March 7, 2001
2001 FSU FOOTBALL SEASON OUTLOOK
Outlook on the Offense
Offensive Coordinator Jeff Bowden
“I’m excited about the upcoming season. It is not like I’m coming into a new job and am unfamiliar with everything. I know our players and I know what we want to try to do.
“One thing we’ve done leading into spring is spent a lot of time talking about what we’re doing in the running game. We’ve watched a lot of tape of other people’s running game. We’re not going in here and trying to do something different, in terms of plays, than we have before. We just want to change our mind-set. I’m watching tape with Daryl (Dickey) and we’re just watching these runs and I’m wondering if I can keep my patience. It’s awfully tempting to just want to drop back there and throw that ball. It’s really easier to move the ball that way at times. It takes patience to accept a 2- or 3-yard gain at times. The more film I study, even in the pros, you don’t see game after game, long runs. You just don’t see that.
“Coach Bowden got involved with the offense more when Mark (Richt) took over in ’94 and that’s when I came in as well. He came in with a list of thoughts and ideas. Now, Mark had been here 10 years before becoming the coordinator and he (Coach Bowden) still was not going to just turn over the reins until he was sure.
“He (Coach Bowden) gave us a list of thoughts and ideas, things that he’s had a different philosophy of what we were doing in the past that he wants to get back to doing. He read them to us as a staff and then sort of gave me a checklist. A list of things I’d better make sure are practiced and coached.
“It is a very important spring for us on offense with the experience and talent that we lost. We just can’t replace what a three-year starter at quarterback gives you, not to mention the fact that he was the Heisman Trophy winner. We’ve got to give Chris Rix and Anquan Boldin enough reps in practice so that we go into the fall with a good idea of what we can and can’t do.
“We’ve got to replace a four-year starter at tailback and our top receiver, so we’ll be using the spring to determine who the players are that are going to be able to step up and make plays next fall. We should be talented along the offensive front, but we’ve got to replace three starters there as well.”
The FSU offense must replace it’s leading passer, rusher, receiver and three starting offensive linemen from a unit that led the nation in total offense during the regular season last year. Heisman Trophy winner Chris Weinke will be replaced by either redshirt freshman Chris Rix, or starting wide receiver Anquan Boldin who moved back to his high school position this spring. While leading receiver Snoop Minnis is gone, the Seminoles return Atrews Bell, Robert Morgan and the next four leading receivers from last year’s group. The offensive line will be built around All-America candidate Brett Williams at tackle.
Redshirt freshman Chris Rix has not taken a snap in a college game and he enters spring practice as the frontrunner to take over for Chris Weinke as the starting quarterback. Rix has been a mainstay in FSU film rooms since arriving on the campus and coaches are pleased with his mental preparation. An excellent athlete who also played wide receiver in high school, Rix has the talent to be a great one. Anquan Boldin has moved to his old position for spring. A highly touted high school signal caller, Boldin will compete for the starting job over spring drills.
Both running back positions will be up for grabs in the spring, but there is excellent talent at both positions and a great deal of experience at fullback. William McCray returns at that position and should have an excellent senior season. He will be pushed hard by experienced veterans Randy Golightly and Chad Maeder, giving coaches the option of having a fresh fullback in the game at all times.
Davy Ford will begin spring as the No. 1 tailback and, if he can avoid injuries, coaches feel he is an explosive back. Greg Jones will push for starting honors over spring drills and he offers the big, pounding back that FSU has lacked over the last few years. Nick Maddox will work at tailback this spring having already proven to coaches that he can play at wide receiver. He is ready to compete and could win the job as well.
FSU’s returning receivers had a combined 133 receptions a year ago led by Atrews Bell who scored 10 touchdowns on 37 receptions in 2000. Bell will be counted on to step up even more in 2001 as will senior Robert Morgan who enters spring as the starter at split end. Junior Talman Gardner will push Morgan at split end, while senior Javon Walker and junior Greg Moore will see a lot of action and will back up Atrews Bell entering spring.
Junior Brett Williams has emerged as one of FSU’s finest linemen and he will be counted on to lead a young, but talented unit. Alex Barron will miss most of spring drills following surgery but should back up Williams. A battle at tight tackle should be one of the features of spring as junior Todd Williams tries to hold off freshman Ray Willis. Antoine Mirambeau steps in at center, but must keep Josh Baggs and David Castillo from beating him out. Montrae Holland returns at tight guard where he has outstanding potential, but he will be challenged by Otis Duhart as well. Newcomer Milford Brown will start the spring as first team at split guard, but senior Ronald Boldin will push him all the way to fall practice. Bobby Meeks is in the mix there as well.
