Aug 31, 2002
By BRENT KALLESTAD
Associated Press Writer
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida State is taking on a new look. The pass-loving Seminoles appear to be running the ball more this season, and it paid off Saturday against Virginia.
Tailback Greg Jones ran for a career-high 173 yards Saturday as the fifth-ranked Seminoles racked up 397 yards rushing in a 40-19 victory.
“We’re checking with Ohio State and Nebraska on how to do rushing notes,” Florida State publicist Rob Wilson joked afterward. “We don’t know how to do them.”
Florida State’s big, experienced offensive line lends itself to a strong ground game, and so does the 240-pound Jones and his smaller, quicker backups.
“You can mess up on a block, and he’s still going to take the guy you missed three yards down the field,” Florida State offensive tackle Brett Williams said of Jones. “You pound them with Greg, and then bring in the fast guys.”
Jones, who has surpassed 100 yards in four straight games, scored two touchdowns and averaged more than eight yards a carry.
“Size, strength and speed,” Virginia coach Al Groh said when asked to describe him.
Bowden said Jones is just getting started. “It’s all in front of him,” Bowden said. “He’s just learning how to change direction, dance around a little.”
Jones’ 173 yards were the most by a Florida State back since 1996, when Warrick Dunn gained 185 yards against Florida.
The Seminoles (2-0, 1-0 ACC) dropped from No. 3 after narrowly defeating Iowa State last week, but they jumped to a 33-0 lead Saturday. And it could’ve been worse.
Florida State blew two other scoring opportunities inside Virginia’s 2-yard line during the final three minutes of the first half. The Seminoles lost a fumble at the 1, and Chris Rix was intercepted in the end zone as the half ended.
For the first time in his 14-game career, Rix did not throw a touchdown pass. He had 117 yards and was intercepted twice.
Virginia’s Matt Schaub, who completed 19 of 25 passes for 247 yards, threw three fourth-quarter touchdowns to make the score respectable for the Cavaliers (0-2, 0-1).
“There have been a lot of teams that came into this place that when the score was 33-0 it finished up 68-3,” Groh said.
Last week, Florida State blew a pair of 24-point leads in a 38-31 victory over Iowa State. The Seminoles, who have a week off before playing at Maryland, also gained more yards on the ground than in the air against the Cyclones.
Bowden recorded his 325th career coaching victory, leaving him three behind all-time leader Penn State’s Joe Paterno, who also won Saturday.
Florida State has won all 11 of its league openers since joining the ACC in 1992, while Virginia had won its four previous league openers.
In the inaugural game of the ACC’s 50th anniversary season, Virginia scored its first touchdown on an 11-yard pass from Schaub to Heath Miller with 13:43 left. Patrick Estes added a 9-yard TD catch with 4:21 to go and Ottawa Anderson caught a 4-yard touchdown pass with 24 seconds left.
Freshman Marques Hagans started the game for Virginia but was ineffective, completing only 1 pass in 7 attempts for 4 yards.
Florida State’s special teams got the scoring started midway through the first quarter when Jared Hetzel broke free to block a punt through the end zone for a safety.
After the free kick, Florida State went 60 yards in nine plays, scoring on a 4-yard run by freshman fullback Torrance Washington for a 9-0 lead 12 minutes into the game.
Jones’ 19-yard TD run and a 1-yard sneak by Rix closed out Florida State’s first-half scoring.
Jones scored his second touchdown in the third quarter and Xavier Beitia added a 42-yard field goal before third-team tailback Willie Reid completed the Florida State scoring on a 5-yard run with 6:40 left in the game.