Florida State Seminoles: Anthony McCloud

Throughout the summer, Nole Nation will be counting down the 40 players we're projecting to make the biggest impact on the Seminoles' 2013 season, taking into consideration everything from experience to potential to their spot on the current depth chart.

Next up: No. 2 Timmy Jernigan

Position/Class: DT/Jr.

Timmy Jernigan
Bob Donnan/USA TODAY SportsNow that he'll officially be a starter, defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan will be expected to step forward as a leader.
What he's done: Throughout his first two seasons at Florida State, Jernigan has been a backup nominally, but a starter when it comes to production. Despite getting just two career starts officially -- both coming during Anthony McCloud's absence due to injury to start 2012 -- Jernigan led all Seminoles interior linemen in tackles in each of the last two years. He's established himself as one of the top defensive tackles in the country, and after racking up 76 career tackles -- including 14 for a loss -- and anchoring one of the nation's top run defenses the past two seasons, Jernigan is widely considered a potential first-round selection in the next NFL draft, should he decide to leave school early.

Where he's at: Again, semantics are the biggest issue for Jernigan this season. It's true that he now steps into a starting role as veterans McCloud and Everett Dawkins move on, but his playing time isn't likely to see a major surge. He was getting the bulk of the snaps in FSU's tackle rotation before, and while those numbers may increase a bit, the biggest difference is simply the title. Of course, with that title comes a bigger share of the leadership role, too, and that's where Jernigan figures to take the biggest step forward in 2013. He's now an established veteran, and one who will draw the attention of every offensive line coach he faces. Teams will be scheming around Jernigan, and while FSU still enjoys ample depth at the position, his ability to defeat blocks, stop the run and move the pocket remain keys to the success of the front four -- particularly with all the turnover at defensive end, where FSU lost three players to the draft.

What's to come: There are some questions surrounding Jernigan's ability to step into a bigger role in 2013, but those feel overstated. He came to FSU as one of the top recruits in the nation, and he's done nothing but produce ever since. Moreover, he's embraced the new title and vowed to become one of the top defenders in the conference -- and he may already have been -- while shouldering the burden of easing the transition for a defensive line that lost five players to the NFL from last year's team. Jernigan's numbers will probably never fully tell the story of how effective he is during games, but the success of the rushing defense and the sacks compiled by his teammates off the edge are a testament to the chaos he creates in the middle. If those numbers can be maintained in 2013 in spite of so much turnover on the line, Jernigan will rightfully be discussed as a top-10 NFL draft pick and one of the nation's elite linemen.
Throughout the summer, Nole Nation will be counting down the 40 players we're projecting to make the biggest impact on the Seminoles' 2013 season, taking into consideration everything from experience to potential to their spot on the current depth chart.

Next up: No. 20 Eddie Goldman

Position/Class: DT/Sophomore

What he's done: Goldman arrived on campus last year with as much hype as anyone from Florida State's highly-touted recruiting class, but he found himself in the midst of a numbers crunch at defensive tackle. Goldman made waves right away, with teammates praising his speed and footwork, but with a number of established veterans ahead of him on the depth chart, playing time was scarce. Still, Goldman managed to avoid a redshirt and appeared in 10 games, making eight tackles, including one for a loss.

Where he's at: With the departures of Anthony McCloud and Everett Dawkins, the path to a starting job is now much clearer for Goldman, but that doesn't mean he's won the spot. Veterans Timmy Jernigan and Demonte McAllister are the heirs apparent at defensive tackle, likely meaning Goldman will enter fall camp running with the No. 2s. That's not necessarily a bad thing. Jernigan played that role for two seasons, yet he's still projected as a first-round pick in the next NFL draft. Goldman may have even more upside, and his status as a second-stringer is even less definitive.

