Nov. 2, 1999
By HANK KURZ Jr.
AP Sports Writer
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) – Maybe Florida State’s first-half offensive
aren’t really problems as much as they are part of Bobby Bowden’s grand plan.
Call it the battle testing of 27-year-old quarterback Chris Weinke.
The top-ranked Seminoles did it again Saturday night, struggling on
throughout the first half, then riding the arm of the former minor league
baseball player to 28 second-half points in a 35-10 victory at Virginia.
The problem, Bowden said, was partly that Virginia was intent on not
allowing the Seminoles to throw deep, and partly that Weinke made poor
And the latter, Bowden said, may be more understandable than it seems.
“I think Chris is probably pressing more this year,” Bowden said. “Last
year there wasn’t any pressure on him. Nobody knew him or knew what he could
do. It was his first year as a starter and there wasn’t a lot of pressure on
Weinke’s first season as the starter ended when he got hurt in the
Seminoles’ 45-14 victory against Virginia. He missed the meat of Florida
“He didn’t play in a bowl last year. He didn’t play against Florida last
year. Last week in a big game, 86,000 people there and all the stuff going on,
that was the first time he’s really had to go out there against that,” Bowden
said, referring to the Seminoles’ come-from-behind 17-14 victory at Clemson.
“I thought that would get him through tonight, but he was trying too
Weinke threw three interceptions in the first 17 minutes, one to set up a
16-yard touchdown run by Thomas Jones, but got it together shortly thereafter.
He hit Ron Dugans for 8 yards on 3rd-and-7 from his own 12. He hit Dugans
again, this time for 8 yards, on 3rd-and-6 from Virginia’s 25. And he hit
Marvin Minnis for a game-tying touchdown on 3rd-and-goal from the
The touchdown 5:22 before halftime capped a 14-play, 91-yard drive and
the first of three scoring passes the junior had before it was over. Minnis
also caught a 20-yarder to make it 14-10, and Peter Warrick had a late
Weinke was quick to take the blame for his “stupid little mistakes” in
first half, and to credit the team with helping the Seminoles overcome them.
“We started picking up blitzes in the second half and I started
receivers,” Weinke said after finishing 24-for-35 for 297 yards. “The
receivers really started to make plays after the catch. They have great skill
and all I have to do is get them the ball.”
Jones ran through the Seminoles for 164 yards, including a 71-yard run to
set up a field goal, but Virginia managed just 265 yards in all, 76 passing.
The Cavaliers also got burned by coach George Welsh’s uncharacteristic
decision to try to add to their lead just before halftime when they took over
at their 26 with 1:18 left and tried to move downfield into scoring position.
On consecutive plays, quarterback Dan Ellis got hit hard, and he wound up
watching the second half from the sidelines as David Rivers took over.
In the end, though, it was Weinke taking over what mattered the most.
“We have two games to get where we want to be,” he said.