Florida State University

Dalvin Cook’s 266 rushing yards second best in FSU history

Florida State's Dalvin Cook, center, scampers 74 yards for a touchdown against South Florida during the first quarter of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Sept. 12, 2015, in Tallahassee, Fla.
Florida State's Dalvin Cook, center, scampers 74 yards for a touchdown against South Florida during the first quarter of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Sept. 12, 2015, in Tallahassee, Fla. AP

The chant started late in the fourth quarter, soon after Dalvin Cook shredded the South Florida defense for the final 37 of his 266 yards and the last of his three touchdowns.

“Cook for Heisman.” Clap. Clap, Clap, clap, clap, clap.

Florida State learned a lot about its team in a 34-14 victory over the Bulls on Saturday, a game in which the Seminoles resembled their 2014 counterparts with a lackluster first half and a blazing second half.

But the difference this year, when the quarterback — whether it be Jameis Winston a year ago or his successor, Everett Golson — needs time to find his rhythm and release,

Cook is there to bail out the offense.

“He’s making us look good,” offensive lineman Rod Johnson said of the former Miami Central star.

Cook is the reason No. 11 Florida State (2-0) didn’t walk out of Doak Campbell Stadium with the same feeling it did the last time these two teams played here, a 2009 game in which the Bulls stunned FSU 17-7. He scored on runs of 74, 24 and 37 yards, and added a 50-yard run.

Cook, who had 30 carries, rushed for the second most yards in FSU history, only behind Greg Allen’s 322-yard monster against Western Carolina in 1981. He is the fifth player in school history to exceed 200 yards rushing in a game, the first since Sammie Smith’s 212-yard effort against Tulane in 1988.

Smith, in an email, said he believes Cook will surpass his total of three 200 yards game. Allen holds the school record with four.

“Amazing talent, big play waiting to happen,” wrote Smith, who lives in Mount Dora. “He has great vision and explosion. I love watching him run.”

Cook’s 74-yard touchdown, the longest run of his career, was the Seminoles’ lone highlight in a first half in which FSU had more punts (seven) than passing yards (6).

The score was tied at the half 7-7, and coach Jimbo Fisher was calm, telling his team to relax.

“It was the worst ball we have ever played,” offensive tackle Rod Johnson said.

And even though Golson finally found his groove — he finished 14 of 26 for 163 yards and one touchdown after a 1-of-9 first half — the second half was the Dalvin Cook show.

The Seminoles scored on all five second-half possessions, and Cook figured in each.

Cook’s 24-yard TD less than two minutes into the half gave FSU a 14-7 lead it would not relinquish. His 50-yard run set up a 30-yard Roberto Aguayo field goal. He carried the first three times in the series that ended with Golson’s 23-yard scoring pass to Jesus Wilson. He had 38 yards before Aguayo’s 38-yard field goal. He ended the scoring with his 37-yard run.

Cook prepared for a heavier work load this season after the Seminoles lost eight offensive starters. Those plans were derailed by a suspension that lasted six weeks (including the first 21/2 weeks of preseason camp) after he was charged with battery but got back on track the day after he was found not guilty.

“I know coach Fisher was probably going to give me the ball a little bit more this year,” Cook said. “I just got my mind ready for it.”

And he did by continuing to work in solitude during his suspension.

“I just pushed myself,” he said. “I probably would never be in the shape I need to be in.”

Cook has 422 yards in the first two games. Twice in the past 10 years FSU’s leading rusher for the season had fewer than 600 yards: Devonta Freeman with 579 in 2012 and Lorenzo Booker with 552 in 2005.

Eight Heisman Trophy winners have come from Florida schools, all quarterbacks. None of the long list of outstanding running backs — not Ottis Anderson, not Warrick Dunn and not the best back to come out of the state, Emmitt Smith, took home the award.

“That’s surprising because we’ve had some good running backs come out of this state,” Cook said. “It might be the year, you never know.”