Preview: Florida State Defense

Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

How will Florida State's defense perform in 2014?

Florida State's offense and coaching was chronicled on Monday, while part two takes a look at the defense and special teams that the Seminoles will bring to the table. Simply put, Florida State had the best defense in the country last season. They were ranked first according to Football Outsiders' S&P+ ratings; they finished second nationally in points allowed per play, and first nationally in points allowed per game. They lost defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt to Georgia and a number of starters to the NFL, but they still return plenty of talent.

Defense

As Bill Connelly points out in his world-class preview of Florida State, defensive tackle is a question mark for the Noles. FSU lost stud Timmy Jernigan to the Baltimore Ravens and also lost Jacobbi McDaniel and Demonte McAllister. Those three combined for 85.5 tackles last season- including 14.5 tackles for loss. Former five-star Eddie Goldman's role should increase, as should Nile Lawrence-Staples'. In addition to these players, FSU will have six other 4-star defensive tackle recruits on the roster as well as senior Desmond Hollin. Jimbo Fisher and his staff may not know how the rotation will go yet, but it's likely a few stars with pop with that much talent. At defensive end, I expect Mario Edwards Jr. to have a breakout season.

FSU lost Telvin Smith and Christian Jones from last season's team, but still return Terrance Smith and Reggie Northrup. E.J. Levenberry had a strong year for the Noles in a backup role last season, and should take another step forward. There are more question marks in terms of depth at this position, but they have an excellent secondary behind them.

Florida State's secondary will feature Nate Andrews and P.J. Williams, who combined for 7 interceptions and 11 passes broken up last season. In all, the secondary will return eight players who recorded at least 10 tackles last season. I'm a fan of Ronald Darby, and believe that he will help fill the void left by Lamarcus Joyner. Joyner and Terrence Brooks are big losses, but FSU is in better position than most to replace them.

Special Teams

Kicker Robert Aguayo was nearly perfect last season en route to winning the 2013 Lou Groza Award, which is given annually to the best kicker in college football. He converted all 94 of his PATs, and went 21-22 on field goal attempts, which his lone miss being from more than 40 yards out.

Their punter, Carson Beatty, is someone #FSUTwitter likes to complain about. Their punt efficiency was 116th nationally last season, which is just awful. Fortunately for the Noles, they chose to punt just 42 times all season.

In the return game, just ask the members of Auburn's kickoff coverage if Kermit Whitfield is any good.

Overall Take

This game is going to be non-competitive. Florida State is a national championship contender, and Wake Forest is in serious rebuilding mode. Florida State won last year's matchup 59-3, and it could have been far worse.

My way too early prediction for this one:

Wake Forest 0

Florida State 59

Check back next week for a preview of the Syracuse Orange, who will be the Demon Deacons' first ACC home game of the 2014 football season. As always, go Deacs!

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