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Friday, December 30, 2011
3-point stance: FSU defense shows up

By Ivan Maisel

1. As ugly as it was, Florida State’s 18-14 win over Notre Dame in the Champs Sports Bowl made the Seminoles 9-4. That looks a lot better than the Fighting Irish’s 8-5, especially given that Florida State and Notre Dame began the season ranked Nos. 6 and 16, respectively. The Florida State defense held up its end of the deal. In the past eight games of the season, the Seminoles allowed an average of 11.5 points per game. That includes the defensive touchdown the Irish scored Thursday night.

2. Just like Florida State, Texas’s 8-5 record sounds so much better than 7-6, especially after the Longhorns went 5-7 in 2010. Texas made great strides on defense and smaller ones on offense, which had to muddle through the inexperience of quarterbacks David Ash and Case McCoy. The Longhorn offense can’t afford to sputter next season, not with the Oklahoma schools atop the Big 12 and TCU entering the league. Even a head coach like Mack Brown, armed with a new contract extension, has to keep progressing from 8-5.

3. It’s good to see that Steve Spurrier handed over the South Carolina defense to Lorenzo Ward, who will be promoted from defensive coordinator to assistant head coach, the title that Ellis Johnson had before leaving Columbia to become head coach at Southern Mississippi. He is well-respected in the coaching fraternity because he has made secondaries better wherever he has coached, from Alabama to Virginia Tech to Arkansas to the Gamecocks. The easy answer for Spurrier is the right answer.