June 21, 1999 - by
Bowden Hopes Quarterbacks Can Show Rapid Improvement

November 16, 1998


By JOE MACENKA

AP Sports Writer

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) – This was not the kind of performance Bobby Bowden
wanted to see from Florida State’s new-look passing game one week before the
Seminoles play Florida.

Bowden was hoping to use Saturday night’s Wake Forest game as a springboard
for what are traditionally the Seminoles’ two most important contests each
year: the matchup against the Gators and a major bowl game.

Specifically, he was looking for strong performances from quarterbacks
Marcus Outzen, who was making his first collegiate start, and Jared Jones, who
was playing in his first college game.

But a 24-7 victory by Florida State left Bowden feeling anything but
reassured about the direction of his offense now that regular quarterback Chris
Weinke’s season is finished following neck surgery.

With Weinke running the show, the Seminoles averaged 411 yards and 34
points. Under Outzen and Jones, Florida State was held to three-and-outs six
times, punted nine times, turned it over four times and had 347 yards.

Those numbers prompted Bowden to frown and slowly shake his head when asked
about his level of confidence heading into the Florida game.

“We’ll have to play super defense to have a chance,” he said.

Florida State (10-1) did just that against the Demon Deacons, recording
seven sacks and holding them to minus-30 yards rushing. The Seminoles’ Mario
Edwards set a school record with four interceptions, setting up all of Florida
State’s scores.

On offense, however, it was a different story. Outzen misfired on his first
four passes and was just 5-of-13 for 81 yards in the first half.

“I was jumpy on a few plays,” said Outzen, who wound up with 164 yards on
11-for-19 passing and was intercepted once before giving way early in the
fourth quarter to Jones.

The freshman also had his share of problems, completing just two of his six
passes for 8 yards. He also was intercepted once.

“I saw two quarterbacks lacking in experience, and it showed,” Bowden
said. “But I do think they got better and better as they went along.”

Now the question becomes whether they can become good enough this week, when
the Seminoles have four days of practice to prepare for their home game against
the Gators.

“My biggest concern is inexperience at quarterback – not ability, but
inexperience,” Bowden said. “I feel like we’ve got a lot to learn there.
They’ve got ability. It’s just that you can’t coach experience.”

Edwards said the Seminoles aren’t about to hit the panic button because of
one less-than-overpowering showing by their offense.

“No one player makes this team,” he said. “It takes everybody stepping up
and making plays, and that’s what’s we’ve been doing.”

On Saturday night, that philosophy was enough to help Florida State earn at
least a tie for its seventh Atlantic Coast Conference title in as many years as
a league member. The Seminoles also secured a Bowl Championship Series spot.

“Hey, we came out with a win and we’re ACC champs again,” Edwards said.
“Now we can get ready for that next game against that other team from
Florida.”

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