What's to come: Goldman will be one of the more intriguing players to watch during fall camp. McAllister missed all of spring practice, and while both players are likely to see significant reps -- FSU is renowned for rotating its D linemen -- Goldman has a real shot at stealing the starting job. Either way, his future is immensely bright. Those raving reviews about his quick first step and powerful strength are now supplemented by a far better understanding of the playbook. And as new DC Jeremy Pruitt works in some of the 3-4 technique his defenses ran at Alabama, Goldman looks like an ideal fit. He may not blossom into a star in 2013, but he looks to take a big step in that direction.
Throughout the summer, Nole Nation will be counting down the 40 players we're projecting to make the biggest impact on the Seminoles' 2013 season, taking into consideration everything from experience to potential to their spot on the current depth chart.

Next up: No. 22 Demonte McAllister

Position/Class: DT/Redshirt senior

What he's done: Through four seasons at Florida State, McAllister has largely floated beneath the radar while building a still impressive list of credentials. Despite never serving as a starter on the defensive line, McAllister has appeared in 38 games in his career, compiled 54 tackles, including 12 for a loss, along with 6.5 sacks. His 2012 campaign was his best, as he earned the most playing time of his career and finished with 33 tackles and 3.5 sacks, tops among FSU's interior linemen.

Where he's at: McAllister missed all of spring practice with a shoulder injury, but that hasn't changed his status atop the team's depth chart at defensive tackle. The departure of senior tackles Anthony McCloud and Everett Dawkins, along with three veterans at defensive end, means there's a significant void in experience on FSU's defensive line, which makes McAllister a valuable commodity. Of course, tackle is also one of the deepest positions on the Seminoles' roster, meaning McAllister will be pushed for playing time from rising stars like Eddie Goldman and a returning veteran in Jacobbi McDaniel.

What's to come: As good as Florida State's defense was in 2012, few players took as big a leap forward as McAllister. His role grew as the season progressed, and he responded with a sterling overall performance. The only question now is whether he can maintain that trajectory as his role grows again, but Florida State has the luxury of depth at the position. That means no one member of the group should have to shoulder too much of the burden. McAllister's best asset may be his maturity, which will be crucial on a defensive line that will see a lot of action by freshmen and sophomores. Still, if McAllister can improve on last season's numbers -- stats that were only exceeded by highly-touted Timmy Jernigan among FSU's interior linemen -- he could find a lot more attention from NFL scouts by season's end.
Each season brings with it new expectations, and a handful of Seminoles will bear the brunt of the pressure to perform in 2013. We're counting down the top 10 FSU players being counted on the most to help the Seminoles live up to expectations.

No. 6: DT Timmy Jernigan

2012 performance: For the second season in a row, Jernigan was impressive in a role that was largely as a reserve. He did start two games while Anthony McCloud sat out with an injury, but Jernigan's primary work came off the bench, where he might have been one of the best backup defensive lineman in the country. He led FSU's interior line in tackles (46) and tackles for loss (8) and was a force against the run, where the Seminoles finished in the top three in the country in rushing defense for the second straight season.

Pressure point: In his first two years at FSU, Jernigan developed into a star, but he had the luxury of a prominent supporting cast. That won't be the case in 2013. The Seminoles lost five defensive linemen to the NFL, including both starters at tackle. That leaves Jernigan as the man every opposing offensive line coach will be scheming for.

Timmy Jernigan
AP Photo/Don Juan MooreTimmy Jernigan talked in the spring about wanting to become a leader for the FSU defense and a star performer on the field.
If he succeeds: A strong season would mean a lot for the Seminoles' D and for Jernigan personally. He's already being discussed as a potential first-round draft pick and one of the top underclassmen in the nation, but there remains a bit of skepticism about how he'll hold up in a bigger role in a more novice defensive line. If Jernigan answers those questions, it would be a boon for a young line in need of leadership and a strong push for Jeremy Pruitt's defense which, unlike last year, won't rely solely on pressure from the front four. Moreover, it would secure Jernigan's spot near the top of many NFL draft boards.

If he fails: Few people are expecting failure from Jernigan, but rather question how much he'll advance in a full-time role and whether that will be enough to weather the storm after so much turnover on the line. A year ago, FSU's strength was its ability to get pressure without the blitz and its dominance against the run. Jernigan won't shoulder the entirety of the responsibility for maintaining that standard, but anything less than a marked step forward for the junior would certainly make a repeat performance from the rest of the line awfully tough.

