Running Backs Make a Statement

With Christian Ponder at quarterback, a terrific offensive line, and some weapons on the outside at wide receiver, the pieces are in place for FSU to be one of the most dominant offenses in the country. It appears we will see an upgrade at the RB spot as well with no fewer than six players vying for playing time.

It goes without saying, but having six quality RBs is huge in today's college football game. Coach Eddie Gran will have a wide variety of skill sets to work with and should have an answer for each situation that comes along. It remains to be seen how Coach Gran will use the RBs....does he want a workhorse? Does he want to rotate them? Does he want to go with his gut situationally? The questions will be answered in time, NoleDigest.com takes a look at the individual RBs performance on Saturday.


Smiley running hard
Steve Chase, NoleDigest.com, Scout.com

2010 Signee Debrale Smiley led the way with three carries for 58 yards on Saturday. Smiley is the biggest back on the roster at 5'10, 237 and he showed that power both on his long run(pictured) and several times as a blocker. He was recruited to be a big back and that is exactly what Smiley is, a bruiser who should excel between the tackles and be able to get some of the tough yards. Smiley needs to continue to pick up the offense, he clearly will be in the thick of the race for carries for 2010.

Chris Thompson received the most work on Saturday, he had 10 carries for 55 yards(1 TD) and also caught several balls out of the backfield. He is MUCH bigger at 5'8, 186 and it was noticeable weight on the field. Thompson showed the ability to get to the edge on the outside and should be a big part of the passing game going forward. He is not the type to pound it between the tackles 20 times a game, but the more he breaks to daylight, the more carries he will earn. He needs to be the game-breaker on the roster. We love his ability to stick his foot in the ground and go.

Jermaine Thomas had six carries for 31 yards, he is the leading returning rusher after 832 yards (9 TDS) in 2009. Thomas, at 5'11, 190, has enough size to get some tough yards inside, but he is really better suited in space. Thomas has a little wiggle in the open field and is a dedicated blocker with soft hands. He clearly is in the mix and has to be considered the favorite for the 'starting role' at this time. We could see a scenario where he gets in the 10-12 range for carries a game next year.


RB Lonnie Pryor
Steve Chase, NoleDigest.com, Scout.com

By all reports, Lonnie Pryor is going to play a big role in the future at the RB spot. Used mainly as a FB in his freshmen year, Pryor is 6'0, 209 and he can be the type of horse that is a 20+ carry type. He did not have a lot of opportunity on Saturday(just four carries for three yards), but that can be interpreted as the staff knowing what they have. Pryor still has some physical upside, we think he sees 225 down the road. Along with the weight, Pryor needs to maintain his speed and quality burst.

A pair of upperclassmen add more depth. Senior Tavares Pressley(6'0, 206) and junior Ty Jones(5'10, 211). Both backs had some good moments on Saturday, Pressley ripped off a 35 yard gain showing a nice blend of power and speed. Both backs figure to face an uphill battle for playing time.

NoleDigest.com Take

We need to go back to 2005 with the Lorenzo Booker, Leon Washington, and Antone Smith backfield to find as much talent and depth on the roster. Smiley brings a much needed 'hammer' to the equation, one can think of more than a few examples of where this type of back was needed the last several years. Thompson and Thomas bring more big play ability to the fold while Pryor has the best blend of power and speed. We expect these four backs to get the lion's share of carries next year. Jones and Pressley need a strong summer to move up the depth chart. As experienced upperclassmen with the clock ticking, the time is now for both players. We expect this unit to the most productive for the 'Noles in a long time.

Competition is the name of the game and FSU has it in spades, the more these players push themselves(and each other) in the off-season, the better off this unit, and thus team, will be.


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