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Key players for NIU

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Posted: Monday, December 31, 2012 12:24 pm | Updated: 2:36 pm, Fri Aug 29, 2014.


Quarterback: Going into this game, everybody knows junior quarterback Jordan Lynch is what makes this offense go. This matchup against Florida State in the Orange Bowl will be no different, as the pressure will fall mostly on the shoulder of Lynch. Most of the pressure will actually fall on the legs of Lynch, as he will need to find space against a talented Seminoles’ defense. Lynch is the leading rushing quarterback this season, running for 1,771 yards on the ground for 19 touchdowns. However, in case the Seminoles’ stack the box to take away the run; Lynch has to be prepared to make big plays with his arm.

Running back: Coming off his two best games of the season, junior tailback Akeem Daniels will need to be able to produce. Against Eastern Michigan and Kent State, Daniels ran for 240 yards and five touchdowns, four touchdowns coming against Eastern Michigan. In the Kent State game, Daniels also showed he can be effective receiving out of the backfield, catching four passes for 67 yards. Against Florida State, Daniels will need to use his speed on the outside to try and create some mismatches the Huskies can take advantage of.

Wide Receiver: When Lynch needs a big play, he will turn to his go to receiver, senior wide out Martel Moore. If Florida State stacks the box against the Huskies' run game, Moore will more than likely have one-on-one coverage on the outside. Look for Lynch and Moore to take advantage of that as often as they can, as the duo have put up big numbers all season long. Moore is the receiver that best matches up with the physical abilities of the Florida State secondary and will be relied on heavily for the Huskies' passing game.

Offensive Line: While he is not technically an offensive lineman, senior tight end Jason Schepler will have a strong impact on what the Huskies are able to do offensively. He will be key in going up a strong front four from Florida State and protecting Lynch. Expect Schepler to stay home and block in passing situations to give Lynch more time to throw. Schepler can also block effectively in the run game and opens up big holes for Lynch and Daniels. We will have to see how he and the rest of the offensive line fare against the size and speed of the Seminoles’ defensive line.



Defensive Line: Senior defensive end Alan Baxter has put together his best season and that will need to continue in his final game against an explosive Florida State offense. Baxter leads the Huskies in sacks with 9.5 and does the best job applying pressure to the quarterback and forcing him out of the pocket. Baxter also is strong against the rush as he leads the team in tackles for loss with 11. He has done a good job of stopping the run game in the backfield and he will need to do for the Huskies to be successful against the Seminoles.

Linebacker: At the linebacker position, the Huskies will need someone to step up and limit Florida State from making big plays. That is where sophomore Jamaal Bass comes into play. The sophomore has been all over the field this season as he has recorded 76 total tackles. He is strong against the run as well as he can penetrate the backfield, shown by his five tackles for a loss. The Huskies need Bass to move quickly to the ball and make sure he wraps up the Seminoles for a minimum gain.

Defensive back: While playing coverage is going to be huge against Florida State, coming up in the box and stopping the run will be more important. That’s why junior safety Jimmie Ward will have such a big role in this game. Ward leads the Huskies in tackles this season with 90 total tackles. He is the Huskies' best tackler this season and leads the Huskies in solo tackles with 54. He is also strong in coverage when he has to drop back, as he leads the Huskies with three interceptions on the season. Ward will be instrumental for the Huskies against Florida State.

Special Teams: The kicking game will prove to be important for the Huskies and junior kicker Mathew Sims will have to be up for the challenge. This season he did not kick many field goals, as he went 14 for 18. Because the Huskies' offense scored so many touchdowns, Sims’ was busy kicking extra points, going 66-67. However, Sims’ will need to be ready in this game, just as he was in the Kent State game, where he kicked a game-tying field goal in the first overtime. Sims’ will have to be able to deal with the pressure when his name is called in order for the Huskies to be successful.

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