NCF Nation: Budd Thacker

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- The face of Florida State's defensive line will change this fall, as the Noles' lost last season's top defensive end, Everette Brown, early to the NFL, and the coaching staff is expecting to hear within a day or two whether Kevin McNeil, who is listed as a starting defensive end on the preseason depth chart, will be cleared academically.

 
  Ken McKimm/Icon SMI
  Mickey Andrews is counting on Markus White to take over the right end spot vacated by Everette Brown.

While the interior line is deep and strong, the end positions are a question mark, though Markus White is the clear front-runner to take over for Brown on the right end.

"They're going to look for the guy who can make all the sacks," White said of FSU fans. "They're going to look for the standout guy. That's what they're used to. There's always been a dominant defensive end. Now that Everette's gone, who's the dominant guy? I want to step into that role, but only time will tell."

The Saturday scrimmages will help, and so will Wednesday's practice, which will be the first day in pads, but defensive ends coach Jody Allen said the defensive line won't be "near as talented" as it was last year without Brown, but that White has the intangibles it takes to be an aggressive end.

"He plays football with a very mobile and hostile attitude," Allen said. "He's got a good motor, and he plays hard, and he plays mean. He's a super person, but on the field he's a football player."

Allen said maybe one player can't replace Brown, but if he gets a collective effort from four players, the ends might be better as a group than they were last year. Everett Dawkins, Jamar Jackson, Brandon Jenkins, Dan Hicks, Craig Yarborough, and Toshmon Stevens are all candidates to help.

"The interior looks real good but our outside, they have the talent they just need to learn," White said. "They need somebody to learn from. The coach can only do so much, but as a player I can help them, too."

"He looks great," defensive tackle Budd Thacker said. "His confidence level is definitely way up there, I promise you that. He'll hustle, he gets to the football all the time. He knows the playbook front and back, and that's what we need."

Thacker said the unit's goal is to get more pressure on the quarterbacks, get the ball out of his hands, cause some more picks and get some more sacks. FSU had the best pass defense in the ACC last year, but only had nine interceptions. The only ACC team with fewer picks was Miami with a measly four. With Brown in the lineup, FSU led the ACC with 39 total sacks.

White said he's been working on two primary counteraction new moves this summer to help him keep those sack numbers high.

"Last year we had Everette Brown and he would always get pressure on the quarterbacks even if it wasn't sacks, but I got too much pressure and not enough sacks," White said. "This year instead of getting pressure I want to get to the quarterback, get past the guy, be able to grab him and tackle him."

If he does, White just might be the Noles' next "dominant defensive end."

Checking in from Doak

September, 20, 2008
9/20/08
5:44
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Well, it's time to see who's made of what. Here are a few keys to this game:

UP FRONT: How Florida State's young offensive line matches up with Wake Forest's veteran defensive line is the most important factor in this game. The 'Noles are counting on two redshirt freshmen, one true freshman and two sophomores. Wake Forest has an "old man" in grad student Matt Robinson, who gained a sixth year of eligibility, and two redshirt juniors and a redshirt senior.

TURNOVERS: The one thing Christian Ponder is leery of heading into this game is Wake's ability to force teams into mistakes. The Demon Deacons lead the ACC and rank fourth nationally in turnover margin at +5. Florida State, on the other hand, hasn't made an interception yet.

RILEY SKINNER: He's not going to be rattled by the atmosphere, so it will be up to FSU's defense to rattle the ACC's leading passer. How much time he gets in the pocket will obviously allow him to do more, but the staff has been scheming to slow Everette Brown off the edge. The return of Budd Thacker to the line will help FSU get some pressure on Skinner.

INTANGIBLES: This might be the real underlying key in this game. Florida State is hungry and has something to prove. Plus, there's that little thing called revenge. The Seminoles aren't about to allow another shutout like the 30-0 game that happened in 2006. The one intangible FSU doesn't have, though, is experience.

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

One day. I oversleep one day, and I see this from loyal reader VTballer: "yo Heather wake up! its about time for ACC in the morning."

So it is, my friend.

Here's a look at what's going on around the league:

- This one's for you, VTballer -- RB coach Billy Hite told Josh Oglesby he's playing three backs, but Oglesby says, "I've only seen two."

- It's Georgia Tech's turn to carry the ACC banner, as the Yellow Jackets will try to represent the league against SEC opponent Mississippi State. Oh, and don't question Paul Johnson on his fourth-down decisions, otherwise you're a moron.

- FSU DT Budd Thacker's back -- "wide-eyed, scratching and clawing."

- Miami second-year assistant coach Wesley McGriff is making the Hurricanes' secondary "Army tough."

- ECU coach Skip Holtz isn't taking NC State lightly. He remembers what happened last year. History is unlikely to repeat itself, though, especially with the latest injury to hit the lineup -- Alan-Michael Cash is out indefinitely. Huge loss. ECU is down a man, too.

- UNC is preparing for Tyrod Taylor and his happy feet. Coach Butch Davis says, "Don't bite the cheese."

- Speaking of cheese, the Terps are trying to avoid another trap against Eastern Michigan.

- People were asking for my pick on the Wake Forest-FSU game on Monday's chat. You should ask Christian Ponder, who says the Noles are "not going to lose." It's not like they're taking the Demon Deacons lightly, though. Derek Nicholson deemed it their "ACC championship game."

- Clemson offensive tackle Chris Hairston answers questions about his motor scooter accident.

Today is mailblog day, so check back later. I'm awake now.

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

Caulton Tudor says this is the time for Butch Davis to shine. The Tar Heels lost this game two seasons ago, but a win tonight could "turn UNC's fortunes around." This game will be about more than just football, though.

- Elsewhere in the state of North Carolina, Wolfpack quarterback Russell Wilson said he's ready to make his comeback against the Clemson Tigers.

- It looks like Da'Quan Bowers has earned the starting nod for this game, and Kevin Alexander has moved to the "bandit end" position to replace injured starter Ricky Sapp. All of that can be found at the end of this story about Durrell Barry. Clemson is expected to use three redshirt freshmen offensive linemen on Saturday.

- What's up with suspended Florida State defensive lineman Budd Thacker? Something, but Bobby Bowden won't tell. If he's back for Wake Forest, it will definitely help the Noles.

- Georgia Tech is still working on learning the triple option, but once they figure it out, look out.

- In case you missed it last night, Peter Lalich will not play against Connecticut. Two thoughts on this -- well, OK, three: 1. Good move. 2. Should've done it last week. 3. I love the line in this story "seldom used" to describe Marc Verica, whose bio in the media guide reads: 2007 -- Did not appear in any games. 2006 -- Redshirted. Yeah, I'd say that's seldom.

- I watched the Miami/Florida game last weekend on a TV. Apparently most of you did, too.

- Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer has left his spot in the tower and is getting in a few faces at practice this week. And Bryan Stinespring is" challenging their manhood." Where is highly touted RB Ryan Williams? It looks like he might steal Tyrod Taylor's redshirt.

- It looks like leather lungs will be starring in the next Under Armour commercial for the Terps.

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