The Seminole Graveyard—six by 30 feet and rimmed by a low hedge—lies just beyond a practice field at Florida State. In it are buried chunks of real and artificial turf, each with its own headstone, dating back to 1967. "It's for what we call 'sod games,' " says Quarterback Kelly Lowrey. "Those are games in which we upset somebody on the road. We dig up a little hunk of their sod or snip off some AstroTurf, and bring it home for the ceremony." The shovels have been busy lately: In the last two seasons, Florida State has buried turf from places like Nebraska, Notre Dame and Ohio State. Says Coach Bobby Bowden proudly, "That graveyard's getting pretty doggone full."
The Seminoles won't add many headstones this fall, however. Even though they play another hazardous away schedule—at LSU, Tulane, Auburn and Pitt in succession, and later at Arizona State and Florida—they're too good to rate as underdogs very often. Virtually everyone is back from last year's 9-3 team, which routed West Virginia 31-12 in the Gator Bowl and ranked second in the nation in scoring (35.3 points a game) and third in total offense (466 yards a game). "If we could get some unexpected help from freshmen," says Bowden, "we could put our hat in the ring."
Lowrey, a burly fifth-year senior who rose from third-to first-string quarterback in the opening weeks of the '82 season, was last year's unexpected help. Not only did he run the option skillfully, but he also threw well enough to rate among the nation's best in passing efficiency. His gutsy leadership impressed Bowden. "I'm no prettyboy quarterback," says the 6'1", 225-pound Lowrey, who's been compared in style to Joe Kapp and Bobby Layne. "I'm getting bald, and I've got a little belly going on me. I sort of look like a fullback. But I'll tell you what, I don't give up 'til that last tick." No wonder Lowrey survived a 1981 motorcycle accident in which he was thrown 70 feet into a ditch and had his cowboy boots literally knocked off.
A big veteran offensive line anchored by senior Center Tom McCormick assures Lowrey of gentler treatment on the gridiron. "I've got some meat standing up there in front of me, believe me," says Lowrey, who has dubbed 289-pound Guard Jamie Dukes and 295-pound Tackle Herbert Harp "the bookends." Dukes and Harper play side by side, leaving little room for either books or oncoming defensive linemen. Thus protected, Lowrey can throw to any of four outstanding wide receivers: speedsters Hassan Jones or Jessie Hester, ever reliable Tony Johnson or 6'6", 218-pound Weegie Thompson.
Lowery also can hand the ball to junior Tailback Greg Allen, who last fall led the country in scoring with 126 points on 21 TDs while playing backup to Ricky Williams, now of the Tampa Bay Bandits. Allen set 13 school records and tied three others in his first two years at Florida State, despite starting only five games as a freshman and none in 1982. Last season he ran for 776 yards on 152 carries and gained 748 more yards catching passes and returning kicks.
Allen has 4.28 speed and dazzling moves. He has long-jumped nearly 25 feet and triple-jumped almost 50. But he's also unusually shy and taciturn. In 1981, when he set an NCAA freshman record with 322 yards rushing against Western Carolina, Allen tried to remain anonymous on the sidelines by hiding under his poncho. "My mother taught me a long time ago: Think twice, speak once," he says. Allen lives with his pet parakeet, Petey. The bird doesn't talk, either.
Freshman Punter Louis Berry, nephew of former NFL booter John James, will improve the Seminoles' mediocre kicking game, leaving the defense as Florida State's main shortcoming. After experimenting with various candidates last season, Bowden finally found a solid nose guard in Brad Fojtik, who'll help Tackle Alphonso Carreker clog the middle. But the secondary, says Bowden, "scares me to death." One answer may be converted Tailback Billy Allen—no relation to Greg—a 24-year-old junior whose past experience with aerial defense came when he was an Air Force sergeant in West Germany. Allen, a walk-on, is such a good runner that Bowden may play him both ways. If it all works out, the graveyard will be undisturbed, but Florida State will be in Seminole Heaven.