Sep 24, 2016; Tampa, FL, USA; Florida State Seminoles running back Dalvin Cook (4) runs the ball in the first quarter against the South Florida Bulls at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Logan Bowles-USA TODAY Sports
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FSU football needed some key performances from certain players against USF. Here are our top five impact players for the ‘Noles.
The day against USF didn’t begin in favor of FSU football, but the ‘Noles offense responded in a big way to turn the tide and allow the defense to gain some confidence.
USF scored touchdowns on their first two possession, and the FSU offense answered each time with touchdowns of their own.
The ‘Noles then went on a 35-0 run to seemingly put the game away until USF scored a couple of touchdowns in the fourth quarter to make the final score appear closer than it was.
Let’s take a look at the five impact players for FSU against USF.
Oct 17, 2015; Tallahassee, FL, USA; Florida State player Kermit Whitfield (8) tries to escape Louisville defender Sheldon Rankins (98) as the Florida State Seminoles beat the Louisville Cardinals 41-21 at Doak Campbell Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Glenn Beil-USA TODAY Sports
Some of you are probably looking at Whitfield’s name and questioning why he’s on the list. It’s simple, Whitfield was a huge factor in the special teams game.
Whitfield allowed the FSU offense to start with good field position each time USF scored a touchdown.
He had four kickoff returns for 132 yards which averages out at 32 yards per return. He had a long return of 53 yards which was close to returning for a touchdown.
Whitfield is averaging 27.5 yards per return on the season.
Whitfield also chipped in on the receiving with two receptions on the day.
Sep 10, 2016; Tallahassee, FL, USA; Florida State Seminoles wide receiver Jesus Wilson (3) returns a punt for a first half touchdown against Charleston Southern at Doak Campbell Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Glenn Beil-USA TODAY Sports
Most fans don’t realize it, but Jesus Wilson has arguably been the most productive receiver for FSU through the first four games.
He’s tied with Travis Rudolph for the team lead in receptions with 16 and second on the team in receiving yards.
Wilson chipped in with two receptions for 34 yards and one touchdown against USF. However, his biggest contribution is probably in the punt return department.
Wilson had four punt returns for 59 yards which equates to 14.8 yards per return. That’s almost four times more than his average a year ago.
Wilson did let one punt hit the ground, costing the ‘Noles valuable field position in the process. That’s something he needs to avoid moving forward.
Sep 24, 2016; Tampa, FL, USA; Florida State Seminoles quarterback Deondre Francois (12) runs the ball for a touchdown in the second half against the South Florida Bulls at Raymond James Stadium. Florida State Seminoles won 55-35. Mandatory Credit: Logan Bowles-USA TODAY Sports
Francois didn’t have a big game passing, in fact he was rather mediocre in that department against USF.
He finished the day 11 of 19 for 169 yards with one touchdown. However, his biggest impact came with his legs.
Jimbo Fisher finally unleashed Francois with designed runs for Francois and he gouged the USF defense. He ran for 75 yards on 10 carries and also scored a rushing touchdown.
We’ve been waiting for Fisher to take advantage of Francois’s ability to run the ball, and it couldn’t have come at a better time because the FSU defense couldn’t stop anyone early in the game.
It also gives future opponents something else to think about when rushing the passer.
Sep 24, 2016; Tampa, FL, USA; Florida State Seminoles running back Jacques Patrick (9) dives forward in the second half as South Florida Bulls linebacker Cecil Cherry (33) defends in the second half at Raymond James Stadium. Florida State Seminoles won 55-35. Mandatory Credit: Logan Bowles-USA TODAY Sports
Whoa big fella! We’ve been waiting for Jacques Patrick to run like the big back that he is and it’s finally coming to fruition.
Patrick punished the USF defense with 124 yards on 20 carries and one touchdown.
Coach Fisher has been drilling Patrick about running hard and being able to move the pile, and Patrick responded on Saturday.
At one point he was out in the open field and pointed at a USF defender to “come and try to tackle him” before delivering a punishing shot.
It was a welcome sight and something that will be needed moving forward it looks like he could be a factor in short yardage situations.
He’s still running a little too upright and needs to lower his center of gravity a bit, but we’ll take the hard running attitude all day.
Sep 24, 2016; Tampa, FL, USA; South Florida Bulls linebacker Josh Black (55) and defensive tackle Demarcus Christmas (90) tackles South Florida Bulls running back Marlon Mack (5) in the second quarter at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Logan Bowles-USA TODAY Sports
The offense was the star of the day. If not for the FSU offense clicking on most cylinders, FSU football would have taken an embarrassing loss against a feisty USF team.
The FSU offense ran 82 plays of which 63 were rushing, and averaged 7.89 yards per play which is outstanding.
This trend may need to continue with the teams FSU has coming up on the schedule. A high powered offense will be coming to Tallahassee next weekend when UNC visits.
Then FSU will travel to Doak South and face Brad Kaaya and the Miami Hurricanes.
Hopefully the FSU defense will be able to settle down and become a positive factor in the next couple of weeks.