozy in the Stoops’ scheme, excuse their coordinate if he has an uneasy feeling heading into Saturday’s nationally-televised showdown.

Not because of the Oklahoma players. Rather, their head coach.

As the younger brother of Sooners skipper Bob Stoops, Mark and the rest of the Stoops family have to deal with the fact by late Saturday night, one of the two is going to have an “L” in the win-loss column.

“We don’t dread it but is it the best thing in the world? No. We prefer to play and win,” Mark said with a laugh. “One of us has to lose. I think my mother and people within our family — and even ourselves — we want to win. We play to win. We want to win. But that does make it a little bit uncomfortable.”

Still, the brotherly love won’t interfere with either of the sibling’s competitive spirit.

“We’ll go out there and lay it on the line; both of us,” FSU’s Stoops said. “We’ll play the best we can and play to win the game.”

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