tampabay.com

Gator Bowl: Fate of FSU staff still is unknown

By BRIAN LANDMAN, Associated Press
Published January 2, 2005


JACKSONVILLE - Florida State coach Bobby Bowden remained mum Saturday about the much speculated shakeup to his long-tenured staff.

"I wouldn't say if I did (decide on changes)," he said shortly after FSU's 30-18 win against West Virginia. "You'll all just have to watch that one."

He mainly reiterated the team's offensive woes can be addressed with different schemes and styles, which doesn't necessitate new faces on the sideline or in the booth (where his son, Jeff, sits as the offensive coordinator and principal play-caller). But is it an option?

"It could be," he said.

Athletic director Dave Hart said Bowden "has shared some things with me that are confidential in nature that he's thinking through," and if there's anything that's done it is Bowden's call.

BIG FINISH: West Virginia senior running back Kay-Jay Harris, the former Tampa Bay Tech standout, said he was sound again after an injury-plagued season. It showed.

Against the nation's top run defense, he sure made some noise. He had 134 yards on 25 carries and a touchdown and added a team-high four catches for 50 yards, including a 36-yard touchdown. "This is what I'm capable of doing when I'm healthy," he said. "I showed that today. I'm just excited. When I feel like this, I'm excited to play. The injuries hurt me all season, but I had time to recover and this is the way I can run the ball when I'm healthy."

The Seminoles had allowed an average of 69.0 yards rushing and only one back, Florida's Ciatrick Fason, had more than 100 (103) against them this season. Only the Gators with 140 yards rushing had more than Harris had alone. West Virginia finished with 238 yards, 16 below its average that was seventh nationally.

"He ran good," Bowden said. "I like him. He's going to be a great pro back. He didn't play the last ballgame and you can tell the difference when he's in there."

GOING OUT ON A HIGH: FSU senior kicker Xavier Beitia, the former Jesuit star who struggled this season and lost his job after the loss at Maryland, started Saturday and hit all three of his field goals (32, 28 and 28 yards) and was 3-for-3 on extra points. "I felt like I had something to prove, No. 1, and No. 2, mainly, I knew right now, it's over," he said. "I kicked probably the best I've kicked in practice in probably a couple years so I knew I was going to go out there and do well."

With his 12 points, he finishes with 375, second in school history to Derek Schmidt, who had 393 from 1984-87. EARLY LEAVE: West Virginia receiver Chris Henry plans to forgo his senior year to enter the NFL draft. The 6-foot-5 Henry set a school record with 12 touchdown catches this season and finished with 872 yards after surpassing 1,000 a year ago.

MARK YOUR CALENDARS: Hart said next season's game against Florida, in Gainesville, will be Nov. 26, two days after Thanksgiving. The Gators, he said, exercised their one-time option in the teams' new four-year deal to move the game to that weekend. FSU will have the same option once for the two games it hosts during the life of the contract.