Originally posted on Fox Sports Florida  |  Last updated 10/24/11
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Bjoern Werner didnt play tackle football until he was 15. He didnt grow up playing Madden or watching NFL games. But when it comes to football instincts, Werners are second to none. And the German-born Werner has also become a student of the game, devouring hours of film on opponents. Its a lot of studying, too, Werner said. It just feels like I know what to do sometimes and then Im at the right place at the right time. The sophomore defensive end has made the big plays for FSU -- racking up a team-high six sacks, returning a fumble for a touchdown and knocking down passes. He already has 20 tackles and has nearly doubled his sack totals from last season. While opponents are concerned about Brandon Jenkins at the other defensive end spot, Werner has been left in one-on-one situations and been allowed to cause damage. Take a look at Werners last five games: In the loss to Oklahoma, he had a career-high six tackles, including two tackles for loss, as FSU held Sooners quarterback Landry Jones to just 199 passing yards. Against Clemson, he forced quarterback Tajh Boyd to lose control of the ball, and Werner grabbed it in mid-air and returned it 25 yards for a touchdown (the play was initially called an interception but later ruled a fumble). In the loss to Wake Forest, he had four tackles and two sacks. Against Duke, Werner knocked down four passes from 6-foot-5 quarterback Sean Renfree -- including one that landed in the hands of defensive tackle Everett Dawkins. And a fifth batted ball didnt count because it came as the Blue Devils attempted for a two-point conversion. On Saturday, Werner added two tackles and a sack in the win over Maryland. Hes very instinctive, FSU coach Jimbo Fisher said. Bjoern has a great sense and feel for the game. Its that 10 or 15 percent of the game that you wish you can coach, but you cant coach instinct. You can put him in position, you can teach him and he can get better. You have it (instinct) or you dont. Werner clearly has it. He saw playing time as a freshman last season while backing up senior Markus White. Werner recorded 20 tackles and 3.5 sacks in 2010 while playing through a knee injury. He made his first career start in the opener against Louisiana-Monroe and had a sack and forced a fumble. But what makes Werner valuable is that he defends the run well. Werner is part of an FSU defense that is sixth in the nation against the run, allowing just 82 yards per game. And Werner also affects the passer even when he cant record a sack. He often makes the quarterback get rid of the ball just a little faster than he wanted, causing an errant throw. FSU defensive ends coach D.J. Elliot has told the defensive ends to keep the pressure on and try to distract quarterbacks however they can. Coach Elliot always tells me its not about sacks its about affecting the quarterback, make him scared a little bit, Werner said. FSU will be facing another accomplished quarterback on Saturday when the Seminoles host N.C. State. The Wolfpack feature Mike Glennon, a 6-foot-6 passer who has thrown for 1,717 yards and 19 touchdowns. N.C. State has already allowed 17 sacks this season, and it could be a chance for Werner and Jenkins (who has 3.5 sacks), to add to their numbers. FSU is fourth in the country with 25 sacks after leading the nation with 48 in 2010. I think its getting good players in the trenches and were able to mix coverages, Fisher said. Were able to play more zone-oriented coverages. And we have good rush guys. We have the ability to rush the passer. The key to getting sacks is stopping the run. You stop the run, now youre in second-and-long and third-and-long. You become one-dimensional. Thats key.
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