Pleasant Problem

What's FSU to do? The Seminoles are loaded at tailback, mixing veterans Greg Jones and Nick Maddox with returnee Willie Reid (pictured) and true freshmen Lorenzo Booker, Leon Washington and Thomas "Hollywood" Clayton. Offensive coordinator Jeff Bowden has an idea. "(We) better find a way to get a couple tailbacks in the game at the same time, shouldn't we?" Bowden smiled. "I am just seeing a lot flashes out of a lot of different faces. And we have to find a way to get them all involved."

Florida State offensive coordinator Jeff Bowden wasn't giving away any trade secrets when discussing his talented tailbacks.

"(We) better find a way to get a couple tailbacks in the game at the same time, shouldn't we?" Bowden asked with a smile and a laugh. "We better try to do that."

Of course, Bowden wasn't joking. The Seminoles' youngest backs are making quite a first impression. The newcomers provided some of the highlights in FSU's second preseason scrimmage Wednesday at Doak Campbell Stadium.

Leon Washington scooted around left end for a 19-yard touchdown. Another true freshman, Lorenzo Booker,rushed for 21 yards on seven carries. Thomas "Hollywood" Clayton also has made noticeable improvements, though his fumble led to a 44-yard return for a score by Allen Augustin. And let's not forget that freshman Torrance Washington also will see playing time at fullback.

The group has made things happen running or catching the football. Combined with veterans Greg Jones, Nick Maddox and Willie Reid, the Seminoles have a bevy of weapons at their disposal.

"(We are) more dangerous in the backfield than they we are receiver right now, with the exception of (Anquan) Boldin and (Talman) Gardner," Bowden said.

"I am just seeing a lot flashes out of a lot of different faces. And we have to find a way to get them all involved. Whether that's like Nick Maddox's role in the slot. You can't make a lot of adjustments, but it's a good problem to have. I don't know how you can redshirt them. I see Booker make great runs. I see Leon Washington make great runs. I see Hollywood making good runs. I don't know, it could be a deal where who is hot... Greg Jones better not take a day off, that's what it looks like. I can't worry about that (redshirts) right now."

Of course, Bowden has plenty of other worries at the moment, starting with his suddenly depleted offensive line.

Starting split tackle Brett Williams (right shoulder) sprain and backup tight tackle Ron Lunford (right ankle sprain) were injured Wednesday. Williams will be held out of contact drills until FSU's opener against Iowa State a week from Saturday. Plus, starting split guard Milford Brown is still awaiting word on his eligibility status from the NCAA. Todd Williams has been starting in Brown's slot.

Bowden also is concerned about his receivers' lack of big plays and consistency. Talman Gardner has been the exception - he had 115 yards on five catches in the scrimmage. Anquan Boldin (knee) and Craphonso Thorpe (toe) are sidelined by injury. Robert Morgan (knee) continues to recover from offseason surgery.

"I wasn't happy with our offensive line playing a little too high at times and getting knocked around at times," Bowden said.

"Protection was good, though. We've got 10 days (until Iowa State). We have to get to work at it. I am just not seeing the big plays yet (out of receivers). I have bigger receivers than he (defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews) has corners, they are just outfighting us. That's what I am seeing. Talman is really becoming a force. He's playing with a lot of confidence. He's got it in his head right now that it doesn't matter who lines up against him, he's going to beat him, one way or another. He's really starting to believe and play hard. I told all the receivers - I have 10 of them - there's two I would go to war with right now, and he's one of them. The other one (Anquan Boldin) is hurt. I've got to find out about the rest of them."

Bowden also needs to continue to chart the progress of reserve quarterback Fabian Walker, who struggled with his throws. Walker worked with both the first- and second-units in the scrimmage as Adrian McPherson continues to recover from an ankle sprain suffered in last Saturday's scrimmage.

"He didn't play as good," Bowden said.

"I couldn't tell if it was because of a sore arm. When A.D. went down, Chris and Fabian doubled up on their reps and it just looks like his arm is dead. We had some wide open throws and the ball just couldn't get there. And I know he has a strong arm. I saw maybe two times out there where he made a bad decision. Just passed up the simple gimme and took the low percentage deep ball. Hopefully, he can see that on film and get that corrected."

Starter Chris Rix certainly looked comfortable, completing 11 of 18 passes for 181 yards, including a 44-yard score on a Hail Mary pass to receiver Joey Kaleikini. Rix also demonstrated his athletic ability when the Seminoles went into their hurry-up offense.

"I like it actually, whether it's one-minute or no-huddle," Rix said.

"Obviously, we demonstrated last year, we could do it in the N.C. State game. I like it. I think the guys like it, getting that tempo and trying to catch the defense on their heels. When the time comes, and we need to do it, I am confident that we will be able to execute fully this year as compared to last year. I think it keeps everyone on their toes, and keeps our momentum going, keeps the tempo, it's go-go-go. It catches the defense off guard a little bit. I am in favor of it. Obviously, you can't do it all the time but when it's needed, we will get it done."

Still, FSU's tailbacks, especially the newcomers, are making the most of their extra carries.

"They did some good things," running backs coach Billy Sexton said. "Looking good other than a couple of turnovers. We have a lot of guys who can really make things happen running and catching the ball."


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