Florida State football fans' recollections of 2015's 45-21 blowout win over the Syracuse Orange are undoubtedly bookended by two standout performances: running back Jacques Patrick's 162-yard, three-touchdown effort, along with receiver Travis Rudolph's 191-yard, three-score day. The pair combined for all six Seminole touchdowns, and the game served as a coming-out party for each, but more so Patrick, the true freshman making his first career start after not seeing the field in four of his first seven contests.
After that win, 'Nole Head Coach Jimbo Fisher was effusive in his praise of Patrick, mentioning him before any other Seminole in his post-game press conference: "Jacques did an outstanding job and we were able to keep good balance, which you want to be able to do. Hopefully those guys will be able to add depth in what we do and take pressure off Dalvin (Cook)."
The need for backfield depth has not only remained, but intensified, following Cook's stellar 2015. Opponents' attention will begin and end with stopping No. 4-- and that's a task equal parts frustrating and tiring. And when teams do wear down after chasing the elusive Cook around the field, it's become entirely evident what Fisher wants from Patrick as his change-of-pace back: a finisher, capable of pounding a gassed opposition into submission.
It's right there in Fisher's comments-- going all the way back to last year, after that Syracuse game. When Fisher was asked to elaborate about what Patrick does best, he didn't equivocate: "As the game went on, he just ran with more power, more confidence. These guys hitting me hard, but I'm still pretty big, too. You know what I mean?"
Fisher brought up Patrick and power again a week ago, after FSU's first 2016 spring scrimmage: "Jacques ran the ball really good and got more physical. We have to continue to have him keep getting his pad level down because he can be a force when he runs."
On Saturday, Fisher listed a number of players who impressed-- and just like after the win over the Orange, he began with Patrick. It seems that the steps forward Patrick is making are specifically where Fisher wants them to be: upfield, and not around the edge.
(Patrick) took some runs where I wanted to see him do, three and four-yard runs and made them six and seven-yard runs. He started running with the power and the size that he has and pushing the pile. Not enough yet, but a lot more consistent than what he did . . . You're 230 pounds, man. You can tackle me once or twice, but after the third or fourth time, that gets old, now. And that's who he is.
Or, at least, it's who Fisher hopes he continues to be. Patrick's co-star from that 'Cuse stomping, Rudolph, concurred: "Jacques is out there laying that wood; there are a lot of linebackers and DBs that's not sparing nothing, you can definitely see he's improved on his run skills as well."