Alex Turko (@aturko_23)
By now everyone has heard that Florida State defensive coordinator, Mark Stoops, has accepted the head coaching vacancy at Kentucky. Kentucky is excited to get a good recruiter, a guy that knows his X’s and O’s and overall a good person, as they should be. But should Noles fans be upset that Stoops is departing?
Stoops is the general of the number two total defense in the country. But is two good enough? What games did this “tenacious” defense win for the Noles in his three-year reign?
Stoops’ defense was known for giving up late scoring drives to cost the Noles the lead, and in some cases, the win. A late scoring drive against Oklahoma in college football’s primetime game last year put FSU behind late in the fourth and eventually cost them the game. Later that November, the defense gave up a late scoring drive to a bad Virginia offense that cost the Seminoles a victory. These last minute drives don’t even take into account the 35 points given up to a lesser opponent in Wake Forest.
I think this years’ NC State game proved Stoops’ defensive statistics are inflated by poor competition. Florida State was winning 16-0 at half and allowed the Wolfpack to score 17 unanswered points. With the talent-laden roster that FSU has, an inferior opponent should never be able to do this. The few points scored early in the year by Division II foes and weak ACC offenses have boosted the Seminoles statistics to mask the underlying truth. Against Virginia Tech, barring a miracle 39-yard scamper by Rashad Greene, the defense gave up another disappointing late score that cost Florida State the lead, but thankfully not the win.
Stoops’ inability to blitz has been a major disappointment, and you have to wonder how his scheme would work without a defensive line of this caliber. His defense allowed 37 points to the Florida Gators, who are 3rd to last in the SEC in total offense. Although I am more lenient on this performance as the offense turned the ball over 5 times.
I think Mark Stoops gets way too much credit for shutting out below average opponents. The Seminoles are loaded on the defensive side of the ball with NFL talent, and to calm the nerves of the Seminole faithful, we will be just fine with anyone we hire. I truly wish Mark Stoops the best of luck, and appreciate the turnaround he has brought to this program’s defense. Thanks for the turn-around coach, but I’m excited for the next step in this team’s history.
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