Charles Kelly Takes over FSU Defense

Football Analyst
Posted Jan 22, 2014

Charles Kelly will take the reins of the Florida State defense in 2014, maintaining continuity with the Noles' top-ranked 2013 defense. Defensive ends coach Sal Sunseri will be elevated to Assistant Head Coach and will also be instrumental in running the defense.

Charles Kelly is the man who will take the reins of the Florida State defense in 2014, maintaining solid continuity with the system the Seminoles used on their way to a BCS National Championship in 2013.

Kelly has a broad background as an assistant coach, having coached on both sides of the ball, including eight years as a secondary coach at previous stops. As a result of his experience working with defensive backs, Kelly should be well able to coordinate his defense in the "back to front" manner preferred by FSU head coach Jimbo Fisher.

In our earlier analysis of the possible names for defensive coordinator, we said the following:

"Kelly has been very impressive behind the scenes and would probably be represent a fairly seamless replacement. Most of his coaching career has also been spent working with defensive backs, and he comes from the Bill Belichick defensive tree through Al Groh at Georgia Tech. He can therefore presumably coordinate back to front even if he's coaching linebackers himself.

He did a great job simplifying the Georgia Tech defense after Groh was fired in 2012, transforming that defense in half a season. Promoting Kelly would also allow Fisher flexibility in terms of the position hire, perhaps keeping Kelly at linebackers and hiring a secondary coach or hiring a linebackers coach and moving Kelly to the secondary.

It is still unclear at this time whether Kelly will move to coaching defensive backs at Florida State or stay with the linebackers as his hire gives Fisher substantial flexibility to find the best possible assistant coach at either position.

Defensive ends coach Sal Sunseri will also be elevated to the Assistant Head Coach title. Rumors have swirled that Sunseri has been a candidate for other jobs, but he will remain in Tallahassee and will be instrumental in running the defense together with Kelly.

We do not expect Sunseri to move to coaching linebackers in place of Kelly should the latter move to coaching defensive backs as Sunseri is one of the best defensive edge coaches (OLB/DE) in the college game. He will, however, be highly influential in the direction the defense takes in 2014.

There is still no word on the additional defensive assistant to be hired, as Jimbo Fisher is notorious for playing such things close to the vest. We continue to feel a highly regarded secondary coach with connections to Fisher or the Saban coaching tree like Derrick Ansley (CBs at Kentucky), Corey Raymond (DBs at LSU), or perhaps someone like Bradley Peveto (Safeties at Kentucky) would be the sort of hire Fisher is most likely to make here.

Either way, Florida State will be running a defense very similar to its system in 2013, and Kelly's hire will allow the defense to move forward with a second year in largely the same system rather than having to reset with its third system in as many years.

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