Florida State’s defense took care of business in a 37-19 win over Northern Illinois, moving the Seminoles to 2-2 on the season and one step closer to bowl eligibility.
Coming into the game, NIU’s offense ranked 128th in the nation and it showed. The Huskies struggled to move the ball down the field, racking up only 221 total yards in the game. FSU’s defense limited the Huskies to just 52 yards in the first half at 2.3 yards per play.
While the defense played well for the most part, it was Florida State’s offense that gave them poor field position.
In the second quarter, Tre’ McKitty fumbled to give NIU the ball at the FSU 23-yard line. In the fourth quarter, a Deondre Francois interception gave the Huskies the ball at the FSU 37-yard line. Both of those drives ended in touchdowns for Northern Illinois.
Overall, Northern Illinois averaged 3.8 yards per play. The majority of NIU’s offense came through the air, as FSU held the Huskies’ ground game to just six net rushing yards at 0.3 yards per carry.
Quarterback Marcus Childers was not perfect for NIU, but made plays to keep the Huskies in the game. He hit receiver D.J. Brown for a 66-yard touchdown in the third quarter and ran for a 11-yard score late in the game.
It was a rough game for Levonta Taylor. The junior cornerback was beat on a 20-yard touchdown pass early in the same and was called for defensive pass interference late in the game although it looked like the receiver fell down.
The same applies for Brian Burns. While Northern Illinois pass rusher Sutton Smith helped his NFL tape in this game, Burns was held in check by NIU’s offensive line and finished with just three tackles.
On the flip side, it was a good game from the interior of Florida State’s defensive line. With senior Demarcus Christmas not playing in this game, Marvin Wilson and Fred Jones stepped up and were able to get pressure on the quarterback. While FSU will need Christmas back for tougher teams on the schedule later this season, it was encouraging to see those two players perform at a high level.
This game was also a chance for Florida State fans to see the future of the program. True freshman cornerback Asante Samuel Jr. made a nice hit on a receiver to knock a ball loose early in the game and freshmen defensive tackles Cory Durden and Robert Cooper received playing time as well.
Overall, it was a solid performance from Florida State’s defense. Northern Illinois has a bad offense, but FSU did what it needed to do on the defensive side of the ball.
Next week, a road test against Louisville. With no Lamar Jackson, the Cardinals have struggled mightily on offense (ranked 90th in the country on offense per S&P+). Could this be the year where FSU snaps a two-game losing streak to Louisville?