Week 1 opportunity to find new workhorse in backfield for Seminoles

Published: Sep. 10, 2020 at 10:55 PM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - Florida State opens the 2020 campaign against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, as the two programs meet for just the fourth time since the 2012 season.

Both teams are itching to start the year on the right foot after a disappointing 3-9 year for the Jackets in the maiden voyage under Geoff Collins while the Seminoles are in search of their first winning season since going 7-6 in 2017.

The biggest question mark entering the first game of the year for the Noles is who will provide the power in the backfield: With the departure of Cam Akers to the NFL and Khalan Laborn’s off-season dismissal from the team, FSU enters 2020 without 74.12% of their rushing yards from last season and without 75% of their touchdowns, as the pair combined for 1,441 yards and 18 scores.

It’s unknown how much FSU will utilize their leading returning rush from a year ago, in quarterback Jordan Travis, after incumbent James Blackman was named the starter. Despite Blackman being the man under center, first-year head coach Mike Norvell utilized the Wildcat formation while at Memphis and, with a guy as capable with his legs as Travis, it stands to be believed that Travis could very well see snaps.

As far as running backs go, Deonte Sheffield leads all returning backs in stats from 2019: He rushed for 135 yards and a touchdown on 27 carries.

Overall in 2019, FSU averaged 140.6 yards on 36.7 carries per game. The Tech defense allowed teams to run a good bit, surrendering 215.6 yards on 44.8 touches on the ground and 2.3 rushing scores per outing.

However, the Yellow Jackets return their five leading tacklers from last season - David Curry, Charlie Thomas, Tarig Carpenter, Juanyeh Thomas and Quez Jackson - who totaled 216 solo tackles, 333 total tackles and 25.0 tackles for a loss.

It’s unclear who will become the new workhorse for Norvell and company, with Jashaun Corbin and La’Damian Webb tying for RB1 on the FSU Week 1 depth chart, but the Noles are hoping one of them can turn the question mark in the backfield into an exclamation point to open the season.

FSU and GT will open the campaign at Doak Campbell Stadium Saturday. Kickoff is slated for 3:30 p.m.

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