College football guru Phil Steele picked the Noles to win it all in his preseason Top 40, and he's basing the majority of that prediction on Florida State's defense, which he holds in high regard.
Steele ranked Florida State's defensive line No. 1 in the country in his preseason magazine, and he's got the linebackers at No. 3, and the defensive backs at No. 7.
One of the most exciting competitions to watch in the ACC this fall will be between Florida State and Virginia Tech's defenses. Both should be among the best in the country. We will find out which one is better when the two teams meet on Nov. 8 in Blacksburg. I have agreed with Steele, that FSU will have the best overall defense in the conference, but it's going to be close.
The Hokies' defense had a good spring, despite injuries that kept all three starting linebackers off the field. Starting mike linebacker Bruce Taylor was out along with starting backer Tariq Edwards. Starting whip linebacker Jeron Gouveia-Winslow saw only very limited time while still nursing his foot injury. That meant more reps for Jack Tyler (mike), Chase Williams (backer), Alonzo Tweedy (whip) and newcomer Ronnie Vandyke (whip).
Also during the spring, Virginia Tech's defensive coaches switched the secondary around with cornerbacks Detrick Bonner and Kyshoen Jarrett moving to the safety spots and safety Antone Exum moving to corner. Exum excelled and will now team with Kyle Fuller as the corners. Bonner was a natural at free safety and impressed the coaches this spring. Jarrett is still progressing but will take over at rover.
Steele ranked Virginia Tech's defensive line No. 8 in the country, the linebackers No. 16, and the defensive backs No. 18.
Florida State and Virginia Tech are likely to be the frontrunners to win their respective divisions this year and we could see a repeat of the 2010 ACC title game. If defense wins championships, which one will come out on top? Cast your vote now for who will have the best defense in the ACC.