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After just watching from the sidelines all last season, Saturday was the moment that Kelvin Benjamin, as well as legions of message board posters, were waiting for.
The 6-foot-5 redshirt freshman wideout hauled in the first two touchdowns catches of his career in a 55-0 rout over FCS Savannah State.
His first score was a nine-yard jump ball from EJ Manuel, followed by a 19-yard post from fellow redshirt freshman Jacob Coker in the third quarter.
Benjamin finished the game with three catches for 46 yards and two touchdowns, as well as one rush for 16 yards.
"I was very excited," Benjamin said. "I was very hyped for the game."
With his height Benjamin is a jump ball specialist, but against the Tigers he received the ball in a variety of ways. Benjamin ran post routes, rushed the ball on a reverse, and also received a shuttle pass.
Benjamin credited his versatility to losing close to 30 pounds since arriving in Tallahassee last fall. Head coach Jimbo Fisher because of his dedication to improving his condition and the way he's practice, there was a concerted effort to get Benjamin the ball on Saturday.
"He's got body quickness, he can fast-twitch," Fisher said. "And he can make you miss and he's tough and he's physical. He's got some skills that allow him - if he keeps progressing- he's got a long way to go, but he can be a good football player."
Manuel said having a big guy like Benjamin that can carry the ball is just one more thing for opposing defenses to have to prepare for during the week.
"The kid is humongous but you can still run reverses with him like he's a 5'11 guy," Manuel said. "I think that just poses a lot that opposing defenses are going to have to prepare for."
Don't get Manuel wrong though. As much as he loves seeing Benjamin get the ball in a variety of ways, he definitely will still be getting plenty of fades down the stretch for FSU.
"You can count on it," Manuel said with a smile.
Short day for EJ
In case you were wondering, yes FSU quarterback EJ Manuel did break a sweat on Saturday evening against Savannah State.
The fifth-year senior played just the first 15 minutes of the blowout victory, completing 11 of 13 pass attempts for 161 yards and three touchdowns. His second completion of the day was a 61-yard touchdown pass to Rodney Smith and the route was on.
"It feels good," Manuel said. "Everything was open that we though would be open. All the looks that we saw in practice they showed to us in the game."
On the Seminoles third possession Manuel connected with Greg Dent for an eight-yard score. After another Tigers' punt Manuel hit Benjamin for a nine-yard touchdown.
Manuel led one more scoring drive for a 35-0 lead after just one quarter before donning a hat on the sidelines for the rest of the evening.
"As a competitor you still want to go out there and play, but you understand you've got to get other guys reps and get them ready to play in case they have to go in during the season," Manuel said. "So I understand what Coach Fisher is doing."
Despite having just one quarter to evaluate his starting signal caller, Fisher was extremely pleased with what he saw from Manuel.
"Really good. He made some throws in there that you may not recognize because it looked so clean that he was going to third and fourth guys on the backside, reading coverage, finding his match-up, finding his zones, where his one-on-ones were," Fisher said. "I really like where he's at in his physical statures of throwing the ball and doing those things, but that mentally of understanding how to run our offense
McCloud returns to action
After missing the past month with a torn pectoral Anthony McCloud had butterflies in his stomach before Saturday's game, even if it was jus Savannah State.
"I was really nervous," the senior defensive tackle said. "Despite who we were playing, they're a great team up front. I just feel nervous about trying to get out there with my teammates and have fun with them. I was just nervous about trying to perform well and help the team out."
McCloud, who said he's feeling stronger every day, recorded one tackle in the game. No one was happier to see him back on the field than his head coach.
"He got six or eight snaps early in that game and got that feel again,"Fisher said. "I was very pleased with him in practice this week and he's starting to get back to that old Amp and we're going to need him."
Tight ends Kevin Haplea and Christo Kourtzidis made the first starts of their FSU careers on Saturday. The true freshman Kourtzidis recorded one catch for 13 yards, the first of his career.
With eight minutes left in the second quarter Dustin Hopkins missed his first point after attempt in 146 tries. His 145 consecutive PATs was good for the sixth-most in NCAA history.
True freshman defensive ends Mario Edwards Jr. and Chris Casher made their FSU debuts on Saturday. Edwards was credited with an assisted tackle.
Fisher said he had planned for the true freshman to get the majority of the second half reps before the game was called.
"We were starting to (see them)," Fisher said. "Got them a few reps and were really going to play them the whole second half and get it rolling because we wanted to get Giorgio (Newberry) some work to and Toshman (Stevens) because (Giorgio) is a young guy too that's going to have to come on and give us quality backup (reps)
we didn't get to see those guys like we wanted to, but we'll have to do it and got to get them in."
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