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Florida State defense falls apart against Louisiana-Monroe


NCAA Football: UL Monroe at Florida State Glenn Beil-USA TODAY Sports

Harlon Barnett’s unit struggled mightily last week defending 108 plays against Boise State. This week was supposed to serve as a rebound game to fix the mistakes that allowed the Broncos to climb back and ultimately beat the Seminoles. Unfortunately, what we got was more of the same, but just a different result, as FSU bettered ULM.

Strap in, because I guess we’re about to relive this whole thing.

The defense started fast, forcing ULM into a quick three and out with great play from Asante Samuel, Jr, who had two pass break ups in the opening series.

It was more of the same their second time out as the ’Noles forced another punt.

After two drives, the Warhawks were 0-4 passing the ball, with all of their yards coming on the ground—but the problems were brewing. ULM had receivers running free frequently. Heavy pressure from the defensive line bailed out soft coverage forcing quarterback Caleb Evans to sky his passes with Corey Durden getting home for the only sack of the game.

Two pass interference penalties (one egregiously bad call on Stanford Samuels) allowed Louisiana-Monroe to drive to the Florida State goal line, but a goal line stand forced a turnover on downs.

Florida State’s linebackers continued to struggle defending the run, and well, defending in general. That said, the defense managed to force third downs and ultimately get off the field with ULM converting just 2 of 8 third down attempts in the first half.

If not for receiver drops and poor quarterback play, it’s entirely possible this game could have been a lot closer at the break. ULM’s QB finally hit one of those open receivers I was talking about, and unfortunately for the Seminoles, it was over the head of Asante Samuel Jr. for a touchdown.

The ’Noles would head into the half up 24-7, forcing a punt or turnover on downs on all but one of ULM’s drives. However, there was a noticeable dip in the defense’s play from quarter to quarter, going from allowing just 2.6 yards per play to 5.9 per play in the second quarter.

After forcing a quick three and out to start the half, the Seminoles forced their only turnover of the game courtesy of Jaiden Lars-Woodbey. While it was a great play, Seminoles fans everywhere will wish the defense would just dive on a loose ball as two of our own defenders bobbled it between each other for a second straight week. Luckily, the ’Noles came up with this one.

That would pretty much be the end of FSU’s defensive success in the second half. The offense didn’t do them any favors committing two consecutive turnovers early, but not being able to cover or tackle was the main culprit.

In the end, Florida State would surrender 419 total yards on 79 plays (5.3 per play) to ULM, with more than half of those yards coming in the second half. FSU’s linebackers looked lost for most of the game and they continue to be the Achilles heel of a bad defense. For the second straight week, the defense just couldn’t get off the field and the backers were a big reason why.

One bright spot, if you have to pick one, was Hamsah Nasirildeen who lead the team in tackles and was FSU’s most consistent defender.

But if we’re being honest with ourselves, the defensive player of the game? ULM’s kicker Jacob Meeks.