Florida State secondary can back up the big talk

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When Devin Street was asked to respond to Florida State safety Karlos Williams' statement that Street was "not a great receiver," he gave a little smile but didn't take the bait.

The Pitt wide receiver downplayed the comments from earlier this week when Williams told the Tallahassee Democrat Street was "not a great receiver, but ... a productive guy."

"Everyone's entitled to their own opinion," Street said. "Karlos, just from watching film, he's a great player. Everyone's entitled to their own opinion. I can't do anything about it, he just went public with it. I can just go out there and show how productive I am on Monday night."

Even if Street isn't concerned with their opinions, the Seminoles secondary has plenty of reasons to be confident.

Florida State only returns four starters on defense, but three of those players are in the secondary: cornerback Lamarcus Joyner, cornerback Nick Waisome and safety Terrence Brooks.

Only Joyner and Brooks are listed as starters on Florida State's depth chart this year, with Waisome as a backup. Brooks had two interceptions last season and Joyner had one.

Last year, the Seminoles ranked No. 1 in Division I-A in pass defense, allowing just 161.9 yards per game. Still, that doesn't mean the Seminoles cornerbacks and safeties have taken this offseason lightly.

"[We're] just being our biggest critics, being disciplined on one another," Joyner said last month at Atlantic Coast Conference media days. "An organization is built on the ones inside."

This year, the Florida State defense is being reshaped by new coordinator Jeremy Pruitt, who spent the past three seasons as defensive backs coach at Alabama. In his time with the Crimson Tide, his pass defenses ranked 13th, first and seventh in Division I-A.

With that combination of talent and coaching, the Florida State defensive backs have plenty of reason to feel confident, and coach Jimbo Fisher doesn't mind that they play with a bit of swagger.

"You have to have a short memory and you have to be a tremendous competitor and you have to have that attitude and that chip on your shoulder to be able to keep making play after play," Fisher said.

Despite Williams' words, Joyner said there's no disrespect toward the Panthers heading into the season opener.

"I'm not going to get into a fight with somebody who has a setup with my hands behind my back like, 'This guy can't do anything to me,' " Joyner said. "Everybody can be knocked out.

"We're going to be aggressive, we're going to be physical against whoever we play. From Bethune-Cookman to Florida, we're going to play those guys like they're in our way from accomplishing that national championship and being on that national stage."

That said, Joyner still offered a prediction for how the game would turn out.

"They want to knock off the top dogs, or who people consider the top dogs, in the ACC," he said. "We want to show them that, 'Hey, this is the reason that Florida State is the top dog in the ACC. We're going to welcome y'all to the ACC the right way and let you know that this is not a cakewalk conference.' "

NOTE -- Coach Paul Chryst said running back Isaac Bennett would be available if the Panthers had to play a game today, and the junior, who injured his right leg in training camp, likely will be ready to go Monday night. "I thought he was pretty good," Chryst said. "I don't see him regressing at all. That's the biggest thing you're concerned about."


Sam Werner: swerner@post-gazette.com and Twitter @SWernerPG. First Published August 30, 2013 4:00 AM


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