TALLAHASSEE — Third-ranked Florida State will be without running back James Wilder Jr. on Saturday against North Carolina State.
Coach Jimbo Fisher said Thursday that Wilder wasn’t cleared after sustaining a concussion last week. Karlos Williams will back up starter Devonta Freeman.
Wilder, a former Plant High standout, suffered the concussion in a 51-14 win against Clemson and was considered day-to-day throughout the week.
Wilder, also slowed by a shoulder injury, has run for 231 yards and two touchdowns on 41 carries for Florida State (6-0, 4-0 ACC).
A TRAP GAME? With Florida State coming off of a 37-point victory at then-No. 3 Clemson, there have been questions about whether Saturday’s home date might be a “trap game” for the Seminoles.
While the Wolfpack are 3-3 on the season, they are riding a two-game losing streak and are 0-3 in the ACC. Their only wins have come against Louisiana Tech, Richmond and Central Michigan.
And this game comes one week before the Seminoles are scheduled to play host to rival Miami in what could be another showdown of top-10 foes.
Despite all of that, N.C. State head coach Dave Doeren said he still expects to see the best Florida State has to offer — for one simple reason. With FSU honoring legendary coach Bobby Bowden on Saturday, Doeren believes the Seminoles will pull out all the stops to deliver a strong performance.
“They’re having Bobby Bowden Day, where he is spiking the spear at midfield with all his former players,” Doeren said. “I think they’ve done a good job of eliminating the trap game with their marketing.”
Fisher said his team also understands there’s a good chance the Wolfpack will look much improved Saturday. For starters, they are coming off of a bye week, so they will have extra time to prepare. They also are getting a handful of players back from injury, including quarterback Brandon Mitchell, who was hurt in the season opener.
Mitchell played wide receiver and quarterback for the Razorbacks before transferring to N.C. State this summer. Mitchell is eligible to play this season because he already has earned his bachelor’s degree.
“He can play,” Fisher said. “He’s a big, strong, athletic guy, can throw it, run, he’s a heck of a football player. They’ll get him back, and he’s a guy that can move around. He’s a good player now.”
Ira Schoffel Tallahassee Democrat; The Associated Press
AAC crown still possible for USF
TAMPA — The University of South Florida Bulls might have been dismissed by fans after an 0-4 start, but two straight victories have them tied for first place in the American Athletic Conference, along with Central Florida and Houston, the league’s other 2-0 teams.
USF’s biggest test occurs Saturday afternoon at Raymond James Stadium, when the Bulls host No. 18 Louisville (6-1, 2-1).
“To be honest, with the way we’re playing now, we feel like we can accomplish anything,’’ Bulls senior MLB DeDe Lattimore said.
During the losing streak, coach Willie Taggart and USF players kept talking about the program’s primary goal of winning the AAC title and some people probably wondered if they were delusional. If USF upsets Louisville, more eyes will be opened.
“That (AAC title) was something we set out (to accomplish) from the beginning of the year,’’ Taggart said Thursday. “Just because things weren’t going as well as we wanted them to doesn’t mean we divert from those goals. … Our program’s philosophy is to win multiple American Athletic Conference championships in a first-class manner. That’s going to be our goal, no matter what year it is.’’
Taggart said the four nonconference losses, as painful as they were at the time, served as a teaching tool.
“I think our guys grew through it all,’’ Taggart said. “It was tough. Just remember that tough times don’t last, tough people do. Our guys are learning how to be tough.
“People say bad things about us, that’s part of it. We’ve got to perform. That’s the world we live in, a production world. If you don’t produce, no one likes you. If you do produce, everyone likes you. Continue to make improvements each and every day and ultimately that will get you to your goals.’’
INJURIES: Taggart said sophomore QB Steven Bench and senior RB Marcus Shaw, who were injured Oct. 5 against Cincinnati, have shown signs of improvement and “we’ll see on game day’’ whether they can play against Louisville. Taggart previously said he expects senior QB Bobby Eveld to start. Senior DE Tevin Mims and senior DT Elkino Watson also will be game-time decisions. - Joey Johnston
Crawford no longer an afterthought
CORAL GABLES — Dallas Crawford was a quarterback in high school, a scout-team defensive back in his first year at Miami, and little more than an afterthought as a second-string running back coming into this season.
He’s in the spotlight now.
The most significant development for Miami’s football program so far this season was Tuesday’s news that the NCAA probe of the Hurricanes — and years of uncertainty about the mess involving former booster Nevin Shapiro — is now finally over. Perhaps the second-best development is the emergence of Crawford, who has run for two touchdowns in each of the Hurricanes’ last four games.
And he’ll have a key role in the game plan Saturday when No. 7 Miami (6-0, 2-0 ACC) hosts Wake Forest (4-3, 2-2).
“Everybody here has a lot of respect for Dallas,” Miami coach Al Golden said. “He just quietly goes about his craft and develops skills. He’s got himself into great shape. He’s lost weight. His body looks markedly different than when he first got here. He’s quicker. He’s certainly smarter in terms of his football knowledge.”
In UM’s most recent game, Crawford rushed 33 times for 137 yards and two TDs as Miami beat North Carolina 27-23.
The Associated Press