Scouting Report: FSU Defense

Florida State is certainly much closer to elite level on defense than it is on offense, but the Noles are not a dominant bunch. They have only allowed two opponents to score more than 24 points, but did surrender 40 to Virginia Tech and 37 to Miami.

FSU is tough to run on, allowing just less than 100 yards a game on the ground and opponents have scored just seven rushing touchdowns. In the air they surrender 234 yards a contest and have given up 17 touchdown passes. On the plus side they have intercepted 16 passes and have forced 24 turnovers in eleven games. They have registered 25 quarterback sacks.

Defensive line --- A usual Florida State not only has good linemen, they have plenty of them. Mickey Andrews has long been committed to playing eight guys up front and that keeps fresh legs on the field. The best of the bunch is LE Everett Brown a 265 pound sophomore who leads the Noles with six sacks. He also has more total tackles (33) than any other lineman. Defensive tackle Andre Fluellen has struggled through an injury plagued senior season. The defensive end opposite Brown has been reasonably productive with Neefy Moffett and Alex Boston each registering 2.5 sacks.

Linebackers --- He may talk a lot for a guy on a 7-4 team, but Geno Hayes is one helluva football player. He has been credited with 71 tackles, 17.5 for loss including five QB sacks which is second on the team. He'll take chances attacking Florida's running game and it'll be key for Tim Tebow to read him properly. Middle linebacker Derek Nicholson is a very solid player, but not a big play guy. Dekoda Watson and Marcus Ball are adequate at the SLB, but this unit is all about Hayes.

Secondary --- The defensive backfield is a mixed bag as has been the case at Florida State for a number of years. They will hit you, they will intercept passes, they will gamble by jumping route and they will get burned. Two of their top four tacklers are safeties Roger Williams and Myron Rolle. Rolle is somewhat of a tweener who I think would have a better future at the WLB spot occupied by Hayes. Despite his 54 tackles he's a guy who gets beaten too often. Williams is a bit more reliable but less impressive physically. The corners are straight from the Terrell Buckley School. They love to gamble and generate big plays – both for the Noles and their opponents. Patrick Robinson leads FSU with six interceptions and Tony Carter has three more.

In all, this is a good defense not a great one and Florida should be able to be successful. The main concerns are not tipping off wide throws to the outside because those are the types these guys will take for a pick six. If the Gators take care of the football they'll score 30-plus.

Special teams --- FSU has good kickers with Gary Cismesia (23-29 FG) and punter Graham Gano (42.8). Gano has knocked down 19 inside the 20 yard line. They have not had a kick blocked, but they have blocked two punts.

FSU has not been good on kickoff returns (18.7) but their coverage has been acceptable (21.5). Preston Parker (10.4) is a better athlete than his punt return stats indicate and he is always scary in the open field.

The bottom line on special teams is this: FSU will come after Chas Henry HARD in this one. Ideally you keep the rookie over on the sidelines, but otherwise protecting Henry is the number one key for Gator special teams.

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