NCF Nation: Cornellius Carradine

The first round of the NFL draft is just a week away, so it is time to provide you an update with the latest predictions, mock drafts and rankings from ESPN experts.

First, let us start with Mel Kiper Jr., who plays general manager for every single team and predicts the first three rounds of the draft Insider. It is Insider content, but here is a look at where he has placed players from ACC schools. Oh, and be sure to read his ground rules to have a better understanding of his thought process.

First round
Second round
Third round

As Kiper Jr. states, that piece is not a mock draft. It's his preference for each team at that spot. His mock draft features Cooper, Williams and Rhodes. Disagree with his first-round picks? Well you can make your own mock draft Insider. Two thumbs up on that tool.

Kiper also has updated his Big Board Insider, ranking the Top 25 prospects. Only Cooper and Williams make that list.

Meanwhile, ESPN draft expert Todd McShay has revealed the Scouts Inc. tier rankings Insider, which list prospects by their ratings. There are seven tiers and 109 players rated, with 17 from ACC schools (counting incoming members Pittsburgh and Syracuse).

McShay also has named his All-Satellite team Insider, comprised of the best prospects when playing in space. North Carolina running back Giovani Bernard checks in at No. 5. McShay writes, "He has super-quick feet, good initial burst and outstanding lateral agility. Bernard can stop and start on a dime, strings together multiple moves and is a slippery runner between the tackles."

Want more? Kiper also has updated his top 5 prospects by position Insider.

2012 ESPN.com ACC all-conference team

December, 10, 2012
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Despite the abundance of hype surrounding the quarterback position heading into this season, there was one player who quickly distanced himself from the rest. Clemson’s Tajh Boyd had a record-setting season and he was surrounded by several all-conference-caliber teammates. With five Tigers on the first-team offense, it’s no wonder Clemson was No. 6 in the country in scoring offense at 42.33 points per game. There was no running back in the ACC more electrifying than UNC’s Giovani Bernard, though, and to leave off his lead blockers in James Hurst and Jonathan Cooper would be unjust. Surprisingly, not one player from Florida State’s two-deep made the cut for first-team offense. There’s no question, though, the ACC champs dominated the defensive lineup with four first-team selections. Imagine a dream team made up of Clemson’s offense and Florida State’s defense.

Actually, the ACC’s dream team would look more like this, your 2012 ESPN.com ACC All-Conference team:

Offense First Team

QB -- Tajh Boyd, Clemson

RB -- Giovani Bernard, North Carolina

RB -- Andre Ellington, Clemson

WR -- DeAndre Hopkins, Clemson

WR -- Conner Vernon, Duke

TE -- Brandon Ford, Clemson

T -- James Hurst, North Carolina

T -- Oday Aboushi, Virginia

G -- Jonathan Cooper, North Carolina

G -- Omoregie Uzzi, Georgia Tech

C -- Dalton Freeman, Clemson

Defense first team

DE--Cornellius Carradine, Florida State

DE--Bjoern Werner, Florida State

DT--Joe Vellano, Maryland

DT--Sylvester Williams, North Carolina

LB--Nick Clancy, Boston College

LB--Steve Greer, Virginia

LB--Kevin Reddick, North Carolina

CB--Ross Cockrell, Duke

CB--Xavier Rhodes, Florida State

S--Lamarcus Joyner, Florida State

S--Earl Wolff, NC State

Specialists

PK--Dustin Hopkins, Florida State

P--Will Monday, Duke

SP--Giovani Bernard, North Carolina
Florida State defensive ends coach D.J. Eliot has been hired as defensive coordinator and linebackers coach at Kentucky under former Noles assistant Mark Stoops.

Eliot coached defensive ends the past three seasons at Florida State. His work this year was simply phenomenal when you consider Bjoern Werner was selected ACC Defensive Player of the Year; and both Werner and Tank Carradine were first-team All-ACC selections. The way he was able to get Carradine to truly shine once Brandon Jenkins got hurt truly is a testament to the job he did this season.

