Scouting Report is a series that will run through the rest of the Florida State football season, spotlighting players who could have major impacts on the 'Noles' games. It will run on Fridays.
Florida State takes on the Wake Forest Demon Deacons tomorrow at 12:30 Eastern. With the significant chance that EJ Manuel will be out this Saturday, running back Chris Thompson could be called upon more so than ever. The junior from Madison County, Florida has already eclipsed 1,000 career yards and has been Florida State's most reliable runner over the last two seasons.
Chris Thompson, the 5'8" 186 pound spark plug from nearby Madison County is another one of the promising players from the 2009 offensive class. He battled injuries and the death of his grandfather in 2009 but still played well when called upon, rushing for 120 yards on 23 carries. Thompson also caught two balls for 10 yards.
The diminutive Thompson followed up his promising 2009 debut and turned in an excellent season for the 'Noles in 2010 as a sophomore, gaining 846 yards. Surprisingly, that mark is one of the top 20 rushing seasons in Florida State history. This season included an offensive MVP performance against South Carolina in the Chick-Fil-A Bowl. That's a good season, though it should be noted that his incredible average includes home runs against BYU, Miami and Maryland.
Thompson is extremely quick and pretty fast. He runs even lower than his 5'8" frame and is difficult to tackle. He typically does an excellent job of hiding behind his blockers before bursting through the hole. And importantly, he typically hits the correct hole. Against Clemson, however, Thompson really struggled in his reads. Could this be because he wasn't used to seeing the correct holes in practice?
A coach favorite, Thompson is a quiet, no-nonsense, yes sir, no sir kid with a tremendous work ethic. His best attribute is his consistency. The coaches love him because he is consistently correct. He hits the right hole. He blocks the right person. He takes the right angle. He shows up to practice on time.
Relative to his size, Thompson is one of the strongest players on the team. He overcame a back injury this summer, and while he is still in pain, Thompson is out there plugging away.
He will need to be better in pass protection against a blitz-happy Wake Forest football team looking to get after a green Clint Trickett or a hobbled EJ Manuel. Chris doesn't typically block the wrong man, but even when he has the correct blitzer identified, it's difficult to execute the block when the blitzer has a 40-pound advantage. Still, he manages to get in their way and slow them down.
Chris' play against the screen game will be of equal importance against Wake Forest as he also has good hands and can be used on wheel routes and screens, where his ability to pick his way through traffic is highlighted. No matter his status as a starter, Thompson will likely play a big role in Saturday's game.
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