August 26, 1999 - by
Football Squad Ready to Roll in Season Opener

Aug. 26, 1999



By BRIAN MAHONEY
AP MegaSports Writer


The writers that voted Florida State as the No. 1 team in the country
won’t
get an argument from Jack Bicknell.

“From top to bottom they are one of the best teams I’ve ever seen,” the
Louisiana Tech coach said. “If they aren’t the best team in the nation this
year, I don’t know who is. Watching film, it’s almost impossible to find a
weakness.”

Bicknell will get a closer look at Florida State when he brings his
Bulldogs
to Doak Campbell Stadium for Saturday’s season opener.

The Seminoles are No. 1 in The Associated Press preseason poll for the
fifth
time since 1988. And there is every reason to believe they might hold onto
that
ranking all season.

Florida State returns 16 starters, including three All-Americans, from
last
year’s team that went 11-2 before losing to Tennessee in the Fiesta Bowl.

Among those returning to an offense that averaged over 32 points per
game in
1998 are star receiver and punt returner Peter Warrick, who caught 61 passes
for 1,232 yards and 12 touchdowns, and running back Travis Minor, who ran for
857 yards.

But the most important returner is quarterback Chris Weinke, who
missed the
final three games last year with a neck injury. Weinke threw for 19 touchdowns
and six interceptions before his season-ending injury.

Receiver Laveranues Coles, slated to start opposite Warrick, will not
play
after he was suspended for one game by coach Bobby Bowden for academic
reasons.

Florida State also returns the best defense in the country. The Seminoles
allowed only 215 yards per game last season.

That defense figures to get a tough test from Louisiana Tech. The
Bulldogs
were only 6-6 in 1998, but that was not the fault of Tim Rattay and the
rest of
the offense.

Rattay, a senior quarterback, powered a unit that led the nation in
passing
offense and was second in total offense. He threw for 4,943 yards and 46
touchdowns a year ago while completing 68 percent of his passes.

“Rattay is an excellent veteran quarterback that know his offense inside
and out,” Bowden said. “He finds his receivers well and throws it quick so
it’s hard to get to him. When you start putting out three, four and five wide
receivers you have to know how you are going to line up defensively.”

Gone is favorite target Troy Edwards, who was drafted by the Pittsburgh
Steelers. But Rattay can still throw to sophomores James Jordan and Delwyn
Daigre, who combined for nearly 100 catches and over 1,200 yards as freshmen.

Bicknell, in his first year at Louisiana Tech, will have to improve the
Bulldogs’ defense if his team is going to be competitive over a brutal
schedule
that also includes Texas A&M, Alabama and Southern California. The Bulldogs
yielded more than 400 yards and 33 points per game last season.

Florida State has not lost a home opener since falling to Clemson in
1989.

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