Last season the Florida State defensive line was one of the most veteran units on the team. Seniors like Bjoern Werner, Tank Carradine, Brandon Jenkins, Everrett Dawkins and Amp McCloud were all on the field regularly and the unit performed at a high level all year. They were consistent like a group of veterans should be.
This year the talent level along the Seminole defensive line is just as high but the experience level is not. The consistency level is not.
"It’s so many things that you’ve got to be consistent with, that’s what’s hard about it," said DT Eddie Goldman. "From your stance to what you’re looking at to the plays, when the ball snaps where your hands go, where your eyes go. Doing all of that, day in and day out, that’s the hard part.”
The new coaching staff has been hard at work trying to drive home the right techniques and a good work ethic, but coaching can only go so far.
“I have to step up and I’ve been doing everything to prove to my teammates that I’m a leader and they look at me like a leader," said Tim Jernigan. "Mario Edwards is going to step up big-time, Demonte McAllister, he’s hurt right now but when he’s off of his surgery [he will]. And then we’ve got Jacobbi and guys who’ve played at this level.”
But Jernigan knows above all else, it falls on him to become the leader of the unit.
“I don’t really say too much, I like to lead by example," said Jernigan. "But when it’s time to say something I’m not afraid to come out and tell somebody we’ve got to step it up, or that person’s got to step up. I can be both.”
Over the past two seasons Jernigan has been impressive in his time as a reserve. He's tallied 73 tackles, 14 TFL and 4 sacks in his first two seasons.
Now he has a chance to start and a chance to lead and he plans to make the best of both.
The Florida State defense will be switching things up this year, employing more of an attacking style of defense. They blitz more, they make calls and adjustments at the line.
That should give the linemen some newfound freedom and the ability to impact the game even more, which is just fine with Jernigan. According to him, he's ready to take his game to a whole new level.
“I want to be the best player I can possibly be and I feel like when I work at it and put in the time in the offseason, I really rededicated myself to the game," said Jernigan. "I’ve always been dedicated but this year’s going to be a little bit different for me I really want to do something that hasn’t been done here in a while.
"I want us to be the best.”
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