Florida State Frustrated by Missed Tackles, Determined to Fix Problem

Bob Ferrante@@bobferranteContributor IOctober 3, 2014

FSU defensive end Demarcus Walker can't wrap up N.C. State's Jacoby Brissett for a sack in Saturday's game.
FSU defensive end Demarcus Walker can't wrap up N.C. State's Jacoby Brissett for a sack in Saturday's game.Grant Halverson/Getty Images

Missed tackles are part of the game of football as athletic, speedy running backs and receivers are able to elude defensive players.

But the number of missed tackles reached an alarming level for Florida State on Saturday. And despite FSU's 56-41 win over North Carolina State, the Seminoles missed "30-something" tackles in the game, safety Tyler Hunter said.

"I've never been a part of any team where we missed that many tackles," said Hunter, who was praised for his tackling and recorded 11 stops in the game. "You're in college now, so you should know how to tackle."

Jimbo Fisher, who said it was the worst tackling game at FSU since he took over as head coach in 2010, and the defensive players are frustrated but determined to fix the problem.

Players typically don't wear pads for Monday's practice, but they did this past Monday, and Fisher said that he was encouraged at how the defensive players performed in tackling drills this week as FSU (4-0) prepares for Saturday's game against visiting Wake Forest (2-3) at 3:30 p.m. ET.

"We had a lot of space-tackle drills," Fisher said. "Guys are athletically moving better and stepping on toes. We had some guys, too, that weren't as healthy in that game [against N.C. State] that I think will be healthier this game."

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FSU played the N.C. State game without defensive end Mario Edwards Jr. (concussion) and Nile Lawrence-Stample, who suffered a torn pectoral muscle against Clemson and will miss the rest of the season.

But the injuries became even more of an issue against the Wolfpack, as the Seminoles also lost linebacker Terrance Smith, defensive tackles Derrick Mitchell and Eddie Goldman and defensive end Chris Casher to minor injuries that caused them to miss drives.

Fisher said after Thursday night's practice that he expects Edwards, Smith, Mitchell, Goldman and Casher to play against Wake Forest. And FSU expects to play linebacker Ukeme Eligwe for the first time in 2014 after he was sidelined in the spring with a Lisfranc (foot) injury.

Without so many key defensive players against N.C. State, especially in the front seven, backups were leaned on heavily, and some didn't play well. But Fisher also said veterans who normally were good tacklers instead displayed poor technique against N.C. State.

"Very uncharacteristic but inexcusable," Fisher said. "Tackling to me is a lot of 'want to,' being able to step on guys' toes and hit them in the mouth and get into position to do that. … We're physical enough, and other times we got ourselves out of position. [We] had bad eye discipline."

Hunter said watching the film was a sobering experience.

"I'm pretty sure it was difficult for those guys but film don't lie," Hunter said. "You just have to accept it and move on and work at it."

The missed tackles are an area of concern for FSU moving forward. While Fisher feels the techniques were corrected in practice, the Seminoles' schedule only gets tougher after upcoming games against Wake Forest and Syracuse.

FSU faces a likely Top 10 showdown against Notre Dame on Oct. 18, followed by a Thursday night matchup at Louisville on Oct. 30 (a bye week separates those games). November matchups against Virginia, Miami, Boston College and Florida will follow.

Fisher said part of the tackling problems that FSU suffered a week ago at N.C. State can be attributed to the Wolfpack's skill and athleticism on offense, but that can't be used as an excuse for poor tackling.

"They play hard, they’ve got good players," Fisher said. "But those are plays you have to make if you want to win big-time games."

Bob Ferrante is the Florida State Lead Writer for Bleacher Report. All quotes obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. Statistics are courtesy of Seminoles.com. All recruiting information is courtesy of 247SportsFollow Bob on Twitter