Projection: During the spring, Jernigan said all the right things about wanting to become a leader for the defense and a star defender in the ACC. Unfortunately, his spring was cut short by a high ankle sprain. It's the second spring in a row in which Jernigan has gone down with a relatively serious injury, and that's perhaps the biggest concern right now. No one questions Jernigan's talent or ability, and while the larger role brings with it increased pressure, it's also a bigger opportunity for him to produce. And while life will be tougher without Bjoern Werner and Cornellius Carradine flanking him, Jernigan does have the benefit of some veteran talent on the interior of the line. Expect another strong performance, even if the overall defensive line takes a small step back.
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- By any significant measure, the difference between Timmy Jernigan's role as a reserve the past two seasons and the starting job that awaits him in 2013 shouldn't be a major overhaul.

Jernigan was already on the field for a majority of snaps throughout most games, and his impact on the defensive line already included more tackles than any other FSU interior lineman in 2012. Still, there's something about hearing his name announced before each game and knowing he's officially secured the job of starter on a unit that's been among the best in the nation in recent years that Jernigan relishes.

"I've been waiting a long time," he said. "So I'm really excited about it."

Jernigan's enthusiasm isn't entirely inflated either. Sure, his playing time isn't likely to shift dramatically, and he's already proven he's capable of handling a sizable role on the defense. But what's truly different for the junior defensive tackle in 2013 isn't about reps or tackles but about his place in the hierarchy of the defense.

For the past two seasons, FSU's line has been the foundation of its defensive scheme. The unit has helped the Seminoles finish in the top three in the nation stopping the run in both 2011 and 2012, and last month, it sent five players on to the NFL, including all of last year's starters.

That, of course, means a massive overhaul for the unit, but thanks to Jernigan's presence -- along with potential breakout stars like Mario Edwards Jr. and Eddie Goldman -- the expectations haven't dipped much. And that's a burden Jernigan hadn't been asked to carry before.

"I feel like it's my D-line now," Jernigan said. "I'm trying to be a leader."

[+] EnlargeTimmy Jernigan
AP Photo/Phil SearsAs a sophomore, Timmy Jernigan led all FSU defensive tackles in tackles last season.
When it comes to production, there's little reason to question Jernigan's ability to handle a bigger share of the spotlight. As a reserve the past two seasons, he's racked up 76 tackles, including 14 for a loss, and four sacks. Despite playing behind Anthony McCloud and Everett Dawkins -- both in NFL camps now -- Jernigan established himself as a star, and he's already currying attention as a potential first-round selection in next year's draft.

That attention is nice, he admits, but his bigger role in 2013 isn't about burnishing his resume for the next level.

"It inspired me to work even harder toward what I want," Jernigan said. "I'm not really worried about the NFL or anything like that because there's so much more I feel like I have to do here in Tallahassee. I'll worry about that when it's time."

What Jernigan needs to do this season isn't simply a repeat of past performance either.

Jimbo Fisher has been quick to shrug off concerns about the massive changes on the defensive line, noting that Jernigan and Demonte McAllister were already FSU's most productive tackles, but it's hard to ignore the notion that life gets more difficult without established talent surrounding them.

That means Jernigan has to pick up the slack as the centerpiece of the line and help bring along the younger talent alongside him.

Before an ankle injury sidelined him midway through the spring, Jernigan was taking reps alongside a bevy of potential partners on the line, from veterans like Jacobbi McDaniel and Giorgio Newberry to youngsters like Edwards and Goldman. The rotations, he expects, will continue well into the fall, but he admits it's hard not to be impressed by the potential of some of the young guns.

"I like what they're doing because they're asking questions, they're very humble," Jernigan said. "They understand we have all the talent in the world up front but the biggest thing is we've got to get everything going. Those guys are going to be just fine. It's just a matter of understanding what you're doing. Not understanding slows you down, but those guys are going to be just fine."

Of course, Jernigan is dealing with a bit of a learning curve, too. While his position group was spared in the overhaul of FSU's coaching staff this offseason, the new, aggressive schemes being implemented by defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt have added some wrinkles to what had been a relatively straightforward approach.

But like the move from reserve to starter, Jernigan sees the changes as an opportunity to impress.