Jenkins, by the way, won All-ACC honors in 2010 and 2011.

"D.J. is one of the brightest young minds in college football," Stoops said in a statement. "He has a relentless work ethic and is extremely detailed. I'm very pleased he has joined the Big Blue Nation."
The ACC coaches have unveiled their inaugural All-ACC football team and award winners, and it looks nearly identical to the media winners announced last week.

Both the coaches and media are in agreement on the players of the year: Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd as player of the year and offensive player of the year; Florida State defensive end Bjoern Werner as defensive player of the year; and Miami running back Duke Johnson as rookie of the year and Offensive Rookie of the Year; Florida State cornerback Ronald Darby as defensive rookie of the year; and Duke coach David Cutcliffe as coach of the year.

Boyd won player of the year and offensive player of the year more comfortably on the coaches' ballots, getting four more votes than North Carolina running back Giovani Bernard. In media voting, Boyd beat out Bernard by one point.

Coaches were not allowed to vote for their own players. First-team selections earned two points; second-team selections got one.

Clemson, Florida State and North Carolina each had five players chosen to the first team, though the Tar Heels actually had six first-team picks as Bernard was named to the first-team offense as a running back, while also earning first-team specialist accolades. All of Clemson’s first-team honorees were on offense, while four of FSU’s five were on defense.

The coaches' All-ACC first-team differed from the Atlantic Coast Sports Media Association team only at three positions: choosing Duke receiver Conner Vernon over Boston College’s Alex Amidon; North Carolina offensive tackle James Hurst over Clemson’s Brandon Thomas; and Virginia Tech linebacker Jack Tyler instead of Virginia’s Steve Greer. Amidon, Thomas and Greer were all second-team picks.

In all, there were four unanimous first-team selections in Boyd, Bernard, Clemson receiver DeAndre Hopkins and Florida State defensive end Cornellius Carradine on defense.

Here are the complete teams.

This will be remembered as one of the worst seasons in conference history.

North Carolina was ineligible for the postseason. Miami won the division for the first time since joining it, but self-imposed a postseason ban for the second straight season. Georgia Tech fired defensive coordinator Al Groh midseason, dropped to 6-7 and needed a waiver from the NCAA just to play in a bowl game. Virginia Tech dropped out of the Top 25 only three weeks into the season and needed to beat rival Virginia in the final week of the season to become bowl eligible. Virginia regressed, winning just four games, and coach Mike London fired four of his assistants, including defensive coordinator Jim Reid.

And that was just the Coastal Division.

Two Atlantic Division coaches, BC’s Frank Spaziani and NC State’s Tom O’Brien, were both fired. Wake Forest suspended eight players, including four starters, over a two-week span during the season. Maryland announced it was out, leaving for the Big Ten, and the ACC announced Louisville was in. Clemson lost to South Carolina. Florida State lost to Florida. And the ACC decided it would sue Maryland in an attempt to force the university to pay the league’s $50 million exit fee.

The ACC went 0-4 against its SEC rivals in the final week of the regular season and for the second straight year had three strikes against Notre Dame. The conference had six bowl-eligible teams, two short of filling the league’s bowl tie-ins.

Hooray for Duke!

The Blue Devils, led by ACC Coach of the Year David Cutcliffe, were the first to become bowl eligible in the Coastal Division. Duke finished 6-6, earned its first bowl bid since 1994, and in November still had a legitimate chance to play for the ACC title.

It wasn’t all bad.

Florida State and Clemson put on a September show in Tallahassee for ESPN’s "College GameDay" crew, quarterback EJ Manuel had a Heisman moment in that game, and ACC offenses flourished under veteran quarterbacks this year. New stars, like Maryland’s Stefon Diggs and Miami’s Duke Johnson, emerged, while old stars, like Tajh Boyd and Giovani Bernard, shone brighter.

