Nov. 23, 2009
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Over the course of the first 11 football games, Bobby Bowden’s Florida State team has developed a reputation for being competitively relentless. In fact, 10 of the games have been undecided into the fourth quarter; a testimony to the Seminoles’ will to win.
On the heels of Saturday’s bowl berth-clinching 29-26 win over Maryland, decided in the waning minute, the Seminoles have turned their attention to the toughest challenge to date – Saturday’s trip to No. 1 Florida.
While the odds appear stacked against the ‘Noles, Bowden has seen enough from his young charges to be encouraged, especially with the way they prevailed against the Terrapins.
“It was one of those ugly wins and I’ll take an ugly win any day over a beautiful loss like Georgia Tech, when you score 44 points and lose,” Bowden said. “That ain’t pretty to me at all. The win (against Maryland) was the big thing. The face that you had to come back twice in the fourth quarter is a good sign. … I think our kids learned a lot about themselves during that. They very obviously won’t give up. They won’t quit. They’ve fought every darn game.”
That fight has helped FSU win four of its last five games, since the aforementioned 49-44 loss to Georgia Tech and completely turned a season around. The ‘Noles go into Florida’s Ben Hill Griffin with everything to gain and enough confidence to believe they can compete.
“I think we’re prepared for it as an offense, as long as we continue to play together,” said quarterback EJ Manuel, who has guided the ‘Noles to pair of wins since replacing injured starter Christian Ponder. “As long as we continue to prepare well for the game, I think we’ll be fine.”
Manuel, who led the Seminoles on their game-winning 44-yard drive against Maryland, said he doesn’t expect to be overwhelmed by the raucous crowd at UF.
“We’re going to play the game,” Manuel said. “We have a lot of fans here, too.”
Most of the Seminoles are embracing the opportunity at hand.
“They’ve got a great offense and a great team as a whole,” said sophomore linebacker Nigel Bradham. “It’s pretty much (up to us) to go out there and execute.”
Bradham, who has registered 39 tackles in the last four weeks, is ready to test his high level of play against the Tim Tebow-led Gators.
“When you’re going up against a team like this that doesn’t make many mistakes in a game … it puts you to a challenge to see where you’re at and motivates you as a player to see how good you really are going against great competition,” Bradham added.
As for the five-game slide, Bowden is philosophical.
“You know, everybody has their day,” said Bowden. “Miami put their little scheme together for about 10 years. We put our together for about 10 years. Now Florida’s in the drivers’ seat, but it don’t last forever. That’s one thing we all find out – it don’t last forever.”
REID GETS THIRD ACC HONOR OF SEASON
Freshman cornerback/return specialist Greg Reid was named ACC Specialist of the Week on the strength of his 48-yard punt return which set up the Seminoles’ game-winning touchdown drive with less than two minutes to play. Reid, who has three player of the week honors from the ACC this season, finished with 88 yards on three punt returns to grab the national lead with an 18.4 average. He also returned a kickoff 25 yards and registered three solo tackles in the secondary for the Seminoles against Maryland.
Reid appreciated the honor, but enjoyed the victory – which secured a 28th consecutive bowl appearance by the Seminoles – a lot more.
“That’s really the key thing for me,” Reid said. “I just felt I had to make a big play. I was going to try to get the ball and give my offense good field position.”