Some may feel the Florida State Seminoles defense will lose a step this upcoming season after losing key players like Lamarcus Joyner, Christian Jones, Terrence Brooks, Timmy Jernigan and Telvin Smith to the NFL. All five were a big part of FSU’s success on the way to winning the national championship. Of course filling the void of these players is no easy task, but neither was replacing the likes of Bjoern Werner, Tank Carradine and Xavier Rhodes heading into 2013. We all witnessed how that turned out. They were one of the most dominant defenses in Seminole history since the glory days of the 90s.
There is no shortage of talent and depth thanks to the tremendous job head coach Jimbo Fisher and his staff have done with their recruiting. Every year you have to replace those star-studded seniors and juniors who left for the NFL and most teams struggle to do that on a consistent basis, but this team has been set up to reload every season.
The Seminoles had the top passing defense in the country, allowing a national-low 156.6 yards per game through the air. They also allowed a national low 12.1 points per game. Ronald Darby and P.J. Williams are both lockdown corners who will look to do the same again this season.
After playing safety most of last season, Jalen Ramsey will play the role left by Joyner. Ramsey is fast and physical, which should allow the transition to go smoothly. Nate Andrews, who most weren’t expecting to play at all last year, ended up leading the defense with four interceptions. Then you bring back a healthy Tyler Hunter at safety and it looks to be the unit that will anchor the defense.
I don’t expect the front seven to lose a step even after the departures of Smith, Jernigan and Jones. Mario Edwards Jr., Terrence Smith, Eddie Goldman and Matthew Thomas will look to anchor a very talented and deep front seven.
There are plenty of options at linebacker for new linebackers coach Bill Miller to choose from. Guys like Reggie Northrop, E.J. Levenberry and Ukeme Eligwe are athletic, physical and have some solid playing experience that will prove dividends for them. There is also a chance that newcomers Jacob Pugh, Kain Daub and Delvin Purifoy could contribute as backups.
Let’s not forget about the guys in the trenches. During the spring Fisher raved about defensive tackles Desmond Hollin and Niles Lawrence-Stample. They will be part of a very deep rotation at defensive tackle. Then there are Edwards Jr. and his counterparts Chris Casher and Demarcus Walker. All three will look to improve upon their strong 2013 campaign.
Last season was said to be the rebuilding year, so what does that say about this upcoming season? They have the talent, the depth and athleticism to compete with the best offenses in the country. This season they have a great opportunity to prove those who doubted their skills with a decidedly more difficult schedule.
Will they repeat that dominance? I give you an emphatic, YES! They have everything you need to do as they did last season; destroy opposing offenses. Expect to see a lot of the same this season. In fact, they may be better than what we saw in 2013.