Florida State’s defense took a beating against Clemson and North Carolina State earlier this season giving up a combined 106 points in back-to-back games.
Something had to change with the way the Seminoles (5-6, 3-5 ACC) were operating.
The FSU staff got together and decided the best thing to do was to move defensive coordinator Harlon Barnett from the field up to the coaches box.
“My previous 14 years of college coaching has been in the box,” Barnett said.
“I went up at Notre Dame. I came down because at the beginning of the year I asked the defensive backs how they’d feel more comfortable at the time with me down or up, and they said down. But they’re more comfortable now as far as sideline adjustments and things like that so I decided to go up.”
Barnett worked in the box on gameday when he was the defensive backs coach at Michigan State and stayed there when he became the Spartan’s defensive coordinator in 2015.
It was a mutual decision between Barnett and FSU coach Willie Taggart to make the move.
“I know for me personally, just listening on the head set I just thought from a communication stand point and him getting his thoughts together, it would probably be better for him to be up there,” FSU coach Willie Taggart said.
“Just felt like he could call a better game from up there. Also, we can get the plays in a lot faster that way.”
The Seminoles struggled to adjust against Notre Dame, but performed well against Boston College last Saturday holding the Eagles to just 2.6 yards per rush and 21 points.
Part of the issues FSU faced was getting the play calls in quickly against ND.
Multiple FSU players were not lined up properly on a couple of touchdown runs by the Irish, but that problem seems to have been sorted out against BC.
The Seminoles were locked in and lined up properly throughout the game and the results were much better on the field.
“The last two games I’ve gone up, and I think it’s helped out a lot. That’s where I’m comfortable. That’s where I’ve been and you can see everything from up there,” Barnett said.
“I can see things. It’s kind of like watching film all week. That’s how you watch it, from a bird’s eye view. So that’s helped me out tremendously.”
In addition to moving Barnett up to the coaches box, FSU also moved defensive ends coach Mark Snyder down to the field.
Snyder has been helping Barnett relay plays to the defense the past two games.
“Coach Snyder, he does a good job of bringing us all together and taking control, leading us on the sideline,” FSU linebacker Dontavious Jackson said.
“It’s a difference but coach Snyder has done a great job.”
It’s a more comfortable situation for both coaches, who were both in unfamiliar situations through the first nine games of the season.
The two coaches worked together at Michigan State for multiple seasons and have a great relationship.
That relationship has been the key to success of the move.
“We understand one another,” Barnett said.
“He knows when I say something what we’re trying to do. It’s funny because he’s normally a guy that’s been on the field, so we just got back into our comfort zones so to speak on gameday. Obviously, it’s worked out pretty well, at least last week. We’re going to see if we can keep it going.”
Florida State vs. No. 13 Florida
When: Saturday, noon
Where: Doak Campbell Stadium
TV/Radio: ABC/103.1 FM