Game 1 Defense: FSU at Pitt

Florida State opens the season with a road test at Pittsburgh on Labor Day night. It will be the Panther's first game in the ACC and it will be played before a nationally televised audience. Today we look the returning defenses of both teams in terms of talent and experience.

All numbers for the recruiting ranking are from Phil Steele as are the depth charts.

DEFENSIVE LINE

FSU

Mario Edwards, Sophomore, 6'3, 282 (#1)

Timmy Jernigan, Junior, 6'2, 298 (#4)

Demonte McAllister, Senior, 6'2, 290 (#28)

Chris Casher, Freshmen, 6'4, 248 (#12)

Jacobbi McDaniel, Senior, 6'0, 290 (#1)

Giorgio Newberry, Sophomore, 6'6, 273 (#17)

Dan Hicks, Senior, 6'4, 260 (#244)

PITT

David Durham, Junior, 6'1, 246 (#69)

Tyron Ezell, Senior, 6'4, 300 (#65)

Aaron Donald, Senior, 6'0, 275 (#62)

Bryan Murphy, Junior, 6'3, 255 (#54)

Devin Cook, Sophomore, 6'4, 235

Darryl Rendell, Sophomore, 6'2, 270 (#174)

LaQuentin Smith, Junior, 6'2, 265 (#69)

FSU actually goes a little deeper than the seven listed above as Desmond Hollin, Demarcus Walker, Nile Lawrence-Stample, Eddie Goldman, and Justin Shanks will all compete for playing time.

Some players need to emerge---Edwards and Casher in particular, but there are no questions on talent. Jernigan is supposed to have the All-American year.

Pitt is solid up front however and experienced. Ezell, Donald, and Murphy are proven commodities and Durham is a transfer from Ohio State. There are not many Floridians on Pitt's roster, but Smith is one of them (Dr. Phillips). They are not quite as big as would be expected and unlike FSU there are not more bodies to turn to (that are ready).

On a hot Labor Day night, FSU's depth may pay dividends in the 2nd half as there are a lot of bodies.

LINEBACKER

FSU

Christian Jones, Senior, 6'4, 232 (#4)

Terrance Smith, Sophomore, 6'4, 215 (#36)

Telvin Smith, Senior, 6'3, 215 (#53)

Markuss Eligwe, Freshmen, 6'2, 231 (#9)

PITT

Anthony Gonzalez, Junior, 6'3, 210 (#28)

Shane Gordon, Senior, 6'1, 220 (#99)

Todd Thomas, Junior, 6'2, 215 (#22)

Bam Bradley, Freshmen, 6'2, 217(#52)

Gordon is a second Floridian (Cypress Bay) and a very solid MLB. The knock was his speed and that is still true today. A pair of OLBs with speed surround him and they are long athletes. This is a potential strength of the defense and Thomas has some real potential.

FSU has the NFL kid (Jones) and once again there are a number of more options than listed (Reggie Northrup, Matthew Thomas, Freddie Stevenson). A lot will be riding on Telvin Smith, it will be his time to shine and he may need to be more solid-consistent than flashy.

Both teams will be in the nickel a high percentage of the time.

DEFENSIVE BACK

FSU

Lamarcus Joyner, Senior, 5'8, 190 (#2)

Terrance Brooks, Senior, 5'11, 197 (#132)

Ronald Darby, Sophomore, 5'11, 189 (#4)

Nick Waisome, Junior, 5'10, 170 (#12)

Karlos Williams, Junior, 6'1, 230 (#2)

Tyler Hunter, Junior, 5'11, 190 (#67)

Lafayette Pitts, Sophomore, 5'11, 195 (#83)

K'Wuan Williams, Senior, 5'10, 190 (#113)

Ray Vinopal, Junior, 5'10, 190 (#277)

Jason Hendricks, Senior, 6'0, 180

Cullen Christian, Junior, 6'0, 195 (#17)

Branden Felder, Junior, 5'10, 180 (#96)

A couple of things are interesting here. There is only ONE DB who weights over 200 pounds (Karlos), that really shows the way the game has changed over the past decade vs. the spread. Secondly FSU has a decided talent edge here as well as more experience.

FSU has a lot of options, the first one is with Joyner playing CB which puts Karlos and Hunter on the field at Safety. P.J. Williams is not listed, but he is pressing for time on the field and Jalen Ramsey is yet another wildcard at the cornerback spot. This could be a great year at FSU in the defensive backfield and there is a reasonable chance 4-5 are NFL draftee's down the road.

This is a real solid Pitt secondary. Not FSU caliber, but they are middle to top half ACC in this department. No star, but a very good group of 6-8.

OVERALL THOUGHTS

Pitt came out a little better than expected when we started this article. It is a very solid team on both sides of the football that has some size (in spots) and experience. The team lacks next level stars, elite athleticism, and those should be the big differences in the game.

On defense, FSU has NFL guys at each level and a case can be made that they possess multiple NFL guys. The only real question is whether a couple of DEs 'step up'---- and this in terms of whether they can 'step up' to be special----not whether they can play.


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