[+] EnlargeFlorida State's Bjoern Werner
Mitch Stringer/US PRESSWIREFlorida State's Bjoern Werner was the best and most consistent player in the ACC.
Florida State won its first ACC title since 2005, but lost defensive coordinator Mark Stoops to Kentucky the day after the game. The Seminoles had a good season, but left many wondering if it could have been a great season had they not lost on the road in the fourth quarter to NC State.

The good news?

It can only get better.

Offensive MVP: Tajh Boyd, Clemson. Boyd led the ACC in total offense with 376.4 yards per game, throwing for 3,550 yards and 34 touchdowns on the season. Though he won ACC Player of the Year and ACC Offensive Player of the Year honors by a whisker, we both agreed on Boyd as the best player in the league this season.

Defensive MVP: Bjoern Werner, Florida State. Werner quite easily won ACC Defensive Player of the Year honors for good reason. He was the best, most consistent player in the league this season, leading the league with 13 sacks and finishing second with 18 tackles for loss. He and teammate Cornellius "Tank" Carradine formed the best duo in the league.

Newcomer of the year: Duke Johnson, Miami. Stefon Diggs was great, too, but Johnson gets the nod here for having a better season. Johnson ended up with 2,070 all-purpose yards, second in school history to Willis McGahee (2,108 in 2002). He was a game-changer not just at running back but in the return game, as he scored 13 total touchdowns this season.

Biggest surprise: Hello, Duke! The Blue Devils are headed to a bowl game for the first time since 1994, and were in contention for the Coastal Division crown until the second-to-last week of the regular season. Easy to see why David Cutcliffe was named the league's coach of the year.

Biggest disappointment: Virginia Tech. Does anybody remember when the Hokies started the season ranked No. 16 in the AP poll? Us neither. Virginia Tech is about to finish up its worst season in 20 years. This is one season removed from being an at-large selection into the BCS. There were breakdowns all over this team, from Logan Thomas to the running game to what was supposed to be a great defense. Now the Hokies need a win in their bowl game to avoid finishing with a losing record for the first time since 1992.

Best game: No. 4 Florida State 49, No. 10 Clemson 37. The first meeting between two Top 10 ACC teams since 2007 did not disappoint. The Tigers jumped out quickly to a 28-14 third-quarter lead but could not withstand the Noles blitz that ensued. Florida State scored 28 straight points to take the win, as EJ Manuel had the best game of his career -- throwing for 380 yards and two touchdowns.
Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd edged out North Carolina running back Giovani Bernard for ACC Player of the Year and Offensive Player of the Year honors, winning both awards by one vote.

Meanwhile, Florida State defensive end Bjoern Werner was the overwhelming choice for ACC Defensive Player of the Year on Wednesday. The players were selected in voting done by the 46 members of the Atlantic Coast Sports Media Association.

[+] EnlargeTajh Boyd
Streeter Lecka/Getty ImagesClemson QB Tajh Boyd edged out Giovani Bernard in the voting for ACC Player of the Year and Offensive Player of the Year.
Boyd and Bernard had truly outstanding seasons this year, so it's no surprise the vote was close. Bernard led the ACC in rushing with 1,228 yards and 12 touchdowns, despite playing in only 10 games. He also led the league in scoring, punt return average and all-purpose yards and was one of the most dynamic players in the league.

But voters felt Boyd was slightly better. Boyd really has had a remarkable Wednesday. Earlier in the day, he was voted first-team All-America by the American Football Coaches Association. On the season, Boyd leads the ACC and ranks fourth in the nation in passing efficiency with a 168.5 rating, on pace for a Clemson record. He has gone 251-of-377 for 3,550 yards and 34 touchdowns, and added nine scores on the ground. His 43 overall touchdowns are tied for first in the nation.

Boyd also leads the ACC and ranks eighth in the nation with 336.8 yards per game.

"I can’t tell you how proud I am of Tajh Boyd. He has had a terrific year in leading us to a second straight 10-win season. It has been 25 years since a starting quarterback has done that," Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said in a statement.

"He has broken just about every record out there to the point where he is breaking his own records. I really believe he is the best quarterback in the nation and I am glad to see the American Football Coaches agreed with that today. This award means a lot to him because he has great respect for the players and teams in this league. He has also been a great leader all season. He is very deserving."

