FSU uses 3 tailbacks to put up big gains on ground

Although Florida State does not have a back with the numbers put

up by Auburn’s Tre Mason, a trio of Seminoles combined for nearly

2,200 yards and 32 touchdowns while complementing Heisman Trophy

winner Jameis Winston this season.

Mason finished seventh nationally with 1,621 yards, averaging

5.7 yards per carry for the second-ranked Tigers (12-1), who play

No. 1 Florida State on Jan. 6 in the BCS championship game.

Florida State’s Devonta Freeman is 57 yards shy of becoming the

first Seminoles back since Warrick Dunn 17 years ago to reach 1,000

yards. Dunn did it three straight seasons.

Freeman and two other juniors, James Wilder Jr. and Karlos

Williams, are averaging a combined 6.7 yards per carry. The

6-foot-2, 225-pound WiIliams, who was converted from safety early

in the season, averages 8.2 yards a carry.

”We can run the football,” Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher

said after a two-hour practice Friday. ”That’s one of the things

that makes you complete. It’s going to be critical to be able to

run the ball.”

Florida State (13-0) is an 8 1/2 point favorite to complete the

second unbeaten season in school history against second-ranked

Auburn (12-1).

Fisher said his team came through its brief holiday break in

good shape physically and he expects to be at full strength for the

title game.

”We’ll start cranking hard now,” Fisher said. ”We’ll get back

in the groove.”

The Seminoles have three more practices in Tallahassee before

leaving for the West Coast on Tuesday.

While Winston needs 180 yards and a pair of touchdown passes to

complete a 4,000-yard, 40-touchdown freshman campaign, the Seminole

backs will continue to bang away in comparative anonymity.

”Yes they’ve been overlooked,” said wide receiver Kenny Shaw,

one of three Florida State receivers who could reach 1,000 yards in

receptions. ”And they’re all great runners.”

The Seminoles averaged 207.4 yards a game on the ground compared

to Auburn’s 327.6, which led the nation.

Fullback Chad Abram, also a converted safety, seldom got his

hands on the ball but is credited with not only protecting Winston

as well as clearing the way for many big gains by his more heralded

teammates.

”He’s got a lot of responsibility,” Freeman said. ”Our

fullback has a lot of responsibility. It takes an unselfish guy …

making everybody else look good.”

Williams said Friday he was too mature to accept Fisher’s

suggestion his freshman year that he might want to make the move to

offense.

”It’s worked out for me,” Williams said. ”I like running into

people, make contact. I try to make sure I cause as much punishment

as possible running the ball.”

Wilder, who many saw as a linebacker coming out of high school,

is similar in size to Williams albeit not as fast while the 5-8,

200-pound Freeman is more of the stereotypical tailback whose

strength belies his size.

None object to sharing the workload.

”You have three backs who are going to produce every time they

carry the ball,” Williams said. ”We just keep a positive attitude

and make each other better every day.”

And that is an attitude that Fisher said has characterized the

team’s success in 2013.

”This team is playing as any well as any I’ve coached

consistently over a long period of time,” Fisher said.