Every day while catching up on my daily Nole must reads, I very often wonder to myself, "Are my 2009 Noles going to be better than last year’s team?"
So far we have analyzed, discussed, and you have voted on whether the Defensive Line, and the Receivers and Tight End will be better, the same, or worse than last years equivalent unit. Today we will take a look at the Defensive Secondary to determine if this unit has progressed, remains stagnant, or has regressed, in comparison to last years secondary unit.
Mickey Andrews’ secondary lost two solid players with the departures of cornerback Tony Carter and rover Myron Rolle who combined to start 85 games during their careers at FSU. In 2008, this secondary was the 6th best passing defense in the nation.
The two senior starters that return in this position group are cornerback Patrick Robinson and safety Jamie Robinson, who are expected to be the veteran leaders in the secondary.
Patrick Robinson will be looking to add to his seven career interceptions, six of which came in 2007. Outside of Patrick Robinson, the current Seminole secondary has combined for ONLY one career interception, that coming from Jamie Robinson. All last year the entire FSU defense combined for only 9 interceptions, and only one was returned for a touchdown which was Neefy Moffett’s exhausting rumble and tumble of 18 yards. Of those 9 interceptions, only 6 picks were made by secondary players.
This season, there will be some familiar faces, but in different places, as former cornerback Korey Mangum will move to rover to get the first crack at replacing Myron Rolle, and former cornerback Terrance Parks has been working at both rover and safety.
To his credit, Mickey Andrews realized that we had a problem in the secondary, and that problem would have continued to exist with the players remaining on the roster. The coaching staff did some very good recruiting and brought in some talented youngsters to beef up the secondary. The new players expected to compete, or at least push the veterans on the practice field, include Greg Reid and Xavier Rhodes at corners, and Gerald Demps, Jajuan Harley, and Justin Bright at safeties. However, do not be too surprised if there are some changes made as to what position these players actually line up at.
The two cornerback positions are known as the FCB and BCB. For those who may not be familiar with the difference between these two, here is a easy way to remember courtesy of FSUn. The BCB is boundary corner, who typically plays the short side of the field all alone, while the FCB is the field side (wide side), and who typically gets help from the safety.
The competition at the field corner position between Ochuko Jenije and Dionte Allen should intensify with the arrival of Greg Reid. FSUncensored projects Reid surpassing Allen as Jenije’s backup almost immediately, and many feel he could possibly be in the starting lineup very quickly.
Now let’s take a look last years starters and this years projected secondary.
2008 FCB=Tony Carter started all 13 games and he is gone. Carter=25 Tot Tck, 2 Tck for loss, 2 int, 4 passes broken up, and 1 FR.
2009 PROJECTED FCB=Ochuko Jenije, Greg Reid, and Dionte Allen
2008 BCB=Korey Mangum started 5 of the first 6 games, then Patrick Robinson started the last 7 games for 8 total starts.
2009 PROJECTED BCB=Patrick Robinson and A J Alexander
2008 ROVER=Myron Rolle started 12 games and Kenny Ingram started the one against MD when Rolle was interviewing for the Rhodes. As previously stated, Rolleis gone and so is Ingram (Tot Tck=22, 3.5 Tck for loss, Sck=1, Int=1, PBU=5)
2009 PROJECTED ROVER=Korey Mangum, Nick Moody, and Terrance Parks
2008 SAFETY=Darius McClure started 7 and Jamie Robinson started 6. McClure (Tot tck=25, 1.5 Tck for loss, 1 Int, and 1 PBU) is gone.
2009 PROJECTED SAFETY=Jamie Robinson and Terrance Park
OTHERS WHO CONTRIBUTED IN 2008 AND ARE NOW GONE=Michael Ray Garvin, Rod Roberts, Roosevelt Lawson.
OTHERS WHO MAY CONTRIBUTE IN 2009=Many expect Greg Reid to make a immediated impact. Also, Xavier Rhodes, Gerald Demps, Jajuan Harley, and Justin Bright. These players have all been discussed in depth here at TN, so I will not discuss their upsides or weaknesses in this story.
So there you have it. The biggest question I have is not if Carter and Rolle can be replaced as defensive backs, but rather who will fill Rolle's shoes in run support. Rolle, while in my opinion was just average in his pass coverage ability, he was very good in run support and a tackling machine. Rolle was second on the team in unassisted tackles with 40, and only Derek Nicholson's 44 solo's were better, and Rolle was third on the team in total tackles with 62. Even though I said I considered him just average in his ability to cover, he was second on the team with 5 passes broken up behind Korey Mangum's 7.
If I were to compare and rate each of the positions individually, I would rate them something like this.
FCB=STAGNATION only because Reid is expected to be taking over soon. Otherwise, I would have said REGRESSION because the experience and leadership Carter provided will be missed, and while he was not Mr. Interception, he was a dependable and a very serviceable corner.
BCB=PROGRESSION. I expect Patrick Robinson to be avoided by the opposing teams QB and I believe he will regain his 2007 form and numbers.
ROVER=REGRESSION. Even though I should rate this position on coverage ability only, I can not help but feel that Rolle's run support will be missed terribly. Our rover has traditionally been our last line of defense on break away runs. Hopefully the LB corp be better equipped to stop the run, and that will depend on if the defensive line does a better job of freeing them up. However the LB play will be discussed in the near future and the D-Line has already been covered. This is the secondary position that concerns me the most, especially when you factor in the loss of Ingram.
Therefore as of today, based on my averages of the 4 positions for this unit,