Werner is tied with South Carolina's Jadeveon Clowney for the most sacks in the nation this season with 13. He also has 18 tackles for loss. Werner also was named to the AFCA All-America team Wednesday, and is one of five finalists for the Bronko Nagurski Trophy.

"There is not a more well-deserving award than this one for Bjoern, who’s had an unbelievable year for us and his statistics prove it ... but his worth goes well beyond his statistics," Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher said in a statement.

"The value he has to his team … the effect he has on his teammates, off the field and in the classroom and as a team leader is tremendous, and the things he’s sacrificed to give up for other guys to make plays on our defense. He’s a tremendous team player, he’s a tremendous leader and he’s a tremendous winner and I think he’ll go down as one of the great football players in Florida State football history. He has had a tremendous year this year and I can’t be happier for him."

Here is how the voting went down:

ACC PLAYER OF THE YEAR

  • Tajh Boyd, QB, Clemson (20)
  • Giovani Bernard, RB, North Carolina (19)
  • DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Clemson (2)
  • Cornellius Carradine, DE, Florida State (2)
  • Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State (1)
ACC OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR

  • Tajh Boyd, QB, Clemson (22)
  • Giovani Bernard, RB, North Carolina (21)
  • EJ Manuel, QB, Florida State (2)
  • DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Clemson (1)
ACC DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR
There is never a good time to suffer a season-ending injury. But perhaps the worst time of all is at the end of the season, with the NFL draft looming.

Now we are left to wonder what happens to Florida State defensive end Cornellius "Tank" Carradine come April. Carradine tore his ACL against Florida on Saturday and will require months of rehab. What happens to potential work at the NFL combine, or at Florida State pro day next year?

And, what happens to his draft stock? Carradine was rated the No. 15 overall prospect available before he got hurt, and the No. 1 senior prospect Insider at defensive end by Mel Kiper. Kevin Weidl of Scouts Inc. weighed in on this unanswered question Insider, writing earlier this week:
He was in the first-round mix before the injury, but given that Carradine has less than one year of tape as a starter and will not be able to work out for scouts during the predraft process he's likely to fall into the day 3 range.

Before the injury, Carradine was rated higher than teammate Brandon Jenkins, who missed nearly the entire season with a foot injury. Jenkins has already decided to forgo his senior season for the NFL draft.

Though Weidl seems pessimistic about Carradine's draft prospects, coach Jimbo Fisher believes his star player will be just fine.

"It'll rehab and that won't effect those guys much at all," Fisher said Sunday. "Maybe a round at the most. But he's sad and he's down because he can't be with his teammates. But I think he'll still play in the NFL and be very highly drafted."

Tajh Boyd headlines All-ACC team

November, 26, 2012
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Clemson had the best offense in the ACC this season, so it comes as no surprise that the Tigers dominated the All-ACC first team released Monday.

Quarterback Tajh Boyd and five teammates won first-team honors on offense, the first time Clemson has ever place six players on the All-ACC first-team offense and the first time any team has done it since Florida State in 1995.

Florida State and North Carolina each placed five players on the all-conference team, determined by a vote of 46 members of the Atlantic Coast Sports Media Association.

Boyd is joined on the first team by running back Andre Ellington, receiver DeAndre Hopkins, tackle Brandon Thomas, center Dalton Freeman and tight end Brandon Ford. Boyd led the ACC with 34 touchdown passes while Hopkins had league-bests of 16 total touchdown catches and an average of 104 yards receiving.

Nine teams had at least one first-team selection. There were no unanimous picks to the first team, but North Carolina running back Giovani Bernard was chosen as a first-teamer on 45 ballots. Bernard, who had an ACC-leading 1,228 yards rushing and 12 rushing touchdowns, joins Boyd as repeat first-team selections.

Bernard, a punt returner who also was picked as the first-team specialist, was joined by guard Jonathan Cooper, linebacker Kevin Reddick and defensive tackle Sylvester Williams.

