FSU to rely on backups with Jenkins out

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida State's season took a huge hit in Week 1 with the loss of All-American defensive end Brandon Jenkins. But if there was one position that the Seminoles could afford to lose a star, it's at defensive end.

Florida State players and coach Jimbo Fisher have said this year that senior backup Tank Carradine is like a third starter and that there is no drop-off to him from Jenkins and junior Bjoern Werner.

And now Carradine, who led the team with nine tackles and had a sack in the season-opening win over Murray State, will get the chance to play as a starter on Saturday against Savannah State at 6 p.m.

"He's a starter," said Werner, who had four sacks against Murray State. "He's as good as we are. You're going to see over the season."

Carradine has played like a starter at FSU. He was considered the nation's top junior college defensive end in 2010, and last fall had 38 tackles and 5.5 sacks. Carradine was clearly talented enough to start for most college teams, and now he will be for the rest of the season.

"I don't like the way that it happened," said Carradine, who is close friends with Jenkins. "It just tells me that I have to step up now because the team needs me. We all have to make an effort for Brandon."

While Werner and Carradine are known quantities, their backups are just beginning to establish themselves.

But Fisher has been pleased with the play of redshirt freshman Giorgio Newberry, who had two tackles, forced a fumble and recovered a fumble against Murray State.

While saddened by Jenkins' injury, Newberry recognizes the chance he has.

"It's a great opportunity for me," Newberry said. "Me coming in as a freshman, I was a bit raw. I actually thought I was ready last year until I came in and realized how much you need to do as a defensive end.

"Brandon taught me a lot. That's who I basically looked after. He told me what to do and what not to do."

And Fisher is now looking for a No. 4 defensive end. Monday afternoon, Fisher thought that Jenkins would return to the field and that incoming freshmen Mario Edwards Jr. and Chris Casher would end up taking a redshirt.

That changed later Monday when an MRI exam revealed the extent of Jenkins' injury. Now Fisher said Edwards Jr., considered the nation's top high school defensive end in the class of 2012, and Casher will be competing for playing time as backups — and gain experience for the future.

Fisher said that Edwards Jr. has had an excellent preseason.

"I think he's going to be phenomenal," Fisher said.


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