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Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Stoops has made a big impact on FSU's defense





Florida State's first ACC title game appearance in five years can be directly attributed to its dramatic defensive improvement, which can in turn be traced to the offseason hiring of former Arizona coordinator Mark Stoops to replace longtime coordinator Mickey Andrews.

While Andrews was the architect of some great defenses at FSU, his units had been sub par of late. Last year, the Seminoles ranked 94th in points allowed (30) and 108th in yards allowed (434.5). This year, under Stoops, Florida State ranks ninth in points (17.8) and 39th in yards (341.3).

And after recording just 26 sacks last season, the 'Noles already have 43 - the second-most in the country.

"I know this: They can get after a passer," said Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer, whose team will be trying to attack FSU's revamped defense Saturday. "Every time we've ever played Florida State, they had good defensive players, and they got after you. I think that's exactly what they're doing there now."

Sophomore defensive end Brandon Jenkins is third in the country with 12 sacks. He presents yet another challenge for a Hokies offensive line that is on track to give up its lowest sack total in five years.

Quarterback Tyrod Taylor, who was injured while trying to elude the rush on his first play the last time Tech played Florida State in 2008, would appreciate some help.

"We've just got to protect Tyrod," guard Jaymes Brooks said. "The stuff that he does for us, I don't think many quarterbacks can do. ... He's a vital piece of our offense and we have to protect him."

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