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Florida State faces Syracuse without Dalvin Cook

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Florida State is coming off its first regular-season loss in three years ahead of Saturday’s game against Syracuse.

The news didn’t get much better for the No. 17 Seminoles on Thursday when coach Jimbo Fisher said running back Dalvin Cook won’t play because of an ankle injury. Cook suffered the injury during last Saturday’s 22-16 loss at Georgia Tech.

The Seminoles (6-1, 4-1 ACC) played most of the game at Wake Forest on Oct. 3 without Cook after he strained his hamstring late in the first quarter. Florida State won 24-16, but the offense struggled.

Johnathan Vickers and Jacques Patrick will step in. Vickers, who has played in all seven games, had 10 carries for 33 yards in the Wake Forest game, including a 9-yard touchdown.

Patrick has played in just three games with 12 yards on six carries, but Fisher has been impressed with how the freshman has looked in practice last week.

“He’s getting the blocking assignments, picking up the blitz, he does a great job, and he’s a big body,” Fisher said. “He does a real good job of those things. Of course, he catches the ball so well. They all have hands, but I think he probably has the best hands when you get down to it.”

Fisher is hopeful that Cook can be back for next Saturday’s showdown at third-ranked Clemson.

The Orange, who have dropped four straight, get a little bit of a break not facing Cook, who is the nation’s second-leading rusher at 148.1 yards per game. Earlier this season LSU’s Leonard Fournette ran for 244 yards on 26 carries in a 34-24 win over the Orange.

Syracuse (3-4, 1-2 ACC) has allowed an average of 249 rushing yards during their four-game losing streak. The Orange, who have dropped two straight on the final play of the game, are looking to keep their bowl hopes alive.

“We’re real hungry for a win. We’ve been so close the last two weeks. Six inches here. Six inches there,” Syracuse quarterback Eric Dungey said. “We’re young, but we’re learning every week so we’re getting better.”

Some other things to watch when Florida State hosts Syracuse:

GOLSON’S HEALTH: Florida State quarterback Everett Golson has been limited a little in practice this week after taking a couple of hard hits in the Georgia Tech game. He wasn’t on Thursday’s injury report but junior Sean Maguire has gotten increased snaps with the first team this week.

WHITFIELD’S EMERGENCE: Kermit Whitfield has become Golson’s favorite receiver. Whitfield came into the season with 16 receptions in 28 career games, but has 24 catches for 328 yards and a touchdown in the past three.

DUNGEY’S LESSONS: Dungey leads the ACC in passing efficiency but has taken his share of hard hits and has missed parts of three games while being evaluated for concussions. With Syracuse using a spread option, offensive coordinator Tim Lester said he is hoping to keep Dungey’s carries to six or fewer.

YOUNG ORANGE: Syracuse is young on both sides of the ball. True freshmen have accounted for 73.8 percent of its offensive production and the top five tacklers on defense are either freshmen or sophomores.

MATCHUP OF NOTE: Syracuse wide receiver Steve Ishmael has caught a touchdown in the past three games and has 11 receptions for 154 yards in his past two. He gets a big challenge though this week in Florida State’s Jalen Ramsey, who many are seeing as the top cornerback prospect in next year’s NFL Draft.

Republished with permission of the Associated Press.

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