November 11, 1998
WINSON-SALEM, N.C.–(AP) When Florida State plays Wake Forest on Saturday, the fifth-ranked Seminoles
will have more than the ACC title on their minds. Quarterback Chris Weinke will
be watching from a hospital bed, recovering from season-ending neck surgery.
Weinke, who has not thrown an interception in 218 consecutive passes, was
injured in FSU’s 45-14 win over then-No. 12 Virginia on Saturday. On Monday,
the team announced he had a herniated disk, ligament injuries and a small bone
fragment causing numbness in his right arm. He will undergo surgery Friday in
Tallahassee. Doctors say the surgery is not career threatening, and Weinke
could be back next August.
“The toughest part about it is, it seemed everything was falling into
place,” Weinke said as he held back tears on Tuesday.
The Seminoles (9-1, 6-1 ACC) have won eight straight since a 24-7 loss Sept.
12 at North Carolina State. They will earn their seventh-straight league title
with a win over Wake Forest.
Junior Marcus Outzen draws the task of keeping the team in the hunt for a
national title. Outzen was 5-of-6 for 67 yards against the Cavaliers, but threw
an interception at the goal line.
“I’ve just met with Chris … and to know the seriousness of the injury is
tough. My prayers and those of our team are with him,” Outzen said. “Now I
know I have to step in and replace his leadership.”
Wake Forest (3-6, 2-4), coming off a 38-27 loss to N.C. State, looks to
spoil FSU’s title hopes with their high-powered offense.
Brian Kuklick needs 398 yards in his final two games to become the fifth
quarterback in ACC history to pass for more than 8,000, and Desmond Clark,
listed as questionable with a knee injury, holds the ACC’s all-time reception
record with 211.
The Seminoles counter with the No. 1 defense in the country.
Historically, the matchup has been no contest. Since joining the ACC, the
Seminoles have won all six games over Wake, outscoring the Demon Deacons by
nearly 45 points per game. The closest game was 35-7 in 1992. FSU won last
year’s game in Tallahassee, 58-7.
Coach Jim Caldwell summed up his team’s task perfectly.
“We’re facing in Florida State a football team that is playing as well as,
if not better than, any team in the country right now,” Caldwell said. “Their
offense is explosive and has numerous individual weapons. Their defense has
been dominating throughout most of the season. And they have the leading kicker
in the country.”