Outlook on the Defense
Defensive Coordinator Mickey Andrews
“We’ve got seven starters to replace and all of them were outstanding players. We lost two outside linebackers, two defensive ends, two corners and one safety. Each one had a lot to do with the success we’ve had around here for the last four of five years.
“So, we’ve got to come up with seven people to fill those spots, and we’ve got to find some people that can grow up in a hurry. We play a lot of guys during the season, and one reason for that is to gain some game experience for the younger guys. We try to teach them how to raise their level of play when the game is not on the line.
“In addition to the need to find the new starters, we’ve got to make sure the four returning starters keep improving. We are returning the down the middle guys. In baseball they talk about being solid up the middle and that’s what we must make sure we have. We return both our starting tackles, our middle linebacker and the free safety. But they’ve got to play better than they have at any time in their careers. We won’t allow them to just take off this spring and come out with a starting job.
“Our task this spring will be to determine out best starting 11 and then find the second best 11 as we head into the fall. When our freshmen come in in August then we’ll see if some of them can fit in. It (the recruiting class) appears to be a very talented group and we are expecting them to help in the fall. We’ll take them as fast as they can go.
“It should be an exciting spring. We will try to push them fast enough and somehow keep them healthy. You can’t get better watching football, you must be involved. You hope that you have enough who will take the challenge to go out there and improve every day this spring. It’s a little tougher to do now with more than half of the 15 days of drills being non-contact days. That’s okay for basketball or baseball or track, but you’ve got to learn to block and tackle in football. That is the surest way to get better.
“We’ve got some talented players they are just not as experienced as we’ve had recently. We’ve just got to fight, and scratch, and claw to get better every day.
Florida State’s defense will undergo a pivotal spring in 2001 replacing consensus All-Americans Jamal Reynolds and Tay Cody. Along with All-ACC stars Tommy Polley, Derrick Gibson and sensational linebacker Brian Allen. However, the Tribe will count on the production and leadership of returning starters Chris Hope (FS), Bradley Jennings (LB), Darnell Dockett (DT) and Jeff Womble (NG) and a bevy of talented newcomers.
Darnell Dockett returns at defensive tackle where he earned second team All-ACC honors as a freshman last year. He teams with classmate Jeff Womble to give the Seminoles a solid foundation in the middle of the line. Talented youngsters Travis Johnson and Tony Benford are expected to push them all the way. The luxury the Seminoles will not necessarily have that they have enjoyed over the last four years is a proven star at defensive end. Sophomore Kevin Emanuel moves from defensive tackle out to left defensive end where he is penciled in as the starter. Junior Alonzo Jackson saw considerable playing time at left end last year and will be the starter at right end heading into spring. Eric Powell, who shifted from tackle, and Charles Howard should compete very strongly this spring at defensive end.
Bradley Jennings returns for his third season as the starter at middle linebacker and he will be counted on to be one of the leaders for the team this year. Backing up Jennings will be Jerel Hudson, who proved to coaches he could play last year. Battling for starting honors this spring at weakside linebacker will be sophomores Kendyll Pope and Allen Augustine. Pope has the edge having played a great deal last season. Most of Augustine’s playing time came as a member of the special teams. Sophomore Michael Boulware, who also played a lot on special teams as a true freshman last year, moves from the weakside to strongside linebacker where he will line up at first team this spring. True freshman Ray Piquion, who enrolled in January after graduating from high school in December, will also work on the strongside this spring.
Academic All-American Chris Hope returns at free safety and he must anchor a secondary that is sure to be very young. Senior Abdual Howard played a great deal last year and should be the starter at rover taking over for three-year starter Derrick Gibson. Talented redshirt freshman Claudius Osei will also get a long look here this spring.
Cornerback should be the seen of some of the most intense battles all season. Junior Malcolm Tatum is listed as the first team left corner as spring drills begins with redshirt freshmen Bryant McFadden and Leroy Smith pushing him for playing time. Sophomore Stanford Samuels played well in the Orange Bowl and is listed just ahead of classmate Rufus Brown for the vacant position.