Scrimmage Skinny: Defense

The Seminoles promise their defense will be improved over last season. The unit showed its toughness and progress in Saturday's scrimmage, but it also was scuffed by injury. We have notes, quotes and summmaries. "I was out there and made a good move on the tackle, trying to make a play. (I) fell, and grabbed him (McPherson) and pulled and rolled up on his ankle. I didn't mean to hurt him at all. I hate that something like that happens," Alonzo Jackson (pictured) on McPherson injury.

Defensive Line

Starters: DE Alonzo Jackson, DT Darnell Dockett, DT Jeff Womble, DE Kevin Emanuel

Reserves: DE Eric Moore, DE Willie Jones, DT Travis Johnson, DT Tony Benford, DT Broderick Bunkley, DT Donnie Carter, DT Mike Shaw, DE Charles Howard, DE Kamerion Wimbley, DE Eric Powell.

Scrimmage Summary: If everyone was healthy.... this unit is extremely talented. The group also showed a number of twists and stunts during the scrimmage, which should help confuse opponents. However, injuries are again playing havoc with the unit.

Johnson has all kind of athletic ability, especially the speed to to demoralize an offensive lineman. However, Johnson has been plagued by injuries, and he re-injured his surgically repaired ankle Saturday. That's not good.

The knee injury suffered by Womble could be serious. A Grade-2 spain is expected to keep him out a few weeks. Womble worked extremely hard in the offseason, shedding nearly 20 pounds. While suspended for the opener against Iowa State for violating a team rule, Womble was expected to be an important piece to the puzzle.

Dockett is slowly rounding into playing shape following offseason Achilles tendon surgery. Benford might be a swing guy for the Seminoles, versatile enough to rotate between tackle and end, if needed. Other reserves also offer nice talent and skill, but they are not the team's front-line playes. Bunkley has made a nice impression – he just needs to continue to work and improve.

More sacks should not be a problem this season. Jackson, who made two "tackled" sacks of quarterbacks in green non-contact jerseys – the second one injured McPherson – is quick and tenancious. He also appears stronger than last season. Emanuel is steady, which is fine for the moment, but he also needs to make a bigger impact. Eric Powell has reshaped his body and should also be a big help.

Territory Grade: B

Quote: "We just need to get better as a unit, need to get more pressure. I think we play five Heisman Trophy candidates, so we have to get better. Right now I am just going to go where ever they put me. I have to play my role. I have to step my game up. Right now we are doing a lot of stunts to help our pass rush. First scrimmage, we were a little rusty. We will get better. And, like I said, we need to get more pressure." – Tony Benford.

"We made it a point to get to the quarterback. We are hungrier this year. We made it a point to drive to the ball, punish the ballcarrier, get interceptions. I think we made progress today, though we still have a long way to go. I was out there and made a good move on the tackle, trying to make a play. (I)fell, and grabbed him (McPherson) and pulled and rolled up on his ankle. I didn't mean to hurt him at all. I hate that something like that happens. Injuries just seem to hang over Florida State right now." – Alonzo Jackson on performance.

"You get sacks by one, two seconds and that spin and drive to the quarterback – me not practicing that drive, I think it kinda hurts defense ends but in facts it helps the offense because you don't want to get the quarterback hurt like I did today. It was really inadvertent. The defense had a good showing but that's not why (injuries) not jumping up and down right now. I got Travis playing well and he goes down with an ankle again. Right there on the goal line in the end, Jeff. ... it's hard on me right now. Jeff and I are good friends, and then to see him crawling on the ground, that's tough." – Jackson said.

Fun Fact: Consensus All-Americans on DL: Jamal Reynolds (2000), Corey Simon (1999), Andre Wadsworth (1997), Peter Boulware (1996), Reinard Wilson (1996), Ron Simmons (1980), Ron Simmons (1979)


Starters: OLB Kendyll Pope, MLB Jerel Hudson, OLB Michael Boulware

Reserves: Allen Augustin, Marcello Church, Robert May, Nate Hardage, Ray Piquion, Cory Collier, Sam McGrew, A.J. Nicholson, Buster Davis.

Scrimmage Summary: This unit has the potential to be the team's best. Boulware is an exceptional athlete, a player who can cover and stop the run equally well. He still has problems fighting off bigger blockers, but his quickness serves as a great equalizer. Pope also falls into that category, though he's probably a better tackler. And let's give Jerel a pat on the back for dropping the necessary poundage to be counted on in the middle. While not great in coverage, he's adequate enough to get by.

Augustin is the unit's top reserve. In fact, coaches and teammates consider him a starter. He can play the middle or the outside, and is not afraid to stick his nose in the middle of the action. FSU has been yapping about flying to the football this preseason, and this group leads the way.

The youngsters – McGrew, Davis and Nicholson – have been a ball to watch. Sure, they don't know where they are going some of the time, but you have to like their aggressiveness. Davis is built like a fireplug, McGrew has size and strength and Nicholson, who suffered a burner towards scrimmage end, doesn't stop moving.

Hardage appears to be making progress but that should be expected of a JUCO transfer. The others offer nice depth but there is a dropoff in skill level.

Territory Grade: B+

Fun Fact: Defending the run past five years (average yards per game): 2001 (126), 2000 (74), 1999 (99), 1998 (80), 1997 (52)


Starters: CB Stanford Samuels, CB Rufus Brown, FS Kyler Hall*, R Claudius Osei

Reserves: CB Malcom Tatum, CB Bryant McFadden, FS Yohance Buchanan, R Jerome Carter, R Patrick Newton, CB Leroy Smith, CB Jared Hetzel, CB Gerard Ross.

Scrimmage Summary: Still can't get a good feel for this unit. They looked solid on press coverage at times, and others you wanted to cover your eyes – there simply was too much space between receiver and defensive back. The unit, however, appears to be attacking the football much better than a year ago.

Samuels and Brown are tremendous workers. The driven Samuels wants to prove the corners have the ability to shut down a receiver. Good.

Hall didn't play in the scrimmage due to a broken left hand – he's expected back this week – but he's needed. Ward continues to learn the position, and he again tweaked his shoulder but did return. Osei also is a tremendous hitter but questions remain about his pass support.

Carter's surgically repaired knee is still not 100 percent in terms of strength. Safety Buchanan recorded three tackles and intercepted a pass in the scrimmage. FSU's depth is certainly better than a year ago. Time will tell if the unit is better overall, too.

Territory Grade: B

Quote: "On the field (scrimmage), we did accomplish what we wanted to. We were relentless. Goal lone, we folded. We got complacent. They scored three times – that's gruesome. After a great day, we let them in and we can't have that. We were in press all day. That's coach Andrews. He wants to press. Last year it was our fault he wasn't able to press." – Stanford Samules said of his unit.

Fun Fact: Career interception leaders: Terrell Buckley (21), Monk Bonasarte (15), Deion Sanders (14), Lee Corso (14), Corey Sawyer (13).

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