Sept. 6, 2011
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — When it’s your job to explode from a crouching position and slam your body into another human being play after play after play, having someone to give you a breather now and then is rather important.
You need to have depth on the defensive line. You need capable players on the first, second and third teams that can provide valuable substitution and rotation options in between the whistles and crashing bodies.
Florida State’s first game of the 2011 season provided a glimpse at the impressive defensive line depth that the program has built the last few years through strong recruiting and player development.
Seminoles.com Senior Writer
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In the 34-0 win over Louisiana-Monroe last weekend, 12 different defensive linemen saw action in the shut out. The Seminoles limited the Warhawks to less than 200 yards of total offense while getting a dominant rush from the trenches.
“It’s good to have those guys up front,” linebacker Christian Jones said. “They keep those blockers off of us.”
As a team, the ‘Noles generated five sacks and 10 tackles for loss against ULM. Of those numbers, three sacks and 5 1/2 tackles for loss were credited to the defensive linemen.
For a defensive unit that finished tied for first in the nation in sacks last year, it’s a good start.
“The defensive line did a real great job,” cornerback Mike Harris said. “That makes our jobs a lot easier on the back end. It’s just great to have those guys up front.”
Harris is just one of several players in the secondary that are already reaping the benefits of a revamped and fully energized defensive line.
ULM quarterback Kolton Browning entered last week’s ballgame with some high-efficiency and high-yardage performances under his belt. But because of the constant pressure applied from the outside by the defensive ends and from the inside by the defensive tackles, Browning never had a chance to find his footing and rhythm and consequently the statistics reflected his discomfort.
If the defensive line can build off that performance moving forward against Charleston Southern and then further apply it when No. 1 Oklahoma comes to town on Sept. 17, the ‘Noles would be in very good shape heading into ACC play.
“I feel really confident and I am going to keep on saying it and I am going to keep on stressing it,” safety Lamarcus Joyner said. “Why I really feel so confident is because of that up-front. With that pressure, man, we are going to win championships. And that’s all you can ask for. Those guys was taking on double teams, you can’t block them in man, you can’t block them one-on-one. Those guys were destroying and controlling the line of scrimmage. What more can you ask for?
“Their size and their depth make them so good. Thank coach Odell [Haggins] for the technique and the fundamentals that he teaches those guys.”
A strong defensive effort and big plays by the FSU wide receivers generated the most buzz following the Seminoles’ opener. But the third phase of the game can’t be overlooked: against, the Warhawks, Florida State’s special teams was, well, special.
“Our punter punted the ball extremely well,” FSU head coach Jimbo Fisher said. “Our kicker kicked it extremely well — not only on field goals but on kickoffs, all of them were 4.2, 4.3, 4.4 hang-time, two yards deep, one-yard deep or out of the endzone. Our coverage team I thought played extremely well. The punt return game was excellent. Greg [Reid] averaged I think 17- or 18-yards a return.”
BAD NEWS AND GOOD NEWS
Fisher announced Tuesday that Reid and Telvin Smith will not play against Charleston Southern due to a “violation of team rules.”
Smith is the backup middle linebacker to Vince Williams. In his absence, expect to see some shifting and re-scheming by linebackers coach Greg Hudson, who has cross-trained his players to play multiple spots at linebacker.
As for Reid, he will surely be missed on defense and on special teams. Without him, FSU will likely start both Harris and Xavier Rhodes and Avis Commack or Nick Waisome could become the nickel back. Safeties Joyner and Terrance Brooks could factor into the cornerback rotation as well.
On special teams, true freshman Rashad Greene, sophomore Kenny Shaw or redshirt senior Bert Reed could take over punt return duties. Any of those three or perhaps true freshman Karlos Williams could line up alongside Joyner to field kickoffs.
While the news of Reid and Smith’s temporary suspension isn’t good, it’s not all bad from the practice fields.
Starting tailback Chris Thompson said that he feels fine after playing Saturday. Thompson missed all of spring and most of fall camp because of a back injury.
“It felt great,” Thompson said today. “It was just fun getting hit again for the first time since December. Afterwards I felt fine, no problems at all. I was a little nervous at first, before the game but once I took that first hit I didn’t feel any pain. I was good to go.”