Chris Thompson Injury: Florida State Still Favorite to Win ACC Despite Setback

Patrick ClarkeCorrespondent IOctober 23, 2012

Sept 15, 2012;  Tallahassee, Florida, USA; Florida State Seminoles quarterback Ej Manuel (3) celebrates with fullback Lonnie Pryor (24) after running in the ball for a touchdown during the first half of the game against the Wake Forest Demon Deacons at Doak Campbell Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Melina Vastola-US PRESSWIRE
Melina Vastola-US PRESSWIRE

It was Aristotle who once said "the whole is greater than the sum of its parts."

The Florida State Seminoles will live by that phrase this fall as they attempt to traverse the second half of their season without star running back Chris Thompson, who has been lost for the season to a torn ACL in his left knee.

Despite the major loss, Florida State is still the favorite to win the Atlantic Coast Conference this season. After all, it's not about a single part for the Seminoles in 2012, but their dominance as a whole.

The Seminoles are the first team in the ACC to reach four conference wins this year, and are 7-1 through the first two-thirds of their season. Having won two games in a row, Jimbo Fisher's squad is ranked 12th in the current BCS standings and three conference wins away from clinching the ACC Atlantic division and locking up a berth in the conference title game this December.

Without Thompson, the Seminoles still have a high-powered passing attack led by senior quarterback E.J. Manuel. Manuel's aerial assault ranks 23rd in the country and is a huge reason why Florida State boasts the seventh-best scoring offense in college football.

But even if the Seminoles' passing attack comes to a screeching halt following the loss of Thompson, sophomore running backs James Wilder Jr. and Devonta Freeman are both every bit as capable of leading Florida State to victory.

Wilder is more of a power runner at 6'2", 226 pounds. He can take defenders on and keep his legs churning downfield despite contact.

Meanwhile Freeman relies more on his speed and shiftiness as a 5'9" home run hitter. He's elusive and quick, much like Chris Thompson.

The two have combined for 10 rushing touchdowns this season, and are reeling off big runs consistently this year. Wilder is averaging six yards per carry, while Freeman is averaging seven yards per attempt this season.

College football analyst Kirk Herbstreit believes both Wilder and Freeman will up their game the rest of the way:

"@mikeorange3834: Tough break for FSU losing Chris Thompson." Hate to see that..Wilder & Freeman will have to step up..they will

— Kirk Herbstreit (@KirkHerbstreit) October 22, 2012


Although neither back has been utilized as often as Thompson was in the passing game, each is averaging more than six yards per reception in 2012 and Wilder even has two receiving touchdowns, compared to Thompson's zero.

Wilder owes much of his success to Thompson, according to Florida State beat writer D.C. Reeves via Twitter:

James Wilder Jr. on Chris Thompson: "He taught me and Freeman everything we know on the college level." #FSU #Noles

— D.C. Reeves (@Warchant_DC) October 22, 2012


What better way to give back to Thompson than by picking up where the senior left off before going down?

Florida State is still the ACC's top team this season. The Seminoles' 15th-ranked rushing attack won't be nearly as explosive but it will sustain. 

Defensively, Florida State will continue to shut down opponents and make life easy for the offense. Fisher's defensive unit is holding opposing offenses to under 13 points per game this fall, which makes them the favorite to win the conference and earn a trip to the Orange Bowl this upcoming January.

It's not all gloom and doom for Florida State. 

It will host Duke before taking on Virginia Tech and Maryland on the road this November to round out its conference schedule. The three teams have a combined record of 14-9 and are just 7-4 in the ACC coming into Week 9. 

Florida State has more than enough firepower with Wilder and Freeman to maintain its position atop the conference and ultimately win its first ACC title since 2005.


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