With Gavin likely out, freshman WR Matthews to get his chance
Florida State's wide receiver unit could look a little younger this Saturday at Duke.
Junior receiver Auden Tate already has seen his playing time limited by the shoulder injury he sustained earlier this season against N.C. State. Redshirt sophomore George Campbell is still dealing with a "core" muscle injury that forced him to miss all of last season. Now, the Seminoles likely will be without sophomore Keith Gavin, who went down with a foot or ankle injury last Saturday against Miami.
During his weekly call-in show Wednesday night, FSU head coach Jimbo Fisher said Gavin probably won't be able to play this Saturday at Duke.
That means the Seminoles likely will give an extended look to true freshman D.J. Matthews. Fisher said Matthews, a former four-star prospect out of Jacksonville, has made great strides in practice in recent weeks and was going to see more action even if Gavin was healthy.
Matthews, who missed part of preseason camp with a hamstring injury, was rated the nation's No. 5 receiver coming out of high school.
"He's coming along very good," junior wideout Nyqwan Murray said of Matthews. "I think he's gonna be very special."
FSU loses a great deal of size without the 6-foot-3, 221-pound Gavin; the speedy Matthews is listed at 5-10 and 151 pounds, but he is expected to be more dynamic with the ball in his hands. Matthews scored 19 touchdowns as a prep senior while playing quarterback and other positions on offense.
If the Seminoles need size, they could give freshman Tamorrion Terry (6-4, 191) a look. And if the 6-4 Campbell is healthy -- he was listed as "questionable" going into the Miami game and caught one pass for 15 yards -- he will be a factor as well.
"All the [older] guys are down," Murray said. "The freshmen are gonna have to step up. Next man up."
Although Tate has been limited by his painful shoulder injury, the junior has continued to be the Seminoles' most consistent threat in the passing game. He leads FSU with 16 catches for 282 yards and four touchdowns. Gavin ranks second with 14 receptions, while Murray has 13.
FSU also gave senior walk-on Jared Jackson extended playing time against Miami, and he is expected to be an option in the passing game as well.
With true freshman quarterback James Blackman taking over for the injured Deondre Francois in Week 2, FSU's passing attack has been somewhat limited. The Seminoles (1-3, 1-2 in the ACC) rank 85th nationally with an average of 203.0 yards per game.
Duke's defense ranks 44th in passing defense, allowing 206.2 yards a game. The Blue Devils (4-2, 1-2) are tied for second nationally with 10 interceptions through six games.