Jameis Winston Gets Hype, but Florida State's D-Line Is the Real Gamechanger

Ben KerchevalCollege Football Lead WriterSeptember 21, 2013

Sep 14, 2013; Tallahassee, FL, USA;  Florida State Seminoles players huddle and get ready before the start of the game against the Nevada Wolf Pack at Doak Campbell Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Melina Vastola-USA TODAY Sports
Melina Vastola-USA TODAY Sports

A lot of the focus on Florida State this season has been concentrated on redshirt freshman quarterback Jameis Winston. 

That's understandable. Winston shot out the gate this season, throwing more touchdown passes (four) than incompletions (two) in a season-opening win against Pitt. Through three games, Winston has 718 yards through the air and 10 total touchdowns. 

His performance Saturday in a 54-6 win over Bethune-Cookman was softer from a stat-line perspective (10-for-19 for 148 yards and a pair of scores), but Winston did offer up this ridiculous scramble and throw.

But one of the areas of Florida State's team that's getting less attention is how well the Seminoles defense, and specifically defensive line, is playing.

This is a unit that's giving up 135 yards a game on the ground so far. Admittedly, however, Bethune-Cookman ran the ball 56 times Saturday night; the more appropriate stat is that the Wildcats were held to 3.3 yards per carry. 

Keep in mind that this is a FSU defensive line that lost defensive ends Bjoern Werner, Tank Carradine and Brandon Jenkins, and defensive tackles Everett Dawkins. 

Of course, FSU is also ridiculously stacked along the D-line, highlighted by sophomore Mario Edwards Jr. 

Clemson QB Tajh Boyd will be a tough challenge for FSU's D-line.
Clemson QB Tajh Boyd will be a tough challenge for FSU's D-line.Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Pitt and Nevada are good enough running the ball, but Florida State's biggest defensive test is still a few weeks away. That's when the Seminoles travel to Clemson on Oct. 19. 

The Tigers boast a potent, yet quite balanced, offense led by quarterback Tajh Boyd. Boyd is actually the team's second-leading rusher, but he only has 90 yards on the ground. Still, he's a threat to scramble, so every defense needs to be able to account for that.  

It's going to be Florida State's toughest defensive assignment all year, perhaps save for a Nov. 2 against Miami. Getting pressure on Boyd with just four down linemen is going to be crucial. Otherwise, the redshirt senior is going to get his numbers. 

Florida State's defensive line has been one of the more impressive parts of what has been a good-looking team so far. It could be the most important group if the Seminoles want to get back to the ACC championship game.