TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) Florida State has largely been known for its offense during Jimbo Fisher’s eight seasons as head coach.

This could be the season where that could change. FSU has a defense with enough talent to outshine the Seminoles’ offense.

The third-ranked Seminoles return nine starters on defense, including two that were named to The Associated Press preseason All-America Team . With plenty of depth on the line and in the secondary, defensive coordinator Charles Kelly has not quieted expectations going into the Sept. 2 opener against No. 1 Alabama in Atlanta.

”This is probably the best unit since I’ve been here,” said Kelly, who is in his fifth season at the school and fourth as coordinator. ”We certainly have more experienced guys. Any time you are returning a lot of people who have played in plenty of situations it helps you.”

That is quite a difference from this time last year, when the defense was inexperienced (only five starters returned from the 2015 squad). Things got worse when Derwin James suffered a season-ending knee injury in the second game.

The Seminoles lost two of its next three games after James’ injury. After a last-second loss to North Carolina on Oct. 1, the defense was last among the 65 teams in the Power Five conferences, allowing 7.0 yards per play, 9.4 yards per pass play and 25 plays of 30 yards or more. They also allowed an average of 42.3 points in their first four games against Football Bowl Subdivision teams.

The defense’s performance in the final eight games of the season has served as a springboard to this year. During the stretch, the Seminoles allowed opponents to score over 30 points just twice, had two games where they didn’t allow an offensive touchdown and allowed only eight plays

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