Jacksonville Sports Day

ACC: Bigger Roles Expected for FSU Freshmen Pair

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – A pair of freshman will be expected to step into starting roles on Saturday when No. 2 Florida State faces No. 12 Georgia Tech in the Dr Pepper ACC Championship Game on Saturday night (8 p.m., ABC) at Bank of America Stadium.
FSU head coach Jimbo Fisher said redshirt freshman Matthew Thomas will likely start in place of redshirt junior linebacker Terrance Smith, who is questionable with an injury, while true freshman running back Dalvin Cook is expected to start in place of senior running back Karlos Williams, who was ruled out for Saturday following a concussion.
Thomas has 17 tackles in six games this season, but the former five-star prospect has shown the coaches the kind of relentlessness and athleticism that made him one of the nation’s top prep players coming out of high school in 2013.
“Matthew Thomas will be starting,” Fisher said. “I like where he’s playing right now. Doing a really good job…I think he’ll fit in with it really well. He’s been playing very well, very well. He was having a good game before he got that penalty in the last game (vs. Boston College).”
Cook has been outstanding during the second half of the season and actually leads the Noles in rushing (728 yards) and also has seven touchdowns. He was named to the All-ACC Second Team earlier this week.
Fisher said the Seminoles had a great practice on Thursday afternoon at the Albert J. Dunlap Athletic Training Facility and he hopes FSU can carry that momentum of a great practice week up to Charlotte this weekend.
“Really good day today,” Fisher said. “Like I’ve been saying, I’ve been really excited about our practices this week. A lot of enthusiasm, a lot of energy, which you worry about coming off emotional games, some of the close games you’ve played in the year. But I really like our mindset right now and the way we practiced, the way we’ve prepared. Our meetings, everything, the responses, crisp, sharp, on time, just like the old demeanor of everything, on both sides of the ball and special teams. Really, really good. Hopefully we can take that to the field and play well. We’ll see.
Florida State is going for its third consecutive ACC Championship Game victory and 15th overall ACC title since joining the conference in 1992.
The Seminoles started their current 28-game winning streak against Georgia Tech at this game in 2012. In that contest it was Williams (then a sophomore safety), true freshman Mario Edwards, Jr. and sophomore running back James Wilder Jr. who had breakout games. Williams had 11 tackles and the game-sealing interception, Edwards had seven tackles and a TFL in his first career start, and Wilder rushed for 69 yards and two touchdowns.

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