Scouting Florida State Defense and Special

Saturday in The Swamp will mark the end of an era when the Gators face FSU's curmudgeonly defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews for the last time. Andrews is in his 26th season heading up the FSU defense and it has to be the most frustrating of those seasons for him.

For so many years the FSU defense was always among the nation's best, but now it's a lot closer to the nation's worst. FSU gives up 30 points a game with 194 yards on the ground and 241 through the air. They rank 92nd or worse in every key defensive category.

The biggest problem has been up front where they get pushed around and get very little pressure on the QB. DE Markus White is probably the best player with 10.5 TFL but he has just two sacks. The other DE Kevin McNeil has been a disappointment. The tackles just can't play at this level, through the youngsters have shown some promise.

LB is a completely different story with three solid players one of whom is going to be a great one. Sophomore WLB Nigel Bradham has all the talent in the world and Florida really wanted him. He's their leading tackler and in my opinion best player on the entire football team. MLB Kendall Smith (74 tackles, 7 tfl) is a solid performer as is Dakoda Watson who loves to blitz (4.5 sacks). I thought Watson would be more of a big play guy than he's been.

DB is another trouble spot where receivers have been running free much of the season. Patrick Robinson is considered one of the top CB for the 2010 NFL draft, but that's based more on tools than productivity. He has not intercepted a pass. The other corner, Ochuko Jenijie has four picks but can get burned on double moves. FS Jamie Robinson is a solid player (69 tkl, 3 int), but you never want your free safety to be your third leading tackler.

In all this is one of the worst defenses FSU has put out there in the 30 years I've been paying attention. They average two takeaways a game but will have t double that Saturday for them to have a chance.

FSU Special Teams ---- The first thing that stands out is PR Greg Reid from Valdosta who is sensational. You certainly recall that Reid was an early commitment for the Gators a year ago, but he wavered and ended up heading west once he got to I-10. Reid averages a remarkable 18.4 yards on punt returns with one TD. His return saved the Maryland game late last week. The match up of him against Florida's NCAA ranked No. 3 net punting team is the best one of this game. That is, of course assuming Florida will punt. FSU covers punts very well. Kickoff return not been notable either in coverage or return… about 20-21 yards either way with no TD. PK Dustin Hopkins is sorta like Caleb Sturgis. He has a strong leg but iffy sense of direction (14-20). The punter Shawn Powell is average (41.8, 11 in-20, 8X 50+, 1 Bl).


The Tallahassee Democrat recently published an "All-Mickey" team of the top defensive players of the past 26 years. It's a remarkable list.

DE ---- Peter Boulware, Andre Wadsworth

DT ---- Corey Simon, Darnell Dockett

LB ---- Derrick Brooks, Marvin Jones & Sam Cowart

CB ---- Deion Sanders, Terrell Buckley

S ---- LeRoy Butler, Devin Bush


Some of you may remember that Andrews was part of the Gators coaching staff in 1981-82. He stayed at Clemson for two years after Charlie Pell left the Tigers for Gainesville. He then joined Pell as the secondary coach under defensive coordinator Joe Kines. Andrews left the Gators to spend one year as the Defensive Coordinator of the Arizona Wranglers of the USFL. The league folded and Andrews was hired by Bobby Bowden the next year.

Andrews was on the winning side for his first two Florida/Florida State games with the Gators, but lost his first three in Garnet and Gold. He is 0-4 against Urban Meyer and Florida has averaged 38.8 points in those games.

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