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Florida State

Thursday, September 11, 2008 11:41am
By: Accsports Staff

August 25, 2003 The Big Picture The last time FSU wasn't ranked in the top 10 of the preseason AP poll was 1986. Chris Rix was in kindergarten, and Bobby Bowden trailed all-time Division I-A wins leader Bear Bryant by 167. That also was the last year the Seminoles didn't begin a season openly discussing a run at the national championship. Fast-forward to 2003. FSU was No. 13 in the preseason poll, with Rix as a third-year starter and Bowden nine wins head of Bryant and four behind leader Joe Paterno. Publicly, there has been little discussion of a title run, thanks to nine losses over the past two seasons. The Seminoles, however, could be poised for one nonetheless. The defense looks awesome. If the offense comes along, watch out. The PooP For four years, coaches wondered when enigmatic DT Darnell Dockett would end up in the newspaper for something he had done off the field. Still, they couldn't believe he would duplicate former All-American Peter Warrick's 1999 scam, conspiring with an employee for a deep discount that led to a felony charge. Even more surprising, since settling his legal plight, Dockett has emerged as one of the team's leaders. It has been a post-practice ritual for the once-aloof talent to pull aside a young offensive lineman and help him with drills. In the weight room and on the field, he's been a motivational and unblockable force. His turnaround has left the staff virtually speechless, perhaps for fear that he could revert at any moment. Building Blocks Sheer speed and quickness, assets the Seminoles have not enjoyed on defense the past two seasons, is abundant — even beyond the starters — at every position. At end, juco transfer Chauncey Davis and juniors Eric Moore and Charles Howard have been averaging two sacks a scrimmage. With DTs Dockett, Travis Johnson and Brodrick Bunkley getting a consistent push up the middle, new linebackers coach Kevin Steele has been able to cut loose his groups on a variety of blitzes, with ends sometimes dropping into zone coverage. The occasional corner blitz, unseen in years, has come from Bryant McFadden and Stanford Samuels, while safety Pat Watkins' closing speed allowed him to intercept a pass in every preseason scrimmage. Coming On Strong In the two-year absence of Warrick, FSU's offensive productivity has been reduced to long bombs or sustained drives with Greg Jones providing the hammer. Those days could be over. Redshirt freshman WR Chris Davis and a classmate, RB Lorenzo Booker, team with sophomore WR Willie Reid to give the Seminoles a trio of players with the speed and elusiveness to turn a short play into a huge gain. It's an asset FSU has sorely lacked and one Rix must utilize. Done For Me Lately  

Year

ACC

Overall

Postseason

1993

8-0 (1)

12-1

Orange Bowl (W)

1994

8-0 (1)

10-1-1

Sugar Bowl (W)

1995

7-1 (1)

10-2

Orange Bowl (W)

1996

8-0 (1)

11-1

Sugar Bowl (L)

1997

8-0 (1)

11-1

Sugar Bowl (W)

1998

7-1 (1)

11-2

Fiesta Bowl (L)

1999

8-0 (1)

12-0

Sugar Bowl (W)

2000

8-0 (1)

11-2

Orange Bowl (L)

2001

6-2 (2)

8-4

Gator Bowl (W)

2002

7-1 (1)

9-5

Sugar Bowl (L)

ACC: 75-5 (.938); No. 1 in ACC
All: 105-19-1 (.844); No. 1 in ACC Cause For Concern? Bowden has given Rix every opportunity to reclaim his starting position and win over his teammates. Off the field, Rix has said and done all the right things, but it remains to be seen if his decision-making has improved. In the pre-
season, he continued to lock in on primary
receivers, leading to multiple interceptions. The Whole Truth “I purposely have not tried to be real optimistic, because I feel like I have in the past and we haven't lived up to it. I feel like now we're at the point where we need to go prove something before we start talking about how good we are.”

— Florida State coach Bobby Bowden CHART BY: THE FSU INSIDER