On Saturday night, the highly anticipated matchup between the fifth-ranked Florida State Seminoles and the third-ranked Clemson Tigers will finally get underway.
With quarterbacks Tajh Boyd and Jameis Winston leading each team, most figure the game will be a shootout.
However, Clemson boasts one of the country’s most improved defensive units led by defensive end Vic Beasley, who has nine sacks through six games for the Tigers.
The Seminoles also have a very different looking defense. When Mark Stoops left the Seminoles to take over the Kentucky Wildcats, the Seminoles turned to Alabama Crimson Tide defensive backs coach Jeremy Pruitt to lead their defense.
Pruitt runs a more attacking scheme that focuses on the ability to play multiple positions and be a “tremendous space player” as head coach Jimbo Fisher puts it.
“The old strong safety and free safety that everybody used to talk about, those days are gone,” Fisher told the Tallahassee Democrat’s Ira Schoffel. “If those guys can’t cover, somehow or some way, (offenses are) going to get them isolated and make them have to cover.”
For example, the Seminoles lost starting safety Tyler Hunter to a neck injury in a win over the Bethune-Cookman Wildcats, true freshman Jalen Ramsey, who had been playing cornerback, became the starting safety.
Senior cornerback Lamarcus Joyney spent the last two seasons as a safety.
“You’re in nickel and dime situations probably 70% of the time,” Fisher explained. “So you definitely have to have enough of those guys … and the versatility.”
On Saturday, we’ll find out if Fisher and Pruitt’s versatile defense is enough to slow down the high-powered Clemson offense.