Dec. 15, 2009
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – It’s impossible to ignore the ties that connect the Florida State and West Virginia football programs entering the historic Jan. 1 Gator Bowl showdown between the Seminoles and Mountaineers.
That begins right at the top with Bobby Bowden, whose 10-year run on the West Virginia staff included six seasons as the Mountaineers’ head coach. Then there’s Jimbo Fisher, the man who will succeed Bowden as the Seminoles’ head coach. Born and raised in Clarksburg, Fisher grew up in the shadow of Morgantown. So did FSU line coach Rick Trickett, a native of Masontown, whose father – like Fisher’s – was a coal miner and who also served on the Mountaineers coaching staff.
“Rich Rodriquez, Nick Saban, Jimbo and me – we’re all (from) within about a 35-mile radius,” said Trickett. “John McKay is from there, too.”
As a coaching staff, Bowden and his assistants with West Virginia prefer to look at the game as any other – one they want to win. Their West Virginia ties are merely a footnote.
That, however, doesn’t mean they don’t expect anything but a tussle with West Virginia coach Bill Stewart’s staff, which figures to have plenty of fan support at sold out Jacksonville Municipal Stadium.
“They love their Mountaineers,” Trickett said. “Their fans travel. … They just love to travel and they love to travel because they love their team. You’ve got coal mines and gas wells and that’s about it up there; coal, oil and gas are their main (industries). They’re people who work hard. My dad was a coal miner most of his life.”
Preparing for West Virginia and its 3-3-5 defensive alignment presents a tough challenge for the Seminoles; a challenge FSU began tackling in earnest Tuesday during the first full pads workout of the postseason.
“That defensive scheme causes people a whole lot of trouble, even if you have three or four weeks (to prepare), you have some issues with simulation,” said Trickett.
Fortunately, the Seminoles welcome back the return of All-American left guard Rodney Hudson, who missed the final two games of the regular season with a knee sprain but has pushed his way through the first two days of practice. Trickett hopes his line – which received solid play from Brandon Davis in Hudson’s absence – will be stronger as a result.
“(Andrew) Datko sprung up as a leader. (David) Spurlock sprung up as a leader,” Trickett said. “I’ve even seen some things out of Zebrie (Sanders). Now that (Hudson is) back, it seems like we’ve got more leaders. It’s good. I’m happy.”
Sticking with the tried-and-true bowl preparation schedule that has been used for nearly a quarter century, Bowden will anxiously monitor the Seminoles’ progress leading up to the game. So far, he’s been impressed with the effort and even the level of execution, despite a two-week respite from practice.
“Now it’s a matter of learning what we’re trying to do against West Virginia’s offense and defense,” Bowden said.
The Seminoles will practice and meet on campus through Tuesday of next week, before sending the players home for the holiday. They will reconvene on Dec. 26 in Jacksonville, where they will hold their first practice at Jacksonville University.
McMahon, White honored by Tallahassee QB Club
Junior center Ryan McMahon and junior defensive end Markus White will be presented the Bob Crenshaw Award tonight at the Tallahassee Quarterback Club Awards dinner. Crenshaw played for the Seminoles from 1952-55 and was captain of the team in ’54, but was killed in a jet crash in 1958. The plaques McMahon and White will receive reads: “To the football player with the biggest heart.” They were selected by teammates as the players who best exemplify the qualities which made Crenshaw an outstanding player, person and leader.
Hudson, Reid add honors
‘Tis the season for postseason awards and Florida State junior guard Rodney Hudson and freshman cornerback/return specialist Greg Reid continue to pile up honors. Hudson earned second-team All-American honors from the Associated Press on Tuesday, adding to his collection which also includes first-team honors from Sports Illustrated.com and second-team honors from Rivals.com.
Hudson has recently picked up first-team All-ACC honors from Sporting News and Rivals.com as well.
Reid, who leads the nation in punt returns, earned first-team Freshman All-American honors as a punt return specialist from Sporting News, who also accorded him first-team All-ACC honors as a return specialist and selected him to the All-ACC freshman team as a defensive back and return specialist. Sports Illustrated accorded Reid honorable mention All-American honors, while the Lowndes (Ga.) County product was named third-team All-American and first-team All-ACC by Rivals.com as a punt return specialist. College Football News also accorded Reid second-team Freshman All-American honors.
Not to be left out among honorees, defensive tackle Jacobbi McDaniel was a second-team Freshman All-American in the eyes of College Football News and a member of the ACC All-Freshman team by Sporting News, along with kicker Dustin Hopkins.