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Florida State Seminoles defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews seeks solution to defense's woes

The numbers are humbling. And maddening.

Florida State is allowing 426.7 yards per game, last in the ACC and 108th among 120 I-A teams. The worst in coordinator Mickey Andrews' tenure has been 373.6 yards. And that came in 1984, Andrews' first year.

Saturday, Georgia Tech showed a new wrinkle in its triple option (a receiver in motion to act as another blocker at the point of attack) and had 401 yards rushing and 532 total in its 49-44 win.

"We need to be a little more productive in all areas instead of being unproductive at times and giving up big plays," Andrews said. "Whether that's technique, whether that's effort, whether that's second and third effort. Whatever it is."

A hard-driving perfectionist, Andrews snapped at a reporter Tuesday when asked if he could have made any adjustments Saturday night. "Do you not think I would make an adjustment if I could do it? That's a crazy question," he said.

When the reporter said the Seminoles seem to be making the same mistake, Andrews fired back, "You want to come do my job?" Moments later, he apologized and did so again at the end of his interview session.

Andrews and his staff have tried to solve the problem. Last week, they simplified their plan.

"We just happened to spend all our time on something they didn't do but about three plays the entire ballgame," he said. "That's good football on their part. They concealed something and sprung it on us. We seem to get that a lot, but that's part of the game. We don't have the total answers right now. We're still searching as coaches and players to get the right setup."

Injuries aren't helping. Senior DT Justin Mincey has yet to play, and fellow senior DT Budd Thacker has been less than 100 percent. LB Dekoda Watson injured his left groin and missed most of the second half Saturday, forcing coaches to juggle backups.

Senior CB Patrick Robinson (ankle sprain) and senior S Korey Mangum (shoulder) were out, and freshman S Jajuan Harley, who figured to step in for Mangum, was ill. It was so bad, FSU shifted LB Mister Alexander to safety for depth. Then CB Dionte Allen injured his right thumb. (He had surgery Tuesday.) "You can replace people, but they've got to be better than what they're replacing if you want to improve your ballclub," Andrews said. "We just need people to be dependable players and go fight harder."

No doubting Thomas: Maybe it was an injury. Maybe it was being young and not quite grasping what it takes to be a starter.

What's clear, however, is TB Jermaine Thomas ran against Georgia Tech the way the coaches expected. Against Tech, he had 98 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries. He had 77 yards and a touchdown on 26 carries going in.

"He's growing up. We're making him practice consistently," offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher said. "It's part of his maturing. … We're going to stay on him the whole time because he's a heck of a player."

History lesson: Coach Bobby Bowden, a student of history, recently pointed out that his 1986 team went 7-4-1 with some young players whose names you might recognize: Deion Sanders, Sammie Smith, Dexter Carter, Paul McGowan and Martin Mayhew. The next year the Seminoles finished 11-1 and No. 2, the first of 14 straight Top 5 finishes.

"That's why you hate to give up," Bowden said. "When's it going to turnaround? It eventually will. I wish it would turn around with me."

Brian Landman can be reached at landman@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3347. Read his blog at blogs.tampabay.com/seminoles.

Florida State Seminoles defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews seeks solution to defense's woes 10/14/09 [Last modified: Thursday, October 15, 2009 12:13am]
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