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Notes from the Angelo Football Clinic: FSU DC Charles Kelly on defending the spread

The son of a high school football coach, Charles Kelly began his talk at the Angelo Football Clinic noting that this August will mark his 41st year spent at a football training camp. His father indoctrinated him into football culture, and he never left. As a football lifer, though, the only comparison the new Florida State defensive coordinator spent a lot of time Tuesday comparing his sport to basketball.

"I think (the hurry-up offense) is good for football. If you took the fast-break out of basketball, it totally changes the game," Kelly said. "It makes things more competitive, more challenging."

Of course, the audience to which Kelly was speaking must be considered. The state of Texas, and particularly its high school football, is the epicenter of the hurry-up no huddle. And one must consider the season Florida State just had. Other than Auburn in the BCS National Championship, the only HUNH offenses the Seminoles faced were Clemson, Duke and Maryland. Good offenses in their own right, but that isn't the murder's row of offenses that Big 12 or Pac-12 defensive coordinators are faced with on a weekly basis. Florida State held the Tigers, Devils and Terps to a combined 719 yards on 216 total plays (3.7 yards per play) and 21 total points.

Even Kelly's video examples of what not to do, a linebacker caught with his eyes in the backfield, a defensive back that doesn't set the edge in run support, ended with another Seminole defender flying up to make the play at the line of scrimmage. "I don't have all the answers. One good answer is having the best players. We were fortunate to have a lot of good players."

Kelly is in his first season as Florida State's defensive coordinator and second in Tallahassee after coaching the 'Noles defensive backs in 2013. If you're assuming the defending champions will take a step back following the loss of Jeremy Pruitt, don't. Jimbo Fisher's eye for coaching talent is as sharp as any in the business, and Kelly was easily the most impressive speaker on Day 1 of the Angelo clinic. 

Kelly gets it. Jimbo wouldn't have tabbed him to replace Pruitt if he didn't.

A few other notes: 

- Kelly was extremely complimentary of Auburn and Gus Malzahn in particular. After falling behind Auburn 21-10 through two quarters, Kelly said Florida State didn't make a single adjustment at halftime. Instead, they simple reinforced the original game plan.

- What makes Malzahn different from other hurry-up coaches? He doesn't try to disguise his intentions with his formation. Gus doesn't care if you know what's coming. He's going fast enough, and his team executes his offense so well, that you still probably won't stop him even if you do know what's coming. 

- Versatility within the secondary is very important to Kelly. Florida State doesn't have a free or strong safety, just right and left. And if you can't set the edge on run support, you probably aren't going to play. "If you can't set the edge, you're going to have a hard time stopping people."

- By far the most important ingredient to stopping a hurry-up offense is simply knowing where to be and where to look. Kelly preached eye discipline throughout his hour and a half, and said that playing the correct alignment and assignment accounts for 80 to 90 percent of a successful defense.