tampabay.com

Bowden has faith in running game

By BRIAN LANDMAN
Published September 7, 2006


TALLAHASSEE - At least, Florida State coach Bobby Bowden hadn't lost his sense of humor.

"They got 2 yards and we got 1," he said of the respective running attacks of Miami and his Seminoles. "We would have won the battle if we didn't take that last play and back up."

Yes, taking a knee for a 3-yard loss to run out the clock gave the Hurricanes the statistical edge in running. But even without that, the Seminoles would have finished with their lowest rushing total in the Bowden era. The previous low was 11 yards on 17 rushes in a loss in 2003 at Clemson.

A running joke?

Well, Bowden insists that the offseason spent working on running the ball more effectively than last year the Seminoles averaged a meager 94 yards on the ground, 117th nationally wasn't for naught.

He said the Hurricanes were so intent on stopping the run, stacking the box with an extra linebacker and safety, that they sacrificed their pass rush. Miami had no sacks.

Quarterback Drew Weatherford had some time to find receivers, sometimes his second and third options, and get the ball to them.

"So, it had an effect," Bowden said of the running game.

But 3 inches and a cloud of dust won't cut it week in and week out.

No joke.

FLAG DAY? HARDLY: FSU historically is one of the most penalized teams in the ACC. It averaged nine penalties for 78 yards last season. But the team had only six for 38 Monday; just one came in the second half. Bowden said that dearth of miscues "probably played as big a role in us winning the game" as anything.

STAT TALK: Weatherford's name popped up on the stat page in a spot FSU doesn't like to see it - the defensive numbers. He had a tackle, stopping Brandon Meriweather who had intercepted his pass.

NATIONAL HONOR: Linebacker Buster Davis, who had 12 tackles in leading a stifling defensive effort against Miami, was named the Bronko Nagurski national player of the week.

FAMILY AFFAIR: Receiver Greg Carr faces his half brother on Saturday, Troy receiver Toris Rutledge, a senior who played at North Marion High. He had three catches for 45 yards in Troy's opener.

FOOTBALL IN PERSPECTIVE: In the hours before Monday's showdown, Bowden wasn't fretting about what Miami might do on offense or defense. His topic of conversation was on Steve Irwin, the "Crocodile Hunter," who died from a stingray attack. Bowden greatly enjoyed Irwin's television shows.

NET GAIN: The soccer team (3-0), ranked No. 1 by Soccer America, expects to have star sophomore Sarah Wagenfuhr back for Friday's showdown against No. 19 Florida (2-1-1). She has been with the U.S. national team at the FIFA Under-20 World Championships in Moscow. Wagenfuhr can play multiple positions on defense or even as an outside midfielder.

"We're evaluating all of the possibilities to decide which one works best," coach Mark Krikorian said.

Whether that comes this week isn't as important to him as getting his team to play better than it did last week on the road in Tempe, Ariz. Despite beating Arizona State and Loyola (Maryland), he wasn't pleased with the effort and can't help but wonder if the players might have let the national ranking affect them.

"In order for us to be a top team in this country," he said, "we have to be more consistent and play at a higher level than we showed out there."

TEST TIME: The volleyball team (5-0) has breezed so far, not even losing a game, but faces far tougher competition at the South Carolina Tournament this weekend. FSU meets Southern Cal, ranked No. 10 in the American Volleyball Coaches Association poll, then St. John's on Friday and the host school on Saturday.

BACK WITH THE PACK: Star Andrew Lemoncello, a two-time ACC champion and a 2005 All-America, has received a sixth-year of eligibility for cross country. He has been cleared for another year of indoor track, but continues to wait for a ruling about the outdoor track season.

Brian Landman covers Florida State athletics. Reach him (813) 226-3347 or at landman@sptimes.com.