20 September 2011
The value of numbers is starting to show itself big time for the Florida State Seminoles. So much of a team's success hinges on its ability to stay healthy throughout the season and in the event that they cant, just how well they respond to their injury adversity. Entering week four, the Seminoles could very well be doing so without as many as five offensive starters or heavy contributors, four of which being receivers.
Bert Reed, Willie Haulstead and Kenny Shaw all have a questionable playing status for Saturday's conference opener on the road against Clemson. Both Reed and Haulstead entered the year at the top of the depth chart, while Shaw is a budding sophomore star who appeared to be prepared for a breakout game Saturday night against Oklahoma before an unfortunate, vicious collision. Monday, another bomb to the talented unit was dropped when Jimbo Fisher revealed that sophomore receiver Jarred Haggins suffered a broken hand at some point in Saturday's game and will now be out for at least one month. These are not four players from the bottom of FSU's roster, they are all members of the core group that was expected to get the bulk of playing time at the start of the year.
Only two of the top six receivers (Greg Dent and Rodney Smith) have a health status about questionable or day-to-day. If there is one positive, at this point it is unlikely that all three of Shaw, Haulstead and Reed will miss this weekend's game, which is huge for Florida State's conference title hopes. In order, the likelihood of return favors Bert Reed (Sr.), Kenny Shaw (So.) and Willie Haulstead (Jr.). Reed's tweaked ankle should be much better by the time Saturday rolls around and his return will be welcomed. Surprisingly, Kenny Shaw appears to be much further along than Willie Haulstead, but both are tough to gauge due to the nature of concussion/head injuries. It is difficult to imagine either being rushed back before they are ready and in the case of Haulstead, it would probably be unreasonable to expect a huge impact from him in his very first game of the season. For the time being, Florida State will have to put the pressure on their other young receivers to step things up a notch.
For all intents and purposes, this weekend's matchup should and likely will be treated like a one game survival season. Clemson, as of now is clearly Florida State's number one threat within the ACC Atlantic division in what appears to be a very down year. The Seminoles know what they have in Rodney Smith and are still getting decent production out of second year receiver Greg Dent, but the players that will be seeing an increase in first team reps include sensational freshman Rashad Greene and the talented, but not yet there Christian Green (RS. Fr). If Florida State can go into Death Valley and secure a road victory against a talented Clemson team, they will be staring at a huge break in their schedule that comes in the form of one bye week and back to back matchups with admittedly weak Wake Forest and Duke teams. The talent gap that Florida State will boast between Duke and Wake Forest would allow for a lot of injured players to get their proper rest without heavily competing and allow the battered Seminoles squad an opportunity to regroup.
We will have more this week about how some of these injuries will impact the gameplan for FSU on Saturday and just how imperative it is that the Noles find their running game at some point in the very near future. Look for Nick O'Leary to be more heavily incorporated in the passing game moving forward. As we pointed out following the game, there were key mistakes made from the TE position and those things must be corrected.
(Photo courtesy of Steve Chase, Chase-photography.com)
Unconquered readers, how do you feel about Rashad Greene and Christian Green picking up the slack if necessary this weekend?
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