Freshman Cam Akers continues to look for big play breakthrough at FSU

Fair or not, expectations were through the roof for Florida State freshman back Cam Akers in 2017. After the departure of Dalvin Cook to the pros, Akers was given one of the keys to FSU’s backfield. Not only that, but Akers also drew comparisons to Cook — one of the best backs in the history of the ACC. No big deal, right?

Well, it’s only been three games, but so far, the results are a little mixed. Let’s take a second glance.


Competition Level

Not only was Florida State’s season thrown off kilter because of Hurricanes Irma, but the Seminoles have faced quite the gauntlet to start out.

Alabama, NC State and Wake Forest are a combined 14-2 on the season; all three teams feature devastating defenses loaded with future pros, and are ranked inside the top 35 of Football Study Hall’s S&P ratings. Those three teams have a combined point differential of plus-343 points.

The challenges increased further when the team lost veteran quarterback Deondre Francois for the season. This has allowed opponents, if they choose, to flood the box with extra defenders.

So, the level of competition has obviously been high for a converted high school quarterback. However, how has Cam Akers fared thus far?


A look at the numbers

Akers has 36 carries on the season — more than anyone else on Florida State’s roster — which have gone for 144 yards and no touchdowns. According to Football Study Hall, Akers has an Opportunity Rate of 41.7 percent. This means, on 15 of Akers’ carries, Florida State’s offensive line has done its job — and created five yards of running room. That’s a decent clip, especially once your factor back in the competition level — Alabama and NC State boast two of the best defensive lines in college football.

What’s a little more disappointing, though, for the Noles: Akers is averaging just 4.4 Highlight Yards per Opportunity. Translation: after the line does its job, Akers is gaining only 4.4 additional yards per touch.

That’s well below what Dalvin Cook posted in 2015 (10.1) and 2016 (6.9); it’s also less than what teammate Jacques Patrick — one of the top yards-after-contact players in the league — has produced, too. Patrick is averaging 13.6 Highlight Yards per Opportunity, which is unsustainable, but still impressive.

The freshman is one of only seven ACC players with at least 30 carries that has less than 150 yards rushing, per Sports Reference.

It’s important to remember, too: those numbers can shift very easily with the occurrence of one or two more big plays. Akers has only one carry of 20-plus yards — a 27-yarder against Wake Forest. Only five of his 36 carries have gone for at least 10 yards, too.


Hurricanes on the immediate horizon

Up next for Florida State is rival Miami. The Hurricanes are 3-0, and looked dominant against Duke last Friday. However, Miami has played a far lesser slate than FSU. The Hurricanes have been decent on defense so far, but their run game hasn’t been earth-shatteringly good.

Miami allows nearly 130 rush yards per game, which ranks ninth in the ACC. The Hurricanes also rank 110th nationally in opponent Opportunity Rate, per Football Study Hall — 39.6 percent.

Head coach Jimbo Fisher cautions Akers that not every run can be a touchdown; however, he also believes that big plays are right around the corner for Cam Akers.

For Akers and FSU, the future is bright, but there’s no time like the present, too.


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