TALLAHASSEE — Just a couple of weeks ago, Florida State senior receiver Greg Carr's numbers might have made you think he was mired in a bear market.
Catches. Yards. Average. Touchdowns.
All were as down as the Dow has been.
But Carr has rebounded nicely, proof that he's finally grasping he can't rely on merely outjumping opponents for the ball and must transform himself into a player who tenaciously blocks downfield on running plays, more precisely runs his routes and fearlessly goes across the middle.
You know. Have a diversified portfolio.
"He's played very well the last couple of weeks," FSU offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher said. "He's made some big plays. He's been playing hard. He's been developing real well."
Carr had his first 100-yard game of the season against Virginia Tech on Oct. 25, including two catches that set up touchdowns, then had five catches for 68 yards (all on scoring drives) and added a SportsCenter-worthy two-point conversion against Georgia Tech.
"I've really been working on everything," Carr said. "My understanding of the game is a lot better. I just feel like I've improved everywhere."
"He's so much more consistent," coach Bobby Bowden said as his team prepares for Saturday's ACC showdown against Clemson.
"I hope we'll continue to go to him because he's been so dad-gum dependable."
'He was challenged'
The 6-foot-6 Carr burst onto the scene as a freshman and sophomore with 21 touchdown catches, many on lobs in which he used his height advantage over most cornerbacks to sky for the ball as if he were back on the basketball courts at North Marion High.
But when Fisher and new receivers coach Lawrence Dawsey arrived in 2007, they asked Carr to do more.
Okay. They didn't exactly ask.
"He was challenged … that he's got to become the complete receiver," Bowden said.
The coaches realized that would be a difficult process for any player but particularly so for a veteran who had put up eye-catching stats. But if the Seminoles were to regain their position among the nation's best, or at least among the ACC's best, Fisher needed Carr, and all his skill players for that matter, to be multidimensional and unselfish.
Hurling your body, a long, lean one (214 pounds) at a defender to clear the way for a back or going full speed during a play on which you know you're nothing more than a decoy isn't glamorous duty.
"Different coaches expect different things," Carr said. "It was an adjustment for everybody, not just me.
"But now in their second year (here), I know what all the coaches expect and how they want things done."
'You're never satisfied'
Through the first six games of this season, Carr had just 16 catches for 212 yards (a 13.3 average). In the past two games, he has eight for 168 yards (a 21-yard average).
"His numbers are against better people. He's doing it against better competition and in bigger-time situations than when he was younger," Fisher said.
Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson saw what Carr did against one-on-one coverage and had a cornerback and safety work in tandem.
"Anything you do, people can take away, and you have to learn to be diverse to go in different spots to get balls," Fisher said.
In years past, that wasn't really an option.
This year, Carr went inside.
"When the ball goes up in the air," Johnson said, "he assumes it's his."
Carr did have a critical drop on a slant route just before he took a punishing hit in that game.
But a newfound willingness to venture into that territory will help boost his NFL prospects, said Gil Brandt, the former longtime Cowboys player personnel executive and now an NFL.com contributor.
Until the draft, however, a well-rounded Carr is paying off for FSU.
For his career, he has 133 catches (seventh in school history) for 2,412 yards (fifth) and 27 touchdowns (third and tied for seventh in ACC history).
"You're never satisfied," Carr said. "I'm eager to get better. There's a lot more out there. There's more plays you can make.
"As a competitor, you want to continuously get better."
Brian Landman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (813) 226-3347.