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September 13, 2011
After the long flight landed in Tallahassee and the focus shifted to the next opponent, Greg Reid's mind couldn't escape what he just experienced in Norman, Okla. Try as he might, FSU's star cornerback was unable to shrug off a dismal performance that saw the Sooners tally 32 completions, 394 passing yards, four passing touchdowns leading directly to a 30-point beatdown.
A sophomore who was already garnering national attention and star status entering the game, Reid couldn't slow down the Sooners and shouldered much of the criticism in the wake of the 47-17 defeat.
"It was real tough. I stayed in the house for a while, I can tell you that," said Reid, a 5-foot-8, 186-pound junior. "I was just thinking about it, saying to myself 'Whatever it takes.' I didn't want to play like that again. From that point on, I felt like I improved, and that's what I kept doing every week."
Turning a seemingly competitive non-conference matchup into glorified target practice, OU quarterback Landry Jones had his way against the young FSU secondary. Primarily using short routes and bubble screens with endless yards after the catch, Jones racked up 12 completions of at least 10 yards in the first half alone. Undersized against Oklahoma's physical wide receivers, Reid struggled mightily.
Now, Reid and the rest of the FSU secondary have a chance for redemption as they take on the No. 1 Sooners on Saturday. Kickoff is set for 8 p.m. ET.
"I think about (last year's game) from time to time, but right now I think that we're a better secondary and a better team," Reid said. "I'm not really worried about last year. I'm focused on Saturday and the future."
There's no question that FSU's inexperience played a role. To combat an elite team on the road in a hostile environment, the Seminoles came equipped with an entire starting secondary that had made one combined road start against a Division I-A opponent.
Of what could be considered the Seminoles' top six defensive backs this season - cornerbacks Reid, Xavier Rhodes, Mike Harris along with safeties Lamarcus Joyner Nick Moody and Terrance Parks - all six saw significant time in last year's game against OU. But Moody was the only one in that group to ever make a start prior to 2010.
"I feel like (inexperience) was one of the many factors of it," said Parks, the starting strong safety opposite Joyner at free safety. "Of course they're a good team, and they're going to get their yards and score touchdowns and of course we were young. So hopefully with us being in our second year (in the defense) it should help us."
"We just weren't quite ready for whatever reason," said FSU defensive coordinator Mark Stoops , whose unit gave up 487 yards of total offense in Norman. All-American receiver Ryan Broyles led the Sooners with 12 catches for 124 yards and a touchdown.
"Whether it was coaching, we didn't coach them good enough, we didn't have them in the right position, we didn't have great enough understanding of what we were trying to teach. The system just failed obviously, you get beat like that it wasn't good. There's no excuses, we just didn't play good enough."
The secondary did make strides after OU. FSU allowed an average of 211 passing yards per game and gave up just 13 touchdown passes against 14 interceptions over the final 12 games.
This year's top six defensive backs enter Saturday with a total of 62 total starts. And across the entire defense, FSU still has 18 players who were listed on its two-deep going into last year's Oklahoma game. Parks said the team has watched the tape of last year's miscues "so many times."
"Over the summer, even last spring, we watched it so many times," Parks said. "We feel like it was something where you want to look at it and view your mistakes. Just to see that it won't happen next time. But yea, we watched it."
Reid, who brings 15 total starts into the weekend, missed last week's game for a violation of team rules. He admits that the struggles in last year's game continue to fuel him. And just in case Reid decided to forget, an Oklahoma fan put together a 90-second highlight clip stringing together all of Reid's miscues in the 2010 game and posted it to YouTube. It has almost 10,000 hits.
"I think I have something to prove throughout the season," he said. "I have to show the world and Nole Nation that I'm working hard in this camp and I'm just trying to get better. I'm just trying to prove (myself) - this game especially - throughout the whole season."
And what if Jones and Broyles, the Sooner's unstoppable tandem, try to go right at Reid again this season?
"I hope so, I really do hope so," Reid said. "It was terrible last year. I can't let my daddy see me play like that. Not at all."