- David M. Hale, ESPN Staff Writer
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- A week earlier, Jimbo Fisher suggested his punt returner needed to do a better job of ignoring defenders as he fielded a catch. Fisher just didn't expect the defense to be quite so aggressive with Rashad Greene in his next game.
USF's punt coverage unit held Greene without a return, but the Bulls still pressured Greene on each of his fair catches, with defenders setting up just a step or two from Greene as he secured the ball.
"I thought there had to be some room," Fisher said. "But he made some nice [catches], and they were right up on him."
Fisher suggested he might check in with the league for a clarification on how close defenders could be when a player signals for a fair catch -- it was an ACC officiating crew against USF last week -- but also said Florida State may try to pressure returners more now, too.
"We're going to have to do some of that," Fisher said.
Whether or not USF worked the periphery of the rule book was less significant than the job Greene did of avoiding distractions.
After fumbling two punts earlier this season, Fisher made a point of grilling his sophomore on the importance of making a clean catch -- no matter how tight the defense plays him.
"I was more focused on my technique, keeping my nose on the ball, catching the ball first," Greene said. "It doesn't bother me. I'm getting more comfortable catching the ball with defenders around me in traffic."
Greene said he felt USF pushed the envelope in coverage, too, and Saturday's game marked the first time FSU was held without a punt return in more than a year. Still, the lack of negative plays was progress.
"He kept his elbows in, and he was very smooth with it, too," Fisher said of Greene. "His body wasn't out of whack, got squared up on the ball, read the nose of the ball very well and got his angle very well."
It's not that the duo hasn't been good. Joyner had a game-changing 90-yard return against Clemson two weeks ago, while Williams had a 60-yard return in the first quarter of last week's win over USF. The problem, Joyner said, is that before those two games, there simply hadn't been too many chances to shake off the rust.
Florida State's defense allowed just three points in its first three games, and the Seminoles have just 10 returns this season, which ranks them 97th nationally.
"I feel as though you always have to get that confidence," Joyner said. "The returns that I had against Clemson ... I call it, 'Getting into the groove.'"
Changing things up: A week after coughing up 651 yards and five passing touchdowns, N.C. State is looking for answers on defense. But if the Wolfpack are having trouble pinning down a game plan after last week's debacle, it's equally tough for Florida State to glean too much from the film.
“People are going to adjust," Fisher said.
Despite the ugly numbers for the N.C. State defense, Fisher said there were a number of passes the Wolfpack defended well, and they still have a preseason All-ACC performer in corner David Amerson.
Of course, Amerson was on the wrong end of a number of Miami's touchdowns last week, too.
"It’s a question of fundamentals," N.C. State coach Tom O'Brien said. "He’s not reading the fundamentals. He’s trying to make every play instead of doing his job."
O'Brien said he expects better results from Amerson and his defense this week, and FSU agrees.
“They are going to be up for this game," EJ Manuel said. "I think they are going to be up for this game no matter what. I think every team that we play from here on out is going to give us their ‘A’ game, so we have to do the same and be prepared.”
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