4. WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE FLORIDA STATE DEFENSE
– 16 of the top 20 tacklers are back, and the experience has to start translating into production for an underwhelming defense that didn’t generate enough of a pass rush or pressure, allowed 32 points per game, and was oddly miserable in the secondary with the worst pass defense in the ACC. But …
– There’s going to be a massive payoff in the defensive backfield. This group took its lumps last year – a lack of a steady pass rush had a little bit to do with that – but there’s a massive load of supremely talented young players.
The corner tandem of Asante Samuel and Stanford Samuels will eventually be a thing, 6-4 Hamsah Nasirildeen is a big-time tackler – he led the team with 91 stops – along with 6-3 Jaiden Woodbey. There’s more talent on the way with freshmen Akeem Dent and Brendan Gant ready to play an immediate role.
– The linebacking corps can move, it’s experienced, and it has to start doing a whole lot more. 228-pound senior Dontavoius Jackson was the second-leading tackler with 75 stops – he’s a potential high-volume guy – Leonard Warner is a big thumper DeCalon Brooks is a good-looking young option. There’s enough depth to play around with, too.
– Can the defensive line start to be a whole lot better despite the loss of top pass rusher Brian Burns and inside man Demarcus Christmas? Marvin Wilson is about to become a superstar defensive tackle, but the pass rush has to emerge on the ends with Joshua Kaindoh and Janarius Robinson two very large, very interesting options.