"That's what I like," Jernigan said. "I like to get off the ball and attack blockers rather than absorb them. It's going to be a positive. I'm very excited about it."
You look at the Florida State roster, and you look at the Florida State coaching staff, and the automatic assumption is this could be a rebuilding year for the Noles.

Jimbo Fisher does not see it that way. Not one bit. As spring practice opens today, Fisher needs to find new starters at some key positions, including quarterback, defensive end and linebacker. But he sees players who have had valuable playing experience ready to step right into starting roles, not wet-behind-the-ears freshmen in over their heads.

To him, there is no dropoff between the talent on his 2012 ACC winning team, and the talent on his 2013 team.

[+] EnlargeClint Trickett
Mitch Stringer/USA TODAY SportsThere will be a competition for FSU"s starting quarterback, but Clint Trickett has more game experience than the others.
"I ask people this: Lawrence Dawsey is arguably one of the best receivers in Florida State history," Fisher said during his pre-spring news conference earlier this week. "How many years did he start here? He started one year. How about Odell (Haggins)? He was a linebacker that got moved. Nowadays he’d be, 'Oh, he wasn’t what we said he was, you moved him.'

"Just because you don’t start a game doesn’t mean you’re not starter material. Do you understand what I’m saying? We’re establishing ourselves as a program again and guys still played as much ball as anybody else."

Fisher gave a host of examples. Every starter on the defensive line is gone -- ends Bjoern Werner and Tank Carradine, and tackles Anthony McCloud and Everett Dawkins. But the players expected to move into the starting lineup played extensively last season. Mario Edwards Jr. and Giorgio Newberry will start with the first-team at end; Timmy Jernigan, perhaps the best interior lineman last year, moves up to start at one tackle spot.

Vince Williams and Nick Moody are gone at linebacker. Into the middle steps Telvin Smith, who has extensive game experience and should have no problems moving up.

Then of course, there is the quarterback spot, a position that folks across the ACC will be paying attention to as the competition begins. Clint Trickett starts out No. 1 on the depth chart, and here again is where playing time has helped him. Trickett has played in 16 games with two starts behind EJ Manuel the last two seasons.

The other three players competing for the starting job -- Jacob Coker, Sean Maguire and Jameis Winston -- have either limited or no game experience. That does not take them out of the mix by any stretch. Fisher already said the position is wide open, and he has no timetable to make a decision. But having game experience is certainly not going to hurt him as the Noles try to find their leader on offense.

"From a talent standpoint, I think we’re still a very talented football team and we have guys with a lot of experience still playing," Fisher said. "We look at returning starters sometimes, it’s a very misleading factor about depth of a team and how much guys have played behind them. I’m excited about these young guys. Even though they’re new starters, they've still played like starters."

As for the coaching changes, six new assistants will be on the field this spring, including new defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt. But Fisher downplayed those changes as well, saying nothing would change about philosophy or with the schemes the Noles run.

"We're going to do things the Florida State way, the way we've been doing," Fisher said.

That means plugging new guys into the starting lineup and believing there will be few hiccups along the way.
From the impending quarterback competition to finding replacements for departing juniors, Jimbo Fisher will have his work cut out for him during the next few months as he lays the groundwork for 2013.

With that in mind, we're going to go position-by-position looking at Florida State's strengths and weaknesses as the Seminoles prepare for the start of spring practice.

Previously: Cornerback, Wide Receivers and Tight Ends

Next up: Defensive Tackles

[+] EnlargeMike Gillislee, Demonte McAllister, Christian Jones, Timmy Jernigan
Kevin Liles/US PresswireDemonte McAllister (97) took a step forward in his junior season.
2012 recap: Florida State's defensive line was as hyped as any unit in the country entering the season, and the veteran group did little to disappoint, despite a heavy dose of injuries. While the ends took top billing, it was once again the run stuffers up the middle that set the tone. Seniors Everett Dawkins and Anthony McCloud turned in their usual quiet-but-productive seasons, while Timmy Jernigan proved his freshman campaign was no fluke, blossoming into one of the most dominant interior linemen in the country as a sophomore. Demonte McAllister took a step forward as a junior and Eddie Goldman, the highly touted freshman, played sparingly but effectively. Overall, the tackles helped Florida State finish third in rush defense nationally, the second straight year it finished in the top 3.

