Been a couple of days to get to the defensive grades, but they get their due. The grades would & should be a little better than the offense considering they've held together despite a bunch of injuries.
Miami (W, 13-10): Miami's offense might be the only offense in more shambles than FSU so while the defense (most notably Buster Davis and Geno Hayes) looked impressive, the Hurricanes are barely better than average. However, that being said, the defense kept the game close enough for the offense to give enough points in the second half to win. Grade: B+
Troy (W, 24-17): Not surprisingly, there was a defensive lull for much of this game coming off of a short week and much of the game the FSU defense roamed around as aimlessly as the offense. Once again the senior leader, Buster Davis, did what needed to be done to gain the victory. Grade: C
Clemson (L, 27-20): On one hand the special teams was excellent, generating nine points. On the other hand the defense was not very good at all, especially in the first half and fourth quarter. Clemson ran with James Davis, worked Chansi Stuckey in the passing game and Will Proctor make big plays with his arm and his feet. The team lost and they deserved to lose. Grade: D
Rice (W, 55-7): The first drive was shaky, but it was party time for the Seminoles defense after that. A ton of players got playing time and the only negative was the injury to Marcus Ball. Again, FSU had such an athletic advantage that this wasn't expected, but it was nice to see. Grade: B+
Now that was fun, but the proof is in the positions.
Defensive Line: This unit could've went to hell when Paul Griffin was lost for the season with a torn ACL. Griffin, a JuCO transfer, was such an unexpected surprise that it was just unfair to lose him so quickly. With that Odell Haggins and Jody Allen went to the chemistry lab and decided to move Alex Boston to the tackle position where he'd be undersized but a disruptive force and moved Andre Fluellen back to nose guard, where he started as a sophomore. Darrell Burston has been quiet and productive as the run-stopping end while D.J. Norris and Everette Brown have tried to keep things in control on the pass-rushing side. Overall the group has held together despite being busted up. Grade: B-
Linebackers: Well this was expected to be one of the best units in the nation and it has been. This group single-handedly won the first two games for the Seminoles and while they struggled against Clemson, the group has held together strong despite injuries on the defensive line and the youth in the seconday. Obviously losing Marcus Ball is going to sting, but there are so many talented linebackers in this bunch that I fully expect someone else to step up. Grade: A-
Secondary: Well Tony Carter has been all but perfect. Teams rarely challenge him because he's so solid on his side of the field. Meanwhile J.R. Bryant hasn't gotten the job done and was demoted to the third team for his lack of production. Michael Ray Garvin and Jamie Robinson have done a solid job in the reserve position and both will get additional playing time. The safety play has been interesting, Anthony Houllis might not play another down at FSU due to injury and Myron Rolle has a ton of pressure on him as a true freshman. Still my concern has been Roger Williams, he hasn't stepped up like I would hope the most experienced guy in a young group would. They've been a little below average. Grade: C-
Special Teams: Gary Cismesia has really proved himself so far. He's put that Fiesta Bowl mess in the back of his mind and he's kicking with confidence and distance. Graham Gano has been a solid punter as he waits to become the placekicker as a upperclassman. Grade: A
Overall Grade: B, I feel good about this grade because they've really played well at times, but not well enough to put themselves with the upper echelon of FSU defensive units in the past. As the season goes on the concerns at the line and in the secondary could get magnified due to injury.