Fresh Faced Starters on Defense

Florida State opened spring practice Monday, and becuase of injuries, graduation, and the NFL draft, the Seminoles will have some space to fill on defense. Players say that the talent level will remain the same, though. Defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews is trying to balance instructions on fundamentals and the Seminoles' defensive package.

There has been some turnover, but when linebacker Buster Davis looks around the defense he still sees familiar faces. They've played in games and practiced together before, only now many of those teammates that held backup roles are filling important vacancies.

No need to worry, says Davis. Although the names on the first-string have changed, he believes the talent remains.

"We're missing a couple of key guys," Davis said. "We lost a lot of starters. But (these new players) came out with a lot of focus."

There are seven starters gone from the previous team, not including cornerback Antonio Cromartie, who was listed at the top of the depth chart before the start of 2005 until a preseason injury ended his year.

Davis is the lone returning first-team linebacker, Andre Fluellen and Darrell Burston are the two starters back on the defensive line, and cornerback Tony Carter, who will be held out of contact for spring practice, is the only member of the secondary to start in all 13 games last season.

It's a balancing act for defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews. Between the toll that graduation, the NFL draft, and offseason surgeries took on his roster, Andrews is left with young players to work into his rotation while strengthening their fundamentals and teaching them his defensive package.

"Sometimes when you get to doing too many things you don?'t get as good at fundamentals because you?re going through a learning process," said Andrews. "We have to expose them to get them better at this game."

Some, like safety Myron Rolle, are fresh to Andrews' system, but will get an opportunity to fight for an opening this spring. Redshirt freshman Jamie Robinson is another player battling for a spot in the Seminoles' defensive backfield. Robinson said this kind of competition helps to bring out his best.

"Everybody knows what spring practice means,"said Robinson. "It's competing for that spot."


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