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Craig Erickson responded impassively to Buckley's and Carruthers's comments. "They're probably right, I do underthrow and I do overthrow," he said. But there was the sense that the Hurricanes hid something—perhaps maturity—beneath their uncharacteristic quiet.
For some of the afternoon, Buckley and Carruthers backed up their words. After all, Buckley finished with six tackles, while Carruthers had nine. But Erickson was patient, connecting with his light ends and backs for short and medium gains until, with 5:02 left in the first half and Miami ahead 17-0 on two short runs by Conley and a Carlos Huerta field goal, he got Buckley where he wanted him, in single coverage on Thomas, third-and-goal at the Florida State 10-yard line. Erickson audibled, Thomas burst past Buckley up the left sideline, and Erickson lofted a perfect lead pass for his only scoring toss of the day.
Later, Carruthers would only partly retract the Seminoles' criticisms. "He's a winner, I'll give him that," Carruthers said of Erickson. But he would not concede that the Seminoles had been convincingly beaten, pointing to Miami's desultory play in the second and third quarters as they yielded 16 unanswered points.
"We should be Number One," said Carruthers. "We should have got our chance right here.... We were a little intimidated, but we finally realized these guys weren't that good. They didn't knock us on our ass for four quarters, just two."
The Seminoles do have the talent to back up their shrill words, with a roster that includes players like true freshman Marvin Jones, a 225-pound linebacker who runs the 40 in 4.5 seconds and was nicknamed Shade Tree after he flopped down under a willow tree one day after practice. "Couple of years, they're going to call this place Marvinville," he said of his resting place. Pretty soon they may call all of Tallahassee that, because a week after Jones made 20 tackles against Virginia Tech, he had 15 more against Miami, nine of them unassisted.
"He just runs to the football as fast as he can," Dennis Erickson said. "And when he gets there he's in a bad mood."
The problem is that the Seminoles are undisciplined. Said Sullivan of Jones, "It seems like he doesn't care so much about making the play; if the guy he knocks silly has the ball, fine."
That the Seminoles kept it as close as they did in the face of the Hurricanes' dominance was due mainly to senior flanker Lawrence Dawsey, with his circus catches of all descriptions, 13 of them for 160 yards. Dawsey helped make quarterback Brad Johnson look accomplished. The 6'6" starter, who until this season was better known as a guard on the basketball team, completed 26 of 37 passes for 251 yards.
But Dawsey could not compensate for the Seminoles' dismal first half, in which they were penalized six times for 65 yards, penetrated Miami territory only twice, punted on their first five possessions and converted but one of eight third-down situations. Nor could he make up for three turnovers in the game, including strong safety Hurlie Brown's interception of Johnson in the Miami end zone to close out a promising third-quarter drive at the Miami 36. And he could do nothing at all as the Hurricane offense regained command in the final quarter.
"I can't believe the lack of poise we showed early," said coach Bobby Bowden, who was denied his 200th career victory. "We could have won the stinking game. I really thought we could win, and then they drove 80 yards and that pretty much wrapped it up."