Defense Talks UVA

Nearly every time out, the Florida State defense can count depth among its advantages. When the Seminoles take the field against the undefeated Virginia on Saturday night, that won't be the case.

A depleted FSU defensive line will have its hands full with a talented and experienced Cavalier offensive line that has surrendered just two sacks so far this season. Add that to the fact that they'll be blocking for three explosive tailbacks and a dual-threat quarterback (Marques Hagans) with an all-American candidate at tight end (Heath Miller) as his primary target.

"It's nothing we can't handle," FSU defensive tackle Travis Johnson said. "I have confidence we can get the job done."

Johnson – ranked seventh in the NCAA in tackles for loss – spearheads a gifted line that leads the Atlantic Coast Conference in sacks per game. Problem is, they'll likely be without the services of end Eric Moore and have an injury-slowed Broderick Bunkley at the other tackle spot. Both starters are struggling with ankle sprains.

In Virginia, the FSU defense sees a reflection of a familiar opponent.

"They're like Miami," said DT Clifton Dickson, who will give Johnson and Bunkley reprieves. "Their line is big and physical but they can move, too. [Miller] is great blocker and pass catcher at tight end."

A season ago, a controlled passing strategy nearly propelled the Cavs to the upset in a 19-14 loss to FSU with Miller and tailback Alvin Pearman each breaking double-digits in receptions. The Seminoles say they'll be prepared if UVA tries to duplicate the effort.

"We'll be ready," linebacker A.J. Nicholson said. "We'll make sure we're fresh out there. We go against the best in practice so we'll be ready."

BOWDEN MUM ON QB SITUATION: If Wyatt Sexton goes down, it'll be anyone's guess who replaces him under center. For the third straight day, Chris Rix practiced with the second unit but remains hobbled by a high ankle sprain. Freshman Drew, Weatherford, also less than healthy because of an ankle sprain, and sophomore walk-on Thomas Keane are coach Bobby Bowden's other options.

Situation will likely be the deciding factor.

"We'll just go out there and play the dang game and see what happens," Bowden said.

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