Florida State has a long and proud tradition of producing prolific pass-rushing defensive ends. Guys who can flat out pin their ears back and get after the quarterback. On January 8, 2016, DeMarcus Walker announced that he would, in fact, return for his senior season at FSU. His decision may prove to further that already impressive history of ‘Nole DEs. Coming off a tremendous junior campaign in which he tallied 10.5 sacks and 15.5 tackles for a loss, Walker is now poised to not only potentially help lead FSU to another national title (it would be his second), but he also has the chance to place his name among some of the best defensive linemen in school history.
Walker’s 2015 ranks 13th in terms of single-season sack totals and 17th regarding tackles for a loss. In the history of the program, only 17 times has a Seminole defender registered double-digit sacks for a season; that should help people understand just how productive he was in 2015. The school record is 19, held by Peter Boulware in 1996 (he did it in an astounding 11 games), and Andre Wadsworth sits at second with 16 in 1997.
Walker manhandled the Ole Miss offensive line repeatedly on his way to an incredible 4.5 sacks on opening night. Only Ron Simmons, in 1977 vs. Texas State, and Willie Jones, Sr., in 1978 vs Florida, have posted more at FSU, with 5. That said, Walker has now positioned himself for a chance to not just shoot up the career-sacks list, but that holy grail of 19 sacks in a season may in fact be attainable, especially if this squad makes a run at the playoffs, which includes the potential for as many as 15 total games.
So where does Walker currently stand, and what exactly is a realistic projection for where he could ultimately wind up? Through three seasons, his career totals add up to 11.0 sacks and 22.5 tackles for a loss. Going into 2016, it wasn’t unreasonable to think that he could match his 2015 output and end up with 21.5 sacks (good for a tie for 10th in school history) and 42 tackles for a loss (sixth best at FSU). But after his incredibly dominant opener, expectations certainly change.
Walker tallied roughly 0.81 sacks per game in 2015— is it now fair to suggest he could push that number up to 1.0? Or even higher? If he adds just 10 more sacks the rest of the season, that would push his career total to 25 and place him third all-time at FSU behind the greatest tandem this school has ever known, Reinard Wilson and Peter Boulware. That would also mean a single-season sack total of 14.5, the third best single season in school history behind Boulware and Wadsworth.
Should he average 1.5 tackles for a loss the rest of the way (18 more for the season over a 13-game schedule), he would end up with 22.5 for the season (second best behind Brodrick Bunkley’s 25 in 2005) and 49 for his career, trailing only Darnell Dockett’s 65 career TFLs.
Other Stats and Facts from Week One
-FSU’s 33 completions and 52 pass attempts were both the most under Jimbo Fisher at Florida State since 2010. The previous highs were 33 completions vs. Charleston Southern in 2011 and 48 attempts vs. Oregon in the 2015 Rose Bowl.
-Monday was the 36th time under Fisher that FSU played an entire game without throwing an interception. FSU is 33-3 in those games: the losses were in 2010 at NC State, in 2010 vs. North Carolina, and in 2011 vs. Virginia.
-For the 17th time under Fisher, FSU played a turnover-free ball game. FSU is 16-1 when it does not turn it over. The lone loss was 2010’s L to North Carolina.
-FSU forced 4 (or more) turnovers for the ninth time since 2010. FSU is 9-0 when forcing 4+ turnovers.
A breakdown of FSU’s record under Fisher based on offensive turnovers:
As well as FSU’s record under Fisher based on opponents’ turnovers: