Without Minnis, Weinke, Seminoles' offense struggle
Updated: Thursday January 04, 2001 10:38 AM
MIAMI (AP) -- With his favorite receiver on the sideline, Heisman Trophy winner Chris Weinke struggled to get Florida State on the scoreboard.
The Seminoles' high-powered offense sputtered badly Wednesday night without Snoop Minnis in a 13-2 Orange Bowl loss to Oklahoma. Minnis led the nation in reception yardage during the regular season but was declared academically ineligible in December.
The Seminoles averted their first shutout since 1988 only because of a safety on a punt in the final minute. It was a dismal finale for offensive coordinator Mark Richt, who agreed to coach one more game after becoming head coach at Georgia last month.
With the Bowl Championship Series title at stake, Minnis watched from the sideline in street clothes while Weinke searched for other targets, mostly in vain.
"You would think with Snoop out there, he would have made a play or two," Richt said. "We knew we were going to miss him, and in a game like this, it would have taken only one or two plays to get things going."
The Seminoles dropped half a dozen passes, while Weinke threw mostly short toward the sideline and rarely went deep downfield. They used the no-huddle less than they have in other games this season, partly because Minnis' absence left them thin at receiver, Richt said.
Richt admitted that taking the Georgia job diverted his attention.
"I'm sure that's going to be said," he said. "I did the best I could. I wouldn't recommend it to anybody. It's an awful lot to try to get accomplished for one person. I'm sorry that we just didn't finish on a strong note."
Third-ranked Florida State (11-2), playing for the first time since Nov. 18, looked rusty offensively. Poor field position hurt, too, partly because of the punting of Oklahoma's Jeff Ferguson. In the second half the Seminoles started at their own 20, 15, 6, 19, 6, 20, 20 and 17.
The Seminoles, 10 1/2-point favorites, totaled just 301 yards. They averaged 549 yards and 42 points per game during the regular season.
Coach Bobby Bowden blamed much of the Seminoles' difficulties on Oklahoma coach Bobby Stoops' defensive scheme.
"You don't want to give them four weeks to get ready for you. Bobby's too smart," Bowden said. "He did a magnificent job of confusing us. We couldn't match up. They stayed a step ahead of us."
Weinke finished 25-of-51 for 274 yards with two interceptions.
"I wasn't hitting," he said. "If the quarterback isn't throwing very well, you're not going to be successful.
"We couldn't get on a roll. It was tough. It was frustrating after gaining so many yards all year. It was a combination of everybody not clicking together."
Trailing 6-0, Florida State drove to the Oklahoma 35 early in the fourth quarter. Robert Morgan almost made a diving reception in the end zone, and on fourth-and-10, Derrick Strait batted away a pass intended for Anquan Boldin at the 3.
"A great catch would have helped us a couple of times," Bowden said. "But we didn't make them."
The Seminoles, who led the nation in total offense and passing this season, had the ball 16 times. They punted 10 times, missed a 30-yard field goal attempt, turned the ball over three times and lost the ball twice on downs.
With the game scoreless, a fumble gave Florida State possession at the Sooners 47. But on the next play, Weinke's pass was intercepted by Torrance Marshall.
In the fourth quarter Weinke lost a fumble at the Seminoles 15 after running for a first down, and Quentin Griffin's 10-yard touchdown run gave Oklahoma a 13-0 lead.
Weinke threw an interception into the end zone in the final minute.
Florida State drove 39 yards to the Oklahoma 13 in the second quarter, but Brett Cimorelli shanked a field goal attempt wide right. Place kicks were a problem during the regular season for the Seminoles, who missed eight extra-point attempts and 10 of 24 field-goal tries.