Bethune-Cookman-Florida St. Preview

Florida State demonstrated it has a lot more offense than just

freshman quarterback Jameis Winston.

The Seminoles have an impressive running game featuring a trio

of backs: Devonta Freeman, James Wilder, Jr. and Karlos

Williams.

Eighth-ranked Florida State racked up 377 rushing yards in a

62-7 victory against Nevada on Saturday. The Seminoles (2-0)

surpassed the 300-yard mark on the ground once in 2012 with 385

against Wake Forest on Sept. 15.

Seminoles safety Tyler Hunter said Monday that the backs just

wore down Nevada.

“First it was Wilder and Devonta,” Hunter said. “Wilder would

just wear them down and you’d put Freeman in and he’d just break a

big one. Now you have two big backs and you’ve still got Freeman.

Karlos may be faster than all of them. … It’s really a big

up.

”I know it has to stress the defense. Then they can play-action

and we’ve still got great receivers. So we can go deep anytime just

off the play-action.”

If the trio can continue to be that productive, that will make

life easier for Winston as the Seminoles get set to face FCS

opponent Bethune-Cookman (3-0) on Saturday night.

The quarterback has quickly become the focal point of opponents

after completing 40 of 45 passes for 570 yards with six touchdowns

and one interception. He has more touchdowns than incomplete passes

through eight quarters.

The 6-foot-1, 223-pound Williams was the unexpected treat last

weekend.

The one-time safety moved to running back for the first time

during his collegiate career after the season-opening win against

Pittsburgh. The junior previously resisted coach Jimbo Fisher’s

suggestion to move to the offensive side of the ball. Wilder and

Freeman were preseason Doak Walker Award candidates. Their

abilities were well-known.

No one predicted Williams would take a toss sweep in the third

quarter and sprint around the right end for a 65-yard touchdown on

his first career carry.

“I believe it causes a lot of issues” for a defense, Williams

said. “Even Ryan Green is a very shifty guy. … We call ourselves

the four-headed monster. There’s a lot of talent in that

backfield.

“Our quarterbacks are young, so we really do have to take care

of them. We have to make sure we’re making the right calls and

running the right lanes and making sure we’re taking care of the

football.”

Freeman finished with 109 rushing yards and a touchdown.

Williams added 110 yards and one score. Wilder had 45 yards and a

touchdown.

Fisher joked about his fortune-telling prowess after the game

and expounded on Williams during his press conference Monday.

“I’ve wanted to do it for a long time,” Fisher said about the

position switch. “I think it’s his most natural position. It wasn’t

motivation. I just think it’s his best position, always have. I

just think he’s more natural at that position than at any other

thing.

“He’s very dynamic with the ball in his hands. This has nothing

to do with: We need a running back. I think he was doing well on

defense. I just think it’s the most natural position for him. I

really do. I’ve always thought that.”

The offense gives defenses another look when the 6-2, 229-pound

Wilder and Freeman, 5-9, 203 pounds, share the backfield. Wilder

has nicknamed the formation ”Wild & Free” when he and Freeman

line up behind Winston.

Wilder threw the key block during Freeman’s 60-yard run on the

first snap of the second half. The duo is on the verge of becoming

FSU’s first pair of career 1,000-yard rushers on the same roster

since 2005.

“You can do a lot of things. Run it both ways, they can catch

it. Lot of experience. Lot of size,” Fisher said.

Wilder said the goal is for every back to average 6.5 yards per

carry, which was easily accomplished after the trio broke off runs

of 60 yards, 65 yards and 24 yards in Florida State’s first five

offensive snaps of the second half.

The Seminoles are 18th in the nation among FBS schools,

averaging 266.5 yards rushing. That is likely to rise against

Bethune-Cookman.

“We don’t have certain backs for certain plays. We can do

everything,” Wilder said. “That makes it harder for defenses. …

We have an open playbook for every situation. It keeps us with

fresh legs. Around the third quarter, the defense is tired and

sluggish.”

The Wildcats, though, have allowed 220.0 yards and 9.7 points

per game during their unbeaten start. They defeated Florida

International 34-13 last week for their first-ever win over an FBS

opponent, rushing for 311 yards and four touchdowns.

Bethune-Cookman is averaging 244.0 yards on the ground – among

the most in the FCS. Anthony Jordan ran for 150 yards and a TD on

21 carries to earn Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference player of the

week honors.

“They are running the ball very well on offense, very diverse on

defense … so we’ll have our hands full again and have another

great opponent coming in,” Fisher said.

Florida State suspended two starters – linebacker Christian

Jones and defensive end Eddie Goldman – for this game due to a

violation of team rules.

Fisher did not go into details of the violations, but said,

“It’s all correctable …. We have to abide by a certain set of

guidelines.”

These teams will be meeting for the first time.