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2. Florida State
Here's a shocker: Bowden's boys, the defending champs, are planning to repeat
When Chris Weinke began his press conference last January, six days after leading
the Seminoles to the national championship, offensive coordinator Mark Richt was
convinced the 27-year-old junior quarterback was turning pro. As Weinke thanked
his coaches and teammates and asked Richt to stand up, Richt recalls thinking,
Just say you're leaving and get this over with. Much to Richt's surprise, Weinke
said, "Coach, would it be all right if I came back and tried to win another
| The Book
| An opposing team's coach sizes up the
"I've been around Bobby long enough to know when he's smirking, knowing he's got
a good team. His chest is a little further out than it normally is.... Their
offense is simple. They'll line up in the I. If you put more people up there
than they can block, they'll throw it.... I know Minor is good. I know the line
is good. This is the first time I can remember Bobby having that many starters
returning on the offensive line.... Anquan Boldin is supposed to be the next
Warrick. He's supposed to be a great talent. But he hasn't done it yet.
[Flanker] Marvin Minnis doesn't do much for me. If the receivers don't live up
to their big-play potential, you can gang up on their runners. Then you've got a
chance against them.... The ends make their defense, and they haven't been the
same there since Peter Boulware and Andre Wadsworth left a few years back. We've
had no trouble blocking their ends in recent years. We've been successful
running right at them.... If you can get off the pass against them, you can be
successful. You're not going to move down the field three yards at a time.
You've got to have big-chunk plays."
"The moment he said he was coming back," says senior linebacker Brian
Allen, "all I could think of was, Let's make reservations for Miami because
there's no doubt in my mind we'll be there playing for the national
That kind of confidence in Weinke would have been preposterous two years ago,
when he threw an ACC-record six interceptions in his second start, a loss to
North Carolina State. Eight games later he suffered a ruptured disk in his neck
that nearly ended his career and caused him several months of painful
rehabilitation. He showed no ill effects from the injury last fall, throwing for
3,103 yards and 25 touchdowns, and since that debacle against North Carolina
State he has won 20 straight games as the Seminoles'
Having seen the business end of sports during his six-year stint as a first
baseman in the Toronto Blue Jays' organization, Weinke based his decision to
return to Florida State on his love for college football. "The NFL people I
talked to said I'd probably be anywhere from a third- to fifth-round pick,"
says Weinke. "Why should I be a fifth-round pick when I can come back and
start for the best team in the
Weinke, 6'5", 240 pounds, has shed 20 pounds since last season and says he
feels quicker and more agile than ever. The backfield is fully stocked, led by
senior tailback Travis Minor (815 yards in '99). The offensive line has three of
five starters back and senior fullback William McCray returns after missing all
of last season with a fractured lower right leg. Florida State has a wealth of
young receivers to step in for Peter Warrick, but the Seminoles are still
looking for a go-to
As usual the Seminoles will field one of the nation's scariest defenses. Seven
starters are back from a unit that ranked 17th nationally in total defense
(304.6 yards per game), 10th in scoring (15.8 points), 12th in rushing
(98.8 yards) and 14th in passing efficiency (105.3 rating). A big concern
is replacing tackles Corey Simon and Jerry Johnson, but with the return of ends
Jamal Reynolds and Roland Seymour and linebackers Tommy Polley, Brian Allen and
Bradley Jennings -- who finished 1-2-3, respectively, in tackles last
season -- nobody on the Seminoles staff is losing any
The 28-year-old Weinke postponed his shot at the NFL to take a shot at a
repeat national title -- and a long shot it's not. Peter Read Miller||
The player who's toughest to replace isn't Warrick, but two-time All-America
kicker Sebastian Janikowski, who was virtually automatic (47 of 47 PATs, 23 of
30 field goals in '99), and who forced touchbacks on 69% of his kickoffs. Bowden
will turn to true freshman Brett Cimorelli, a 6'4", 220-pounder who kicked
a 55-yard field goal in high school.
Last season Florida State capped a remarkable decade, winning Bowden his second
national title and finishing in the Top 4 for the 13th consecutive year.
Expectations never change in Tallahassee and, with Weinke in tow, Bowden expects
this group to be playing in the Orange Bowl. "We may have lost our best
player in Warrick, but Weinke is our most valuable," says Bowden.
"Weinke coming back gave us a
Issue date: August 14, 2000
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