Four Florida State defensive players -- ends Bjoern Werner and Tank Carradine, cornerback Xavier Rhodes and safety Lamarcus Joyner -- join kicker Dustin Hopkins on the first team.

Boston College (receiver Alex Amidon and linebacker Nick Clancy), Virginia (offensive tackle Oday Aboushi and linebacker Steve Greer) and Duke (cornerback Ross Cockrell and punter Will Monday) were the only other schools with multiple first-team picks.

You also should note that Virginia Tech and Miami did not have a first-team selection for the first time since they joined the ACC in 2004. Defensive end James Gayle, linebacker Jack Tyler and cornerback Antone Exum made the second team for Virginia Tech; Miami's Duke Johnson made the second team as a running back and specialist.

The league coaches will announce their all-conference team next week.

FIRST-TEAM OFFENSE
  • QB-Tajh Boyd, Clemson
  • RB-Giovani Bernard, North Carolina
  • RB-Andre Ellington, Clemson
  • WR-DeAndre Hopkins, Clemson
  • WR-Alex Amidon, Boston College
  • OT-Oday Aboushi, Virginia
  • OT-Brandon Thomas, Clemson
  • OG-Jonathan Cooper, North Carolina
  • OG-Omoregie Uzzi, Georgia Tech
  • C-Dalton Freeman, Clemson
  • TE-Brandon Ford, Clemson
  • K-Dustin Hopkins, Florida State
  • Specialist- Giovani Bernard, North Carolina
FIRST-TEAM DEFENSE
  • DE-Bjoern Werner, Florida State
  • DE-Cornellius Carradine, Florida State
  • DT-Joe Vellano, Maryland
  • DT-Sylvester Williams, North Carolina
  • LB-Nick Clancy, Boston College
  • LB-Kevin Reddick, North Carolina
  • LB-Steve Greer, Virginia
  • CB-Xavier Rhodes, Florida State
  • CB-Ross Cockrell, Duke
  • S-Lamarcus Joyner, Florida State
  • S-Earl Wolff, NC State
  • P-Will Monday, Duke

For the second-team and honorable mention selections, you can click here.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- The game was billed as a battle of division leaders, but Duke hardly looked the part Saturday as Florida State dominated the Blue Devils en route to a 48-7 victory.

Despite Duke's upstart status this season, little has changed in its rivalry with the Seminoles. EJ Manuel threw for 282 yards and two touchdowns, Tyler Hunter added a 75-yard punt return for a score and Florida State cruised to its 18th victory in as many tries against the Blue Devils.

It was over when: James Wilder Jr. rumbled into the end zone from 1 yard out just 1:50 into the second quarter. That touchdown put Florida State ahead 24-0, and it was already clear that in spite of all the buzz leading up to the game surrounding Duke's sudden resurgence, the Blue Devils simply weren't in the same class as the Seminoles.

Game ball goes to: Wilder and Devonta Freeman. There were plenty of stout performances, from Manuel's long passes to stellar defensive work by Cornellius Carradine and Christian Jones. But coming into the game, the big question was how Florida State's ground game would respond to the loss of starting tailback Chris Thompson, and Freeman and Wilder offered an emphatic answer. The pair combined for 174 yards on 25 carries and scored three times on the ground. Since Thompson's injury, Wilder and Freeman have averaged 6.8 yards per carry.

Stat of the game: Manuel wasn't asked to do much against Duke, but when he unloaded in the passing game, it was usually for a big play. Manuel averaged 17.6 yards per attempt against Duke -- the highest average of his career. Five of Manuel's eight completions gained at least 30 yards, and he finished with 282 yards passing. In his two career starts against Duke, Manuel has completed just 17 passes, but five have gained 50 yards or more. Meanwhile, Duke's quarterbacks averaged just 3.6 yards per attempt Saturday.

