Fort Lauderdale - Jordan Lynch is the undisputable leader of Northern Illinois' prolific offense. In his first season as a starter he threw for 2,962 yards and ran for another 1,771 and those numbers make him the national leader in offensive yards. The redshirt junior does it all for the Huskies - he even punted once this season and sailed the punt 63 yards. He threw 24 touchdowns and just five interceptions. He was named 3rd team All American by CBS Sports.
He will pose the biggest challenge to Florida State's defense when the teams step onto the field at Sun Life Stadium on Tuesday. The Seminoles' defense will have to contain the fruitful quarterback and do so for all four quarters. They feel ready to step up to the challenge.
"It'll be a challenge, but it's something we've been prepared for," linebacker Christian Jones said. "And it's something we've seen from different teams we've played and guys with his ability. It's something you have to be careful for, but we've been preparing this whole week and even before we came down here so I think that whatever they have, we'll be ready for it."
The Seminoles feel prepared for dual-threat Lynch because of the mobile quarterbacks they have faced this season. Both Clemson's Tajh Boyd and Virgina Tech's Logan Thomas are dangerous when they get outside of the pocket and South Florida's B.J. Daniels poses more of a threat with his legs than he does with his arm.
"He's a rare player. . . and it's tough to compare him to anyone," defensive coordinator D.J. Eliot said about Lynch. "But from the quarterbacks that we've played I'd say he's most like probably B.J. Daniels at South Florida, very athletic, a guy that can make you miss
and is very active on his feet."
While Lynch's numbers are more spectacular than any quarterback's that Florida State has gone up against, the defense will still be able to take valuable lessons and experiences away from facing other mobile passers.
"We have gone up against a lot of guys who are mobile and can throw the ball," cornerback Xavier Rhodes said. "It is not like this will be the first time seeing an athletic quarterback. With guys like that, you have to be disciplined - he can hurt us at any time and we have been preparing for that."
Slowing down Lynch's momentum will be one of the keys for the defense and Jones is sure the Seminoles are up to the task.
"I'm real confident in the players that we have and our ability that we will be able to limit those big plays."
Christian Jones considering his NFL options
As a junior and able to head to the NFL, linebacker Christian Jones has a decision to make about his football future. He is eligible to declare for the NFL draft and, like most collegiate players, has certainly thought about the prospect of going pro.
But the decision is a big one and Jones hasn't come close to a conclusion, as he wants to focus his energies on the game in front of him and finishing this season with a BCS win.
"(The decision) is something that's always going to stick in the back of your mind," Jones said. "But so far I haven't really tried to think too much into it because I'm trying to focus on this game so I don't want to get distracted with all that."
Jones filled out the NFL evaluation paperwork that helps players know where they may stand to go in the NFL draft and he has talked to his coaches about the possibility, but the real thinking will start after the new year and after the Orange Bowl.
"I'm planning on after the game going home and talking to my family and praying with my pastor and hopefully come down with (a decision) because it's a big decision," Jones said.
Jones stands at 6'4 and 232 pounds and has the prototypical NFL build and NFLDraftScout.com lists him as the 8th rated outside linebacker out of 244. Jones said that he has been told by those he has spoken to that he would go between the third and fourth rounds if he did declare for the draft this year.
Jones said that as a player, he would always want to be able to show that he can play better than a third or fourth round draft spot may suggest, but the choice between getting to show what he can do in another college football season will have to be carefully weighed with knowledge that returning to college ball risks the chance of getting injured. He saw Brandon Jenkins, who was supposed to be a first round pick as a junior, suffer a season ending injury after deciding to forgo the draft and return to school.
"That's something you think about because football is a risky sport," Jones said. "Coming back you can always take the chance of getting hurt and sitting out a season, but that's something you take playing the game of football."
Defensive end Bjoern Werner said during interviews that he had made his decision about whether or not he plans on entering the NFL draft, but would not be revealing that decision until several days after the Orange Bowl.
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