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FSU sticks with Rix, for now

Times Staff
Published September 14, 2004

TALLAHASSEE - Florida State coach Bobby Bowden is sticking with quarterback Chris Rix despite an error-prone performance against Miami on Friday.

Rix, a fifth-year senior who seemed to improve as a decisionmaker toward the end of last season, completed 12 of 28 passes for 108 yards and two interceptions in the 16-10 loss at the Orange Bowl. He lost two fumbles, including one in overtime.

"Well, let me say, it crossed my mind many times," Bowden said Monday of making a change to Wyatt Sexton. "I stayed up all Friday night (saying), "Should I make a switch?' ... I thought about it Saturday night. I thought about it Sunday. I met with my staff and discussed it and we all felt like, "No. It's not time."'

That's hardly a vote a confidence for Rix from the person who has been his strongest supporter.

"If Wyatt had been a little bit further along, I probably would have made that move," Bowden said. "But he's not quite as far along as I think he's got to be at this time."

Sexton, a third-year sophomore, has thrown five passes in his career, all last season against North Carolina and Duke.

MEINROD FINISHED: Starting guard Matt Meinrod, an East Lake graduate, will miss the rest of the season after being injured Friday.

An MRI exam showed Meinrod tore his ACL and sprained the MCL in his right knee during the third quarter.

Head trainer Randy Oravetz said Meinrod will have surgery in about three weeks. Meinrod was not at practice Monday night.

Sophomore Cory Niblock will get his first start Saturday against Alabama-Birmingham. After Meinrod went down, Niblock played the rest of the game.

INJURY UPDATE: Cornerback Antonio Cromartie, who had an interception and returned a fumble for a touchdown against Miami, did not practice. He injured his right hip late in Friday's game, aggravating an injury sustained during the preseason. Bowden said Cromartie might be able to play through it.

STORM WATCH: UAB coach/athletic director Watson Brown spent a good bit of Monday morning working on contingencies for Saturday night's game.

"We'll have a bus plan in case we can't fly. We'll have a plan for a Saturday morning flight and stay here Friday if we have to. If the storm were to hit Thursday there," he said, referring to Hurricane Ivan, "then we're going to catch a piece of it a good bit Friday."

That would rule out the normal travel day.

"I've done that once," he said of braving the elements, "and swore I would never do that to the kids again."

His team traveled to Maryland for a Sept. 7, 1996, game and flew through the remnants of Hurricane Fran, which made landfall in North Carolina as a Category 3 (sustained winds of 115 mph) two days earlier and turned north still packing gale-force winds by the time it reached the Chesapeake Bay.

"That was a bad, bad flight," he said.

TIME SET: The FSU-Clemson game, the sixth father-son showdown between Bobby and Tommy Bowden, is set for 3:30 p.m. Sept.25 at Doak Campbell Stadium. Before the game, a larger-than-life bronze statue of Bobby Bowden will be unveiled outside the Moore Athletic Center.

- BRIAN LANDMAN, Times staff writer

USF: Injuries kept quiet

TAMPA - USF's coaching staff is strictly following a university policy not to discuss injuries, and after practice, there was a lot not to talk about.

That starts with sophomore quarterback Pat Julmiste, who left Saturday's opener in the second quarter with a sprained right knee and did not participate in practice. He ran slowly with his teammates after the workout, but coach Jim Leavitt said he didn't know when or if Julmiste would return to practice before Saturday's game at South Carolina.

"We didn't work Julmiste tonight. We don't know how he'll be. It's day to day," said Leavitt, who said senior Ronnie Banks, who started seven games last season and relieved Julmiste on Saturday, "did a nice job."

Starting running back Clenton Crossley had a brace on his right knee and was limping. Starting cornerback Mike Jenkins, who suffered a mild concussion on the play in which a Tennessee Tech receiver was severely injured, "didn't do much" Monday, Leavitt said.

Senior Craig Kobel, a starting defensive end, did not practice, and defensive line coach Earl Lane said Kobel had met with team trainers but should play Saturday. Freshman receiver Jackie Chambers was helped off the practice field by two teammates, though his injury was unknown.

Junior defensive tackle Antonio Searcy was the only player on the defensive depth chart not to play Saturday, but Lane said his absence had nothing to do with injury or suspension and he expects Searcy to play.

-GREG AUMAN, Times staff writer

UF: Praise humbles LB

GAINESVILLE - When the Tennessee coaches break down the film from Florida's first game against Eastern Michigan, they will see glimpses of what they missed out on.

Freshman linebacker Brandon Siler, who narrowed his final commitment decision to Florida, Tennessee and Maryland, logged 40 plays and has been the talk of the Gators defense.

Siler, too, has looked at the film, and though he is pleased with his debut, he sees plenty of room for improvement. The 18-year-old from Orlando is already drawing comparisons with Gators linebacker Channing Crowder and is humbled.

"I feel honored to me compared to Crowder," he said. "I know that my game has to step up a whole bunch from here to next year in order to do the things that Crowder is doing. They are saying that (I'm as good as Crowder) in the same year, but I don't know about that. I think that he's a real good linebacker and he might be the best."

INJURY-FREE: After an extended preseason camp and a Week 1 victory, the Gators are heathy. "No one is really hurt. We have been very fortunate there," coach Ron Zook said.

-BRIAN SHAFFER, Times correspondent

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