Planning for success: Florida State

September, 12, 2013
9/12/13
8:00
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Mario Edwards Jr. spent the past year counting calories, eager to shed some pounds and endear himself to his coaches after he arrived on campus overweight and out of shape as a freshman. So when he checked in at nearly 280 pounds after Tuesday's practice, he knew there was work to be done.

"A little more cardio," Edwards said, "then I'll be all right."

Edwards hopes to slim down to about 275 by game day, but odds are, he'll get in his cardio against Nevada regardless of what he does the remainder of the week.

The Wolf Pack's up-tempo, no-huddle offense figures to test the endurance of everyone on Florida State's defense, particularly the big guys on the line. Plays come in rapid-fire succession, and unless Nevada chooses to substitute personnel, the Seminoles will be forced to keep the same players on the field throughout each drive. Given the early September heat in Tallahassee -- even for a late afternoon kickoff -- it's not a pleasant scenario.

"We've been doing it a whole lot in practice," Edwards said. "It's been a little tough."

Through two weeks of the season, Nevada has run the fourth-most plays of any team in the country (177) and has averaged a snap every 23 seconds of possession time. It's a frenetic pace, and one that's difficult to simulate in practice.

"It's hard to really prepare for it," defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan said. "It's something that you've just got to be mentally ready for, make sure you're running to the ball during practice and doing a little extra after practice. The game is going to go fast, and you've just got to get ready."

Up-tempo, no-huddle offenses are becoming more popular throughout college football, but it also has its critics. Alabama's Nick Saban was among the most vocal, and Jimbo Fisher agrees that the excessive demands that style places on defenders could increase the risk of injuries.

The reality, however, is that the fast-paced style isn't going anywhere anytime soon, so it's imperative Florida State is prepared for the task ahead.

For all the prep work this week, however, the foundation for Saturday's defensive performance started long ago.

Nevada won't be the only up-tempo team on Florida State's schedule, and bigger tests against programs like Clemson have had the Seminoles' attention for a while. So during the oppressive heat of the summer, FSU's players were working with an eye toward this week's game.

"You've got to have put in the work," Edwards said. "One week of running around isn't going to get you. It's going to be hot out there come Saturday, so this is just training."

Fisher said he'll work to substitute players whenever possible, and the depth Florida State has -- particularly on the defensive line -- should be a luxury as the Seminoles rotate personnel each series.

But the real key to keeping up with the no-huddle, Fisher said, is simply to slow Nevada down early.

"What you've got to do is stop them," Fisher said. "If you stop them, they aren't on the field that long. But it's easier said than done."

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