- David M. Hale, ESPN Staff Writer
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- This spring, Lonnie Pryor went to Jimbo Fisher and asked for a chance to carry the football more. Fisher responded by making his fullback a regular contributor on offense.
But while Pryor's role had increased during the first eight games of the season, there's a chance he'll see an even bigger slice of the carries moving forward as Florida State adjusts to life without Chris Thompson.
"Lonnie is doing a great job carrying the ball," Fisher said. "It has been (a split situation). We’ll keep guys rotating and keep Lonnie in the mix with what we do."
For the season, Pryor has already set career highs with 163 rushing yards and six rushing touchdowns. He's averaging 6.8 yards per carry overall, which makes him an interesting weapon to mix with James Wilder Jr. and Devonta Freeman.
"If they need me to go in, I'm ready," Pryor said. "It's a chance that if something happens, I can go in and play tailback. I'm ready for whatever happens."
Of course, Pryor's role as fullback has also been a crucial asset in the FSU offense. Particularly with the veteran Thompson out for the rest of the season, Pryor's ability to pick up blitzes and open running lanes will be essential.
Fisher recognizes the need to maximize Pryor's potential, but he said he won't be overly cautious in his use.
"There's some games he's gotten 10 or 12 times a game, we don't mind that at all," Fisher said. "He's a football player, you just got to give it to him and he's got to play, you can't worry about that."
For his part, Pryor said he'd welcome all the touches he can get. As the senior looks ahead to the NFL, he said demonstrating versatility could be a big asset, and when it comes to running the football, the workload is of little concern.
"When you get the ball in your hand, you're not thinking about being tired," Pryor said. "You're just going. Your adrenaline is running, you're trying to make plays. So if he wants to give me the ball, I'm there, no matter how many reps I take at either position."
No hard feelings: Fisher offered his share of concerns about the officiating in Saturday's win over Miami, but after the ACC announced it was suspending crew chief David Epperley on Monday, Fisher wasn't celebrating.
"I don't want anybody to be suspended or anything like that," Fisher said. "That's up to them, I had nothing to do with that. That's their evaluation, and that was done before we even talked about the situation. Those refs have a tough enough job to do and they try to do the best job they can, like coaches and players and everybody else. We had great communication with the head guy."
The suspension stemmed from Epperley's failure to recognize that Florida State had a timeout remaining after an offensive penalty at the end of the first half. Epperley attempted to enforce a 10-second run-off, but the mistake was eventually corrected and Dustin Hopkins booted a go-ahead field goal with 3 seconds remaining in the half.
Pondering Pender: Thompson's injury leaves Florida State with little depth at running back for the remainder of the season, but Fisher said there are few options he can consider to bolster the depth chart.
"There's no waiver wire," he said.
Pender was out on the practice field Tuesday, but Fisher said the freshman won't be ready for football activities for at least another couple of months.
"He's healing up pretty good," Fisher said. "He might get some [practice] in bowl practice, but it may be more early spring."
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