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Florida State defensive end Brian Burns sets tone for Seminoles’ imposing pass rush

Florida State defensive end Brian Burns’ talent and intensity have inspired his fellow linemen.

When opposing teams focus on stopping Burns, FSU can count on Janarius Robinson, Joshua Kaindoh and Walvenski Aimé to surge into the backfield.

“We’ve seen them do a good job,” FSU defensive coordinator Harlon Barnett said of the defensive ends. “Obviously with [Burns] still doing what he does, allows him to free up and make some plays as well.”

Burns accounts for a large percentage of Florida State’s defensive productivity, delivering 23 tackles, 9.5 tackles for loss, seven sacks, two passes broken up, two quarterback hurries and three forced fumbles.

On the other end of the line, Robinson, Kaindoh and Aimé have earned 26 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, one sack and six quarterback hurries.

“I think the combination has been really good and the guys continue to work hard and get better,” Barnett said of Robinson, Kaindoh and Aimé. “And with knowing [Burns] is on the other side, [they’ll say], ‘Hey, I can make some things happen as well.’ And they are doing so.”

A balanced defensive line creates more opportunities for Burns to press up. He’s fifth nationally with 1.17 sacks per game and third in the league with 1.6 tackles for a loss per game.

Burns is especially dominant in conference matchups, with his Syracuse and Miami performances two of the most prolific. He finished with four tackles, three tackles for loss and two sacks apiece against the Orange and Hurricanes.

Burns’ pass-rushing capabilities kept Hurricanes quarterback N’Kosi Perry uncomfortable.

“Definitely one of the toughest I’ve ever faced,” Perry said of Burns. “He’s so fast off the ball. He shoots hard up the field really quick. I told him I’ve got a lot of respect for him because he’s good at what he does.”

Miami head coach Mark Richt added, “[Burns], that dude is great. He’s a baller. Got a lot of respect for him.

“I hope his eligibility is up.”

Burns is a junior who can declare for the NFL draft at the end of the season.

He broke up one pass, hurried the quarterback once and forced two fumbles against Miami. One of the forced fumbles was a four-yard strip sack recovered by linebacker DeCalon Brooks.

“We didn’t do a good enough job of getting a game plan for him,” Richt said after his team’s 28-27 comeback victory. “We had the game plan, I just didn’t call it soon enough to give those tackles some help. It was just tough sledding for any tackle in America against that kid.”

ACC matchups tend to bring out the fury in Burns.

“I’m pleased with my consistency throughout the ACC games,” Burns said on his performance during the first half of the season. “The other two games, NIU and Samford, I didn’t really have that much production.

“I want to improve on finishing plays and being more of a leader, I guess, vocally.”

He’ll get another chance to line up against ACC competition Saturday when FSU hosts Wake Forest. Kickoff is set for 3:30 p.m. and the game will air on ESPN2.

Burns is focused on helping the defense continue to frustrate opposing teams as the offense finds its footing.

“We’ve always known what we can improve on as a defense,” Burns said of his defense moving forward. “I guess you can really say that we emphasize it now since the Miami game. We’ve shown what we can do and how dominant we can be. You can look forward to that in the six games coming up.”

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