What went right, wrong on defense for FSU in win vs. Duquesne?

Florida State football kicked off the 2022 season under the lights, after a lengthy weather delay against the Duquesne Dukes.

The Seminoles came into this matchup as a heavy favorite, looking to get a dominant win to boost their confidence early in the season. The true test comes in Week 1, so the Noles had to show complete authority against the Dukes. Their offense has been the biggest issue as of late, but FSU’s defense continues to show some of the biggest bright spots in the ACC.

Here are some thoughts from the 47-7 win.

First half

The Noles’ defense started on a strong note with great tackles from their defensive line and linebacker core. Duquesne had a decent run and a completed pass on the sideline, but most of their yardage came from a late hit flag from defensive back Jarrian Jones. The Dukes ended their first drive with 17 total yards.

With 5:28 left in the first quarter, the Dukes took the field down 13-0. The Seminoles forced a 3-and-out to quickly gain incredible field advantage for the offense. Linebacker Tatum Bethune had a near interception, and defensive back Greedy Vance got burned by a Dukes’ receiver, but he wasn’t able to haul it in.

After another score from the Noles, Duquesne took the field down 20-0. Running back Demarcus Ware moved the sticks 20 yards before linebacker Amari Gainer brought him to the ground. The Dukes had success on the ground early. They went downfield to the 32-yard line and safety Jammie Robinson stepped up. Duquesne attempted a 48-yard field goal, but could not convert. Florida State led 20-0 with 11:19 remaining in the second quarter.

There’s a communication aspect that needs to improve with the Noles so the secondary can feed off a strong defensive line group. With 6:59 left in the half, the Dukes converted on a much-needed third and one. The Seminoles received the kick inside the 15 after great plays from cornerback Renardo Green and defensive lineman Robert Cooper.

Second half

FSU’s defense was quick to shut down any attempts from the Dukes at the start of the second half. Freshman defensive back Azareye’h Thomas was flagged for a pass interference call, but that wasn’t enough to get Duquesne past the 50. Linebackers Kalen DeLoach and Tatum Bethune were the anchors to start the half.

The Seminoles were left stranded after an interception from quarterback Tate Rodemaker and the Dukes put their first points on the board with five minutes remaining in the third. The score was 33-7 and the Noles’ offense took the field. After another score from Florida State, the Noles’ defense was back.

Jared Verse was wreaking havoc throughout the game, concluding the third quarter with one sack, one-and-a-half tackles for loss, and four tackles. Verse and the linebacker room managed to restrict and limit the Dukes’ offense to 164 yards on offense.

Florida State put another seven on the board and the score was 47-7 with 8:58 remaining in the game. Most of the defense was filled with second and third-string players at this moment as the Noles were getting reps in for a large percentage of their team.

Duquesne was on their own five-yard line with two minutes remaining. They got some quality yards on the ground that pushed them near the 20, but the Seminoles’ defense was unworried. After a couple of runs from the Dukes ticked the clock down, FSU started 1-0 for the first time since 2016.

Standout players from FSU vs. Duquesne

Tatum Bethune

The UCF transfer was all over the field in the match, accounting for one pass breakup (that was almost a ridiculous interception), one tackle for loss, and four tackles. He was a quiet leader alongside Calen DeLoach and was able to find the ball in every loose situation. Bethune was thought to ease into a big role with the Seminoles, but it looks like he’s arrived. He was a strong tackler that showed his veteran presence and high IQ.

Jamie Robinson

Safety Jammie Robinson did Jammie Robinson things while he controlled the secondary. He was there to save coverage multiple times and helped the Seminoles’ cornerbacks execute their jobs. It looks like Robinson might’ve played a safe game, but he was reliable for the Noles once again.

Jared Verse

The FCS transfer started the game feeling out of the competition, but then Verse introduced himself in a phenomenal way. He recorded one sack, one and a half tackles for loss, and four tackles. Verse needs to be a stable contributor for the Noles and he’ll have a shot to establish himself there over the next few weeks.

Renardo Green

The redshirt junior was named a starting cornerback for Florida State because of his ability to break up passes and position himself correctly in coverage against receivers. Green is a subtle player that’ll be important to this team if they want consistency in the secondary. He finished the night with one tackle for loss and three tackles.

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