October 25, 2011

FSU receiving corps finally to full strength

Like much of the Florida State offense, the receiving corps has been snake-bitten by injuries this year.

Willie Haulstead suffered a preseason concussion that will likely cost him his entire 2011 season, Bert Reed is just now back to full speed after a bone bruise and ankle injury, Scooter Haggins missed two games with a broken hand and now Rashad Greene has missed the last two games with an ankle injury.

Barring a setback during practice this week with Greene, who has practiced so far, quarterback EJ Manuel should have the full receiving segment at his disposal Saturday against North Carolina State for the first time since the second week of the season.

"I'm extremely excited. Those guys had an opportunity to rest their injuries, now they should be back to 100 percent being able to play," Manuel said on Monday. "I'm very excited, still miss Willie a lot too, but hopefully he'll get back next season."

After Tuesday's practice, head coach Jimbo Fisher was encouraged with what he has seen from Greene so far this week.

"I liked some of the things I saw (Tuesday)," Fisher said of Greene. "He was out there, got some reps and balls, moving around and doing some things. (Monday) he dropped a few balls, rusty getting back out there, but (Tuesday) he looked pretty good."

With a different lineup almost every week for the receiving corps it could be taxing on an offense to get in a rhythm. But Manuel said that's not the case.

"I don't think it really matters that much because we work so hard during the week," he said. "Whether a guy is out that week coming up we rep our plays so often that the guy that the guy who's going to play - it really doesn't matter who it is. I feel like all those guys are big play receivers."

Each receiver has had his opportunity to show he's a playmaker this year as FSU has averaged 304.3 yards per game through the air, good for 14th best in the nation.

Seven different receivers are averaging at least 10.6 yards per catch, tied with six other schools for the most in the nation with a minimum of five catches per receiver.

Green leads the way with an average of 20.7 yards on his 16 catches, Greg Dent has an average of 19.8 on his eight receptions, Smith an average of 18 yards on his 25 grabs, and true freshman Greene has an average of 17.6 yards on his team-high 26 receptions. Shaw, Reed, and tight end Beau Reliford all average at least 10.8 yards per catch.

Reed said he was proud of how the younger receivers stepped up in his absence, but he's looking forward to having the whole segment at Fisher and Manuel's disposal on Saturday.

"It should be pretty exciting to see," said Reed, who had a season-high five catches for 76 yards last week against Maryland. "Just for all of us playmakers to be on the field and rotate and doing everything we can do to help this team win."

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