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'Noles must fill holes -- most notably at QB


© St. Petersburg Times, published January 5, 2001

MIAMI -- For an unprecedented 13 years, Florida State won at least 10 games and finished in the Associated Press Top 4.

The latter streak is over.

The Seminoles (11-2) finished No. 5 in the final poll, released a few hours after their loss to Oklahoma in the Bowl Championship Series finale in the Orange Bowl.

"I can't feel like fifth is the end of the dynasty," coach Bobby Bowden said. "It's a year-to-year thing that you have to go out and defend every year. It's like what they say about freedom; you have to go out and defend freedom. We've got to defend that dynasty. It'll be some hard work next season."

FSU loses 25 scholarship seniors, 14 of whom started in the Orange Bowl. The focus will be on the heir to quarterback Chris Weinke -- Jared Jones or Chris Rix.

"They're good prospects with no experience," Bowden said.

Jones, who will be a redshirt junior and has a strong arm, has thrown 19 passes (in 1998 and 1999), completing seven for 33 yards and throwing three interceptions. Rix, a true freshman, sat out this season.

"Everybody else is probably going to take a little a break after we get back from the Orange Bowl, but my time starts on Jan. 8," said Jones, who plans to play minor-league baseball in June.

Rix has a strong arm and is a running threat that FSU has lacked since Charlie Ward. Rix has worked hard to learn the system and appears poised to challenge Jones this spring.

BIG DECISION: Bowden said he has three interviews lined up during next week's national coaches convention and would like to wrap up his search for a replacement for offensive coordinator Mark Richt.

"I'm considering taking a coordinator off the staff and then hiring a quarterbacks coach," he said, adding that he could go outside for one person who, like Richt, would serve both roles.

"I don't have old-timers in mind," he said.

NO REST: Weinke, receiver Marvin Minnis, tailback Travis Minor, offensive tackles Char-ron Dorsey and Tarlos Thomas, linebackers Brian Allen and Tommy Polley, cornerback Tay Cody, safety Derrick Gibson and defensive end David Warren are heading to Mobile, Ala., for the Senior Bowl on Jan. 20. Center Jarad Moon and cornerback Clevan Thomas will join Bowden in Hawaii for the Hula Bowl on Jan. 20. Punter Keith Cottrell and guard Justin Amman will play in the Gridiron Classic on Jan. 13 in Orlando.

THE LAST WORD: "I nearly felt like we let them down and us." -- Bowden, referring to the Miami Hurricanes, who were counting on an FSU win to have a chance at sharing the national title.

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