The Florida State Seminoles will be turning to plenty of fresh faces in 2013 to try and replicate their impressive run in 2012. The offense will be especially hard-hit, losing playmakers at multiple positions, including E.J. Manuel at quarterback and Chris Thompson at running back. The running game will be even more important for the Noles in 2013 as they break in a new signal caller, which makes running back Devonta Freeman the key to Florida State’s success next season.
Freeman showed excellent skill down the stretch in 2012 after Thompson was lost to injury. Against the Duke Blue Devils, Freeman rushed for 104 yards on 12 carries with a pair of touchdowns. He followed that up two games later with a 16-carry, 148-yard performance against the Maryland Terrapins with another pair of touchdowns, showing he has the ability to take over a game on the ground.
He also struggled with some inconsistency at times. Against the Virginia Tech Hokies, Freeman had a miserable game, rushing for negative-five yards on seven carries, though FSU still prevailed 28-22. He also failed to average over three yards per carry in the Discover Orange Bowl against the Northern Illinois Huskies, rushing for 30 yards on 14 carries with no touchdowns, despite the Noles steamrolling NIU in a 31-10 romp.
On the year, Freeman rushed for 660 yards on 11 carries, averaging 5.9 yards per carry and scoring eight touchdowns. Jimbo Fisher will hope to ride the junior tailback through a rigorous ACC schedule in 2013 to take pressure off their first-year starting quarterback, whoever that ends up being. He will be the focal point of a running game that was vastly improved in 2012, finishing as the No. 24 ranked rushing attack in college football, averaging 205.9 yards per game.
As Fisher and the Noles figure out what exactly they have at quarterback, it will be of paramount importance to have a running game that they can rely on week to week. That puts the pressure squarely on the shoulders of Freeman to step up and become a leader of this offense next season by carrying the rushing game.