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Injuries put freshmen in backfield

By BRIAN LANDMAN, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published November 17, 2002

TALLAHASSEE -- Florida State senior tailback Nick Maddox, nursing a slightly sprained right ankle, sat out Saturday against North Carolina as a precaution.

With Willie Reid out (shoulder separation), the Seminoles relied on freshmen Leon Washington and Thomas Clayton. Washington rushed 13 times for 56 yards (a 4.3 average) and added two catches for 15 yards. Clayton finished with 24 yards on eight carries but fumbled for the fourth time this season.

"Being young, it took a little time warming up. You have butterflies in your first start," Washington said. "We didn't do that well, but we made plays when we needed to make them."

They did enough to keep fellow freshman Lorenzo Booker on the sideline. Booker, one of the nation's top prospects, planned to seek a redshirt but would have played if needed.

"We'll probably have Booker ready for one more game at least," FSU coach Bobby Bowden said. "But we sure do need to try to save his year of eligibility if we can."

HEALTHY RECEPTION: When quarterback Chris Rix entered the game early in the fourth quarter, the crowd cheered loudly. In his last appearance at Doak Campbell, the Notre Dame loss, the fans booed him.

"Those are the true, loyal fans," Rix said. "Those are the true Seminole fans."

On his first play, he gave them a reason to applaud, hitting Craphonso Thorpe for a 52-yard touchdown.

"It felt good," he said.

"I think he's saying, 'I'm not dead,"' Bowden said.

GETTING HEALTHY: Senior center Antoine Mirambeau, who was in Miami on Thursday to see a specialist about the sprained right knee he injured against Louisville on Sept.26, is expected back Saturday against North Carolina State.

Senior guard Montrae Holland, who sprained his right ankle against Wake Forest and has missed the past two games, said he can play Saturday.

SURGERY SET: Star tailback Greg Jones, who tore his right ACL Nov. 2 against Wake Forest, said he is scheduled for surgery Nov.26.

ON GUARD: After someone entered their locker room at Georgia Tech and made off with an undisclosed amount of cash, cellular phones and jewelry, the Seminoles reassessed the security they provide visiting teams.

Instead of a security officer only outside North Carolina's locker room, FSU went a step further and had an officer inside, too.

BACKING PEPPERS: UNC coach John Bunting said recently he would "back to the hilt" former star defensive end Julius Peppers, who faces a four-game suspension by the NFL for violation of its substance-abuse policy.

"He's a fine young man," Bunting said. "He's going to have a great career in the NFL.

"He is somebody who has overcome an awful lot in his lifetime. He also has a gift. He understands that gift. He will work very hard to make everybody proud of him, both the Carolina Panthers and this university."

JOIN THE CLUB: UNC became the last ACC team to come to Tallahassee for a homecoming game. Since joining the ACC in 1992, FSU is 10-1 in homecoming games. The lone loss came last season to North Carolina State and former FSU assistant Chuck Amato.

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