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Bowden rethinks stance on Rix as QB

By BRIAN LANDMAN

© St. Petersburg Times,
published October 22, 2001


TALLAHASSEE -- Since he tabbed redshirt freshman Chris Rix as the clear-cut starting quarterback in mid August, Florida State coach Bobby Bowden has dismissed any talk of competition with Adrian McPherson.

Even when his offensive coaching staff broached the topic last week, Bowden held his position and Rix's and McPherson's, respectively. But that all could be changing.

After Rix threw two interceptions Saturday in a 43-7 victory at Virginia, giving him eight in the last four games and 12 turnovers, Bowden's instigating a debate.

"I'm thinking, 'Should we play No. 5 (McPherson) sooner? Should we play No. 5 more or what?' " Bowden said Sunday afternoon. "I'll talk it over with my staff (today)."

A week ago, offensive coordinator Jeff Bowden wanted to discuss using McPherson more. But Papa Bowden, who casts the most important vote when it comes to personnel changes like that, turned a deaf ear.

End of discussion. Then. And now?

Well, folks, quarterback controversies don't just happen in Gainesville.

"I think I'll listen to them a little bit more," Bowden said. "Last time, I said, 'We're going to do this,' and I didn't listen to them. This time, I'm going to listen to them, but I still may say, 'Do this, do that.' "

He would only commit as far as to say that Rix will be the "probable" starter Saturday against surprising Atlantic Coast Conference leader and No. 10 Maryland. Don't misunderstand him. That wouldn't be a bad option. After reviewing Saturday's film, Bowden said he upgraded his score of Rix's development.

"Chris made a lot of improvement; a lot of it," he said.

Rix showed more patience in the pocket, giving his receivers more time to get open. He ran the ball just six times, his fewest rushes since the opener against Duke. He ran a team-high 18 times against Miami and led FSU in rushing yards twice this season.

With a pass-first, run-second mentality, he finished the game completing 11 of 21 passes for 205 yards and one touchdown. Bowden also said the first of Rix's two interceptions could be traced to the receiver running the wrong pattern. Still, he "compounded" that mistake by not simply throwing the ball away.

Bowden could also decide to go with a two-headed quarterback system, a plan some consider perilous but one he was married to in the preseason before moving Anquan Boldin back to receiver.

Bowden also didn't refute the suggestion that he might be employing a bit of psychology to "stimulate" Rix. He wants him to learn some lessons faster and not repeat some of the predictable mistakes of a young quarterback. For his part, Rix appeared unshaken by the news that Bowden would look at the position this week.

"That's coach's decision and I respect him," he said. "I did my job to the best of my ability in leading the team down the field in putting points on the board. ... But I know I have to learn from those interceptions."

McPherson seemed equally unfazed by the possibilities of taking on a larger role.

"I just pretty much have to stay prepared for anything," he said. "Being the backup, anything can happen at any point in time and I'd have to go in the game. I prepare just as much as Chris for the games as if I would be the starter. If I have to go out there earlier, I'll just go out there and get the ball in the guys' hands and let them make plays ... I think I'm ready, and just going out there getting time a little earlier, I think, would help me out a lot."

McPherson, who entered the Virginia game in the fourth quarter with the outcome no longer in doubt, completed 3 of 4 passes for 25 yards and two touchdowns. He also ran well, 13 yards on two carries.

"(He's) coming in when the pressure is more or less off," Bowden said, "but he is doing good enough things to make you wonder."

NOTES: Freshman receiver/kick returner Craphonso Thorpe is scheduled for X-rays today to determine if he fractured his right hand. Meanwhile, sophomore tailback Greg Jones sprained his left ankle, freshman tailback Eric Shelton sprained his right ankle, freshman defensive back Jerome Carter sprained his left knee, junior defensive back/special teams star Patrick Newton, the former Shorecrest Prep standout, has a mild concussion, and senior tight end Carver Donaldson bruised his left hand.

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