The Bright Spot on a Struggling Offense

Florida State fullback Joe Surratt has been an offensive weapon for the Seminoles this year despite the team's struggles. Through three games he is averaging more yards per carry than anyone else on the team.

Florida State coach Bobby Bowden has said this week that against Rice Saturday, he wants to see more rotation at fullback.

But don't take Coach Bowden's plan as a sign that he is not getting what he had hoped out his starter. In fact, it's the complete opposite as junior Joe Surratt has been a bright spot on a meager offensive output through three games.

Through those games, Surratt is tied with kicker Gary Ciesmsia as the team's leading scorer with 18 of the Tribe's points coming by way of his powerful short yardage running. Surratt has also proven to be a go-to-guy when FSU is need of moving the chains and is averaging more yards on the ground than tailbacks Antone Smith and Lorenzo Booker.

He also has been the only rusher on the Seminoles roster that hasn't lost any yardage on any carry this year.

And carrying the running game is nothing new to Surratt.

"I didn't start playing football until I was a freshman in high school," he said. "My high school, the main plays were to the fullback. It's something that I am pretty used to. Of course I am not getting as many (carries) because I was getting 15-20 in high school but when I do get the ball I've got to make the most of it."

In addition to doing his job as a short-yardage back, Surratt has also become an important piece to the offense as a whole. In recent years, Seminole fullbacks haven't been asked to take handoffs in anything but a short-yardage situation.

Surratt attributes that fact to the players whom he backed up through the early part of his career.

"You look at it. You have James Coleman … he was a walk-on defensive end converted to a fullback," Surratt said. "B.J. Dean played linebacker here initially and (the coaches) asked him, ‘well hey we've got a lot of guys in front of you, a lot of depth, do you want to move to fullback?'

"So he wanted to play right away. So you've got two converted fullbacks that have never played before and then I played a lot in high school so I guess it's a lot easier for me.

Coming off a home loss to Clemson in which the Tribe posted its highest rushing total of the year with 102 yards on the ground, FSU enters a game against a Rice defense that is ranked 101st in the nation (407.7 ypg).

"Nobody is happy that we lost a game. Of course we did establish a little bit of the running game, which doesn't mean anything because we lost – to me," Surratt said. "We didn't do good enough. The past couple of games hasn't been much but it's been there. That's the thing, the runs have been there. We haven't taken full advantage of it. I think that's hurt us the most the first few games.

"Like my high school coach used to say, you want to start off low and eventually peak and be flat the rest of the season. That's the good thing. You just want to get better every game. I think we'll be able to do that."


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