Departures: Stalwarts Dawkins and McCloud were never the most hyped guys on FSU's defense, but for the past two seasons, they were often the foundation of a unit that dominated opposing run games. Both departed at year's end as seniors, part of a massive overhaul on the D line that will see the Seminoles replace all four of their starters. Still, there's a wealth of talent -- as many as six potential impact players -- at the tackle position that should make for a relatively smooth transition.

Arrivals: Four-star commitment DeMarcus Walker (Sandalwood/Jacksonville, Fla.) is among FSU's most prized recruits from the class of 2013, while the Seminoles will also add a top recruit from the 2009 class when senior Jacobbi McDaniel finally returns from an ankle injury that kept him out for much of the past two seasons. Redshirt freshman Justin Shanks (6-2, 340) should be an intriguing addition to the lineup as well.

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Five assistant coaches and three juniors all left Florida State for greener pastures in the past six weeks, and a bevy of senior talent from the 2012 ACC champions departs as well. While the spring always brings hope for players to work their way up the depth chart, this year will offer a wealth of opportunities for some younger Seminoles to impress new coaches and win some vacant jobs.

That's good news for a handful of once promising talent on the Florida State roster, but it's hardly a guarantee that much will change. While last week, we looked at five rising stars for FSU, these six players have a much steeper hill to climb after seeing their stars dim during 2012.

Mario Pender (RFr./RB)

Background: Highly regarded on the recruiting trail, Pender's freshman season at Florida State never got started. A groin injury over the summer lingered into fall camp, and it was quickly determined he'd need season-ending surgery to repair it. He never ran a rep during practice but is expected to be ready to go this spring.

Possible 2013 status: On the one hand, Pender can still step in to a relatively uncertain running back situation and find a niche. James Wilder Jr.'s continued legal problems are a cause for concern, and Devonta Freeman was inconsistent down the stretch after Chris Thompson's injury. On the other hand, Florida State could be adding more talent with this year's recruiting class, and thanks to the injury, Pender won't be dramatically ahead of them in terms of preparation.

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Discover Orange Bowl preview 

December, 28, 2012

Florida State (11-2, 7-1) vs. Northern Illinois (12-1, 8-0)

Where: Miami

The Big Board: Rebuilding the D 

December, 17, 2012
Florida State hasn't made it official, and Jimbo Fisher has remained coy on the subject, but it certainly appears the Seminoles will have a new defensive coordinator soon, with all signs pointing to Fisher hiring Alabama defensive backs coach Jeremy Pruitt.

The hire would come as a minor surprise, given Pruitt's lack of experience as a coordinator and the 3-4 base defense run at Alabama, but he's a rising star in the profession and a strong recruiter. That could loom large given the amount of turnover Florida State figures to endure on defense this offseason.

In addition to the coaching staff, which must replace Mark Stoops and D.J. Eliot -- as well as linebackers coach Greg Hudson, who could move to an administrative position -- FSU will be looking to revamp the bulk of its defense.

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Werner rising on draft boards

December, 13, 2012
More than four months remain before the 2013 NFL draft, and everything from the senior bowl to the combine to individual workouts can shake things up significantly between today and the moment when NFL commissioner Roger Goodell steps to the stage to announce his first name in April.

Much of that mystery trickles down to Florida State, which at various times since this summer has had as many as five different players discussed as possible, probable or even definitive first-rounders.

Stacy Revere/Getty ImagesBjoern Werner is likely to be picked high in the first round if he declares for this April's NFL draft.
As it stands at the moment, however, the Seminoles might have just one: Bjoern Werner.

Never mind that Werner has yet to announce an official decision on whether he'll forego his senior season at Florida State. That seems a near inevitability after the loss of both his defensive coordinator and position coach, along with his firsthand witnessing of cautionary tales of fellow defensive ends destined for first-round status who later suffered season-ending injuries.

