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Who will backup FSU’s Dalvin Cook?

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Addressing an important unanswered question.

Syracuse v Florida State
Jacques Patrick
Photo by Michael Chang/Getty Images

There’s certainly been no shortage of discussion about the liberal use of “OR” on the Florida State depth chart entering Ole Miss week. Specifically, it appears thrice in delineating the depth at two positions: the z-receiver spot, as well as the second-string tailback role.

And while the Seminoles’ wide-receiver depth has certainly been a question of note dating back to the 2015 season, running back seemed to be a position group more assured of some structure. Surely, no one will doubt superstar junior Dalvin Cook’s place atop the list, and 2016 looked, for all intents and purposes, to be the year in which formidable sophomore Jacques Patrick would cement himself as Cook’s surefire substitute.

But here’s the thing: that simply has not happened. And as we rapidly approach the Seminoles’ Orlando opener against Ole Miss, we’re readily returned to the scene that precipitously started it all, the 2016 FSU Spring Game in the very same stadium. A crowd just shy of 50,000 ‘Nole fans congregated for a look at the newest iteration of their team, many of whom expected the imposing Patrick (6-2, 231) to run over walk-ons en route to his coronation as Cook’s successor.

Yet it was Ryan Green, the 5-11, 204-pound athlete who came to FSU as a RB, was converted into a DB, and then switched back to offense, who ran tougher. As we noted on the Nolecast following that exhibition, both did well to get north and south. But Green simply did so with more bravado.

Florida State Head Coach Jimbo Fisher certainly didn’t do Patrick any favors when the Seminoles began their preparatory practices for Ole Miss earlier this week. On the same day, Patrick was listed as sharing the second-string tailback roll with Green, junior Johnathan Vickers, and true freshman Amir Rasul.

When asked about short-yardage situations, an environment in which Patrick’s impressive stature should see him excel, Fisher responded by mentioning ‘Noles now in the NFL, like Karlos Williams and James Wilder, Jr. And when he did speak of Patrick, he did so in the same sentence with Green and Vickers.

Later that day, we were able to view the beginning of practice, during which FSU was running hurry-up offensive drills. As you’d expect, Cook ran with the ones. But it wasn’t Patrick in with the second team; that was Vickers. And Green grabbed the third-team reps.

And don’t sleep on Rasul, who’s garnered praise from Fisher throughout fall camp, most recently following the Seminoles second scrimmage: “Let me tell you what now, freshman running back Amir Rasul is doing a heck of a job,” Fisher said following the scrimmage. “That guy is playing good football.”

When considering the tailback spot at Florida State, admittedly, it’s tough thinking past Cook. He’s the best running back in school history. But he’s also just one awkward landing, one ding to the head – one tweak of a hamstring – away from needing a replacement to carry to ball, and a good deal of the offensive load for FSU. Mere days before kickoff, we’re still not sure which player that might be.