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What went right, what went wrong on defense for FSU vs. LSU

FSU’s defense dominated the majority of the matchup

The Seminoles defense was tasked with a tall order this weekend, having to face off against an LSU offense featuring plenty of talent and playmakers. Florida State lost the coin toss to start the game and the Tigers were the first to receive the ball. It was a rocky start for the Noles, but the playing field was soon leveled when the Noles defense got settled and then the offense subsequently found a rhythm.

Florida State’s veteran defensive unit had an experience advantage over the Tigers, but they were going against a dual-threat quarterback with track legs. The first half definitely went the Noles’ way on defense, after recording one pass breakup, three sacks, four tackles for loss, and 26 total tackles.

Although self-inflicted mistakes and lack of finishing on the offense’s part may have let the Tigers back in the game, the special teams unit came to New Orleans with a purpose, recovering two muffed punts and blocking two field goals to make the difference in the game. The Noles get the tight win against LSU and go home with a 2-0 start for the first time since 2016.

First half

LSU quarterback Jayden Daniels absolutely took off in his first play with the Tigers, with LSU getting 15 extra yards from a late hit by FSU defensive back Renardo Green. After a 25-yard run from Daniels, LSU ran for a first down and were seven yards from the end zone. In just two minutes the Tigers had the ball downfield and within scoring distance.

Florida State defensive end Derrick McLendon stuffed the run on second down and Kalen DeLoach forced the Tigers to attempt a 36-yard field goal. DeLoach chased after Daniels and the Tigers' kicking team entered the gridiron to put LSU up 3-0.

After a missed field goal from Ryan Fitzgerald, the Noles’ defense took the field. Linebacker Tatum Bethune started the drive with a tackle for a loss of four yards. It was a third and nine for LSU and the Noles stuffed him at the line. DeLoach earned a sack for the Seminoles. At the end of the first quarter, FSU was down 0-3.

Jordan Travis and the Noles went deep in their bag for a trick play and put seven points on the board. Florida State’s defense was back on the field up 7-3. The Tigers had a successful pass in the middle of the field and the run game pushed them inside the 40. Daniels was able to gain more than 40 yards on the ground at that point, but his trouble passing was evidently shown.

Green was able to make an incredible stop at the ball and the Noles stuffed the run with defensive tackle Fabien Lovett. When the Tigers decided to go for a 30-yard field goal, defensive end Jared Verse did not agree. Verse blocked the Tigers’ kick and the crowd erupted. Florida State led 7-3 with 5:43 remaining in the first half.

The Seminoles' special teams group recovered a punt, but it wasn’t enough to put the Noles on board after they were unsuccessful on a fourth and two. Verse brought down Daniels for a sack with close to 30 seconds left in the first half and the Tigers started running down the clock. After a completion from Daniels, the game was sent to halftime.

Second half

Florida State was the first to receive the ball in the second half and they pushed their lead to 10-3 after rolling through the Tigers' defense downfield. When the Noles’ defense entered the game they were met by Bethune and quickly forced a third and ten. The Tigers' offensive line was flagged for holding on that play and LSU’s offense marched their way to the sideline.

LSU’s offense didn’t have an answer for FSU’s rush but they were granted a huge chunk of yards after a pass interference from safety Jammie Robinson. They continued to move the sticks and the Noles seemed shocked by the call made on the field. After a couple of passes from Daniels, the Tigers scored their first touchdown on fourth and one. At the end of the third quarter the Seminoles led 17-10.

With 10 minutes left in the fourth quarter, linebacker DJ Lundy served as the Seminoles fullback to extend the lead. Daniels and the LSU offense were back for another run soon after. Their offense found success on the ground while hitting some clear routes on the sideline that brought them into Seminoles territory. With seven minutes left in the game, FSU allowed just 206 yards combined to LSU’s offense.

Daniels was just inches away from the first down before sliding into the ground, which ended in a fourth and two opportunity for LSU. Head coach Brian Kelly and the Tigers decided to go for it and it seemed to be the right decision. Star wide receiver Kayshon Boutte brought in his first reception and Daniels was finally looking toward his pass catchers.

He connected with receiver Jaray Jenkins and Jenkins had an easy road to the end zone. The Seminoles were leading 24-17 with 4:07 remaining. Florida State recovered a muffed punt late in the fourth quarter that brought them inside the five-yard line, but running back Treshaun Ward suffered a fumble that gave the Tiger another chance.

Daniels was doing his best at getting the ball in his receiver's hands, but Verse was there to say goodnight. The Tigers were at the 19-yard line with 10 seconds remaining. After Daniels put it in the hands of another pass catcher, LSU was at the two-yard line; one second left in the game. Daniels found Jenkins in the back end zone for the touchdown, and it seemed like the game was headed to overtime. But...defensive back Shyheim was able to jump the pile and block the attempt. The Noles won 24-23 in a special teams thriller.

Standout players from FSU vs. LSU

Linebacker Kalen DeLoach

The Noles linebacker room came out with red eyes, looking like they had a real hunger to get the first hit. DeLoach led the Noles defense in the first half with half a sack, half a tackle for loss and five total tackles. He set the standard as soon as the ball was kicked off and the rest of the Seminoles were quick to step up.

Defensive back Renardo Green

The starting cornerback is known for his play as a ballhawk, but he was excellent against LSU after the catch and on the ground. Green was making tackles and closing gaps every single drive. He recorded a team-high eight tackles, with really important stuffs against Daniels and the offense.

Linebacker Tatum Bethune

Bethune has solidified himself as an instant-impact transfer. Many thought he would have to get comfortable in the Noles system, but he looks like he’s been at Florida State for years. He finished the game with one sack, two tackles for loss, and seven total tackles.

Defensive end Jared Verse

The FCS transfer spoke on his football journey following the game and mentioned many people thought he never should’ve been in that division. He played his first game on the “big stage” and showed why he’s FSU’s best defensive end.

Defensive backShyheim Brown

Florida State’s 2022 All-State savior goes to redshirt freshman Shyheim Brown. He may have finished the game with just one tackle, but his field goal block will go down in FSU history. Brown will be the talk of the town for the next couple of days.