WATCH: Cam Akers Interview – Sept. 24
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – That Cam Akers has been Florida State’s best offensive player through four games is hardly a surprise.
He came into his junior season with a productive background, All-America expectations and the knowledge that he would be the focal point of the Seminoles’ offense.
But after helping FSU to a win over Louisville last week, it’s becoming clear that Akers is carrying the Seminoles – and the ball – at a rate that’s verging on historic.
Along with his three touchdown runs, Akers racked up 29 rushing attempts during FSU’s 35-24 victory, pushing his season total to 98.
If he keeps that pace over FSU’s entire season, Akers could end up with more than 300 carries. The school record, set by Dalvin Cook in 2016, is 288.
“He’s doing what we expected him to do,” head coach Willie Taggart said. “And we need him to continue to do that.”
There’s little doubt about that.
By virtually any metric, Florida State’s offense is much improved from 2018.
Through a third of the season, all against FBS-level competition, the Seminoles are averaging nearly 34 points per game, gaining almost 450 yards per game and, perhaps best of all, have doubled their total touchdowns from their first four games against FBS teams a year ago.
And Akers has had a remarkably big hand in all of that. Not only has he accounted for 81.2 percent of FSU’s sack-adjusted rushing yards (499 of 614) but Akers is also responsible for 29.4 percent of the team’s all-purpose yardage (596 of 2023) and 44 percent of its touchdowns (eight of 18).
Then again, those numbers aren’t just the best at FSU. They’re among the best in the nation. Akers’ leads the ACC in rushing, is ninth in the country and twice has been named the league’s running back of the week.
No wonder that the term “workhorse” has been thrown around often during FSU’s recent media availabilities.
And that’s just fine with Akers, who said Tuesday morning that he’s happy with five carries, 50 carries or anything in between.
“I am prepared to do whatever I need to do to help the team win,” he said. “Whether it’s be a ‘workhorse’ or get 15 carries, however many I need to get, whatever I need to do to contribute and put the team in the best position to be successful.
“That’s what I do.”
When Akers is productive, the rest of the offense seems to follow along.
Not only has Akers increased the margin for error for FSU’s offensive line – offensive coordinator Kendal Briles said Tuesday that Akers “can make you right when you’re wrong” – but he’s made life easier for the Seminoles’ passing game as well.
Take, for example, FSU’s game-winning touchdown against Louisville.
After the game, Louisville coach Scott Satterfield chalked the play up to a botched blitz assignment. The Cardinals’ safety and cornerback were confused about who was supposed to blitz. Both did. No one was left to cover Tamorrion Terry down the right sideline, and Terry scored what might have been the easiest touchdown of his life.
Terry, though, saw it from a different angle, one that showed the safety cheating up to get a jump on Akers, who was lined up to the left of quarterback Alex Hornibrook.
“He tried to be greedy and play the run,” Terry said, “and we (called a run-pass option) and Alex looked and I gave Alex the little chop call and we were on point with it and I made a play.”
Terry, of course, is a great player in his own right, and Hornibrook showed that he can capably run the Seminoles’ offense.
So maybe a play like that would have happened regardless of what the running back was doing. But Terry’s point still remains: Whenever Cam Akers is on the field, defenses have to worry about him. Regardless of whether he gets the ball.
“It opens it up for all the wideouts and for us to make plays, too,” Terry said. “So if they’re running the ball like that, (the defense) clogs the hole for Cam and that gets all the wideouts open.”
“He’s a tremendous player,” Briles said recently. “He’s a great football player and he’s a great kid. I love being able to come out here and help him get better every day.”
Save for an open date on the horizon, Akers doesn’t intend to slow down any time soon, either.
He’s set to line up on Saturday across from a North Carolina State defense that ranks 14th in the country, having allowed only 76.5 yards rushing yards per game.
Then comes a visit to top-ranked Clemson. It will make for a challenging stretch, and one that will certainly set the tone for the second half of the Seminoles’ season.
And Akers is determined to do his part, no matter how many carries it takes.
“I think I have a chip on my shoulder,” Akers said Tuesday morning. “And also the work. I put in a lot of work in the film room, trying to know what the offensive linemen are doing, knowing the scheme, working on my patience. …
“Just knowing, will and determination – trying to get every crumb. Every play, trying to get every crumb.”