No. 11 Florida State looking to stretch field with receivers
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) Through three games, Florida State’s receivers have mirrored the rest of the offense – stretches of good play but generally inconsistent.
After being off last week, the 11th-ranked Seminoles feel that some of the things holding the passing game back have been rectified heading into Saturday’s game at Wake Forest.
”The chemistry has been there the past couple weeks. It was off at the beginning of the season but we should be good going into this game,” said Jesus ”Bobo” Wilson, who was the only returning receiver with extensive playing time.
Coach Jimbo Fisher is still looking for a receiver to fill the void left by Rashad Greene, who was the program leader in career yards and receptions. Travis Rudolph, who has drawn comparisons to Greene because of his athleticism, leads the team in receptions (14) and is second in yards (132). Wilson leads the team in receiving yards (138) and is second in receptions with 10.
Everett Golson has struggled with accuracy the past two games but has also been plagued by drops. Florida State has five drops, which is tied for fourth in the Atlantic Coast Conference, according to STATS. There were two drops in the Sept. 18 game at Boston College that could have gone for big yardage.
Inexperience and drops have also contributed to a lack of big plays in the passing game. The Seminoles, who were in the top 20 in plus-20 and plus-30 pass plays last season, have only nine receptions of 20 yards or more and two of 30 or more.
Playing young receivers has also meant there hasn’t been much depth at the position. Kermit Whitfield has emerged as the third receiver but is also the main kick returner. Ermon Lane, George Campbell and Ja’Vonn Harrison are also on the depth chart but haven’t seen much game time as they have been inconsistent in practice.
”We’re just OK so far,” said Fisher in assessing the group. ”I’m not disappointed but there is room to grow.”
The one area that Fisher has been pleased in with the receivers has been run blocking. Three of Dalvin Cook’s six touchdowns can be credited due to key late blocks downfield.
”Every receiver can run routes and catch passes but you have to got to do the things that really matter like blocking and everything,” Rudolph said.
The Seminoles (3-0 overall, 1-0 ACC) are hoping to see gains in their passing game on Saturday. Wake Forest (2-2, 0-1) has allowed 10 receptions of 20 yards or more, which is tied for fifth most in the conference. In last year’s 42-3 win, Rudolph had his first touchdown on a 59-yard reception. In the past three games, the Seminoles have outscored the Demon Deacons 154-6.
”This is the week a lot of us can get big plays. We just have to execute,” Wilson said. ”They run a lot of Cover 3 and man which should open things up for us this week.”
The Seminoles got off to a quick start against Boston College as they completed five passes on the opening drive for 50 yards. But the rest of the game it was 14 of 19 for 69 yards.
With heavy rain expected to impact Saturday’s game due to Hurricane Joaquin, Florida State has spent most of the week practicing with wet balls with all the skill position players.
”They’re a different team than they were a year ago, but talent-wise they’re as good a team as we’ll face all year,” Wake Forest coach Dave Clawson said of Florida State. ”Their quarterback has not turned the ball over yet this year. He’s very well-schooled in the offense. He has a rocket for an arm. He’s very dangerous when the play breaks down.”
Associated Press writer Joedy McCreary in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, contributed to this report.
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