FSU defensive ends hunting for quarterbacks

November, 12, 2008
11/12/08
3:30
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

There's a bit of a friendly competition going on between Florida State's defensive ends Neefy Moffett, Everette Brown, Kevin McNeil and Markus White.

The only loser in this game, though, is the opposing quarterback.

"Everybody," White said, "wants to get a quarterback. We're hunting for it."

He makes it sound like they're chasing rabbits in Pahokee.

White got the first sack of his career last weekend against Clemson. Brown has had three sacks in two of the past three games. And Moffett? Well, he rumbled his way to the end zone for the first interception for a touchdown by an interior lineman since 1988.

"I'm not there yet," he said. "Until I'm in the Hall of Fame with the most sacks ever, then I'll be there. Until then, I'm just going to keep on fighting."

That seems to sum up their mentality this season. Florida State had six sacks in last week's 41-27 win over Clemson. The Noles' defensive linemen have put pressure on the quarterbacks and forced their way into opposing backfields in a way that has been missing. FSU's 28 sacks rank seventh nationally, and the Noles are No. 8 in the country with 72 tackles for loss.

The defensive ends have been able to get up the field, collapse the pocket and make it difficult for the quarterback to have a running lane to scramble. The defensive tackles have been a strong complement to that with their push up the middle.

"As a unit we're rushing the passer better than we have in a while," said Brown, who is one sack away from becoming the first Seminole to record at least 10 sacks in a season since Alonzo Jackson in 2002. "The main thing is all of the defensive ends as a unit are buying into our system of being speed rushers and playing relentless. When you keep playing hard, good things happen."

All of them, though, were playmakers last week against Clemson.

"We had a mentality, we wanted to get the quarterback because after watching film, we felt like we had the upper hand against their offensive line," White said. "We wanted to use what we had and take advantage of what we knew. We took their weaknesses and we used it as our strength and we finally got back there."

Clemson's offensive line struggles have been at the heart of the Tigers' spiraling season, though, and burly Boston College will present more of a challenge. Brown said the Noles will have to keep their pads low and "play like wild men."

"It's going to be a great challenge," Moffett said. "Those guys are known for their offensive line. Those guys are big, athletic, they play hard-nosed football. They look like an NFL line. They put their weight on you. I think the average weight is like 315. They like to mash you with it and wear you out."

That's exactly what White said they want.

"We want to play better people to get better," he said. "That's what we're trying to do, step up to the plate."

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