NCAA FB

CFN: Florida State Defense

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The Skinny: You could see the swagger start to return to the defense as the season went on last year and now could be back to its old form. The tackles and corners are outstanding while and are two of the ACC's better linebackers. Defensive Line: All four starters return. The anchor of the line is junior tackle who might be the nation's best defensive tackle. He missed spring ball cause of an injury, but he'll return after making a whopping 22 tackles for loss and 19 quarterback hurries last season. At the nose is 290-pound junior who made 37 tackles last season and is a perfect complement to Dockett. Junior and senior combined to make six sacks last year and must become better at getting into the backfield this season. Sophomore will back up Emanuel on the right side while junior will back up Jackson on the left. Senior provides 23 tackles of experience behind Dockett. 235-pound senior will back up Womble. Grade: A- ... The Noles are rock-solid in the middle, but a Peter Boulware/Andre Wadsworth-type needs to step up on the ends to get to the quarterback. Dockett can't be expected to provide all the pressure.

Returning Starters (8)
RDE , 6-4 258 Jr.
DT , 6-4 285 Jr.
NG , 6-3 290 Jr.
LDE , 6-4 255 Sr.
LB , 6-2 217 Jr.
LB , 6-3 225 Jr.
LCB , 5-10 180 Sr.
RCB , 5-9 183 Jr.
Linebackers: As you'd expect, the linebackers can fly. Junior returns to play on the weak side after missing spring ball with injured shoulders. With his cornerback speed and experience, Pope is poised to have an All-America type season. Junior will back him up. In the middle, 277-pound returns after starting the last two games of 2001 making 12 tackles against and four tackles, a sack and a tackle for loss against . Junior will challenge Pope for the honor of being the star of the corps making 81 tackles last season on the strong side. Sophomore will back him up. Grade: A ... You couldn't ask for more ideal group of linebackers with the speed and production of Pope and Boulware on the outside and a big, defensive tackle sized player in the middle. Secondary: The secondary will have to get used to two new starting safeties to complement the outstanding corners. Sophomore , who has a little experience playing in 11 games last season making nine tackles and an interception, will start at free safety backed up by junior Yohance Buchanon. The rovers might be green, but they're big. 6-0, 200-pound sophomore gets the start after seeing action in ten games last year making 15 stops and an interception. 6-0, 208-pound sophomore will back up Osei. The corners will be rock solid with the return of senior and junior who combined to make 69 tackles and break up ten passes last season. Samuels, the better of the two, will start on the left side. Junior and sophomore provide plenty of experienced depth. Grade: A- ...Replacing a playmaking safety like might be difficult, but the Noles have players to step up. Special Teams: Forget worrying about missing clutch kicks as sophomore stood out as a freshman only missing one field goal (from 42 yards) showing off one of the ACC's strongest legs. Senior averaged 40.1 yards per kick last year putting 13 inside the 20. Sophomore Craphanso Thorpe and sophomore are the top kick returners with sophomore and senior back to return punts. Grade: A ... Beitia will be on the nation's short list of All-Americans while the return game is potentially explosive.
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