Going into this 2013 season, many expected the FSU running game to be solid because of the experience of the backfield and the offensive line. Then, running back, Mario Pender, is ruled academically ineligible -- leaving room for true freshman, Ryan Green, to step in. Then, junior running back, James Wilder Jr., banged up his shoulder in the first game versus Pittsburgh. His shoulder still seems to be bothering him. After that Pittsburgh game, former safety, Karlos Williams, switched sides of the ball and joined the backfield. All of that to say the FSU backfield has been through a rush of change only three games into the season (and this isn't even accounting for the new host of fullbacks).
In spite of the wave of changes, the Florida State rushing attack has posted impressive numbers over its first three games. Versus Pittsburgh: 156 yards rushing. Versus Nevada: 377 yards. Versus Bethune-Cookman: 266 yards. Yes, the competition is not exactly elite; nonetheless, those are impressive numbers, and they should bring optimism to the Seminole Nation.
Going forward, FSU would certainly love to keep putting up big numbers on the ground. However, that is only possible with one important aspect: consistency. Enter Devonta Freeman. He is cool, he is calm, and he has been consistent. So far, he is averaging about 91 yards per game -- and he hasn't really played four quarters in one game yet. If Freeman stays on pace he will break 1000 yards this season. But don't tell him that.
When asked about his numbers, Freeman replied, "I don't really care about the stats. I just want to win. I don't care who gets 100 (yards). As long as we get points on the board."
It isn't hard to believe Freeman. He brings an unselfish attitude to the field. Watch him celebrate with the offense after a touchdown. If he isn't in the game, he is often the first one off the sideline to meet the offense and congratulate them. Pair Freeman's unselfishness with his consistency -- you have a legitimate FSU running back.
Karlos Williams, a newcomer to the FSU backfield, has high praise for Freeman: "He's a leader by example. He doesn't have to be very loud. He's always focused on the next play, his next rep, the little things. You've got to follow before you lead, and I'm following him."
If you haven't figured it out, Devonta Freeman isn't one to take praise. He understands the importance of team play.
"We've got to keep going higher," Freeman said. "The offensive line, they're doing a tremendous job. The coaches help me out so much by putting me in the situation I'm in. I can't take all the credit."
Freeman does deserve some credit, though. He looks much improved from last season. Is he seeing lanes better? Is the offensive line providing bigger holes? Freeman attributes his improvement to increased knowledge of the run game, particularly from the standpoint of the offensive line.
"Just me, learning what the offensive lineman do," said Freeman about his developement. "If I would have known what I know now, I would have probably had this same success last year. I understand what they do now. I think that helped me out a lot."
Can Freeman and the rushing attack keep up their success? He thinks so.
"I think we can keep it up if we all just come to play and prepare throughout the whole week as a team."
If Florida State wants to keep winning and ultimately contend for a national championship, it has to be successful running the ball. As of right now, the unselfish and consistent Devonta Freeman looks like the guy that the 'Noles will need to rely on.