Taggart: FSU's experiments on D about personnel more than scheme
July 17, 2019
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (247SPORTS) -- Florida State, according to coach Willie Taggart, isn’t shifting its defensive philosophy as much as it’s adapting its personnel to fit its current scheme.
Taggart was asked about a change to a 3-4 scheme this spring during the ACC Kickoff on Wednesday, and he was adamant that FSU would still be rolling with the even-man front that defensive coordinator Harlon Barnett implemented last season after he ran a 4-3 base with quarters coverage principles for years at Michigan State.
“I don't think we're changing a lot from what we did last year. We worked on some things in the spring, seeing what was good for our team, how we can continue to get better, how we can continue to put our players in the best position to make plays,” Taggart said. “I think going through the ACC this year, understanding our conference better, we're just finding ways to put our players in the best position to be successful on the defensive side of the ball.
FSU experimented with some hybrid fronts this spring. Although they could be categorized as having 3-4 elements, the groupings could be considered blends of the 4-man front FSU used last year with some 3-4 concepts with personnel. For example, FSU still would put four defenders on the line with two defensive tackle types inside and a prototype defensive end outside...but the fourth down lineman, as we saw in the spring game, was sometimes a linebacker (like Leonard Warner) or a stand-up defensive end crashing the line (like Janarius Robinson).
"Switching it up from what we normally do,” defensive tackle Marvin Wilson said this spring. “Give teams different looks instead of coming out in that same four-man front. We got to be able to be versatile, just expand your game. It adds more to your stock coming out, you know, different front, play different things, instead of just being in one front."
Per Taggart, those looks from the spring are about adapting to the personnel on-hand. Remember, the Seminoles are in the midst of trying to find ways to replace the pass-rush production from first-round draft pick Brian Burns (10 sacks last season). Toying with different personnel groupings is one way to do that.
“I think you're still going to see our guys playing an even front, though,” Taggart said. “I think you'll see Coach Barnett continue to find different ways to put pressure on the quarterback.”