On Wednesday, Florida State cornerback Greg Reid had his 20th birthday. On Saturday against Oklahoma, he's hoping to celebrate it.
Reid made his first career start at cornerback against Samford and delivered four tackles (3 solos) and a touchdown-denying, pass breakup in the end zone. It's his electrifying ability in the return game, though, that caught the nation's attention last year. Reid led the nation with an 18.4-yard punt return average. Samford tried not to kick it to him last weekend, but the one time it did, Reid took off for a 74-yard touchdown. He also lined up as a tailback for the first time, gaining eight yards on a single carry against the Bulldogs and his touchdown return was the third of his young career. Last year he returned an interception and a punt for scores. Can he have similar success on the road at Oklahoma? Here are the highlights of our conversation:
What do you think of when you get the ball on a punt return, as you get it, as you see the field? What’s your vision and your mentality like?
Greg Reid: I always in the back of my mind: score. Just put my offense in a good position. The vision, I guess it’s just from God. I’m able to make stuff happen. I just focus on getting my offense good field position.
Do you get a sense that you’re gone, though, at some point?
GR: Of course. Once I make that first guy miss, I’m liable to score and that’s what I look for. I look for the end zone. That vision just makes stuff happen.
Do you set any personal goals coming into this season of what you want to do as a returner?
GR: As a returner I just want to lead the nation again and of course make my average a lot better.
What do you see on film from Oklahoma, and do you see any opportunities to continue to be a home-run threat as a returner?
GR: Everybody plays football the same. They have a great team. We have to stop the run game on defense, and force them to pass the ball a little more. As a returner, I pray they kick it to me and everything will work out. Once I’ve got the ball in my hands, it’s kind of hard to tackle me, I guess. Right now I’m just hoping they kick it to me.
How frustrating is that when they don’t?
GR: Especially at a noon game, it gets kind of boring. But if it gives the offense good field position, I’ve got to learn how to be a team player. That’s what Coach [Jimbo] Fisher has instilled into me right now.
When you watch opponents on film, what specifically do you look for to figure out if you can break a long run against them in the return game?
GR: Most punters outkick the coverage a little bit. What I mean by that, they get a perfect snap and just nail the ball 50 or 60 yards. Once they outkick the coverage, I have a lot of room to make something happen. The first thing I really look at it is see what kind of coverage -- are they attacking the returner or are they just playing lane football? Just see how aggressive they are.
And how aggressive is Oklahoma?
GR: Oh, they’re real aggressive. I think they’ll get after me. [He laughed.] It’s going to be tough. It’s going to be hard.
Well, if they’re smart they’ll take a page from Samford’s game plan against you. What are you looking forward to most this weekend?
GR: Right now for my team, the excitement. This is a big game for us. I feel like the whole nation is watching. I feel like the nation is against us a little bit. It’s on us to prove that we’re kind of back and we’re getting on the right track.