With a cornucopia of talent returning as well as ample experience, FSU football should field an elite defensive secondary for the 2017 season.
Entering 2016, the defensive secondary was considered to be a strength of the FSU defense and possibly the strongest unit on the team. Unfortunate circumstances such as injuries lead to a disappointing start – but it seems as if the secondary is starting to take shape. There is reason to believe FSU football will field an elite defensive secondary for the 2017 season.
Throughout the first half of the regular season, FSU’s secondary was much maligned (rightfully so). Coverage busts and mass-confusion were all too common themes when tuning into the Noles on Saturdays.
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These issues were present from the opening night, but they were compounded by injuries to key players in the secondary – most notably, a season ending injury to Derwin James in the second game of the season. Not only did the secondary lose their best player in James, they lost their most experienced player in senior safety Nate Andrews due to a pectoral injury he suffered in the Miami game.
The silver lining of the injury situation is the experience gained for the players replacing their injured teammates. The most notable beneficiary is safety Ermon Lane, who didn’t make the switch from receiver until after the Louisville debacle. Lane seems to possess the natural instincts needed to play safety. With his career rejuvenated, Lane will look to master his new craft with a full off-season at his new position.
While some players started to see the field due to injuries, others simply needed time to carve out their role. True freshmen Levonta Taylor and Kyle Meyers saw the field more starting with the Miami game. The roles of Taylor and Meyers have only expanded since “The Block at The Rock”. These personnel adjustments coincide with the marked improvements of the defense as a whole.
Taylor lacks size, but the former five star recruit is an excellent cover corner who checks in on obvious passing downs. The freshman corner will look to earn a spot as the full-time starter opposite of Tarvarus McFadden in 2017.
Meyers, a blue-chip corner from New Orleans has been seeing time at the star position where he has flashed excellent coverage skills. Meyers’s coverage skills were most notably on display on his game-clinching pass defense on fourth down against NC State.
The Near Future
The FSU football defensive secondary taking shape in 2016 points to great things for the near future of the unit. The return of Derwin James alone should be enough to get fans excited about this secondary entering the 2017 season.
Combining the return of James with the emergence of McFadden as an interception machine, the experience of Trey Marshall, and the potential displayed by players such as Taylor, Meyers, and Lane should create an abundance of optimism regarding the secondary moving forward.
With the way FSU has recruited within the secondary, fans expectations are justifiably high. I believe those expectations will be met and FSU will field an elite secondary in the 2017 season.