26 September 2011
With a gang of injuries plaguing the Florida State receiving corps last week, there was considerable concern in regards to how the young group would step up to the plate at Death Valley on Saturday. In recent years, FSU fans have awaited the arrival of young playmakers that are ready to step in and create the type of big plays that all college football fans enjoy to see. It is an element of the FSU offense that has not been as prevalent as many would like, but with this young group, that appears to be changing for the better in the foreseeable future.
The Seminoles have pulled in an impressive lineup of four star caliber receivers with a great mix of polish and athleticism over the last few cycles, but anytime you enter a ball game with just four scholarship receivers considered healthy and three of the four players being first or second year guys, there is legitimate cause for concerns. Be it the fact that these kids are fierce competitors or simply too young to recognize the magnitude of the moment, the young members of a physically depleted unit came out and stepped up big in front of 82,000+ at Clemson on Saturday.
Of Clint Trickett's 24 completions on Saturday, 20 of the receptions recorded were by first or second year Seminoles, including two of the three touchdowns. Florida State fans were especially encouraged and thrilled to see the remarkable return of true sophomore Kenny Shaw (pictured left) who suffered a horrendous double-helmet to helmet hit just one week prior against Oklahoma. Shaw caught two critical passes, inluding a touchdown during one of Florida State's few second half drives. Shaw is still undoubtedly working his way back into the groove of things after having what was setting up to be a breakout game being violently snatched away from him. It is safe to say that his toughness and courage is something that fans have embraced and respect as of now, but his polish and skill at the position is something that will be more well acquainted with as this young season pushes forward.
Another bright spot that has been a constant since the beginning of the season is the play of true freshman, Rashad Greene. Greene is the Seminoles leading receiver on the season in all but one category with 14 receptions, 294 yards and five touchdowns. Only Junior Rodney Smith has more catches (16). As he continues to adjust and get a feel for the college game, his development will be exciting for FSU fans to witness. He is already being deemed by many as the special type of player that this offense has been longing for. Florida State fans also have to be encouraged by seeing redshirt freshman Christian Green step up over the weekend. Green hauled in 7 catches for 77 yards, showing that he is capable of making plays when needed. This is big for Green because in the eyes of some, he has devloped slowly relative to his talent level due to injury. He will continue to come on and poses a serious physical presence and sudden explosiveness that opposing teams will have to be weary of.
Not featured heavily in the game from a reception standpoint on Saturday was sophomore Greg Dent, but he too is a talented player that will have his opportunities. The fact that Florida State has such a young core of players that can be called upon is exciting because you get the sense that they won't be hurting here in the near future. Keep in mind, the above mentioned are all first or second year players that do not include the injured Jarred Haggins, the physically gifted true freshman Kelvin Benjamin, or the upperclassmen Willie Haulstead and Rodney Smith that will all be back following the 2011 season. As this unit continues to gain experience and knowledge of the Florida State offense, they will become more comfortable in their roles and provide the team with more flexible options in playcalling. If you were looking for a bright spot, there are plenty to go around with this group.
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