Florida State RB Jacques Patrick back earlier than expected

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Florida State’s offense this season has been beset by injuries. But the Seminoles have received some good news for once as they prepare for Saturday’s game at fourth-ranked Clemson.

Running back Jacques Patrick has returned to practice and could see action against the Tigers. The 6-foot-4, 234-pound junior was thought to be lost for the season after having knee surgery on Oct. 24, but the injury was not as bad as originally believed.

“At first they thought (the cartilage) was torn like what (safety) Derwin (James) had last year,” Patrick said. “I knew after the surgery though when I woke up and was able to put full pressure on it that I was fine.”

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Patrick’s return comes as the Seminoles (3-5, 3-4 Atlantic Coast Conference) are trying to avoid a losing season for the first time since 1976 and having a string of 35 consecutive bowl appearances snapped.

Patrick injured the knee in a 31-28 loss to Louisville on Oct. 21. He thought it was just a knee sprain, but an MRI had the original diagnosis as torn cartilage that would sideline him 4-to-6 months. But Patrick was able to walk following the surgery, and his recovery was quick from there.

Patrick was doing conditioning and running drills last week before being cleared to return.

“People were just looking at me crazy because I just had surgery and I’m walking into practice,” Patrick said. “It started out as a real devastating moment but I overcame it.”

Patrick’s return should bolster an offense that has found its greatest success is on the ground.

The Orlando native is averaging 72.3 rushing yards in six games (434 yards on 76 carries), including a 120-yard effort in a win at Wake Forest on Sept, 30. He is also fifth on the team in receptions with 13 for 88 yards.

Cam Akers rushed for 199 yards and two touchdowns in last Saturday’s 27-24 win over Syracuse. The 5-foot-11, 213-pound freshman is fifth in ACC, averaging 86.9 yards per game (127 carries, 752 yards), and has three 100-yard games this season.

“We’ve run the football well at times, which has helped us create some big plays on offense,” coach Jimbo Fisher said. “Both backs are continuing to learn and play well. Jacques, this is his first full season as a starter, and Cam is starting to do some really good things.”

Clemson (8-1, 6-1) comes into the game second in the ACC and 20th nationally in run defense, allowing 121.9 yards per game, and has allowed only two backs to go over 100 yards in its last 16 games.

Florida State has had success running the ball the past two years against Clemson. Dalvin Cook had a pair of 100-yard games and tied a school record with four touchdowns last season. However, the Seminoles lost both games and are trying to avoid their first three-game losing streak to the Tigers since 2007.

A loss would also mean that FSU would finish below .500 in the ACC for only the second time since joining the conference in 1992.

“They had the injuries that kind of hurt them. They looked good last week,” Clemson linebacker Kendall Joseph said. “Not their best offense, but they’re definitely capable of moving the ball on us and playing well. So we definitely have to be ready and come ready to play.”

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