June 13, 2007

The Big 10: Will Smith break the 1,000-yard barrier?

With the month of June upon us, two-a-day practices are only two months away and the start of the 2007 football season just three months off. For Florida State, the upcoming season could be the most important ever for coaching legend Bobby Bowden. The 'Noles are coming off an extremely disappointing 7-6 season which resulted in a massive coaching overhaul resulting in six changes to Bowden's staff. With the changes no in place, it's time to see some results on the field.

Over the next few weeks we will address 10 big questions facing the 2007 football team. For each question, the Warchant.com/Osceola staff, and other guests from the media, as well as some select fans, will breakdown a specific topic facing the program.

Question No. 6: Will Antone Smith finally break FSU's 10-year drought of having no 1,000-yard rushers?

Gene Williams - Warchant.com Administrator

Every year it's the same old thing - an FSU running back is supposed to break the 1K mark but for 10 years they have fallen short. What makes this stat hard to believe is all the good backs that have come through the program since Warrick Dunn racked up 1,246 yards in 1996 - Travis Minor, Nick Maddox, Greg Jones, Leon Washington and Lorenzo Booker. It's obvious there has been talent at the position so why should this year be any different?

There are different coaches on offense.

It's obvious new offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher puts a premium on the running game. As a result, FSU's pass-happy days from the past few years appear to be at an end. But more than that, both Fisher and new running backs coach Dexter Carter have made it perfectly clear that one back will carry the load instead of rotating two backs throughout the game. Throw in Rick Trickett's new hard-nosed philosophy for coaching the offensive line, and you have all the ingredients for a 1,000-yard back assuming you have a talented player toting the football. With his unmatched work ethic, speed (4.3), freakish strength (450-pound bench plus), balance and vision all Antone Smith needs is a few carries and a few holes to post big rushing numbers.

If you still don't believe, the numbers simply add up. If you combine Booker's and Smith's carries from last season (keep in mind FSU had fewer rushing attempts than any team in the ACC) and multiple that number by Smith's rushing average from last season (5.2) behind a mediocre offensive line you get 1,200 yards. My prediction, Smith rushes for 1,270 yards in 2007. Of course all bets are off if there's an injury.

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