TALLAHASSEE — It wasn’t until after Saturday’s 34-14 win over USF that Florida State sophomore tailback Dalvin Cook found out he had jumped into not only the Seminoles’ record book, but the Bulls’ as well.
Cook’s 266-yard, three-touchdown performance was not only the second-best rushing performance by any back in FSU history — falling only behind Greg Allen’s 322-yard game in 1981 — but also the most rushing yards allowed by USF in 17 years.
“I had an interview (with ESPN) in the middle of the field and they told me,” Cook said. “It’s a great accomplishment to be with some of the greats in Florida State history.”
Cook simply wreaked havoc against USF (1-1), averaging 8.9 yards on 30 touches. When asked what makes him such a great runner, FSU coach Jimbo Fisher had two words: vision and patience.
“He’s really fast, extremely fast, but a lot of fast guys run into the pile,” Fisher said. “He can still run with great tempo and has great eyes … they see things before they happen and they get that feeling, how they cut, and then he’s a finisher.”
Now in the post-Jameis Winston era, No. 9 FSU’s offense now literally runs through Cook.
He almost certainly put his name in the hat for Heisman Trophy consideration in the first quarter when he shredded past multiple USF defenders and missed tackles for a 74-yard touchdown to give the ‘Noles (2-0) an early advantage.
“He’s a little slippery, but once again, he’s a great back, man,” senior husky Jamie Byrd said. “You can’t really discredit him at anything. He knows how to read holes and he’s just a great back.”
After going into halftime tied 7-7, USF was hit by Cook again on FSU’s opening drive of the third quarter.
Following a 56-yard kick return by Kermit Whitfield that set the ‘Noles up from USF’s 39-yard line, Cook broke up the right sideline five plays later for a 24-yard score.
“He’s an elusive guy,” said USF senior defensive end Eric Lee, who had four tackles. “He’s also pretty physical and we have to wrap him up … we came here ready to play, so with that being said, our defense was ready to attack him at any moment and at any time.”
Cook scored his final touchdown on a 37-yard scamper with less than two minutes remaining in the game.
He accounted for more than half of FSU’s 441 yards of offense, but nearly missed the opportunity to play this season. Cook was suspended indefinitely during the offseason after he was accused of assaulting a woman at a Tallahassee bar.
But Cook remained focused throughout the process and his name was cleared by a jury. Now, FSU is reaping the benefits.
“During his suspension, he was up every day doing the same amount of reps by himself,” junior defensive back Marquez Smith said. “I feel like that is really mature of him, doing all of that when there are no coaches around.”
USF coach Willie Taggart wished for a different outcome Saturday.
“I wish he would’ve decided not to play today,” Taggart joked. “I think it would’ve been a different ballgame.