September 22, 2011

FSU will rely heavily on young receivers Saturday

When Florida State opens up Atlantic Coast Conference play against Clemson on Saturday, it may be without starting quarterback EJ Manuel and four of its top wiedouts.

Willie Haulstead has yet to play this season due to a preseason concussion, Jarred Haggins is out 4-6 weeks with a broken hand, Bert Reed has been slowed by an ankle injury, and Kenny Shaw has yet to practice after taking a vicious hit against Oklahoma.

Junior Rodney Smith, who leads the team with 12 receptions this year, will be the lone starter available if Reed is unable to play for a second consecutive week.

FSU will have to count heavily on young receivers like true freshman Rashad Greene (six catches for 196 yards and four touchdowns), redshirt freshman Christian Green (two catches for 63 yards), and sophomore Greg Dent (five catches for 95 yards and one touchdown).

"I've got a lot of confidence in all our receivers," Smith said. "As you can see all the young receivers they make plays from time to time out there on the field, so I don't have any worries about them at all playing on Saturday."

The 6-foot-2, 205-pound Green has seen the least amount of playing time of the three young receivers. He was a four-star athlete out of Tampa Catholic High, and is still adjusting to playing receiver after playing mostly quarterback in high school.

"He's a phenomenal athlete, he's still learning the packages," Clint Trickett said of Green. "(Tuesday's) practice ended with him making a phenomenal catch so I think that helped boost his confidence, which is what he needs right now. I'm excited for him and I think he's ready to go."

Dent has seen action in all three games, but hasn't had to be a main target like he will be on Saturday in Death Valley. In anticipation of the increased playing time and accountability, Dent said he has made sure to know routes for three different positions in the offense and focused on his technique in practice this week.

"Basically I'm trying to be counted on," he said after Wednesday's practice. "As you know we're down like four receivers, everybody's got to step up. The four we've got, everybody's got to step up and do what they've got to do, play multiple positions. As for me I'm going to be all over the field, coach is going to be depending on everybody."

Dent has show flashes this year, including a 50-yard touchdown catch in the season opener from Manuel.

The young receiver who has shown the most promise so far this season is the true freshman Greene. Through the first four games Greene has hauled in touchdowns of 28, 29, 69, and 56 yards-all from Trickett who could be making his first career start on Saturday with Manuel still banged up.

"I don't look for a receiver on a certain play," Trickett said when asked if he searched Greene out. "I look for the route concept and if it's open I'm going to throw it and just Rashad happens to be there and make the big play every time and make me look better."

While Trickett and Greene have connected the most in the game, the redshirt freshman signal caller has also worked extensively with Green and Dent on the second team offense during practice

"It helps me because I know how he throws the ball to spots," Dent said of Trickett. "I already know how it's going to be with him."

Trickett also said that during the summer he made sure to spend time on the practice fields throwing to the older guys like Smith as well, in case a situation like Saturday arises.

As the most experienced guy likely available Smith said it's his job to make sure the rest of the wideouts are all on the same page. So far this week he said the young receivers have done a great job preparing to see the field.

"They know they're going to be out there now so you can tell that they're paying attention to details now," he said. "So they're trying to make everything look right so that the coaches can have confidence in them, and I know the coaches aren't worried about them."

Head Coach Jimbo Fisher has like what he's seen from the young receivers so far in practice.

'"Seem to have been good, been good so far," he said on Wednesday. "They've done a good job, worked hard, they make a mistake here and there, but we clean it up. It's like any other week in the gameplan and they've done a nice job."

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