By BRIAN LANDMAN, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published November 25, 2002
TALLAHASSEE -- For the first time in his Florida State tenure, coach Bobby Bowden will prepare for his regular-season showdown against archrival Florida with a question mark at the most crucial position -- quarterback.
Adrian McPherson or Chris Rix?
"That will be up for grabs again," Bowden said Sunday afternoon. "We'll work both quarterbacks equally and then decide at the end of the week who will start."
Just what in the name of Steve Spurrier is going on?
Well, McPherson struggled in his fourth start on Saturday, completing 8 of 20 passes for 80 yards in the Seminoles' 17-7 loss at North Carolina State. The defense scored FSU's touchdown. McPherson also was sacked four times by the blitz-happy Wolfpack.
"I felt like he was making progress and all he needed was experience, experience, experience," Bowden said. "I felt like he was gaining it and I felt like he wasn't losing games for us. This week he probably took a step backward."
McPherson took the blame for the offensive woes without offering excuses, even legitimate ones such as a patchwork offensive line, an injury-depleted tailback corps or a couple of key dropped passes.
"If I would have made the throws, we wouldn't be discussing that we didn't get the running game going or anything like that," McPherson said after the game. "I'm not sure (what happened). A couple of them I tried to line drive instead of putting air under them. It's something I have to look over and learn from before next week."
Rix was 5-for-7 for 63 yards in the final minutes. He threw an interception in the end zone with eight seconds left, but the 65-yard drive accounted for nearly 40 percent of the team's offense, and that has earned him another shot at the starting job.
"Obviously, I'm glad to hear that," Rix said Sunday night. "But I'm just going to keep practicing the way I have been practicing even when I wasn't playing. I just want us to beat Florida."
The Seminoles need a win to boost confidence and morale as well as the perception that they don't deserve a Bowl Championship Series berth, which they wrapped up along with an Atlantic Coast Conference title when Virginia upset Maryland.
Though the move to the talented and popular McPherson after a loss to Notre Dame seemed to energized the Seminoles, especially the defense, Bowden said he can't make his personnel decision based on his players' sentiments.
"I'll do what I think is best for the team, and I think the best thing for our team now is to get that dadgum offense moving where we can win a ballgame," he said. "If I think a quarterback change will help us, our team will have to accept that."
INJURY UPDATE: FSU could be without senior guard Montrae Holland (sprained right ankle) and center Antoine Mirambeau (sprained left knee). Both aggravated injuries Saturday. "Treatment, treatment, treatment; that's all I can do," Holland said Sunday afternoon. Mirambeau said he has no idea if we will be able to play against the Gators, and he likely will have an MRI this week on the knee he originally injured two months ago against Louisville.