All the Murray State defense could do is watch the back of Rashad Greene’s jersey run away from them last Saturday when the Albany native took the Racers’ first punt of the game back 47 yards for the touchdown. Greene, a sophomore, is FSU’s new full-time kick returner.
Want To Watch?
WHO: Savannah State (0-1) at
No. 6 Florida State (1-0).
WHAT: 2nd game of season for both.
WHEN: 6 p.m. today.
WHERE: Tallahassee, Fla.
LINE: Seminoles by 701/2 points.
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Eleven seconds is all Rashad Greene needs.
Yup, that’s apparently all the time the Albany native requires these days to make an impact on any football field he steps onto.
Greene, the former Westover star who caught a touchdown on his first career reception for the Florida State Seminoles as a true freshman a season ago, did something spectacular again last Saturday less than two minutes into FSU’s season opener against Murray State. This time he wowed the Seminoles’ coaches and fans on special teams, taking his first punt back as FSU’s new full-time returner 47 yards — untouched — for the score.
“I am very excited (to be the new kick returner),” Greene, FSU’s leading receiver last season, said after the game.
As he should be.
FSU fans help their collective breath after All-American punt returner Greg Reid was booted from the team over the summer following his latest violation of team rules. Reid was 313 yards from breaking NFL Hall-of-Famer Deion Sanders’ school record and was considered the most dangerous punt returner in the nation.
But after Murray State went three-and-out on its opening drive, Greene made everyone in Doak Campbell Stadium forget about Reid.
And all it took was 11 measly seconds.
Seminoles head coach Jimbo Fisher said before the game — which ended in a 69-3 Florida State win — that he saw Greene’s elusiveness last season during a fill-in role for Reid and knew his star wideout had what it took to do the job just as well, if not better, than Reid.
“I look at it as it’s no different than putting Greg Reid back there,” Fisher told The Tallahassee (Fla.) Democrat about his decision to give Greene the job. “(Or) when they put (former FSU stars) Terrell Buckley back there, (or) Peter Warrick back there, (or) when you put Deion Sanders back there. Try to get your best guy the ball in the open field.
“I think you have to do that. If you sit and fear injury, they come. So play your best people and let’s go.”
No. 6 FSU (1-0) hopes to get the same kind of performance today when the Seminoles host Savannah State (0-1). Greene hopes so, too. In fact, he says he’s more amped than ever for gameday now that he’s been given an expanded role.
In fact, he’s quite excited about getting a chance to return punts on a consistent basis. He did it at both Westover High School (2007-08) and St. Thomas Aquinas High (2009-10), and he did it three times a season ago. One of those returns went all the way back for a touchdown against Charleston Southern, but the Seminoles were called for holding on the play.
“I don’t think it was a legit hold,” Greene said with a smile. “Christian Jones’ finger got caught in a guy’s facemask, and that’s how it got called back.”
Greene has already proven to be a dynamic playmaker. Despite playing in just eight games a season ago — he missed four due to injury — he led the team with seven touchdown catches, including a go-ahead TD against Notre Dame in the Champs Sports Bowl that earned Greene MVP honors.
Now he gets a chance to follow in the footsteps of some of the best punt returners in the history of the game — Sanders, Warrick and Buckley, as well as standouts like Leon Washington and Willie Reid.
“I feel like I can carry on with it and just build on what the guys in the past have built,” Greene said. “Just continue to try to do the job and make plays and help my team win.”
Not only did Reid have a knack for making guys miss and busting big returns, but he seemed allergic to fair catches. Reid would field the ball no matter how short the punt, making sure the Seminoles didn’t lose field position with a ball that hit the ground and then bounced toward their end zone.
Greene wants to pick up where Reid left off.
“That’s the main thing — is to field the ball,” Greene said. “If you have a chance to make the play, then that’s just part of being athletic and stuff like that. But the biggest thing is just fielding it, getting that field position and making great decisions.”
And if he’s anything like the returners who have come before him, he’ll be making a few great plays as well.
“I love being a part of special teams,” Greene said. “You never know what can happen or how you can help the team on special teams. ... I enjoy doing whatever I can to be on that field.
“Punt return is fun for me.”
He’ll likely get a chance to take one — or more — back to the house again today when Savannah State comes to town. After an 84-0 thrashing by Oklahoma State in the season opener a week ago, Tigers head coach Steve Davenport actually said he expects to lose by even more today when they come to Tallahassee.
That statement by Davenport won’t make anyone picking Savannah State to cover its ridiculous line in Las Vegas this weekend — Florida State is favored by 70 1/2 points, which is believed to be the biggest spread in college football history — very happy.
Davenport, however, assured his Tigers won’t lay down.
Not intentionally, anyway.
“Our kids played until the clock struck zero,” Davenport told The Democrat this week. “That’s what I think we’ll do again this week.”
Although, Davenport — whose team is getting paid more than $400,000 to be FSU’s replacement opponent this weekend after West Virginia pulled out of its two-game contract with the Seminoles last year — then added that he didn’t think his team would be subjecting itself to these types of beatings in the future.
“We’re going to have to readdress that. You get paid for certain things, but I don’t know if at the end of the day, some things are worth the payments you get,” he said. “But we’ll see. Those are conversations we’ll have.”
Fisher said he’s counting on his team to concentrate on its assignments and play mistake-free football — and not on what hardcore gamblers may be betting on.
“That’s one of the challenges,” conceded Fisher, who also doesn’t want to lose another key player to injury either. Star defensive end Brandon Jenkins suffered a season-ending broken left foot in last week’s win.
Getting his starters out early would almost seem to be a certainty today. Oklahoma State had walk-ons playing by halftime during its romp last weekend.
“I hope we’re that sharp,” Fisher said. “I hope we don’t take that for granted.”
Fisher has been criticized for stacking the top end of his schedule with seemingly winnable games in his first three seasons, but he says it’s a matter of paying the bills — which requires seven home games, regardless of the opponent.
“It ain’t about you don’t want to play,” Fisher said. “We’ll play whoever you got on the schedule.”
The Seminoles haven’t seem to take things too casually against weaker opponents in recent times, having outscored three previous FCS teams by a combined 190-19 in the Fisher era.
Florida State now seeks its fourth win over a FCS team in Fisher’s third year.
GAME NOTES: Fisher decided he would not redshirt freshmen defensive ends Chris Casher and Mario Edwards Jr. after the Jenkins injury ... “We are going to start playing them and getting them involved in things,” he said ... He also hopes to get a longer look at redshirt freshman quarterback Jacob Coker, who is the team’s third-string quarterback behind EJ Manuel and Clint Trickett.
Tallahassee Democrat sports writer Corey Clark, Herald sports editor Danny Aller and The Associated Press contributed to this report