Okay we did the offense and after a long Friday night and a trip to Pahokee to see the Muck Bowl, I'm back with the defense. The defense is extremely banged up and there's even been talk of Marcus Sims moving to linebacker (ain't gonna happen) or Matt Dunham moving to the defensive line (ditto). So same rules apply, part depth chart, part opinion.
Defensive End: This has been a really disappointing unit and sometimes I wonder if Jody Allen will be around much longer. He is a solid recruiter but his rush ends don't perform up to the par that FSU was used to in the 90s. Darrell Burston contains his side well but doesn't make many plays. The pass rush spot has been held by Alex Boston, Everette Brown, D.J. Norris and Neefy Moffett and none of them have made a big impact there. It appears that Boston will shift back to the outside to bring the best chance to make plays to that position. It doesn't appear that Kevin McNeil or Justin Mincey will get a lot of reps this season.
Expect FSU to recruit light on the defensive line in both positions. They have their eye on a few tackles, but most of the defensive ends sans Burston and Norris will be back next year.
Defensive Tackle: Once Andre Fluellen moved back to nose guard this unit took a major hit. While Paul Griffin and Fluellen were healthy they looks phenomenal, Fluellen is still playing excellent football, but it's dirty work and hardly noticable by most fans. Attrition forced Alex Boston to make a move to the interior where he also got injured. The good news of Alex Boston's injury is that it allowed true freshmen Budd Thacker to step up and play respectably. That along with the return of Letroy Guion gives FSU a decent tackle rotation again.
Emmanuel Dunbar, who has struggled with back injuries all year, finally decided on major surgery and might be back for the spring. Kendrick Stewart and Aaron Jones appear to be in Odell's doghouse. Stewart has struggled while on the field and Jones has been injured. I wouldn't be surprised if one (Jones) left the program in the offseason. I've heard rumblings about Stewart, but his mother and Odell Haggins are good friends and both will not let him leave.
As for recruiting, FSU had the inside on two elite tackles, but John Brown of Lakeland is now a three-way fight between FSU, Alabama and Florida, plus his grades are an issue. Marvin Austin from Washington D.C. is also a possibility. FSU has also entertained Joseph Barksdale from Michigan but he will probably stay in Big 10 county and Rae Sykes from N.C. appears to be more of a backup option.
Linebacker: Talk about injuries. Here's the laundry list: Marcus Ball, Geno Hayes, Derek Nicholson and Jae Thaxton. That's the entire second team and one of the starters. Rodney Gallon has filled in admirably for Hayes and will probably start this week. Dekoda Watson, not so much, but he's getting the reps he needs. In the end it hurts the depth for the unit during the game and especially on special teams.
Buster Davis has been nothing short of spectacular while Lawrence Timmons has stepped up his game majorly in the last couple of weeks and is returning to special teams as well. Hayes could return next week, Ball and Nicholson are out for the season while Thaxton might be done with football altogether.
With Thaxton's concussion problem lingering, FSU might recruit another linebacker besides commitments Kendall Smith of South Sumter and former 2005 commitment Dan Foster, who has spent the last two years in JuCo.
Secondary: A very young group has looked for the right mixture at cornerback. Teams that play FSU almost predominately go to the boundary side, showing Tony Carter the type of respect reserved for the great ones. That's nice, but the play at the boundary has went from respectably (Jamie Robinson) to disasterous (J.R. Bryant). Trevor Ford's decision to transfer hurts because I thought his game was really going to pick up this year.
Michael Ray Garvin will get the start at boundary this week and I believe he's good enough to hold on to the spot for a while. Both Jamie Robinson and Patrick Robinson showed pretty decent cover skills as true freshmen so they will get time. J.R. Bryant has had opportunities and continues to misplay balls. He's hoping things get better for him.
Myron Rolle has played well since assuming the starting role and it'll be interesting whether the former starter Anthony Houllis returns to the team after major surgery. Roger Williams has struggled at free safety, but continues to work it out. Darius McClure and Korey Magnum have provided depth but they aren't making the plays needed to move up the charts.
The recruiting has been all over the place. 2005 signee Kenny Ingram might return in the summer after working his grades out at TCC. FSU has already received a commitment from top DB prospect Dionte Allen and have their names in with several others including Brandon Paul (Tallahassee Lincoln), Akeem Auguste (Hollywood Chaminade), Major Wright (St. Thomas Aquinas) and a few others.