Sunday, December 17, 2017
Colleges

Florida State gets set for high-tempo Nevada offense

TALLAHASSEE — Florida State defensive end Mario Edwards entered the week with a goal of shedding a little weight.

Nothing too crazy, just five pounds to get down to 275 before today's game against Nevada's frantic-paced offense.

"A little more cardio," Edwards said.

Edwards, a sophomore, got his cardio and then some this week as the Seminoles picked up the pace of their practices to prepare for the Wolf Pack.

Leaner and lighter could go a long way for Edwards, who knows being in shape is vital to keeping up with the Wolf Pack's no-huddle offense as No. 10 FSU (1-0) hosts Nevada (1-1) at 3:30 p.m. in the Seminoles' home opener.

With the meat of the ACC schedule around the corner — FSU plays Boston College, Maryland and No. 3 Clemson by Oct. 19 — Nevada will serve as a test that could help the 'Noles get ready for future opponents.

"It's definitely preparing (us) for big games," Edwards said. "I think it'll help us out a lot with all this hurry-up stuff, because we've been doing that the whole practice. Practice has been a little tough, but I think it'll be good on game day."

Nevada enters averaging 88 plays a game, the ninth-highest average in the country.

Using the trendy pistol offense — a modified shotgun formation, with the quarterback four yards behind the center and a running back lined up directly behind him — Nevada likes to create chaos by dictating the game's pace.

"It can get you off your keys," FSU senior defensive back Terrence Brooks said. "It gets you tired very fast and I mean it can get you off your keys, just by you being tired, you probably won't pay attention."

Edwards said the key to containing the pistol is neutralizing the offense's traditionally mobile quarterback.

FSU could have caught a break. Three-year starting quarterback Cody Fajardo is a game-time decision for the Wolf Pack because of a sprained right knee. Nevada, a five-touchdown underdog that fell to No. 16 UCLA 58-20 this season, could rest Fajardo to get him healthy for conference play.

"To add to the challenge, they've had an extra week to get ready for us," Nevada coach Brian Polian said at his weekly news conference.

But to combat Nevada's unorthodox offense and rapid tempo, FSU cannot let the Wolf Pack to sustain long drives.

"You never want to get ahead of yourself, but you know what these other teams do," FSU linebacker Telvin Smith said. "So at the same time we're preparing for them, in a sense, we're also preparing for other teams that we know will bring the same scheme."

UCF: Statement day

ORLANDO — UCF senior offensive lineman Chris Martin has been with the program for five years and understands the mantra Knights coach George O'Leary wants his players to repeat.

This week, ahead of today's game at Penn State, Martin tried his best to sell it.

"To me this really is just another game," Martin said. "I watched them on film, they're just another team. … And I mean that."

But by the middle of the week, even O'Leary had to acknowledge the obvious:

"It's more than another game," he said during a radio appearance. "They know that."

The Knights recognize today is a chance for a marquee victory for them and their new league, the American Athletic Conference. It would also be the type of result UCF' fans have long said the program has failed to deliver.

"It'd be just a continuation of things we've been trying to get done here as far as make a statement win on the road," O'Leary said. "It's a tough place to play. I've been there many times and the big thing is we just have to go up there and play and limit the mistakes."

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