USF offensive line bracing for depth of FSU defense
TAMPA -- USF offensive line coach Steve Shankweiler has been in college football since 1980, but he can't recall a defensive line like what the Bulls will face Saturday when No. 4 Florida State comes to Raymond James Stadium.
"I don't know that I've seen a team, except maybe the early '90s Florida State teams, that has the depth of quality players," said Shankweiler, who lost to FSU's 1993 national champions 51-0 while working as offensive coordinator at Georgia Tech. "Honestly, after a while, you lose track of who's in there, because they all look the same. When they rest, they come back and holy cow, they play 10 plays and take a break. Their intensity level never wanes. They're as good as a group as anybody I've coached against. The competition level they must have in practice must be off the chart."
FSU's defensive line has gotten its best pressure from the outside -- starting ends Bjoern Werner and Cornellius "Tank" Carradine have 12 of the team's 13 sacks. USF's offensive line hasn't allowed quarterback B.J. Daniels to avoid pressure, but because of his elusiveness, the Bulls tie for fourth nationally in tackles for loss allowed, having given up only 11 in four games.
USF tweaked its offensive line last week, returning senior Mark Popek from left guard to the left tackle spot he held all of last season, with senior Damien Edwards stepping in at left guard. Knowing the Seminoles will be substituting liberally on the pass rush, Shankweiler said he expects to turn to his backups for key snaps as well.
"We've got some young kids I need to play a little more, and we've got competition going on every day," Shankweiler said. "I think you'll see different jersey numbers throughout the season, the further we go."
THIS AND THAT: USF is one of two Big East teams with winning records against Florida State, having won the only meeting in 2009; Miami has a 7-6 record against the Seminoles. FSU is 8-0 against other Big East schools. ... FSU's Jimbo Fisher hasn't lost to an in-state opponent as head coach yet, with two wins each against Florida and Miami.