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Fuller talks about Louisville, reflects on defense at midseason

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Florida State defensive coordinator Adam Fuller met with the media for the first time since the Seminoles’ 48-16 loss to Louisville this past weekend. Fuller spoke about several topics, including his unit’s inability to slow the Cardinals in the first half, where the FSU defense is at the midway point of the season and where it must improve during the Seminoles’ second bye week of the season.

After giving up 569 yards against Louisville, including 429 yards on 13 chunk plays (pass plays of 15-plus yards and running plays of 10-plus yards), Fuller said there plenty the Seminoles defense can learn from its first-half struggles against Louisville and from the first half of the season.

“I think right now we’ve got to develop, obviously, more consistency with them playing well,” said Fuller. “Whether that’s putting guys in the right place, whether when the guys are in the right place playing with the right technique, whether it’s just defending better, everything that’s happening to them, to our response. There’s been times this year that I’ve been really proud of our responses. But sometimes on defense, it’s always like, if you get 11 guys and two guys don’t do their job, sometimes the ball doesn’t find them. It just seems like the ball’s finding them. Everything that is wrong gets exemplified when you’re not playing well. And so the lessons are there. We’re trying to teach them.”

Fuller was also asked what he thought about senior linebacker Emmett Rice saying in the postgame press conference that he felt like there were too many guys not sticking to their responsibility within the scheme of the defense, which led to the Cardinals’ success in the game.

“When one piece gets out of place, and a good player finds that mistake, it creates big plays,” said Fuller. “The worst thing about big plays is that you don’t make them snap the ball again. And you don’t give yourself another opportunity to play better. And that happened Saturday, there were obviously way too many explosives for multiple different reasons. But some of those reasons were, ‘Listen, this is my job. This is going to happen. Coach, I know this is what’s going to happen, I’m going to go help this guy.’ And next thing you know their primary job becomes the primary reason there’s an explosive. So you hate learning lessons by failure, but sometimes it’s happening right now.”

Giving up chunk plays has been an issue for the defense all season. Only eight teams in college football have given up more plays of 10 yards or more this season than FSU. Fuller was asked if he and the other defensive coaches have changed how they are reinforcing the need to play within the scheme of the defensive and if he has considered simplifying his schemes to try to help limit big plays moving forward.

“During the course of practices, and I truly believe this, there’s a d-lineman that can make mistake, there’s a linebacker that can make mistake,” said Fuller. “But most explosives fall in the secondary. When things don’t get fit up right, there’s still post defenders or safeties that can converge on the ball and get the ball ground. So that needs to happen better with whatever safeties are on the field. And then during practice, if an explosive were to happen, sometimes you reload the play, and you put the emphasis on the individual that made the mistake or just the total convergence of the defense to get it fixed. So, yeah, there’s continued emphasis on making sure those plays don’t happen. And then when they do happen, about converging on it and don’t allow a misfit to create a 60-yard play. It should be a 15-yard play. And you know the secondary’s in charge of getting that done.”

Fuller was also asked where he thought his defense was in its development entering the second half of the season.

“We’re going into the next game,” said Fuller. “You try to learn through success and failure and we all know that. But we’re super inconsistent and whether it’s the run game or the pass game right now, whether it’s the pass rush, whether it’s zone coverage. We’re putting guys in different spots, we’re continuing to try to work it out. But still you got to rely on some sort of foundation so that they can fall back upon it so they can play fast. Because if you’re asking them to do things they’re not comfortable with, they don’t have reasons why it’s happened to them. Right now, we’re trying to stick with a plan and saying, ‘This call may not be perfect for every play, but you know how to execute it.’ And then it’s about finishing the execution and making some one on one plays. And it’s not that simple, but it’s that simple sometimes. When we’re trying to convey that message, nobody’s excited when they don’t make the play, but there’s some ownership on finishing. We got to continue to develop that ownership, because at the end of the day it’s our defense. And we represent this university, and how we play and right now we’re not holding up our end.”

To listen to Fuller’s press conference please click on the link below: