‘Noles trying to get running backs healthy for Notre Dame

Dalvin Cook
Dalvin Cook

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – No. 2 Florida State continued preparation for No. 5 Notre Dame on Tuesday at the Albert J. Dunlap Athletic Training Facility.

“Excellent day,” Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher said. “One of the better practices. Very pleased. The defense was very sharp. We’ve got to clean a couple things up, but I like what they’re doing. Offense was very sharp. Feel we caught the ball, ran the ball very well. Offensive line, young players were really, really emerging.”

A pair of those young players really emerging are running backs Mario Pender and Dalvin Cook. The pair combine with senior Karlos Williams to give the Seminoles a three-head monster at the tailback position for Fisher, who historically has liked to spread out the carries.

“I think you have to, to keep guys fresh and also you see the injuries and the hits in which they take so you don’t beat them up,” Fisher said. “We feel very comfortable with those guys in the game so we don’t have to hesitate to ever put them in any situation. They have handled about every situation they have been asked to handle. I feel very comfortable that way.”

Williams started the season’s first five games, but missed last Saturday’s contest at Syracuse following an ankle injury. He leads FSU with 353 rushing yards and five touchdowns on 74 carries. He practiced on Monday and Tuesday and is expected back against the Fighting Irish.

Pender earned his first career start against the Orange and scored two touchdowns before a lower leg injury knocked him out of the game. From there, Cook took over and rushed for 122 yards – the most by an FSU true freshman since 2008.

“Mario was having an excellent day until he got nicked up,” Fisher said. “He had one heck of a touchdown run and touchdown catch. I was very proud of Dalvin Cook to come in and get 23 carries, 122 yards on the day – big play ability, broke tackles, caught the ball out of the backfield. And both guys picked up blitzes very well.”

Pender leads the team with a 6.2 yards per carry average. He took his first career carry into the end zone for an 11-yard score in the season opener against Oklahoma State.

Cook, who went to the same high school – Miami Central – as former FSU star and current Atlanta Falcons’ running back Devonta Freeman, is averaging 5.3 yards per carry and has 250 yards on the ground to go along with three scores.

Williams practiced on Tuesday, while Pender sat out and is still being evaluated for this weekend.


Other Practice Notes

Senior wide receiver Rashad Greene was back at practice on Tuesday after a scheduled day off on Monday … Freshman safety Trey Marshall was back at practice after missing the Syracuse game following a concussion.


Jimbo Fisher Post-Practice Quotes


Opening statement:

“Excellent day. One of the better practices. Very pleased. The defense was very sharp. We’ve got to clean a couple things up, but I like what they’re doing. Offense was very sharp. Feel we caught the ball, ran the ball very well. Offensive line, young players were really, really emerging. Just understanding what to do and how to make adjustments with the rhythm and timing. We kicked the ball well. Again, I was very pleased with practice and we’ll go back look at the film and make some corrections or see what we did good or bad and get ready for tomorrow.”


On the status of senior wide receiver Rashad Greene:

“He’s fine. He just took the day off. We just give them a day every so often for the older guys. He knows what he’s doing and it gives those younger guys a chance and moves a couple guys in different positions. You know, planning if this happens, or this happens and getting them some extra reps.”


On if holding him out was due to the concussion:

“No, no, no. Every now and then, those older guys, you give them a plan for four to five weeks. When you go in a row, in a row, in a row like that, I’ll give an older guy like that time off.”


On the status of Karlos Williams:

“Yes, Karlos has been looking excellent in practice. He practiced all practice and did everything well.”


On Mario Pender:

“Mario is still gimping. He’ll be questionable for the game.”


On his concerns for Notre Dame:

“Offense, defense and special teams. They are very dynamic on offense, quarterback can make plays. They have speed outside, they’ll run the ball, got big guys up front. Brian’s an excellent coach, got a great scheme. Defensively, very multiple. Brian VanGorder’s been around a long time. Been in pro ball, been in the SEC, went against him a bunch. Very multiple looks, a lot of 3-down, 4-down, create different overloads, blitzes, then they’ll go 2-Tampa and then 3-5-3 and man. They do everything. I mean, they’re a very well-coached team. They have great players on special teams.”


On if there is an official word on redshirt freshman linebacker Matthew Thomas:

“No, not an official word.”


On if there is any update on the autograph allegations against redshirt sophomore Jameis Winston:

“We feel very good. Feel very good. I mean, I’ve talked to him and everything. I know people have talked to the owners of the company and different people. But from what I understand, we’ll see. But I’m not concerned.”


On if the situation has been fully vetted by Florida State yet:

“That’s still to go, but they’ll still sort through that. But we feel very confident about that right now.”

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