Originally posted on Fox Sports Florida  |  Last updated 10/5/12
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. Florida State was finding the end zone. The problem was that Clemson was doing the same thing, but faster, more often and with surprising ease. FSUs defense was being picked apart after dominating its first three games, and now the Tigers got another touchdown to go up 31-21 midway through the third quarter. The game appeared to be slipping away from FSU. But then Lamarcus Joyner took the kickoff at the goal line, found a hole to his left and raced down the sideline 90 yards to put the Seminoles in scoring position again. The energy was back. Joyners run set up a touchdown and FSU scored on its next two drives to complete a rally and knock off Clemson 49-37. If there was one crucial play to point to in FSUs season, it was Joyners return. Im used to that. Ive been doing that since Little League, Joyner said. We ended up winning that game and it was a big spark. I was happy that we took advantage. Joyner is a player whose impact goes beyond numbers. A junior safety, he has 15 tackles but he has corner-like coverage skills and despite his 5-foot-8 frame is a ferocious hitter. And as a kick returner, hes averaging 37 yards per return. He is a student of the game, devouring tape of college and pro games in an attempt to improve his skills. And not just safeties and return men. I even watch offense to see what kind of moves the receivers do in certain situations, Joyner said. I like watching Devin Hester, DeSean Jackson, Ted Ginn. Safeties I like watching Ed Reed and Brian Dawkins. I watch a lot of people. I just like football. FSU defensive coordinator Mark Stoops coached the defensive backs at Miami from 2001-03, back when the Hurricanes had a loaded secondary with the likes of Reed, Sean Taylor, Philip Buchanon, Kelly Jennings, Brandon Merriweather, Antrel Rolle and Mike Rumph. And Stoops sees many of the same qualities in Reed that he sees a decade later in Joyner. People will shoot me for saying that but hes like Ed Reed in that he has great instincts, he has great range and maybe physically there are better guys, Stoops said in August. But when you put it all together, pretty darn good football players with the passion, the instincts, the ability to be coached, the ability to make big plays. He has not done what Ed Reed has. He reminds me of Eddie in that he has the same qualities. Joyner also seems to have the ability to make those around him better. Hes helped Terrence Brooks become more comfortable as he adjusts to his first year as a starter at the other safety spot. And helped sophomore Nick Waisome step into Greg Reids spot at corner. When a receiver does slip past a cornerback, Joyner has often been there to prevent a big play from becoming a touchdown. The Seminoles are fourth in the nation in passing defense, allowing just 128 yards per game. And FSU is seventh overall in scoring defense, giving up just 11 points per game. I think were doing pretty well, Joyner said. We will only get better. Were young but were maturing fast as a secondary.
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