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Defenses expected to lead FSU, Florida early in the season

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Florida has Jalen TaborFSU has Derwin James.

So let the arguing begin.

FSU has Josh Sweat. Florida has Caleb Brantley.

And furthermore, oh yeah?

Florida has Jarrad Davis. FSU has DeMarcus Walker.

And so it goes. For every Seminole, there is a Gator. For every Gator, there is a Nole. You can argue about new quarterbacks and talented running backs and explosive receivers. But for these two, measuring against each other already, there is defense.

Both FSU and Florida are expected to have top 10 defenses this year. ranks Florida fourth and FSU fifth. Athlon has FSU fourth and Florida 12th. And so it goes.

Florida has C.C. Jefferson. FSU has Marcus White.

Last year, both defenses were pretty good, too. Flordia finished ninth in total defense; FSU was 19th.

This year, the defenses may have to carry the load, too. FSU is breaking in a new quarterback. So is Florida. It will take some time for the offenses to find their rhythm.

Florida State plays Ole Miss’ high-powered offense, featuring Chad Kelly, right off the bat. Florida will play high-powered Tennessee, featuring Joshua Dobbs, in the third week.

So while a lot of interest will be drawn to the offenses, it may be the defenses of the two schools that determine their fate.

Gary Shelton is one of the most recognized and honored sportswriters in the history of the state. He has won the APSE's national columnist of the year twice and finished in the top 10 eight times. He was named the Florida Sportswriter of the Year six times. Gary joined SaintPetersBlog in the spring, helping to bring a sports presence to the website. Over his time in sports writing, Gary has covered 29 Super Bowls, 10 Olympics, Final Fours, Masters, Wimbledons and college national championships. He was there when the Bucs won a Super Bowl, when the Lightning won a Stanley Cup and when the Rays went to a World Series. He has seen Florida, FSU and Miami all win national championships, and he covered Bear Bryant, Bobby Bowden and Don Shula along the way. He and his wife Janet have four children: Eric, Kevin, K.C. and Tori. To contact, visit

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