In his first mock draft, ESPN's Todd McShay doesn't simply list Werner as a first rounder, but goes so far as to project the FSU junior as the third overall pick.
[The Raiders] would face a tough call between Werner and LSU DE Barkevious Mingo, who has a better natural skill set as a pass-rusher and would give the Raiders a lighter, faster edge rusher. However, Werner is the more consistent player and has a better all-around game.

If McShay's projection proved accurate, it would be the earliest a Florida State player has been selected in the NFL draft since Arizona took Andre Wadsworth with the third overall pick in 1998. Even if Werner slides a few spots -- Mel Kiper Jr. has him eighth on his big board -- he'd still be just the third first-round pick out of FSU in the past five years, and the highest overall pick since Peter Warrick (fourth) and Corey Simon (sixth) were selected in 2000.

But what of the rest of the Seminoles' 2013 draft class? Here's a quick look at where the other potential pros might stand.

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Five Storylines: FSU vs. Florida 

November, 22, 2012
The regular season comes to a close Saturday, and Florida State's schedule saved the best for last.

For the first time since 2000, Florida State and Florida will face off while ranked in the top 10, and with both teams likely shut out of the BCS national championship picture, Saturday's game represents something of its own title game to determine the state's champion.

So, as FSU preps for its stiffest competition of the season, here are five key storylines to watch this weekend.

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Florida State 10: Week 9 power rankings 

October, 29, 2012
With Chris Thompson -- last week's No. 1 player in our Florida State power rankings -- gone for the season, the Seminoles need others to step up on offense. If Saturday was any indication, that won't be a concern.

Florida State's offense racked up five touchdowns in a dominant win over Duke, and had it not been for four fumbles, it might have been a lot more.

So, with a bye week finally at hand, here's how the power rankings stack up after nine games. (Last week's ranks in parentheses.)

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- The ACC issued a letter of reprimand and suspended an official from Saturday's Florida State win over Miami because of a flubbed call at the end of the first half, but Jimbo Fisher believes that was just the tip of the iceberg in a poorly officiated game.

Crew chief David Epperley was suspended Monday for ruling the first half over following an FSU offensive penalty, which would normally result in a 10-second run-off, but Fisher still had a timeout remaining, which would have negated the run-off.

As Miami's players dashed off the field, Fisher pleaded with officials to reconsider the call, which they eventually did. Dustin Hopkins then drilled a 46-yard field goal with 3 seconds remaining to give Florida State a 13-10 halftime lead.

"Luckily they got it right, and they listened," Fisher said.

But while the officials belatedly corrected that call, Fisher remains disgruntled about a number of other calls. Florida State was flagged for penalties 16 times in Saturday's game, though four were either offset or declined. Three of the penalties were for offensive pass interference, including one that negated a touchdown to Kelvin Benjamin.

Fisher said the contact on the play came as a result of Miami's defender jamming Benjamin, and he lamented that another flag was thrown on FSU cornerback Nick Waisome later in the game for similar contact.

"It made it hard to get in the rhythm of a game," Fisher said. "All of a sudden you're hitting plays and you're moving. Some calls, there were penalties there. But you hit things and -- it makes it hard to coach, because how do you tell your players how to play? What's a penalty and what's not a penalty?"

At one point in the game, Florida State had 12 penalties compared with just one for Miami, though those numbers evened some by game's end. In all, 23 flags were thrown.

Florida State's 53 enforced penalties this season are the third-most in the ACC, behind North Carolina and Virginia.

"I don't want to be an official," Fisher said. "They've got a tough job. But they have to do their job."

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- There's nothing like a good conspiracy theory to get a fan base talking, and while the paranoia among Florida State fans is nothing new -- particularly when it comes to ACC officiating -- the buzz has ramped up a bit in recent weeks.

The theory is simple, and it's been ongoing for several years: Florida State draws more flags than opponents, ergo, there is a bias among officials against the Seminoles.

 John Wetzel
Melina Vastola/US PresswireFSU's Bjoern Werner doesn't have a sack since the Seminoles' third game, and conspiracy theorists might say that's because holding isn't called enough against FSU's opponents.
The latest evidence is just as empirically obvious, too. Blessed with one of the top defensive lines in the country, including All-America candidates Bjoern Werner and Cornellius Carradine, FSU's pass rush has somehow been stopped in its tracks by the likes of Boston College and NC State, the latter of which started three backups in its win over the Seminoles.

