September 15, 1999 - by
Florida State Quarterback Anxious To Atone For Six Interception Nightmare

Sept. 15, 1999

By BRENT KALLESTAD

Associated Press Writer



TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) – A year ago after facing North Carolina State,
Chris
Weinke wondered if he had the right stuff to be a major college quarterback.

Weinke, despite throwing a 74-yard touchdown pass on the first play of
the
game, was intercepted six times in Florida State’s 24-7 upset loss to the
Wolfpack.

“After something like that, there is a tendency to lose your confidence,”
Weinke said this week as the top-ranked Seminoles prepared for No. 20 North
Carolina State in a matchup of unbeaten Atlantic Coast Conference teams. “In
the back of my mind, I may have lost it (confidence) but I wasn’t going to let
anybody know that.”

Weinke rebounded strongly, going the rest of his season without another
interception.

He completed nearly 53 percent of his passes for 1,894 yards and 16
touchdowns in the next six games – all victories.

“I think it’s one of the great lessons of competitive sports,” Bowden
said. “You’re not down and out unless you just give up. It showed Chris’
determination and intelligence.”

In addition to his own doubts, Weinke was hearing it from some of the
school’s more fanatical followers – receiving 160 e-mails, mostly unfriendly.

Florida State coach Bobby Bowden had been through similar tough times
before
with inexperienced quarterbacks.

“After the game, you wonder if he is going to be the answer or not,”
Bowden said about Weinke, who was making just his second start. “But that
really didn’t last long.”

Except for 1990 when he replaced Brad Johnson with Casey Weldon,
Bowden has
stuck with his season starter during the school’s 12-year string of 10-win
seasons.

The coaches decided to stay with the 26-year-old Weinke, who postponed
his
football career for a half dozen years bouncing around minor league baseball.

“He’s played pro baseball, he’d struck out a few times,” Bowden said.
“You’re not down and out unless you give up.”

Indeed, Weinke remembered more than just a few strikeouts during his
six-year minor league career in the Toronto Blue Jays system.

“After failing so many times in baseball you learn how to deal with it,”
Weinke said. “It wasn’t the first time I had failed.”

Bowden’s options were inexperienced sophomore Marcus Outzen and freshman
Jared Jones, who the coaches had hoped to redshirt at that time.

Bowden also shouldered some of the blame for Florida State’s
self-destruction in the game.

“I have a tendency to panic,” he said. “We should have run the ball more
at N.C. State last year, but it was me insisting we get down the field quickly
and score.”

But the worst was yet to come for the 6-5, 240-pound quarterback.

Against Virginia on Nov. 7, Weinke suffered a herniated disc when he was
tackled on the penultimate play of the first half in a 45-14 Florida State
victory. A four-hour surgery the next week kept him away from contact for the
next nine months.

Outzen, meanwhile, stepped in and led the Seminoles to victories over
Wake
Forest and Florida and played in the national title game against Tennessee at
the Fiesta Bowl.

Although he did not experience any contact until Florida State’s opening
game against Louisiana Tech, Weinke has started the season successfully. He’s
completed 59 percent of his passes for 504 yards and five touchdowns in two
games.

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