Cam Akers expected rise to the top of the depth chart

Florida State has already been through a whirlwind of a season and we haven’t even made it through three Saturday’s. The Seminoles lost their season opener to Alabama after a breakdown on special teams and a season-ending injury to Deondre Francois. FSU expected to have true freshman James Blackman debut last week against UL-Monroe, instead the game was cancelled due to the potential abhorrent weather brought on by Hurricane Irma. The University also decided to cancel the following weeks worth of classes while moving the Miami game to Oct. 7.

The `Noles no longer get the luxury of a tuneup game to integrate Blackman into the offense. They’ll open up in Doak Campbell Stadium against NC State on Sept. 23. The Wolfpack have one of the more solid defensive fronts that the Seminoles will get a look at this season. Blackman has yet to throw a pass in a game and it’s likely FSU will look to establish their running game early to open up passing opportunities. That’s where fellow freshman and former five-star running back Cam Akers comes in.

It’s no secret that Akers was the most effective back on Florida State’s roster during the tilt with the Crimson Tide. He spelled starter Jacques Patrick on the fourth drive of the game and instantly provided the Seminoles running game with something they were missing. Energy, intensity, and hunger. Akers didn’t back down from the biggest moment he’s faced in his career thus far. He was explosive on runs and can accelerate faster than Patrick. Akers also showed off his playmaking skills in open space. He caught a swing pass out of the backfield and made `Bama linebacker Shaun Dion Hamilton miss with a juke move before getting a first down.  

Akers would finish the game with ten carries for 30 yards on the ground. Patrick had six carries of his own for 17 yards. It was without a doubt an improved effort from the offensive line, it just wasn’t enough against Alabama’s formidable defensive front. Despite this, Akers showed off superstar potential during his first game as a true freshman.

FSU has a decision to make. Patrick, a junior who was Dalvin Cook’s primary backup for two seasons, held onto the starting role throughout the offseason and Fall Camp. He’s a bigger back but definitely didn’t run like it against the Crimson Tide. Three of Patrick’s four carries in the first half went for one yard or less, which certainly isn’t the kind of output you want from your top running back. Akers wasn’t head and shoulders above Patrick but he was definitely more effective despite the difference in collegiate experience.

The game against North Carolina State will be telling for the running back battle. Head coach Jimbo Fisher has to get his running game going after defecting towards the passing game as the `Noles collapsed in the second-half against `Bama. It’ll be huge for this offense to establish the run early. If Akers can outperform Patrick again during the game against the Wolfpack it bodes well for his chances of earning the starting role going forward. Look for the Clinton, Mississippi product to have the lion’s share of the carries on Oct. 7 when Florida State takes on Miami.

The future is bright for FSU with Akers as the starting running back and he’s going to take the job this season. The former No. 1 running back in the country out touched Patrick 11-8 in week one and that disparity should only grow as Akers settles in and becomes more comfortable.

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