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'Noles QB battle at crossroads

For Rix and Boldin, today's scrimmage is a chance to get an arm up on the other.

By BRIAN LANDMAN

© St. Petersburg Times, published April 7, 2001


Chris Rix is trying not to think about what his performance in today's Garnet and Gold game might mean.

But the rising sophomore realizes that whoever does better in the annual culmination of the spring practice, he or junior-to-be Anquan Boldin, likely will enter the fall practice as Florida State's starting quarterback.

"I really can't worry about that," Rix said, "but it's always in the back of my mind."

With the graduation of Heisman Trophy winner Chris Weinke and his backup, Marcus Outzen, plus the dismissal of redshirt junior Jared Jones in January, the Seminoles' all-important quarterback position is as suspect and as wide open as it has been in years.

"I don't think either one is thinking about what if the other guy beats me out," coach Bobby Bowden said. "They're both just trying to do the best they can do, and that's all we can ask."

Rix, a strong-armed, athletic prospect from Santa Margarita, Calif., sat out last season and hasn't thrown a pass in a college game. Boldin came to FSU as a highly touted quarterback from Pahokee High but asked to move to receiver after a couple of practices. He has been diligently studying the playbook and working on his arm.

"It's been a big adjustment," said Boldin, third on the team last season in receptions with 41 for 664 yards and six touchdowns. "I had to put in extra time, both in the film room and on the field. But I think it's going pretty well."

"The biggest surprise of the spring to me has been Anquan," Bowden said. "Not that he's done better than the other quarterback, because he hasn't. But the fact that he's shown he can still play quarterback was very important."

Rix has seen most of the work with the first-team offense and will work with that group today.

"I'm not near where I want to be, but every day, I feel more and more comfortable," said Rix, who is coming off perhaps his best day of the spring, completing 10 of 18 passes for 249 yards and one touchdown in the team's last scrimmage Wednesday. "I think I'll progress through the summer and into the fall."

Bowden said that if Boldin doesn't win the starting job, he likely will remain at the position even though FSU signed three prospects, including Joe Mauer.

"But I think I'll win the position," Boldin said. "There are certain advantages he has and there are certain advantages I have. He's been at quarterback and I haven't been at the position in two years, so his mechanics are better than mine. But as far as knowing the speed of the game and being able to read defenses, I think I have an advantage there because I played receiver for two years."

He also has played in front of large crowds.

Rix has only warmed up in front of large crowds.

"We'll probably list them No. 1 and 2 (after Saturday), but I think the battle will continue into the first ballgame," Bowden said. "Both of them have got nowhere to go but up because everything's ahead of them. They've got no experience playing quarterback in college, but both of them show excellent ability."

* * *

WHEN/WHERE: 2 p.m. today; Doak Campbell Stadium, Tallahassee.

ADMISSION/PARKING: Free.

FORMAT: Instead of two true teams as usual, the coaches have decided to have the No. 1 offense go against the No. 1 defense and the No. 2 offense against the No. 2 defense. The scoring will be kept by the quarterbacks, Chris Rix (No. 1 offense) and Anquan Boldin (No. 2).

HEISMAN MOMENT: Quarterback Chris Weinke will be honored during a special halftime ceremony. -- Compiled by Brian Landman.

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