Florida State defensive coordinator Harlon Barnett asked his fellow staffer and defenders what needs to happen for practice habits to start translating to the field.
Barnett has consistently seen energy and execution from the defense in practice, but the group has regressed in recent games. The Seminoles have allowed an average of 49.3 points per game in their last three contests, with all games ending in double-digit defeats. FSU is coming of a 42-13 loss to Notre Dame in which it surrendered 365 yards on the ground.
Barnett, in the video below, explains different personnel changes, what his team can do to do better against the run, defending Boston College running back AJ Dillon, practice habits and more.
Check back shortly for quotes from Barnett.
On DE Joshua Kaindoh starting
“Because he’s doing well. He’s doing well. Best players play and we’re going to stick with that. He’s doing a good job for us. We need him in there to continue to do a good job. He’s practicing well, he’s feeling well. So that’s why.”
On the priority to focus on moving forward
“Everything. You want to be able to stop the run and you want to get after the quarterback. Those are weekly goals. …No. 1 is always stop the run. That’s every defense in all aspects of football. High school, college, pro, you’ve got to stop the run first. That’s No. 1. Then you move from there.”
On if struggles with run defense are about opponent or self-inflicted mistakes
“I think it’s more us as you watch the film. I continually say if all 11 execute, you give yourself a chance to win. Guys got to be in there gaps, doing what they’re supposed to do all the time. And it can take just one time for a guy to mess up and boom, it can be a play. You know what I mean? It can be a different guy. It don’t have to be the same guy. That’s why we say all 11 must execute and that’s something that we continue to stress. And we’re stressing it again this week, and will continue to stress.”
On linebacker personnel
“You know, D-Jack played a little Money ‘backer for us, the weak-side backer for us. And Leonard was in at the Mike. So that’s something that we’ve toyed with a little bit and they’re doing a good job at it.”
On how BC runs the ball
“They do it differently. They like to run the football like you said. Head coach is a former offensive line coach. This is the second guy we’ve faced like that I know of, the Northern Illinois guy was an offensive line coach as well and so they’re going to do what they feel comfortable doing. They do a good job at it. They’re well coached. They’ve got a big back that runs hard. It’s going to be a major challenge for us and we’ll be ready.”
On need to be physical
“You’ve got to be physical in this football game. you know that’s what their guys are being told and we’re telling our guys the same thing. We always say play fast, physical and aggressive but lets put an emphasis on physical this week. Ready to play a physical game on Saturday.”
On redemption from last season’s loss to BC
“I haven’t been talking in terms of that, me personally, because I wasn’t here last year. I try not to talk about it. I’ve heard stories from different coaches. I do know we need to play a physical football game based on what we’ve seen them do this year.”
On AJ Dillon
“He has good vision and feet. He’s very nimble to be so big. I think those are great qualities of a good running back. Vision feet and the size with it. He’s not a slow big guy. He can run.”
On if teams doing anything different from the beginning of the season in the run game
“I wouldn’t say that so much to be honest with you. Some schemes are a little bit different but it’s nothing we haven’t seen or practiced and shouldn’t be able to handle. All 11 must execute and so we’ll put ourselves in the position to do that this week. We’ll see if we can put more emphasis on all 11 execute. Dominate your gap. Be where you’re supposed to be. Hopefully we’ll get the results on Saturday.”
On having Jackson and Warner on the field at the same time
“You like that, first of all, they’ve both been in control of the defense in the middle of the defense, being able to call things out. So D-Jack and Leonard are in there together, calling things out, seeing things, maybe helping one another out by seeing something, helping the entire defense out by calling something sooner because they’re working together. Does that make sense? That’s what you like about it.”
On what needs to be done to get a break in the secondary
“Got any suggestions? Anybody? Anybody? They’re right there. It’s not like they’re 10 yards behind the guy. You’re back there taking pictures sometimes right there where they’re catching the ball, you can yell, ‘Hey, find the ball! Make a play on the ball!’ I just say make a play. Guys are in position, we have to make plays. Just to be in position doesn’t mean anything if you’re not making a play. We got to be able to make plays.”
On going to more zone to counter issues in man coverage
“A little bit. This team is not built that way as much, I don’t think. But you can see that because you have more vision on the ball and being able to break on the ball with zone coverages. We try to mix ’em up anyhow, so they’re not just always locked up. But definitely. We want to be able to mix a little bit more of that in there so our guys can have vision and break on the ball and make plays on the ball.”
Do you think that’ll help in stopping the run?
“It could. Absolutely. As well as when you’re playing the way we play, we count our guys as a nine-man box based on the formation they give us with our safeties. So, you’re getting down there and stepping in to stop the run. You got to do all the other things that comes with it. But having that vision can help as well.”
On Hamsah Nasirildeen and Levonta Taylor in practice Monday
“They did well. They did really well. Ham, that guy is coming, man. He’s a really good football player and does a great job. Tay’ is a little bit slower, he’s still trying to work back. But Ham is ready to go.”
Do you expect to have Nasirildeen and Taylor
“We’ll figure out”? “Yes, that’s how I would say it. Yes. Exactly right.”
Seeing mad players, how important is that?
“They were mad. We love that. (Marvin Wilson) was mad, we were all mad. I hope they were mad because we want to win. Nobody likes losing. I hate losing. I hate it. It doesn’t feel good at all so we’re trying to correct it. Credit to these guys, they come out and practice. If you watched some of our practice, you’d be like wow, you would think we were a 10-0 team or something. They go hard, they want to give everything that they have so we just have to start seeing the results on gameday. That’s what we’re looking forward to getting on this Saturday.”
Why do you think it’s not translating?
“That’s what we’re trying to figure out. I even posed that question to the defensive staff and even the defensive unit. I said, ‘It has to start transferring over.’ They always say you play like you practice so at some point it’s going to click for us, we’re going to catch momentum and we’re going to move forward and be the team that we want to be.”
On pass rush lack of effect
“People are getting rid of the ball fairly quickly. I mean, Brian is Brian. He’s doing what he does, but they’re getting rid of the ball, they’ve got a plan for him, chipping him, so we need other guys to be able to take advantage of that, of them concentrating on Burns and being able to make plays. That has been discussed and talked about, even trying to put him in different positions to try and make plays for us because he is a special talent. But other guys need to step up, knowing that there’s a special plan for Brian.”
Different leagues officiate differently?
“I have been in two different leagues, three actually. Yes, it seems so. I will say this: When we were first in the Big 10, they were calling it pretty frequently until we all got a good understanding of how to play press coverage because we were one of the main first teams in the Big 10 in 2007 to start pressing your corners. Everybody else starting coming onboard and doing it and now everybody seems to be doing it. It’s just a matter of understanding there’s a lot of back and forth with the wide receiver and the defensive back. It’s a tough job for those guys, but hopefully there can be a greater understanding of when a guy’s grabbing or holding on either side and then getting your head around, finding the ball and making a play. It’s tough.”