For the second time this season, young defensive ends Mario Edwards and Giorgio Newberry will slide up Florida State's depth chart due to a season-ending injury.
After losing Brandon Jenkins to a lisfranc injury in the first game, Cornellius Carradine tore his ACL against Florida last weekend to end his All-ACC season.
|Florida State vs. Georgia Tech|
When: 8:00 p.m. ET, ESPN
Records: FSU 10-2, 7-1 ACC
Georgia Tech 6-6, 5-3 ACC.
Where: Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, N.C.
Series: FSU leads 12-9-1
Newberry, a sophomore, and Edwards, a true freshman, have just 20 combined tackles, and Edwards has the pair's only quarterback sacks with 1.5.
"It's time to step up," said ACC defensive player of the year Bjoern Werner. "This is what happens at the end of the season with injuries. Somebody stepped up when Brandon (Jenkins) went down. Tank (Carradine) stepped up. Trust me guys, I told you Tank would step up, somebody else will step up we've got good players."
The twist is just the latest in an up and down season for Edwards. Out of high school the 6-foot-4, 295-pound defensive end was rated the third-best prospect in the country, but with Carradine, Jenkins, and Werner set to take the majority of the DE reps, Jimbo Fisher elected to redshirt Edwards.
At first Edwards was down about the decision to sit him for the season, so much in fact that he elected not to be on the sidelines for the season opener, a decision that Fisher said is each players own.
After Jenkins went down Fisher elected to remove Edwards' redshirt to get him game experience in case of another injury. The decision motivated Jenkins to shed some weight, and his teammates said you could notice a difference in him at practice.
"After he knew he was going to redshirt he had his down moments," Werner said. "But then all the sudden he just picked it up and it was 'Wow Mario good practice. This is the number one recruit, this what we want to see. We don't want you pout because you don't get enough playing time.' He realized it and he's so good on that level and he's a freshman but he's playing at a high level."
Edwards struggled against Florida's physical rushing attack, but the previous week against Maryland he turned in his best performance of the season with a three tackles and a sack.
Senior linebacker Vince Williams said that Edwards has grown up a lot during the course of the season in accepting his role on the defense.
"He's really starting to grow up," Williams said. "That's the big thing you want to see from freshman, is no matter what role they're playing can they have the maturity to fulfill that role and understand that once they cross that white line it doesn't matter where they are on the depth chart, at that moment they're a starter. I think he's done a tremendous job in taking on that responsibility. He's cleared up his plate a little bit, I think he's ready for some more."
While Edwards has taken positive steps forward, Newberry also said he feels he has improved a lot this season.
"I'm just playing ball," Newberry said. "I'm playing ball better just overall. Technique-wise, fundamental-wise, everything, I'm just playing good ball."
Newberry said he has worked mostly behind Werner at left defensive end, while Edwards and senior Toshmon Stevens have lined up on the right side. Fisher said he hasn't made a decision on who will start in place of Carradiene, but that both Newberry and Edwards have improved each week.
"They've gotten much better. Done a nice job," Fisher said. "I thought Mario has really progressed. He's got to continue to grow and get better. It's a big week this week. But those guys the more they got in there, the better they've been, the more consistent they've been. They've made mistakes, they'll lose contain here and there and make a mistake, but that's part of- all those Brandon and Bjoern and those guys did it as young guys too - that's why we keep that rotation. So that if injuries do occur."
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