Noles D has something to prove

While Jimbo Fisher has been quick to stoke the fires of Florida State's preseason hype, he has adopted a more reserved slogan for the team inside the locker room: Just play.

The buzz among outsiders is heating up, with talk of a national title and a potentially dominant defense, but the simplistic approach has resonated with FSU's veteran defenders.

"At the end of the day, I don't really care about what people expect of our defense or our coaches or our organization," safety Lamarcus Joyner said. "At the end of the day, we've seen what happened last year. If you ask me, it's actually manipulating you to fail -- the high expectations, to be ranked high, to be built up. Because when you're at the top, the only thing to do is to fall."

Perhaps that's why Fisher was quick to dismiss lofty projections for his defense last week, noting that, at some point, expectations become so immense no team could meet them.

On the other hand, it's not just the hype about what's to come that FSU's defense is working to avoid. They're also happy to forget any success enjoyed last season.

Florida State wrapped up the 2011 campaign ranked fourth in the nation in scoring defense, second in rush defense and fourth in total defense. What does that all mean for 2012?

Not much, Joyner said.

"We still haven't proven anything yet," Joyner said. "This is Florida State, and we should always have those expectations. This defense is probably not doing anything that any defense in the past hasn't done."

That's not entirely true, of course. In 2010, FSU ranked 42nd in total defense. In 2009, the Seminoles were 108th.

But Joyner's not interested in comparing this team to recent history. He wants the 2012 defense to be judged with the elite units that have called Florida State home over the years.

To be in the conversation is nice, senior Nick Moody said. But potential isn't worth much without accomplishment.

"Since we've been here, we haven't won anything -- no ACC championship, no big bowl game," Moody said. "We haven't done anything yet. That's how we feel."