September 7, 2013

Insider report: WRs blocking impresses, O'Leary talks big night, Big pad Chad

Nick O'Leary talked in the offseason about wanting to be a bigger part of Florida State's offense. The junior tight end got his wish.

O'Leary reeled in three touchdown catches during Florida State's season opener at Pittsburgh to not only put points on the board but put his name in the record books. His three-touchdown game was the best Florida State had on record for a tight end, and the first multi-touchdown game from a tight end since Melvin Pearsall in 1994.

"We always run those plays in practice a lot," O'Leary said. "I didn't know he was going to call on me that many times in the red zone but I'm glad he did."

O'Leary said he's developed a solid relationship with quarterback Jameis Winston. That was exemplified on his first touchdown catch as Winston, under pressure, anticipated O'Leary's read and threw a perfect pass for the score.

He said the historic first-game performance from Winston would only further his confidence.

"He's going to do even better than he did against Nevada this upcoming week," O'Leary said. "Hopefully he throws no incompletions this game too."

And O'Leary added that he wouldn't mind continued red zone targets.

Despite the thinning of Florida State's tight end corps as Kevin Haplea and Jeremy Kerr went down with injuries and Christo Kourtzidis left the program, O'Leary said he's confident in the players around him as Giorgio Newberry moved from defensive end to tight end and Shane Broxie is also in the mix at that position.

"We're a little banged up," O'Leary said. "But we've got guys coming over from defense and guys got hurt in the beginning of camp. We got them in, Gio and Broxie, they did really good during camp."

Big pad Chad
Chad Abram's uniform got a bit of a makeover during fall camp. After a couple of stingers to his shoulder in the fall, Abram switched to the high-neck pads reminiscent of former Tampa Bay Bucs fullback Mike Alstott.

It's a bruising look for FSU's starting fullback, but Abram isn't wild about it.

"I really don't want to wear it but they told me I had to," Abram said.

Former FSU running back Chris Thompson poked fun at Abram out on twitter during the Seminoles' first game.

Even Abram's current teammates have started calling him "big pad Chad" in honor of his hulking pads. Abram knows the comparison to Alstott, but isn't buying it.

"I still don't like it," Abram said. "Even if it does look like Mike Alstott."

It's understandable that Abram wouldn't like to look like a tank on the football field given his history as a converted safety. He's adamant that the new gear hasn't taken away any of his speed. He showed as much during FSU's season opener with two carries and two catches.

"I can still move," Abram said. I know it doesn't look like it."

To help Abram avoid further stingers, he's working on using his hands for blocking as opposed to leading with his shoulder. He said that transition has been a point of emphasis with running backs coach Jay Graham. But Abram said he's pleased with his progression so far as a fullback.

"I don't miss assignments anymore," Abram said. "Well, sometimes I do but not as much as I used to. The main things were my steps and technique. You can always improve your technique."

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