FORT LAUDERDALE -- Good Friday morning, everyone. Here's hoping you have a nice ending to your abridged work week.
Apologies for coming to you a little later in the day than I would have hoped. An 8 a.m. Orange Bowl news conference got in the way of getting this blog up sooner You will be pleased to know, though, that the news conference was a really informative one. Florida State offensive coordinator and tight ends coach James Coley, who doesn't speak to reporters during the regular season, was available for about an hour.
He told a number of great stories. From Bjoern Werner's recruitment to his own boyhood growing up in the shadow of the Orange Bowl, Coley (the coach) was on fire. We definitely will flesh out a few of those stories for you here on OrlandoSentinel.com throughout the weekend as we get closer to Tuesday's bowl game between the 12th-ranked Seminoles (11-2) and No. 15 Northern Illinois (12-1).
There are two more pre-game news conferences. On Saturday, FSU defensive ends coach D.J. Eliot meets with reporters in Fort Lauderdale, and on Sunday, head coach Jimbo Fisher joins Northern Illinois coach Rod Carey.
With all of that said, let's go on and get right to this morning's links:
---To start things off, we go up to suburban Chicago, where the Daily Chronicle (DeKalb, Ill.) has some news about a modification to Northern Illinois' appearance. Make sure you check out the video in the blog to see the players' reaction during Thursday's uniform unveiling.
When the Huskies walk out of the shared tunnel at Sun Life Stadium next week, they will be sporting new uniforms designed by Adidas. Their white tops will feature altered designs and trims, silver numerals and the letters "NIU" in big, bold and bright red at the top of the jersey's chest.
Northern Illinois also will sport red pants and gear under its uniforms that will have other creative, different designs on them.
Since the Huskies are wearing white, FSU will sport its traditional home garnet-colored tops. The Seminoles will not play in new or alternate uniforms.
---Moving back to South Florida, our colleagues at the Sun Sentinel have this story about how Northern Illinois is gearing up its rushing offense for FSU's stout defense. The Seminoles have the nation's fifth-ranked rushing defense. As a unit, their defense is ranked second nationally.
Still, despite the success the Seminoles have demonstrated on that side of the ball, the Huskies are going to try to run right into the teeth of their big and athletic defensive line.
---Back to Midwest, we check in with our friends at the Chicago Tribune (Tribune Company owns the Orlando Sentinel, Sun Sentinel and Chicago Tribune). You'll need to sign in with a username and password to read this digital special story, but it's definitely one to pay attention to.
Northern Illinois has been slammed all postseason for its selection in the Orange Bowl by those who say the Huskies don't deserve to be in a BCS bowl. The Mid-American Conference champion is following in the footsteps of similar schools like Boise State, and is trying to catch the Seminoles off guard and prove that it belongs.
One way of proving that is by looking at the group of players the Huskies have on their roster. Northern Illinois boasts a number of players who could see their NFL stock rise depending upon their play in the bowl game. During his news conference Friday, Coley remarked that Northern Illinois' defensive line alone boasts a pair of potential professional stars in Alan Baxter and Ken Bishop.
---Finally, turning our attention to the Orlando Sentinel, we see Thursday's big Orange Bowl story (Huskies quarterback Jordan Lynch's confident, but still bulletin-board worthy comments about wearing down FSU's defense).
You'll also find this story on FSU's defensive ends coach, D.J. Eliot, who is assuming the playcalling and game-planning duties for a second straight game. While former defensive coordinator Mark Stoops sets up his new staff and gets his recruiting in place at Kentucky, Eliot is handling some of the managerial items that Stoops would have been taking part in had he not taken a new job as a head coach.
Players and coaches alike applaud Eliot's efforts and have grown fond of his work ethic to this point. After this game, Eliot also will leave, joining Stoops on staff at Kentucky.