Dalvin Cook has been found not guilty of battery, which will most likely open the door for his return to the Florida State football team. The University has lifted his suspension and he will likely be back on the practice field later today.
This is great news for a program whose offense will look radically different than the past two years. Jameis Winston, of course, is in Tampa Bay and his two safety blankets – Rashad Greene and Nick O’Leary – are in NFL camps as well. Travis Rudolph and Ermon Lane along with Jesus Wilson are looking to develop cohesion with the new quarterback, whether that is Sean Maguire or Everett Golson.
While the passing game kinks are being worked out early in the season, Florida State would love to lean heavily on its running game. The Seminoles also have an inexperienced offensive line and one way for that group to gain confidence is for them to establish aggressiveness by run blocking.
FSU also will have a very talented defense. The last thing the coaching staff wants to do is put the defense in bad spots by turning the ball over, something that one of their quarterbacks did with regularity last season. Keeping the ball on the ground, especially early in the season as the entire team builds a belief in itself, will at worst keep the defense away from defending short fields.
With Texas State and South Florida as the first two games, the Seminoles probably would have run the ball a lot with Mario Pender, Jonathan Vickers and Jacques Patrick. Cook’s return will allow head coach Jimbo Fisher to use the ground attack in an even more dynamic way. That young line will gain even more confidence with the 1,000-yard rusher bolting through the holes that are opened.
In the same way that the quarterbacks will have to get in synch with the receivers, the offensive line will have to gel with the backs too. It is true that FSU should have no trouble in either of the first two games, regardless of who is in the backfield. But the more reps Cook can get before the season starts and in the first two contests, the more in tune he will be with his blockers, which will pay dividends later in the season.
Florida State has won the last three ACC titles and wants another this year. Despite having to replace departed stars, the Seminoles live by the Ric Flair adage that if you want to be the man, you’ve gotta beat the man. Getting back Cook is a huge boost in Florida State’s quest to be the man for another year.
— Written by Jon Kinne, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and a college football fanatic. Kinne has been writing about recruiting for the Irish Sports Daily for 10 years. Follow him on Twitter @JonRKinne.