Sept. 29, 2009
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida State has no room for error if it intends to keep its Atlantic Coast Conference championship hopes alive heading into Saturday’s league road-opener at Boston College.
The Seminoles (2-2, 0-1 ACC) and Eagles (3-1, 1-1) have already absorbed conference losses and another setback will seriously cripple those championship aspirations.
“You’re in your conference now,” FSU coach Bobby Bowden said, following Tuesday’s practice. “The next seven weeks we’re in our conference and every game is important for both of us. It’s a very important ballgame.”
Despite the sting of Saturday’s 17-7 loss at home to USF, the road may not be a bad place for the Seminoles to find some solutions to what ails them. As hard as it is to imagine Florida State losing four of its last five games at Doak Campbell Stadium, where they posted a 53-0-1 record from the start of the 1992 season until the third game of the 2001 campaign.
Ironically, for a team battling inconsistency, the road has been more kind of late. The Seminoles are tied for 13th nationally in winning percentage away from home (24-16, .600) since the start of the 2003 campaign, which includes a pair of victories at Boston College’s Alumni Stadium. The Eagles are 13-4 at home since joining the ACC.
Ultimately, the Seminoles success from this point forward will hinge largely on the ability to put together sustained efforts from week to week.
“It could happen overnight, just as soon as the kids decide to play as hard as they can every game,” Bowden said. “… We can’t play for them. We can’t make decisions for them. We can’t determine how hard they’re going to play. They have to determine that. All we can do is express it; hammer it to them that this is what it’s going to take to win. Now they have to go out and do it.”
The Seminoles could be headed to BC with a deeper unit than they’ve had in recent weeks. Defensive tackle Justin Mincey, who has missed the first four games with a knee injury, worked in full pads Tuesday and is expected to suit up Saturday. So is defensive tackle Moses McCray, who sat out the USF game with an elbow injury.
Equally important, quarterback Christian Ponder has indicated he’s feeling much better than he did a week ago, after suffering a mild knee sprain in the win at Brigham Young.
Tuesday’s practice was fast-paced. Unlike the loss to Miami, the ‘Noles showed no signs of a lingering hangover in the wake of defeat.