Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

FSU'S WOES ON DEFENSE ARE NO JOKE; Injuries and Inexperience in Seminoles' Secondary Are Big Reason Team Is Slumping

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

FSU'S WOES ON DEFENSE ARE NO JOKE; Injuries and Inexperience in Seminoles' Secondary Are Big Reason Team Is Slumping

Article excerpt

Byline: BOB THOMAS

TALLAHASSEE -- Mickey Andrews isn't much of a comedian, but you can hardly fault Florida State's defensive coordinator and secondary coach for developing a self-deprecating sense of humor as a way of dealing the problems that have beset his unit this season.

Andrews spent last week assessing the damage for the Seminoles' 35-14 loss at Clemson before turning his complete attention to Saturday's trip to Florida.

"[There are] a lot of things you look at and say, 'How in the world did you end up getting beat by that many points?' " Andrews asked. "It just comes down to that we are our own worst enemy too much. You learn from the teachings of the good samaritan but I don't think it was meant on the football field. We are too Santa Claus-like when we get out there."

Christmas is fast approaching, but if the Seminoles are going to make that holiday in better spirits they'll have to snap a two-game losing streak. And that means neutralizing Florida quarterback Chris Leak this Saturday.

Stopping opponents, however, has been difficult for the Seminoles this season. That shouldn't come as a complete surprise, given they had to replace three-fourths of its secondary from a year ago after preseason All-American cornerback Antonio Cromartie suffered a season-ending knee injury over the summer.

Senior safeties Pat Watkins and Kyler Hall have largely held their own, but troubles at the cornerback position have been a season-long issue.

Through 10 games, opposing quarterbacks have completed 60.7 percent of their pass attempts against the Seminoles.

Only once since Andrews' arrival for the 1984 season have opponents completed a higher percentage of pass attempts. Ironically, that was 1999, when the Seminoles won their last national championship. That season Andrews' secondary offset a 71 percent completion rate by collecting 22 interceptions.

This season, the Seminoles have just nine thefts -- and not one of those has come to rest in the hands of a cornerback.

Freshman Tony Carter and sophomore J.R. Bryant will likely line up as the starting corners against the Gators, though neither has participated in a contact practice in weeks. …

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