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FSU's Freeman nears 1,000-yard mark

Devonta Freeman goes into this week’s game against Florida 192 yards shy of becoming the sixth FSU back to rush for 1,000.

EVE EDELHEIT | Times

Devonta Freeman goes into this week’s game against Florida 192 yards shy of becoming the sixth FSU back to rush for 1,000.

TALLAHASSEE — Devonta Freeman is on the verge of rushing for 1,000 yards, a feat only five Florida State players have accomplished since the football program began in 1947.

The second-ranked Seminoles have leaned on the play of redshirt freshman QB Jameis Winston, but he has benefited from the balance afforded by a run game featuring Freeman, James Wilder Jr. and Karlos Williams. Opponents can't consistently drop eight defenders in coverage or risk being gashed on the ground by the national championship contenders.

Whether Winston, the central figures in an ongoing sexual assault investigation, will continue to lead the balanced attack is unclear. State Attorney Willie Meggs has said it is unlikely that a decision will be made before next week on whether to charge the 19-year-old quarterback.

But the case hasn't affected the Seminoles' performance. FSU (11-0) is undefeated thanks in part to its backfield depth, and Freeman has established himself as the primary rusher.

The junior from Miami is 192 yards shy of 1,000, and his 131 carries are seven fewer than Wilder, the former Plant High standout, and Williams combined. FSU has had seven 1,000-yard rushing seasons in school history. Warrick Dunn was the last to reach the milestone in 1996, and he did it three times.

Freeman gets a chance Saturday against struggling Florida.

"If it happens, it happens, and if it don't happen, it don't happen, but I'd love to get it," Freeman said. "If it don't happen, I won't be upset."

Freeman reaching 1,000 yards won't be a concern for coach Jimbo Fisher. He has consistently shrugged off the value of individual stats and refused to chase those sort of accolades in 2013. Winston could have better numbers for his Heisman Trophy campaign, but he hasn't taken a fourth-quarter snap in three games. Freeman has 21 rushes total over those three games.

"If it's in the context of us winning and being successful, I think it's a great accomplishment," Fisher said. "Still, 1,000 yards is 1,000 yards. That means a lot. That's a plateau that's been set in this sport.

"If he gets it, I'm happy for him. That means we were able to run the ball, which I'm all for."

FOCUS ON FLORIDA: Facing the rival Gators this week in the Swamp will help FSU maintain its focus, Fisher said. "We'll be focused and locked in to play Florida, you know that," he said. "You know we'll get their A game. It's going to be a hostile, nasty environment. We'll have to play our A game down there."

SOCCER QUARTERFINALS: Top-seeded FSU (21-1-3) hosts Boston College (13-9-1) at 3 p.m. Friday. The winner advances to the College Cup in Cary, N.C. It would be the Seminoles' seventh College Cup appearance and third in a row.

Information from the Associated Press and the Orlando Sentinel was used in this report.

FSU's Freeman nears 1,000-yard mark 11/27/13 [Last modified: Wednesday, November 27, 2013 6:34pm]
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