Defensive Line Key to the Future

The defense has taken a lot of heat as of late, the defensive line is one of the areas that has been singled out for improvement. Just 15 practices into the new regime and the early results looked excellent on Saturday, here is how the DL did.

FSU has to get bigger and more physical inside at DT, the position has been notoriously lean numbers wise in recent years, that looks like it is about to change. Overall it is a young group, but there should be at least five members who can contribute. New junior college arrival Anthony McCloud was impressive in his debut, he has terrific size at 6'2, 303 pounds, the sophomore made four tackles with 1.5 tackles for loss. McCloud initially inked with FSU in 2008 and played in 2008 at Itawamba Community college, but redshirted in 2009 giving him three years of eligibility remaining. Getting JUCO signees back in two years is far from a sure thing, this one worked out in FSU's favor. It was hoped that he could contribute 5-15 snaps a game next year, we think we can up that to 15-25 solid snaps. Everett Dawkins(6'2, 269) continued to progress, he made three stops with 1.5 sacks on Saturday. He is undersized today, but is inching closer to his weight goal, when he gets there he brings the ability to get up the field and create havoc in the backfield. He has a good understanding of the finer points of the position and it shows on the field.

McDaniel getting a breather
Steve Chase,,

Unfortunately Jacobbi McDaniel(6'0, 287) was suffering through a case of the flu, he played but was clearly limited in what he could show. McDaniel has big expectations, he will be counted on to anchor the interior in 2010. Demonte McAllister(6'2, 258) started to show glimpses of the player many expect him to become. He is still in the 'tweener' range size wise, he needs to commit to becoming a DT, more than likely a three technique. Until he sees 280, he will struggle some inside, he does bring more pass rushing ability to the interior and has terrific skills, particularly using his hands in the trenches. Moses McCray(6'2, 302) missed the game due to injury, he needs return 100% for this unit to reach it's ceiling. McCray's size is something that was missing on Saturday.

It remains to be seen what 2009 signees Cameron Erving, Damien Jacobs, and Darious Cummings can do to help.

Jenkins gets a sack
Steve Chase,,

The DE position made huge strides this Spring. Senior Markus White(6'4, 262) should be a steadying force on the edge. He can put some pressure on the QB, his experience should make him contain better, something the whole unit needs to continue improving on. Brandon Jenkins(6'3, 234) has terrific upside, it is not a matter of 'if', simply 'when' he will become a dominant player. His six tackle, three sack performance led both defenses. In an ideal world Jenkins might only be needed as a backup, we probably don't have the luxury, he should start opposite White. Redshirt freshmen Dan Hicks(6'4, 246) and redshirt sophomore Toshmon Stevens(6'5, 225) are the second teamers right now. Hicks showed some athleticism and he is a little further along than we expected, he can made some plays out there. Stevens needs to start filling out his frame, he simply is not strong enough at the point of attack right now, there is a player there waiting to break out.

Help is on the way in the form of perhaps Cummings, along with Holmes Onwukaife and Bjorn Werner. Cummings and Werner would seemingly be more ready physically to contribute immediately.

NoleDigest Take

This is a unit that is certainly improved and it should translate to results on the field. While it would be awesome to think that it will happen in 2010, it is likely 2011 when many of these same players are a year older that we will see a truly dominant defensive line again at FSU. Depth remains a concern and it is hard to count on true freshmen at these key positions. Watching McDaniel, McAllister, Jenkins, and McCloud develop will be a treat to watch, all have next level potential that needs to be realized.

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