By Tim Linafelt
Seminoles.com Senior Writer
@Tim_Linafelt on Twitter
MIAMI GARDENS – Jalen Ramsey started strong and finished even stronger.
Ramsey, Florida State’s sophomore defensive back, forced a fumble on Miami’s first offensive play and grabbed an interception on its last. Both were part of a career night that helped the Seminoles to a 30-26 victory over the Hurricanes.
He finished with three tackles (one for loss), four pass break-ups and a blocked extra-point attempt that affected the rest of the game.
“He was making plays everywhere,” FSU coach Jimbo Fisher said. “His ability to play corner, play safety, tackle, blitz — he’s a unique player. And those were big plays at big times.”
It was the kind of night Ramsey had in mind when switched positions earlier this year.
Ramsey starred at safety last year, starting all 14 games on the way to freshman All-America honors.
For an encore, Ramsey was asked to slide into the “star” nickel back position vacated by All-American Lamarcus Joyner.
The position calls for a little bit of everything. It has to cover the pass, support the run defense and, at times, rush the passer. Which makes it a perfect fit for Ramsey, who, at 6-1, 204 pounds, has the size and speed needed to contend with just about anything an opponent throws his way.
But with a new position came new responsibilities. And a few growing pains.
“I knew it was going to take a little time at the new position, me getting a little more comfortable with it,” Ramsey said. “But I think the plays are just coming now.”
Jalen Ramsey embraces defensive coordinator Charles Kelly following FSU’s 30-26 win at Miami. Photo by Jeff Romance
If Saturday night was any sign, Ramsey has it figured out.
He was everywhere against the Hurricanes, batting down balls, throwing his weight around and disrupting plays up and down the field.
One potential interception fell off his fingertips early in the second half and a second bounced off his chest later in the game.
Which made it appropriate when Ramsey made the decisive play, reeling in Miami QB Brad Kaaya’s fourth-down pass with 39 seconds to play.
Even that came just one play after Ramsey blitzed off the edge and knocked down a third-and-9 pass that might otherwise have secured a first down.
“Coach (Charles) Kelly put me in the right position for both of those plays,” Ramsey said. “We needed both of them.”
Ramsey’s emergence could be crucial for a Florida State defense that’s preparing for a playoff push.
The Seminoles teetered early again on Saturday, allowing Miami 23 points and more than 300 yards of offense in the first half.
But after some second-half adjustments – specifically, Fisher said, using more nickel formations – UM mustered only a field goal for the rest of the game.
Like most of his teammates, Ramsey wishes that the Seminoles would start faster and quit digging so many deep holes.
Still, he’s fine with the team’s current standing as one of just two undefeated teams in the Football Bowl Subdivision. (Marshall is the other.)
FSU reclaimed a No. 1 ranking in both the Coaches and Associated Press polls Sunday, and is in prime position to make the College Football Playoff’s four-team field.
“Until someone beats us, we’re the No. 1 team in America,” Ramsey said. “We’re still the champs. That’s how it is.”