July 21, 2011 - by
Sneak Peak: Defensive Outlook

July 21, 2011







Brandon Mellor
Brandon Mellor


Seminoles.com Senior Writer
bmellor@fsu.edu
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Yesterday we gave you a sneak peak at the offensive outlook for the Seminoles that will be featured in the upcoming 2011 Florida State Football Almanac.

Today, let’s take a glance at the defense and then on Friday we will cap it off with the specialists.

If you want to own a copy of the almanac, click here to place a pre-order for $20. Orders are expected to ship in mid August.


DEFFENSIVE OUTLOOK:

DEFENSIVE TACKLE/NOSE GUARD

Once a position of concern, the Seminoles can now turn to a core group of seven interior defensive linemen who have made dramatic gains in the weight room to go along with invaluable experience gained over the past few years. The defensive tackle and nose guard positions, often interchangeable, may well be a team strength moving forward with juniors Jacobbi McDaniel, Everett Dawkins and Anthony McCloud leading the charge.

McDaniel and Dawkins are 1 and 1A entering the preseason at the defensive tackle spot. McDaniel has physically reinvented himself in the offseason, while already amassing 56 career stops, 9.5 tackles for loss and two forced fumbles. Explosive off the ball, Dawkins has racked up 55 tackles including 10.5 for lost yardage and 4.5 sacks in his career. Sophomore Demonte McAllister, who will push the veterans, had registered seven tackles for loss and three sacks among his 16 stops as a freshman.

McCloud started the final seven games last season at nose guard and played in all 14 games, registering 35 tackles from the center of the line. He matched his season-high with six tackles in the Chick-fil-A Bowl win over South Carolina.

Redshirt freshman Cameron Erving (6-5, 305) is an imposing figure who emerged from his first spring as a viable candidate for significant playing time. Sophomore Darious Cummings saw limited action last season but is an explosive force coming off the ball. The X-factor among nose guards could be redshirt junior Moses McCray, a one-time starter who has battled injuries throughout his career, but is one of the team’s most physically gifted athletes.

DEFENSIVE ENDS

The 2010 season saw the Seminoles re-establish their reputation for producing a relentless pass rush off the edge. Led by first-team All-ACC selection and preseason All-American Brandon Jenkins – and three of the top four ends from a year ago – the ‘Noles look to improve on their nation-leading 48 sacks, in no small part because of the anticipated improvement of a more seasoned interior front.

Jenkins, a junior starter on the right side, ranked third nationally in sacks (13.5) in his first season of significant action. He tied for fourth nationally in tackles for loss (21.5), which ranks as the third-best season in FSU history. An instinctive player with a relentless motor, he amassed 63 tackles on the season. Jenkins will be backed by sophomore Dan Hicks, who supplied 13 solo stops – including three tackles for loss and two sacks – in a back-up role.

The left end position leader is sophomore Bjoern Werner, the Berlin, Germany native who steps in for graduated standout Markus White. Werner’s power game translated to 20 tackles, including six tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks, as a true freshman. Junior Cornellius “Tank” Carradine led the JUCO ranks with 16 sacks among his 119 tackles last season in an All-American campaign. A January enrollee, he emerged from the spring as a rising force on the defensive front.

LINEBACKERS

No defensive segment lost more productivity from the 2010 roster than the linebacker corps, which must replace a pair of starters. Fortunately, the Seminoles can lean once more on weakside stalwart, senior Nigel Bradham, the teams’ top tackler in each of the past two seasons. The balance of the starting unit, as well as the top reserves, will be comprised of heralded younger players who have been brought on board over the past few seasons.

Bradham, entering his third season as a starter, remains the linchpin of the segment. In addition to a career-best 98 stops (54 solo), Bradham also logged new career-highs for sacks (five) and passes defended (five), while matching his previous best of 5.5 tackles for loss. He will be backed up by rising sophomore Jeff Luc and freshman Terrance Smith.

The middle linebacker spot is shaping up as a battle between junior Vince Williams and sophomore Telvin Smith. Williams posted a career-best 17 stops last season after missing the entire 2009 season with a back injury. Rangy and athletic with a mean streak, Smith moves from the weakside position, where he registered 18 tackles as Bradham’s back-up. Redshirt freshman Holmes Onwukaife will get a long look in the middle during the preseason after sitting out the spring following shoulder surgery.

As a true freshman, Christian Jones saw action in all 14 games and proved quite productive, registering 18 tackles, including three tackles for loss, a pass break-up, a fumble recovery and three sacks. He was the ACC Rookie of the Week following his six-tackle effort at Virginia, which included a sack and a pass break-up. Jones will be challenged by redshirt freshman Nigel Terrell, who is blessed with speed and added significant mass in his first season on campus.

SECONDARY

In 2010, FSU’s secondary was easily the most improved segment on the team, contributing significantly to a unit that was especially stout defending the end zone. Cornerbacks Greg Reid and Xavier Rhodes teamed with ultimate utility man Michael Harris to lock up the edges, while safeties Terrance Parks and Nick Moody brought a physical toughness to FSU’s last line of defense.

Reid continued to pile up big plays in his second season in 2010 and is the most seasoned secondary man as the projected junior starter at the field cornerback spot. The Defensive MVP of the Chick-fil-A Bowl, he posted career-highs for tackles (65), pass break-ups (14), interceptions (three), tackles for loss (three) and forced fumbles (three). True freshman Nick Waisome, a heralded signee who benefitted from January enrollment, possesses many of the same traits as the back-up field corner.

Rhodes, a redshirt sophomore, was a consensus Freshman All-American as a 14-game starter at the boundary corner. His 12 pass break-ups and 16 passes defended led all freshmen nationally en route to ACC Defensive Rookie of the Year honors, as well as National Defensive Freshman of the Year from collegefootballnews.com. Long and physical, he amassed 58 tackles (49 solo), including 3.5 tackles for loss and led the ‘Noles with four interceptions, capping his regular season campaign with a pair of fumble recoveries in the win over Florida. 

Harris, a senior, was arguably FSU’s most productive big-play specialist while earning most of his time as the nickel back. Of his 41 stops, 33 were of the solo variety. He shared the team lead with four interceptions, broke up five passes and forced a pair of fumbles. Three of his interceptions came in wins over Clemson, Florida and South Carolina. In addition to backing up Rhodes at the boundary corner, Harris will also see action in nickel and dime packages. Redshirt junior Avis Commack, a 6-foot-4 converted wideout, will also compete for action at boundary corner after missing last season with a leg injury.

Instead of playing side-by-side as they did in 2010, Parks and Moody will compete for the starting job at free safety. Parks started all 14 games at the position last season and produced 44 tackles and six pass break-ups. Moody, the starting free safety, finished third on the team with 79 tackles, including four tackles for loss. He had a career-high 13 tackles at Maryland and helped seal the win with a 96-yard interception return for a touchdown, earning ACC Defensive Back of the Week honors. Sophomore Justin Bright will supply depth to the position.

A year ago Lamarcus Joyner came into the fold as the USA Today National Defensive Player of the Year. A cornerback by trade, he enters his sophomore season as the projected starting strong safety, where his ball skills will come in handy. Joyner made 23 stops, broke up two passes and added an interception against Miami in 14 appearances, primarily at corner. Sophomore Terrence Brooks, who saw the majority of his action on special teams, will compete for the free safety position.

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