How's that possible?

"If you're a good defensive lineman, you get held," Werner said. "It doesn't get called every time, but it gets ridiculous and you have to say something to the refs."

Fans would argue the ridiculousness has been ongoing for years, but recent history has brought the discussion to the forefront once again.

The concerns were so widespread after last season that the Tallahassee Democrat did a study of all ACC games dating back to 2005 when the conference expanded. It found that FSU had been called for more holding penalties than any other team in the conference -- more than twice as many as NC State, which had the fewest holding flags during that span.

But history is one thing. The current FSU team has a clearly powerful pass rush, and for the past two games, the Seminoles have exactly two sacks -- both coming from defensive tackles rather than Werner or Carradine.

Against Boston College, the frustration nearly boiled over after Carradine believed he'd been tackled by an offensive lineman without drawing a flag.

"I saw Tank getting held a lot," Werner said. "He got tackled from behind. I have to be the guy to calm him down before he destroys somebody."

Werner, meanwhile, hasn't recorded a sack since FSU's third game of the season against Wake Forest. It's a peculiar streak for a player widely considered one of the best pass rushers in the league and a likely first-round selection in next year's NFL draft.

But if Florida State's players are frustrated, coach Jimbo Fisher understands. He's just not interested in pursuing the matter any further.

"There’s no more questions on holding," Fisher said. "If they call it, it’s a hold. If they don’t call it, it’s not a hold. What do you want us to say? It’s over with."

This is something of a new take on the situation for Fisher, who lobbied for more flags routinely last season. During fall camp, defensive coordinator Mark Stoops said his staff has worked with players to help reduce holds and make the holds that do occur more obvious to the officials, and defensive tackle Anthony McCloud said the Seminoles practice without holding calls to force pass rushers to get used to it.

Still, Stoops admitted there was little that could be done to make a dramatic change in the games without altering the way FSU plays.

"We can't teach them bad fundamentals," Stoops said. "We always teach them things where we get in positions to counter out some of those things, but it's hard to teach someone not to hold you."

The numbers would seem to indicate the tricks aren't working.

After racking up 11 sacks in its first three games -- all by defensive ends -- Florida State has just six sacks in its last four contests, only 3.5 of which came from ends. FSU blog Tomahawk Nation recently discussed the problem with screen captures of several holds on the Seminoles pass rushers included.

Of course, Fisher isn't denying the holds take place, but he's also not saying more should be called.

"Maybe we hold some and they don't call it," Fisher said. "It's opinionated. Players play, referees ref, and if they don't call a hold, you fight through it and you move on."

And while logic may indicate more holds should be called against FSU opponents, the numbers don't suggest a particular bias against the Seminoles.

Here's the number of plays run by NC State and Boston College per offensive holding call against all opponents from automatic-qualifier conference.

(*Numbers include all offensive holding penalties by a tight end, lineman or running back, including those declined or offset.)

Certainly there's a good chance FSU was held on more than one out of every 37 plays in those two games, but calls were still more frequent against both NC State and BC than they had been earlier in the season.

Moreover, refs don't appear to be calling FSU for any more holds than its opponents have been flagged for.

Here are the numbers for Florida State against its five FBS opponents this season:

In other words, Florida State's opponents are being flagged for holding at as high a rate this season than the Seminoles have been, but FSU is also allowing more tackles in the backfield.

As with most conspiracy theories, the numbers can be interpreted differently, depending on the perception of the interpreter. The bottom line through all of this, Fisher said, is that none of it really matters.

"We have that argument in pro ball, high school ball, pee-wee ball, at [my son's] games. I get home and hear him saying, 'I got held,' " Fisher said. "We all get upset because there's a passion for it, but you've got to fight through it. That's all you can do."


Goodell Has Sit-Down With Jameis Winston
ESPN NFL Insider Field Yates discusses Roger Goodell's meeting with presumptive No. 1 draft pick Jameis Winston.