Unsung hero: Dustin Hopkins. OK, so neither of his field goals meant a whole lot in determining the outcome, but Hopkins connected on a 56-yard kick with 9:40 to go in the fourth quarter to set the ACC's all-time record for most field goals in a career, eclipsing former Maryland kicker Nick Novak. Hopkins has 15 field goals in his last five games, but the 58-yarder was a career-long for the senior. He's just 10 points shy of setting the NCAA record for most points scored in a career.

Record performance: Hopkins provided the only ACC record of the day, as Duke's Conner Vernon will have to wait to set the conference record for receiving yards. Vernon entered play needing 94 yards to break Peter Warrick's career mark for ACC receivers, but he managed just three catches for 12 yards.

Cause for concern: It was an easy win for Florida State, but fumbles remained a big problem for the second consecutive game. FSU coughed up the football four times Saturday, with Duke recovering each of them. This comes on the heels of a six-fumble performance against Miami last week. The problems were across the board, too, with Manuel fumbling on a QB run, Rodney Smith fumbling after a long reception, Freeman coughing up the football on a running play and Hunter muffing a return.

Instant Analysis: NC State 17, FSU 16

October, 7, 2012
10/07/12
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RALEIGH, N.C. -- After last Saturday's games, Mike Glennon sent a text message to his good friend EJ Manuel, predicting an upset.

It was a boastful claim considering NC State had just looked awful in a loss to Miami (Fla), and Florida State was flying high and ranked third in the nation. Manuel was so amused, he shared the message with his defense as a bit of bulletin-board material.

Turns out, Glennon was right.

NC State's senior quarterback led a furious assault on the vaunted Seminoles defense in the second half, rallying the Wolfpack from a 16-point deficit for a 17-16 win.

It was over when: Glennon hit Bryan Underwood for a 2-yard touchdown pass on fourth-and-goal with 16 seconds remaining in the game. It was the third time NC State was faced with a fourth down on the drive, which began after the Wolfpack blocked a late FSU punt. The touchdown tied the game, and the ensuing extra point gave them the lead as NC State knocked off a top-five opponent at home for the first time since 1998, when NC State dumped No. 2-ranked FSU.

Game ball goes to: Glennon. After being demolished in the first half, completing just 6 of 13 passes for 41 yards with an interception, the senior quarterback was calm, cool and collected in the second half, delivering one big throw after another. Glennon finished the game 30-of-55 passing for 259 yards and two second-half touchdowns, including the game winner on fourth down with 16 seconds left.

Turning point: Halftime. The first half was all Florida State, as the Seminoles dominated the line of scrimmage, Chris Thompson burned the NC State defense on the ground, and FSU went into the locker room leading 16-0. When the two teams emerged for the second half, it was a brand new ballgame. The NC State defense tormented Manuel, with FSU mustering just five first downs and 101 yards. NC State, meanwhile, sprung to life, quadrupling its first-half output with 257 yards of offense, most of it coming on short passes over the middle that FSU's linebacking corps had no answer for.

Stat of the game: Four. That's the number of times FSU has started a season 5-0 since its 1999 national championship season, and on all four occasions it lost its next game. The questions will be awfully tough for Jimbo Fisher and the Seminoles to answer after this -- a game it dominated early. A week earlier, NC State allowed an ACC-record 566 yards passing, but Manuel couldn't solve the Wolfpack defense and another season of immense expectations fizzled with an unlikely loss.

Unsung hero: The NC State offensive line. Missing three starters, the Wolfpack's offensive line stepped up and shut down a rather passive Florida State pass rush. The Seminoles had just one sack, which came early and from a defensive tackle. Fill-in offensive tackles R.J. Mattes and Tyson Chandler managed to keep Cornellius Carradine and Bjoern Werner off Glennon long enough for the Wolfpack quarterback to engineer one strong drive after another in the second half, including three huge fourth-down conversions late.

Instant analysis: FSU 30, USF 17

September, 29, 2012
9/29/12
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TAMPA, Fla. -- It lacked the emotion of last week's win over Clemson or the style points that underscored Florida State's early season dominance, but the Seminoles remained unbeaten and earned a touch of retribution for a 2009 loss to USF, defeating the Bulls 30-17 Saturday.

