Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher said he isn’t sure yet who he’s going to hire as his next defensive coordinator -- or defensive ends coach for that matter -- but he is absolutely certain the defense is going to face one of the nation’s better quarterbacks when the Noles line up against Northern Illinois' Jordan Lynch in the Discover Orange Bowl.
FSU will face the MAC’s Offensive Player of the Year while in the midst of a major defensive transition. Not only will FSU’s defense need a game plan for Lynch, the staff is also trying to figure one out for itself. Fisher said a defensive coordinator might not be hired until after the Orange Bowl, and the Noles also have to replace defensive ends coach D.J. Eliot, who followed Mark Stoops to Kentucky as his defensive coordinator.
“We aren’t sure who we are going to get, but some of the coaches will come back and coach in the game. I know D.J. Eliot will, and Mark may even come back and help in preparation,” Fisher said. “We have had great talks and when the dead period starts we’ve even talked about having him come back and helping us prepare, so we may not fill the position until after the Orange Bowl. So we’ll have to wait and see, but D.J. will definitely come back in that game and help coach in that game also. He’s going to be the defensive coordinator at Kentucky, that’s a great opportunity for him. We’re very happy for him, so those guys will all come back and help us prepare and coach, and we’ll address that after.”
Right now, they have to address Lynch.
Lynch has rushed for over 100 yards in each of NIU’s past 11 games, an NCAA record. He leads the nation in both total offensive yards (4,733) and total rushing yards (1,771). NIU ranks ninth nationally in both scoring offense (40.8 ppg) and rushing offense (250.2 ypg). The Huskies topped the MAC in rushing offense, total offense, scoring offense and passing efficiency.
Fisher said it’s going to take the entire defense to slow Lynch down. Not that FSU’s defense hasn’t risen to the occasion before. The Seminoles rank second in the nation in total defense, allowing just 253.8 yards per game, and rank 14th nationally in scoring offense with 39.9 points per game.
That was with Stoops on the sideline, though.
“You’re going to have to do it as a group,” Fisher said. “We’re going to have to have a great team effort. The guy can throw it, he can run it, he has weapons around him and we’re going to have to be very sound in everything we do and we’ll have to mix things up, give him multiple looks and do different things. But we’ll get into that as we go, but we know he’s a great player and they’ve done a tremendous job not only as an offense but as a football team.”
The Huskies are the first MAC school to play in a BCS bowl or the Orange Bowl. It is the first time a MAC school has faced an ACC school in any bowl game. First-year NIU coach Rod Carey said he doesn’t expect playing on the big stage to affect Lynch’s ability to perform.
“I think he’s the same player he was a week ago when we were playing, I don’t think that’s going to change,” Carey said. “It better not, he’s been pretty good. He’s a tough kid, we run him, but he can throw it, too. But that doesn’t define Jordan. What defines Jordan is how he leads and being the good teammate and above all, the good person he is. So I sure hope it doesn’t change.”