September 8, 2019 - by
‘That’s Who Cam Akers Is’: Star RB Works Overtime In Win Over ULM

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – A week ago, Willie Taggart called for Cam Akers to play a more prominent role in Florida State’s offense.

Safe to say that message was received – by offensive coordinator Kendal Briles, by the 52,969 fans at Doak Campbell Stadium and certainly by the ULM Warhawks, who had no answers for the Seminoles’ star running back on Saturday afternoon.

By the time it was over, Akers had turned in a performance that called back to the days of Earl Campbell or Eric Dickerson: 41 touches, 248 all-purpose yards and three total touchdowns, including the overtime winner in FSU’s 45-44 victory over ULM.

It called back to 1990s FSU football, too. Akers’ 36 rushing attempts broke a record that had been shared by Mike Sellers (1950) and Travis Minor (1998) for the last 21 years. He finished with 193 yards on the ground, just a few shy of his career-high of 199 set in 2017.

“Beast,” FSU linebacker Jaiden Lars-Woodbey said. “You see what happens when you give the beast the ball? You keep pounding it and pounding it, and they ain’t going to want to tackle him.”

That much was obvious. The official box score doesn’t measure broken tackles, but Akers had plenty.

There was the third-and-four in which Akers was met short of the first-down marker, shook off his defender and then powered through the middle of the ULM defense for a 14-yard gain.

There was the winner, in which Akers made it look easy while barreling through the line of scrimmage.

And there was this, near the end of a 44-yard catch-and-run that finished in the end zone. Sure, Akers probably could’ve beaten that last defender in any number of ways. But he chose to get physical.

 

That play was one of five catches that Akers made, and his 55 receiving yards helped give him 248 all-purpose yards, a new career best.

“Cam dominated tonight,” receiver D.J. Matthews said. “That’s Cam Akers. That’s who Cam Akers is. He’s a hard worker. He’s a great running back.”

And that’s great news for a Florida State offense that entered this season with high expectations for a player who just two years ago set FSU’s freshman rushing record.

The Mississippi native has already reeled off 310 rushing yards – second-most among “power five” players and nearly 44 percent of his 2018 total – and, through two games, has accounted for more than 40 percent of FSU’s total yardage (376 of 927).

There’s been a lot to like about FSU’s offense after two games – 76 total points and those 927 yards, among other things. But an in-form Akers might be tops on the list.

“I think it’s just another example of getting some of your best guys the ball, they can do great things for you,” Taggart said. “Cam, he’s a guy that’s going to do everything it takes to help this football team win, no matter what.”

No matter how many touches, either.

Back in the days of Campbell or Dickerson, a 30-carry game might not cause anyone to blink an eye.

But in modern college football, that type of a workload isn’t so common. Only one player in the country – Arizona State’s Enos Benjamin – carried more than 36 times in Week 1, and Akers’ 51 attempts through two weeks are the second-most in the nation.

As the season wears on, Taggart might like to get some of his other running backs involved to help shoulder the load.

But the Seminoles didn’t have that kind of luxury on Saturday night. Locked in a back-and-forth affair against an upset-minded team from the Sun Belt, the Seminoles needed everything that Akers had to give.

The junior might be sore on Sunday morning. But, on Saturday night, he was all smiles.

“Whatever I’ve got to do to help this team win, that’s what I’ll do,” he said. “Whether it’s 40, 50, 60 (carries), whatever I’ve got to do. …

“I want to be whatever this team needs me to be. If they need a big play, I want to be the one to make it.”

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