EJ Manuel completed 19 of 26 passes for 242 yards and a touchdown, while the Florida State defense had two takeaways that keyed the win.

It was over when: B.J. Daniels felt the pressure and tossed a fourth-down pass out of bounds with 2:18 remaining in the game. USF battled throughout, largely stifling the high-powered FSU offense in the second half, but Daniels couldn't solve the Florida State defense.

Game ball goes to: Cornellius Carradine. The FSU defensive end had a monster game, leading the Seminoles with nine tackles, including 1.5 sacks. His devastating hit on USF backup quarterback Matt Floyd forced a fumble that Christian Jones scooped up for a touchdown. On a night when the FSU offense struggled to find its footing, Carradine's forced fumble provided the turning point.

Stat of the game: 183. That's the total rushing yardage for FSU -- a solid effort but well off the big numbers the Seminoles had been posting through the first four games of the season. Meanwhile the Bulls defensive front failed to make a single tackle behind the line of scrimmage in a loss to Ball State last week, but USF turned up the pressure and gave FSU's revamped offensive line its first real test of the season. The results were mixed. The Seminoles mustered just enough to win, but Chris Thompson, James Wilder Jr. and the running game took a big step back from the huge numbers they'd posted against Clemson.

Unsung hero: Xavier Rhodes. The FSU cornerback picked off a Daniels' pass late in the first half to set up a Dustin Hopkins field goal. Rhodes was exceptional in coverage throughout the game, holding USF's big-play receiver Andre Davis to just one catch for 3 yards.

What it means: It was a classic trap game for Florida State, which just won an emotional victory against Clemson last week and was making its first road trip of the season. The Seminoles certainly didn't look sharp, particularly early on, but they managed to sneak past USF to remain unbeaten and earn a small bit of retribution for the 17-7 loss it suffered at the hands of the Bulls in 2009. Jimbo Fisher is now 5-0 career against in-state rivals. Meanwhile, USF falls to 2-3 but its defense turned in a far more impressive effort than it had a week earlier, giving coach Skip Holtz some cause for optimism as the Bulls turn their focus toward Big East play.
If Florida State is going to live up to its preseason hype this year, it is going to have to do it now without its top two defensive players from a year ago.

The Seminoles are going to be without preseason All-America defensive end Brandon Jenkins for the rest of the season, a difficult enough proposition on its own. But couple that with the loss of cornerback/returner Greg Reid -- kicked off the team this summer -- and the Noles are sitting with a major talent deficit.

What helps is that Florida State has depth at defensive end, and young players with potential in the secondary. Senior Cornellius Carradine will step into the starting job for Jenkins. He has experience, and he played well against Murray State on Saturday after Jenkins got hurt, making nine tackles. The Noles also have redshirt freshman Giorgio Newberry and senior Toshmon Stevens and could consider pulling the redshirt from highly touted Mario Edwards Jr., the No. 1 player on the ESPN 150 for the class of 2012.

But no matter the depth, it is going to hurt when you lose a player who has had 22.5 sacks and made 28 starts since 2010 -- a player many believed to be the most outstanding defensive end in the entire nation. Yes, Bjoern Werner mans the other side of the line, and he had four sacks in Week 1. But where Florida State had the best defensive end duo in the nation at this time last week, there are now more questions than answers.

Couple that with some inexperience in the secondary with Reid gone. Sophomore Nick Waisome made his first start Saturday; true freshman Ronald Darby is behind him. When it comes to crunch time, how will FSU fare with only seven of its returning starters from a year ago, instead of nine?

The truth is there is not much to glean from the first two weeks of the season against FCS opponents. Savannah State, which just lost to Oklahoma State 84-0, awaits Saturday. We should know much more when ACC play opens against Wake Forest on Sept. 15. An even bigger test awaits the following week against Clemson.

Florida State may end up moving on without missing a beat. Or these two key losses could have a major impact. We just have to stay tuned.

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