Tough As Nails

Florida State's defense is now ranked first in the nation in rushing defense, allowing just 58 yards per game and less than two yards per carry heading into Saturday's road game at Wake Forest. Senior defensive tackle <b>Travis Johnson</b> leads the defense with 10 tackles for loss this season. Sophomore linebacker <b>Ernie Sims</b> is coming off his best game as a Seminole after totaling nine tackles, three tackles for loss, two sacks and a blocked punt in Saturday's win over Virginia.

Florida State's defense is only getting better.

And senior Travis Johnson wants to make sure that trend continues.

With less than 10 minutes remaining in Saturday's home victory over Virginia, Johnson called his defensive teammates together near the bench.

It was at that time an animated Johnson challenged the Seminoles to continue their stellar play against a Cavaliers offense that came in nationally ranked.

"We want to show that we are the most dominant defensive line in the country and they were saying they were the No. 1-rated offensive line in the country," Johnson said.

"We just wanted to continue to get penetration and show who was better. We wanted to make sure we went out there and took control. We didn't want to give up any more yards. If they would have gotten 300 yards, that would have been another gasser (tonight). That was a big deal for us. We just wanted to keep dominating."

FSU's defense is now ranked first in the nation in rushing defense, allowing just 58 yards per game and less than two yards per carry heading into Saturday's road game at Wake Forest.

FSU coach Bobby Bowden has never lost to Wake Forest in his 28-years of coaching, holding a perfect 12-0 mark against the Demon Deacons.

All-time, Wake Forest is 1-26 versus top five teams with its only victory a 19-6 decision over #4 Tennessee in 1946. The Deacons' last win over a ranked school came last season when they beat No. 14 North Carolina State 38-24.

FSU is currently ranked fifth in both the AP and coaches' polls.

The Seminoles' defense has been following Johnson's passionate lead.

FSU has totaled 23 sacks this season. That total is tied for second in the ACC with the Wolfpack -- Clemson leads the league in sacks with 27.

Ray Piquion, Chauncey Davis and Eric Moore are tied for the team lead with 2.5 sacks each. FSU is on pace to total 44 sacks this season (including bowl/12 games).

That would be the highest sack total for the Seminoles since the 2000 defense recorded 45 sacks.

"We just have to keep on working and by the end of the season hopefully we are the No. 1 defense in the nation," Johnson said.

FSU is receiving solid efforts from a number of players, Johnson included.

Sophomore linebacker Ernie Sims is coming off his best game as a Seminole after totaling nine tackles, three tackles for loss, two sacks and a blocked punt against Virginia

Jerome Carter led the team with a season-high 10 tackles in the UVA win, marking the fourth time of his career that he has recorded double digit tackles in a game.

Johnson, of course, is putting together an outstanding season as well.

He is fifth on the team in tackles with 27 (first among defense linemen) and leads the team with 10.0 tackles for loss, including three in the Syracuse game.

With a strong finish, Johnson could make a run at Darnell Dockett's season tackle for loss record. Dockett totaled 22 stops behind the line of scrimmage in 2001.


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