TAMPA — A week after failing to stop the offense of Ball State, USF's defense brought enough pressure to at least make No. 4 Florida State sweat.
Facing a Seminoles team that was averaging 56 points per game, the Bulls held FSU's offense to 23 in a 30-17 loss Saturday, giving their offense ample opportunities to close the gap.
Senior defensive tackle Cory Grissom, who recorded his first sack of the season, said the defense's renewed sense of aggression spawned early in the week during practice.
"Coach (Skip) Holtz, he got the front seven together, he was like, 'We need y'all this game,' " he said. "We just snapped. … It was just like a little spark. In practice, everybody was intense, everybody was fired up … ready to go."
USF also improved on its third-down woes from the previous two games, holding the Seminoles to five conversions out of 15 tries. FSU had 425 yards of total offense, but 115 of those came from three plays. Defensive coordinator Chris Cosh said he was pleased with his team's overall effort but it gave up too many big plays down the field.
"The big one was … that long pass," he said of wide receiver Rashad Greene's 39-yard third-down catch. "That was the one that sticks in my mind. But other than that, I thought the kids competed well on third down. You're confident when you win, but I think … they should be proud of their effort."
The most noticeable difference in the defense was its ability to get into the FSU backfield. Cornerback Kayvon Webster led the team with 12 tackles, two of which were for a loss. Holtz said he thought the defense succeeded in containing FSU's ground attack.
"I thought the defense did a great job outside of a couple big plays,'' Holtz said. "For a team that was averaging about 10 yards a carry, to come in here and only have about 4 yards a carry, I thought our defensive front did a great job."