The pass rush created by Jermaine Johnson and Keir Thomas was one of the major reasons the FSU defense saw significant improvement last year.
Their departure leaves voids that will likely go unfulfilled, but FSU has some options that could be serviceable. Dennis Briggs will be solid replacing Keir Thomas and may even be an upgrade if he can stay healthy.
He’s big and athletic, with the ability to set the edge and potentially get pressure on the quarterback in obvious passing situations.
However, FSU will need Derrick McLendon, Jared Verse, and others to step up in a big way in Johnson’s absence on the opposite side.
Aside from the pass rush, they need to be effective against the run, which Jermaine Johnson had great instincts for. I need those guys to avoid becoming liabilities, and if they can do that, I think this unit will be good enough to avoid this defense taking a step backward.
If not, I hope the improvement at linebacker and the experience in the secondary can help cover up their mistakes.