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FSU defense eases fears of preseason

By BRIAN LANDMAN

© St. Petersburg Times, published August 30, 2000


TALLAHASSEE -- Before Saturday's opener against Brigham Young, Florida State defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews believed too many people read too much into the preseason.

The FSU offense moved the ball with startling ease against its usually staunch defense, and that unnerved people, beginning with coach Bobby Bowden, who admitted he hadn't been so concerned about his defense since 1990.

But Andrews insisted that once people saw the real defense, with injured starters, including linebackers Brian Allen and Tommy Polley, on the field, it would be different.

He was right.

"What the game told us was what we kind of expected to begin with: that our first group has the potential to be pretty good and we're just not very deep behind it," Andrews said.

In the 29-3 win, the Seminoles allowed 225 total yards, had five sacks and three interceptions, and forced three fumbles, one of which turned into a safety.

"Defensively, if you moved about five plays out, they might have graded 100 percent," Bowden said. "You could take less than that out and might have had a shutout."

Ever the perfectionist, Andrews said he saw too many missed assignments and squandered opportunities. The defense should have recovered the fumble for a touchdown, not a safety. It should have had a few more interceptions, two of which could have been returned for touchdowns had the defensive backs held on to the ball. It should have tackled better.

Andrews also said he is unsure if BYU's lack of points had more to do with its inexperienced quarterbacks or his defense. Still ...

"The thing you liked about it," he said, "is we played pretty solid defense for four quarters."

UNPRECEDENTED START: If the women's soccer team beats visiting Jacksonville tonight, it will be 3-0 for the first time in its brief history. But FSU already has tasted a few firsts.

It beat Florida for the first time in six meetings, which marked its first win against a ranked opponent and catapulted it into a national poll, the American Soccer Writers', for the first time, at No. 23.

Now it's ready for more.

"The last couple of years, we've had to battle with confidence," said junior defender Heather Dyche, who scored against Florida. "Hopefully, we're over that hurdle."

LANDMARK NUMBER: Volleyball coach Cecile Reynaud could hit career win No. 600 when her team opens the season hosting a tournament Friday and Saturday with Southern Mississippi, Florida Atlantic, Charleston Southern and Illinois. Reynaud enters her 25th year at FSU with a record of 597-303.

"Hopefully, we'll get that taken care of early," she said. "Those are always kind of fun when you get to something like that. You look back and say, "Wow.' But a lot of great people were involved, a lot of great players."

ON THE RUN: The men's and women's cross country teams, led by longtime South Florida coach Bob Braman, open their seasons Friday at Appalachian State. Braman, hired this summer, said the early date has meant a quicker start in training, which should be an advantage in the long run. He said the team is staying an extra day to train in the mountains and cooler air, another benefit. OLYMPIC SEND-OFF: Senior forward Brooke Wyckoff rejoined the women's national select basketball team Tuesday in Honolulu to prepare for an exhibition against the U.S. Olympic team Sunday. The game is the final tuneup for the United States before the Sydney Games and will be televised on at 5 p.m. on ESPN2. RARE OPPORTUNITY: Men's basketball coach Steve Robinson spent the weekend in Jacksonville, home to one of the Seminoles' largest booster clubs, schmoozing with alumni. It was the first road football game he was able to attend since coming to FSU.

"It was great," he said. "I'd love to be able to do that more, but time doesn't always permit it. This one just fell into place. I got the chance to meet a lot of people, and a lot of people had a chance to see me in a different (relaxed) light. And that's almost as important."

- Brian Landman covers Florida State athletics. He can be reached at (813) 226-3347 or by e-mail at Landman@sptimes.com.

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