TALLAHASSEE-- (By Dustin Tackett) After breaking his back last season against Wake Forest, there wasn't a more fitting way for Chris Thompson to bounce back than the game he had Saturday against the same Demon Deacons. Playing only the first half, Thompson finished Saturday's ACC opener against Wake Forest with 197 yards on nine carries, including two touchdowns of 74 and 80 yards. With the Demon Deacons making their return to Tallahassee, there was a lot of anticipation within the Florida State football team to get a sense of payback for last year and that's just what they did, with Thompson leading the way.
After Thompson broke off his first touchdown for a 74 yard sprint down the sideline, the whole team was fired up for him on the sidelines, including Jimbo Fisher.
"I just wanted to look into his eyes and tell him how much I cared for him," said Fisher. "He's a special guy and I'm just so happy for him." "I was sitting there watching him in the hospital last year and he's actually consoling me, not knowing what his future was, saying ‘Coach, I'll be back.' It's amazing."
Thompson is a special player and person. Pretty much everyone on the beat will agree that he is one of the best people they've ever covered. It was just special.
Coach Fisher wasn't the only one elated for Thompson. His lead blocker and fullback, Lonnie Pryor, was also excited for Thompson's success.
"Man, I'm so happy for him," said Pryor. "He got hurt last year in this game and he's like a little brother to me, so I'm just really happy for him."
Thompson set the pace for the Florida State offense on Saturday breaking off the two big touchdown runs and really looked like he had a little extra motivation. The question coming into Saturday's game was whether or not Thompson would be using last year's game as fuel - it was clear to see that was the case.
"I've been waiting on this moment for a while," said Thompson. "I was definitely thinking about last year coming into today's game but, most importantly, I just wanted to do whatever I needed to do for us to be successful."
With all of the preseason questions regarding the offensive line, the first three games of the 2012 season have turned those concerns into whispers, at least as far as the running game is concerned, and the offensive line played a major role in Thompson's success against the Deacons 3-4 defense.
"I just trusted them a whole lot today and was patient with them and I knew they would open up holes and they did," Thompson said.
But the offensive line wasn't the only unit to get in on the run blocking fun -- the receivers were dominant in this area as well. Kenny Shaw sealed the edge on Chris Thompson's first touchdown run and said after the game that Thompson came up and gave him a friendly pat on the back.
"Those receivers really did a great job today," said Thompson. "Kenny really did a great job on that play and I remember just thinking, Kenny just stay in his way, just stay in his way, and then Kenny saw his eyes get real big so he knew I was right behind him and he stayed with him."
Kelvin Benjamin also threw a ridiculous block on one of Thompson's long runs.
Even defensive players raved about Thompson.
"It was great. We remember the moment last year at Wake Forest when the accident happened. For him to come back in this game, and run as hard as he did and as well as he did, it was great," Florida State defensive tackle Anthony McCloud said about Thompson's incredible day. "We celebrated in the locker room, he got the game ball, and there was nothin' but love there."
"I love dude. Chris Thompson, on offense, he challenges me to run hard," McCloud said. "Chris has leadership in every aspect of life. On the field, off the field, in the classroom, he's just a good guy all around."
On the legs of Chris Thompson, the Seminoles ran through the Demon Deacons on Saturday 52- 0 and have now recorded 50+ points against their first three opponents for the first time in Florida State football history. With many of the questions about the Florida State run game fading into the background, the ‘Noles look forward to next week when they'll host the Clemson Tigers and a better defensive line.
A late note from Bud: Thompson talked for a long time. He was great. He took the time to think about and specifically each question posed to him. It was as if he sensed that the moment was bigger than a huge performance. It was. I had long since turned my recorder off, because Dustin had already grabbed the quotes we needed for this story.
But Thompson wasn't done.
He talked about his faith and his family, his relationship with RB coach Eddie Gran (also a man of faith). He talked about the moment he and Gran shared after his first score. He talked about how Gran encouraged him to trust in his faith. Those two definitely share a special connection.
And he talked about the feeling he had when he saw the hole open up on his second ridiculous (80 yards!) run. He talked about how he was appreciative of his blockers, and how he felt good and fast, needing only a second or so more of blocking for him to break it.
And then, because a story that writes itself can always use more awesomeness, Thompson reminded everyone that he's a local kid, saying that he made the exact same move (putting on the breaks, letting the DB fly by, then speeding to the end zone) in a game during his high school career at Madison County High against Wakulla. Thompson said he saw enough of the defender out of the side of his facemask and knew when to make the move.
A great day for a great kid.