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Rix settles into role as FSU leader

FSU: Seminoles QB named most dominant player as offense wins in new format.

© St. Petersburg Times
published April 13, 2003

TALLAHASSEE -- As Florida State concluded spring practice Saturday with the Garnet and Gold game, coach Bobby Bowden said there is stability at quarterback for the first time since Chris Weinke won the Heisman Trophy in 2000.

After two tumultuous seasons, Chris Rix may have established himself as a leader. He was given Florida State'sHinesman Award as the most dominant player in the spring as well as the most improved quarterback honor.

Afterward, Rix spoke to the media for the first time this spring about his third season at quarterback.

"Consistency is one thing I always focus on," said Rix, who was 5-of-12 for 76 yards as the offense defeated the defense 37-11. "Hopefully this is a step in that direction."

Perhaps it was no coincidence that Bucs quarterback and former Seminole Brad Johnson addressed the team before the game.

"It is hard for kids to follow a freshman," Bowden said of Rix, who became the starter as a redshirt freshman. "It is hard for kids to follow a struggling sophomore, but when you are a redshirt junior that is the same year as (former FSU quarterbacks) Charlie Ward, Casey Weldon, Brad Johnson, Tommy McManus and Peter Tom Willis. They didn't play until they were redshirt juniors, and they were mature and ready. Well, now he is ready, I think the kids accept him."

Injuries forced the Seminoles to change the format of Saturday's game. "We just didn't have two teams to field," Bowden said. "But I think our fans got to see what they came for. They saw us make some good plays on both sides of the ball."

Sophomore wide receiver Craphonso Thorpe caught four passes for 66 yards, and freshman Leon Washington ran for 65 yards and a touchdown.

Freshman linebacker Buster Davis had four tackles, including three sacks. Sophomore defensive end Kamerion Wimbley had two sacks.

Bowden saved most of the praise for the offensive line, which has had to replace four starters and had numerous injuries.

"I thought our offensive line made the most progress of any position," Bowden said. "I really didn't expect them to be as efficient as they have been."

Depth on the line was limited all spring as injuries plagued tackle Ray Willis and Alex Barron. The Seminoles had only two centers, two guards and three tackles available for the game.

The defense has faced similar adversity on the line, with the legal troubles of tackle Darnell Dockett and nose guard Travis Johnson, and injuries have left the interior thin. Defensive end Charles Howard played tackle most of the spring, and the move may be permanent after he was named the spring's co-most outstanding defensive player with David Costello and Kevin Emanuel and the top defensive lineman.

"He looks like the surprise of the spring because he looks like he has got some natural ability in there, especially to rush the passer," Bowden said. "He looks like he might start on the pass-rush team in the fall."

Bowden hopes the Seminoles will get closer to full strength as August approaches.

"We have the makings of a real good football team if we can just stay healthy."

-- Information from Times wires was used in this report.

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