Fisher: Room for Carradine to improve

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- As the praise mounted for Cornellius Carradine after Saturday's game, Jimbo Fisher's analysis was noticeably tepid.

Carradine had led the team with nine tackles and his forced fumble, which Christian Jones scooped up and returned for a touchdown, was a game-changing play, but Fisher couched his enthusiasm with a simplistic: "We'll have to see what's on the film."

Of course, the coach sees all.

By Monday, Fisher had watched the film and seen all Carradine had done well, but it was clear it hadn't been a virtuoso performance by the first-year starter.

"He made some big plays, but he had a lot of boo-boos in that game," Fisher said. "There's a lot of things you didn't see."

That didn't prevent Carradine from being named the ACC's defensive lineman of the week, nor does it mean Fisher hasn't been impressed by all those big plays, which included 1.5 sacks against USF.

It's just that, from a consistency standpoint, there's still more Fisher wants to see.

"Tank's a phenomenal player, but being an every down player, the starter, there's a lot of little things that go within the teamwork of a defense sometimes," Fisher said. "Now you have to be consistent for a longer period of time. You went from 30 plays a game to 60 plays a game."

Perhaps that's why USF attacked Carradine so consistently, pegging him as "the weakest link," he said.

Indeed, the first four plays of the game were run right at Carradine and met with varied results. When spying quarterback B.J. Daniels, Carradine was strong. He finished with three tackles on QB runs that amounted to a total of four yards, and he was in on two sacks.

But when forced to defend the run, things got more complicated. Carradine's four tackles on running backs yielded 26 total yards, and on a handful of others, USF was able to bounce the ball outside and past Carradine.

The mistakes weren't major, but they are what separates a good defensive end from a potentially dominant one, Fisher said.

"It's the concentration level," Fisher said. "The guy is playing super football. I'm talking about some really detailed things. As he gets those down, it's going to be scary how good he is because he creates so much havoc and so many big plays with his speed and power."

Carradine arrived at FSU as a junior college transfer before the 2011 season and quickly developed into one of the top pass rushers in the nation who still didn't have a starting job. That changed after this year's opener, when Brandon Jenkins went down with a season-ending foot injury and Carradine was thrust into the starting role.

There's an adjustment period, Fisher said, so a few struggles with the nuances of the game are to be expected. The big plays, on the other hand, have been impossible to ignore.

The keys moving forward, according to Fisher, will be getting more work for backups Giorgio Newberry and Mario Edwards Jr., helping reduce the burden on Carradine. But it will also require Carradine to continue his development, ironing out those last few wrinkles so the coach sees the same dominance that the fans do.

"He's one of those rare ends that combines size and power along with explosiveness," Fisher said. "There's not a lot of those guys. He can do both. He's learning to do that and understand when to do it."