September 4, 2009 - by
Opener Has Reaching Implications

Sept. 4, 2009




TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Bobby Bowden has a feel that his Florida State football team is back on the right path. He thinks the same thing of rival Miami.

Consequently, Monday night’s opener between the Seminoles and Hurricanes will serve as a gauge for many who are trying to determine which program is closer to returning to the days when the two schools dominated the decade of the 1980s and 90s.

“We’re both probably pretty close,” Bowden said, following Friday’s practice. “Both of us have been through very much the same cycle. Whoever wins this game will feel like you’re further along.”

The Seminoles spent their next-to-last day of practice in shorts, refining the game plan in preparation for the third Labor Day meeting in five years. Bowden has seen consistent improvement in his teams’ execution over the past few days, which he hopes translates inside a raucous Doak Campbell Stadium.

“The one thing about football is it’s all reps,” Bowden said. “You do it over, and over and over until you don’t have to think hard.”

That’s the path to precision execution; something that is seldom seen between two similarly-talented teams in the opening game of the season. Consequently, Bowden warns that neither the Seminoles nor the Hurricanes can allow the first game to dictate the season ahead.

“You don’t want that,” Bowden said, when asked if the outcome of the opener casts the dye on a 12-game regular season. “One of us will be (the loser), but it don’t mean the end of it.”

Florida State will practice against Saturday, then depart Sunday evening from Crawfordville, marking the first time in Bowden’s tenure as coach the Seminoles won’t spend the night before a home game in Thomasville, Ga.

“For 33 years we’ve gone up to Thomasville,” Bowden said. “Back before I came here, they used to go down to Wakulla, to Wakulla Springs.”

That was where Bowden went as a three-year assistant on FSU coach Bill Peterson’s staff back in the 1960s.

“I liked it down there,” Bowden said. “The reason we left is they didn’t have television.”

Practice recap

FSU spent the vast majority of practice working in segments, small groups and working against the scout team. … Friday’s practice ended in the hurry-up drills, with the offense attempting to drive 60 yards with the clock winding down. … Quarterback Christian Ponder connected with wide receiver Richard Goodman and Rod Owens, and Jermaine Thomas centered the ball up in the middle of the field for a simulated, game-winning field goal attempt. Freshman Dustin Hopkins converted from 30 yards out. … Second-team quarterback EJ Manuel completed a pair of passes to Bert Reed before time expired on its possession.

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