Next Man Up

Florida State cruised to their first victory of the season on Saturday, but some bad news leaked out on Labor Day evening. Senior Defensive End and potential All-American Brandon Jenkins will miss the remainder of the season with a Lisfranc injury.

Florida State's media release:

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida State head football coach Jimbo Fisher has announced that senior defensive end Brandon Jenkins will miss the 2012 season after suffering an injury to his left foot in FSU's game against Murray State last Saturday.

"after receiving information late in the afternoon following an mri and a weight bearing x-ray and also awaiting to talk to Brandon Jenkins and his mother, it was determined that Brandon will miss the 2012 season with a Lisfranc injury," Fisher said.

"Brandon is not only a tremendous player, but a great person, teammate and leader that we will miss. i know he'll bounce back and recover to continue a great career."

Florida State will practice Tuesday and Fisher will be available following practice.

Dealing with the Injury

FSU had the top group of 4-3 DEs in the country with Jenkins, Bjoern Werner, and Tank Carradine. Each of the three was expected to be picked in the top four rounds of the 2013 NFL Draft (although Werner has another year of eligibility).

One move that was made in the Spring was Dan Hicks from DE to TE. Hicks had been the 4th DE for the both the 2010 and 2011 seasons and seemed like he would have been again in 2012 pre-move. Hicks has always wanted to play TE however and his big body and natural strength were seen as an upgrade to the run game. Unfortunately he is out for the season. We feel a healthy Hicks would have been the 'easiest' solution to the Jenkins injury. In a way then, FSU has suffered two injuries at this spot.

Werner and Carradine will start and they are still one of top duo's in the country. The concern is now about depth and whether FSU can see little drop-off to the second unit. Teams such as Clemson will try to run 75+ offensive plays and FSU needs to have depth in place.

Freshmen Giorgio Newberry and seldom used senior Toshmon Stevens will have the first crack at locking down the second team spots. Newberry has terrific size and he seemed to get better with every snap in his first action Saturday. Stevens is a complete unknown at this time. He has been a terrific performer on special teams, but simply has not logged any meaningful snaps at DE in his career.

Perhaps the biggest surprise on Saturday was that superstar freshmen Mario Edwards was not in uniform. The 6-3, 290 pound UA All-American was expected to make an immediate impact, however Head Coach Jimbo Fisher stated in his press conference that Edwards and fellow freshmen Chris Casher were slated to red-shirt because of a lack of opportunity to log legit snaps. Did that change with Jenkins injury?

One would think that it had too and we think the red-shirt will come off at least one of the players. There have been some rumblings that Edwards did not exactly like the red-shirt situation and he seems to be the one both more physically ready to step in and the prospect that arrived who is more technically sound. On the flip side, Casher is more of an explosive pass rusher like Jenkins. There are two good options here and we should find out on Saturday.

This scenario would probably take another injury to Werner or Carradine, but there is one other potential solution. Christian Jones could easily line-up at DE. That move would also get Telvin Smith on the field more as a LB. One issue there is that Smith is seen as a MLB and we are not sure Vincent Williams can handle the outside. Anyway, Jones is the type of versatile player that can steal some reps at DE anytime.

Bottom Line

FSU still has six healthy DEs on the roster and this is no time for panic. Yes a great player was lost for the season and there is no question that it hurts the defense, but FSU is one of the deeper teams in the country.

No player benefits more than Carradine. If the 6-5, 260 pound monster can seize the opportunity, FSU fans may just forget the loss of Jenkins. Carradine is stronger at the point of attack, however is not quite the natural pass rusher that Jenkins is. So the defense gets more stout against the run, but loses some explosiveness.

Stevens and Newberry (or perhaps Edwards/Casher) will need to be able to be productive with those second team reps. We thinks they can be.

Lingering Question

Will Jenkins return for 2013? Jenkins did not go into the 2012 draft because he wanted to win a National Championship at FSU. The fact that he COULD have went to the league AND Jenkins is seen as a world class kid character wise is what makes this injury so devastating for Brandon. It certainly does not seem 'fair'.

Could he return? It is too early to know, but we think the timetable to get to 100% will be the biggest issue. Should Jenkins be able to compete and train at 100% for the draft, his stock would only be minimally hurt. If he can't work-out for NFL scouts at 100%, he could see his stock slide down in the draft to the point where returning is the better option.

Only time will tell.

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