Tallahassee, FL - When Chris Thompson was lost to a season-ending ACL tear, not only did his life change, but the lives of two others did, as well. James Wilder, Jr. and Devonta Freeman are the new number one running backs.
"Me and Freeman, we're more of a one-two punch," said Wilder, who has run for 369 yards and seven touchdowns. "Whatever situation it is just to make sure we have fresh legs. I mean they can run up the middle - he can be a power guy, too. They can run me to the outside. Passing situations, two-minute situations, blocking situations, we can do it all."
The sophomore duo has run for a combined 656 yards and 10 touchdowns. But Thompson was having his most productive year, amassing 687 yards and 5 touchdowns, an average of 86 yards per game. Wilder said it's not the way he wanted to take over the starting job, but he has no choice now.
"I'm ready for it," he said. "It's my time to go show coach that what he was telling wasn't going through one ear and out the other."
A bowl-eligible Duke team is around the corner and Wilder and Freeman are using every piece of advice they can get.
"Duke's a great team, a great fundamental team and they're a well-coached team," Wilder said. "So, it's definitely a good time for me to be able to come out as a starter."
While Wilder was getting a limited number of reps behind Thompson, he was trying to make a big play happen all the time. Now that he'll have more on his plate, he expects to take a smarter approach with the football.