The Florida state defense had their questions before the start of the season, but those were put to rest (for now) after Sunday night’s performance against Notre Dame.
Overall, the young players have multiplied their first opportunities on the big stage. This is not only a reflection of the coaching, but also a representation of the player’s development on the pitch and in the weight room.
Below, I touched on the progression of five Seminole Defenders and why they will play a central role in the future of the defensive unit.
Kalen Deloach, linebacker
In his first two seasons at Tallahassee, Deloach was stuck in a stalemate as a linebacker and recorded only one start (Georgia Tech, 2020).
On Sunday night, the red-shirted sophomore finally pulled it off and looked as comfortable as anyone. He led the defense with eight tackles, including four for losses. He brings speed to the linebacker position that the program has lacked for some time. Unlike the FSU linebackers in recent memory, Deloach is able to stop the run, while also being very helpful in passing coverage.
Deloach could be the guy to help reorganize the linebacker position. He has a great opportunity to lead the ‘Noles in tackling when all is said and done, and should continue to impress throughout the season.
Brendan Gant, linebacker / defensive back
Gant brings a physicality to the BUCK position that the ‘Noles desperately need. In the loss to Notre Dame, the second year of the red jersey managed to record four tackles (two solo) and seemed to be around the ball quite often.
He’s still got room to increase passing coverage, but is expected to be a key part of the Seminoles for the remainder of 2021. He’s one of the team’s hardest hitters.
Sidney Williams, linebacker / defensive back
Williams, who shares time with Gant, finished with five tackles (three solo). Similar to its counterpart, Williams is a tackling machine who is not afraid of contact.
As he gains more experience, Williams could become an X factor thanks to his combination of tackling and covering skills. Rookie redshirt’s aggressiveness should earn him plenty of playing time under defensive coordinator Adam Fuller every week.
DJ Lundy, linebacker
As a rookie in a red shirt, Lundy secured a starting position after totaling 12 tackles in seven games in 2020. Against the Irish, Lundy finished with four tackles, including one for loss.
His physique and willingness to make contact with the runner uplifts the entire core linebacker. Lundy has what it takes to be a key contributor, especially to stop the race. As he feels more comfortable in his new role, don’t be surprised if Lundy challenges Noles’ main tackler.
Quashon Fuller, defensive lineman
Fuller finished with three tackles (1.5 loss) on Sunday night. He also recorded his first career dismissal, who came just a game after making a tackle for the loss.
After reshaping his body, the improvement in Fuller’s game is noticeable. The rookie redshirt should have more opportunities with offensive lines focused on Jermaine Johnson and Keir Thomas.
In conclusion, this group of second and third year players have clearly embraced Head Coach Mike Norvell’s system. If the Notre Dame game was any indication, they could have major impacts on defense in 2021.