Two specific games in the 2008 season seem to be more painful to watch for the Florida State defensive line than the rest—the November 1 game at Georgia Tech and the November 15 game against Boston College.
Those two games featured the offensive lines of GT and BC walking over the front four of the Seminoles. Georgia Tech ran for 288 yards led by a two-touchdown, 145-yard game by Jonathon Dwyer.
Boston College ran for only 175 yards but it was stopping the running game when it mattered most where the 'Noles defensive line failed.
BC led 24-17 early in the fourth quarter. They then ate up nine minutes off the clock by running the ball for 67 yards en route to a field goal that extended their lead to 27-17—which ended up being the final score.
BC ran 16 plays, all rushing, to keep the Seminole defense on the field and the game in BC's control.
What stung more is earlier in the day, Wake Forest lost to N.C. State. A win over BC would have propelled FSU into the driver's seat for the Atlantic Division title.
The defensive line goes into 2009 after losing star defensive end Everette Brown to the NFL. Markus White and either Toshmon Stevens or Kevin McNeil look to start on the ends to attempt to pick up the production left off by Brown.
McNeil came into the preseason as the other starter but missed some practices while he had to sort out academic issues. So he now is battling Stevens for the other starting defensive end spot.
In the middle, the defensive tackle spot took a hit in preseason practices when Justin Mincey suffered a knee injury. Mincey will be unavailable until further notice.
Much optimism is surrounding heralded freshmen Jaccobi McDaniels and Demonte McCallister.
Sophomore defensive tackle Moses McCray commented on them to the Tallahassee Democrat.
"They're big, strong and fast," McCray said. "They can play."
Kendrick Stewart, Moses McCray and Budd Thacker are expected to get the majority of the playing time at defensive tackle until Mincey comes back from his knee injury.
McDaniel could get in some playing experience while the coaches see how he handles the transition against college offensive lines.
The d-line will be able to see how far they've progressed from 2008 in the first game against Miami.
The defense held Miami to only 51 yards rushing last year, and the Labor Day match ups against Miami have traditionally been a defensive battle. But anything could go.
Miami is coming into Tallahassee with a new offensive coordinator who could look to exploit the FSU defensive line.