NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. -- The Auburn Tigers and Florida State Seminoles had their first media sessions Thursday at the media center inside the Marriott Hotel in Newport Beach. The Seminoles were represented by their defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt and defensive players. The Tigers had offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee and offensive players.
Both teams seemed focused and complimentary of their opponent. The FSU contingent was repeatedly asked about the SEC's dominance and they handled it well. I bring this up because last year especially, Notre Dame seemed to turn its nose up at the league.
Pruitt is coaching in his fourth BCS title game in five seasons. He was an assistant at Alabama before joining Jimbo Fisher in the offseason. It took some time for players to buy in to his system, but once they did the Noles were a dominant defensive unit.
Much of the focus was on preparing for Auburn's offense and its fast tempo. Players complimented their scout team and its ability to give them a live look. Redshirt quarterback John Franklin is a guy we have mentioned before and the Noles continue to give him props. The key component each player talked about when facing Auburn is tackling in space.
Stat: FSU has allowed just five touchdowns all season on the ground.
Auburn compared FSU's defense to Alabama's even to the point where Reese Dismukes said the Nole linebackers are faster. The Seminoles do have their own personality on defense and have the personnel to match it.
Tigers players emphasized the line of scrimmage and all 11 guys doing their jobs. Lashlee pointed to fullback Jay Prosch as the glue that makes the offense go. The ability to block on the perimeter against the Noles speed will be key to success.
Nick Marshall and the passing game has evolved over the season to the point where he feels like they can hit some big plays against an aggressive FSU secondary. Auburn was not concerned that the layoff would benefit the FSU defense. They understand it’s about execution and rhythm.
History has shown that many high ranking offenses have been slowed in the BCS Championship Game after the long layoff. Lashlee, who was on the staff in 2010, said the Seminoles have a great offense and will be facing the same challenges.
Stat: Auburn has 46 rushing touchdowns and had seven in one game against Missouri at the SEC title game.
This and That
- Auburn players were asked to draw comparisons to Cam Newton with Nick Marshall. They are different style runners, but both operate the system effectively. Marshall likes to get his big plays on the edge with his speed and let the backs run between the tackles.
- FSU players were asked what will happen if they get behind. The Seminoles have rarely trailed this season and never in the second half of games. Their comment: "We will fight." To a man they mentioned the Boston College game as an eye opening experience.
- Florida State talked about being as good as any defense in the SEC. The players mentioned they have a lot of "SEC type" players. They also handled the questions very well about the dominance of the league, and made sure to say this game is about individual teams: FSU and Auburn.
- Tre Mason had 304 yards rushing in his last game against Missouri. The last time an FSU defense allowed 300 or more yards rushing by a team in a game was 2009 against Tim Tebow and Florida.