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So, once again ASU will be a wide-open, high-scoring team—fun to watch, horrifying to play. This year more fans will see the Sun Devils play than ever before, for ASU's stadium has been enlarged to 51,000. The way ASU looks right now, all those new seats have come just in time.
19 FLORIDA STATE
On a Saturday afternoon a little short of a year ago Bill Cappleman, a tall gifted quarterback who had yet to throw his first pass in combat for FSU, took the field against Maryland. On the sidelines, Head Coach Bill Peterson kept remembering the four interceptions Cappleman had thrown in a scrimmage a few days earlier. He watched grimly as Cappleman brought the offense out of the huddle and up to the line. "Oh, oh," thought the quarterback, surveying Maryland's defense, "I've called the wrong play." He barked an audible, but the switch of plays was lost in the roar of the crowd. Half the team heard him call 60, a passing play. The other half thought he called 16, a running play. The snap of the ball brought chaos. Peterson stared in disbelief as his team ran in 10 different directions. "My God," he screamed, "they made up a play in the huddle." Undismayed, Cappleman passed—right into the hands of a Maryland linebacker who ran 40 yards for a touchdown.
Shaken, Coach Peterson called for Gary Pajcic, a sore-armed senior quarterback who as a sophomore had broken all of FSU's passing records. But in a few minutes Pajcic was back at the sidelines, shaking his head and holding his arm. "Cappleman," shouted Peterson, and Bill Cappleman responded. "Go in there and...never mind, just go in there." He did and he fumbled. FSU recovered, moved 73 yards and scored. Florida State eventually won, but Peterson was not convinced.
"I thought he just couldn't run the team," Peterson said recently. "No spark. He had a great arm but he never asked any questions. I figured he just didn't give a damn. What I didn't know was that he didn't have to ask questions. He knew our offense better than I did."
Peterson went with Pajcic the following week in a 9-3 loss to Florida—a defeat he felt just a little more than if he had been coaching Custer at the Little Big Horn. For better or worse Cappleman was returned as the No. 1 passer. It was for the better; seven victories in eight games for FSU; for Cappleman, 162 completions of 287 passes for 2,410 yards and 25 touchdowns. The people at Florida State have been waiting for the 1969 season ever since.
"We've had a few good quarterbacks at FSU," said Peterson. "Steve Tensi, Pajcic, Kim Hammond. But without a doubt Cappy has to be the finest. If there is a better quarterback in the country, he's got to be a combination of Sammy Baugh, Y. A. Tittle and God."
Which means FSU, as usual, has a pitcher, leaving it to Peterson to come up with an adequate crew of catchers. He has lost Ron Sellers, everybody's All-America and one of the outstanding flankers in collegiate history. Last year Sellers caught 86 passes for 1,496 yards and 12 touchdowns. Knowing no one would ever fill his jersey, Peterson retired it.
"But," he says, grinning, "some of our kids just might catch a pass or two this year." For starters, there's Jim Tyson, a junior and the best pass-catching tight end in Peterson's nine-year tenure at Florida State. "He catches balls," said the head coach, "that most tight ends can't get within five yards of. Hands, speed, timing. I guarantee you that he's going to hurt a lot of people." As the passing attack goes, so goes FSU, and another key will be the production of Don Pederson, a junior given the job of replacing Sellers. He has good speed and sure hands.
Should the passing game falter—and in Tallahassee they believe the church will falter first—Coach Peterson can fall back on a proved running attack. The biggest gun is Tom Bailey, large and fast, and with just enough meanness to enjoy running over other people. "The finest runner I've ever had," said Peterson. "He makes tacklers think before sticking their head in there. Nobody is going to gang up on our receivers with Bailey around."