October 12, 1999 - by
FSU Football Is Halfway Home In Pursuit Of National Title

Oct. 12, 1999



By BRENT KALLESTAD

Associated Press Writer


TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – In its pursuit of an unprecedented
wire-to-wire run
to a national championship, top-ranked Florida State is halfway there.


“We thought we’d be pretty darned good and we are,” coach Bobby Bowden
said. “(And) we’re getting better each week.”

While its record is perfect at 6-0, Florida State’s season hasn’t gone as
smoothly. Injuries and suspensions have plagued the Seminoles from the
beginning of the season. They’ve already lost five starters on offense.

Starting fullback William McCray, tight end Nick Franklin and offensive
tackle Ross Brannon were lost for the year with injuries and legal trouble has
taken receivers Laveranues Coles and Peter Warrick off the field.

Coles was kicked off the team last week and Warrick was suspended
after they
were arrested on a felony grand theft charge for receiving more than $400
worth
of designer clothing for slightly more than $20.

Warrick’s future is in the hands of the judicial system as Florida State
rules don’t allow athletes charged with a felony to represent the university.

“It’s out of our hands,” Bowden said. “We’re just waiting to see what
happens.”

But Florida State proved in its 31-21 victory Saturday over Miami
that’s it
still got enough horsepower to win big games.

“We’ve showed we can play with or without Peter,” said Bowden, who won
his
only national title in 1993.

Junior quarterback Chris Weinke came up with the strongest performance of
his career, passing for 332 yards – to 11 receivers – and two touchdowns
against Miami.

Coming off a serious neck injury and four-hour spinal operation last
November, Weinke has completed 62.8 percent of his passes for 1,627 yards and
13 touchdowns.

With Warrick and Coles gone, senior receiver Ron Dugans’ is the only
player
with more than seven receptions going into Saturday’s homecoming game against
Wake Forest.

In their first six games, the Seminoles have been tested just twice. They
outscored Georgia Tech 41-35 in early September and then shut down Miami for
the final 40 minutes last week.

In both games, Florida State’s secondary – particularly senior cornerback
Mario Edwards – struggled.

“It looked like we were playing cautious,” Florida State defensive
coordinator Mickey Andrews said. “You can’t play defense like that.”

While the defense has allowed an uncharacteristic 17.8 points and 330
yards
a game, the Florida State offense has been remarkably consistent, averaging
41.3 points.

As in the past, it looks like Florida State’s date with Florida will help
determine who plays in the Sugar Bowl for the national title. Until then,
Florida State must get past four ACC opponents as it bids for an unprecedented
eighth straight conference title.

No team has gone wire-to-wire ranked No. 1 in The Associated Press’
annual
poll, but two teams – Nebraska in 1983 and Florida State in 1993 – came close.

The ’83 Cornhuskers went 12-0 before losing to Miami 31-30 in the Orange
Bowl. The ’93 Seminoles were No. 1 for most of the season, lost to Notre Dame
but beat Nebraska in the Orange Bowl to claim the title.

In the 1999 preseason poll, Florida State received 48 first-place
votes and
1,720 points from the 70 sportswriters and broadcasters on the panel.

This week, the Seminoles are No. 1 with their support increasing on a
weekly
basis, now holding 63 first-place votes and 1,743 points.

“We’re in the hunt, like a few are” said Bowden, who is going for his
299th career victory Saturday.

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