Bowden hopes Seminoles are on the way back

Sunday, September 24th 2006, 2:15 pm
By: News On 6

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) _ The touchdowns came in pairs, just like how Bobby Bowden remembered the good old days, when Florida State teams would routinely crush visiting underdogs.

But that hadn't happened for a while, and the Florida State coach was unusually testy the week before a first-time visit by Rice University from Conference USA.

But runners Antone Smith and Joe Surratt and wide receiver Greg Carr all produced two touchdowns each and placekicker Gary Cismesia contributed a pair of field goals as the Seminoles started strong and finished fast in a 55-7 rout Saturday of the winless Owls.

``At least we played like we were supposed to play,'' Bowden said Sunday, the memory of a struggle two weeks earlier against Troy clearly on his mind. ``We played like Texas the week before when they played 'em.''

Texas routed Rice 52-7 Sept. 16 and Florida State's win left the Owls 0-4 under new coach Todd Graham.

After a 2-1 start and an offense scoring under 20 points a game with a struggling running attack, Florida State put up 287 ground yards of its 500 total Saturday, taking some pressure off its overworked defense as well.

``I can't tell you the last time we put up 50 points,'' linebacker Buster Davis said. ``It's been a long time.''

Actually, it was last Oct. 22, when the Seminoles put up the same 55 in an easy win at Duke. Carr caught three TD passes in that game.

Florida State's 55 points were just two short of its total through the first three games. The Seminoles are now averaging 28 points and 315 yards a game _ still well below the numbers Bowden expects to see.

``I'm always miffed when things don't go right,'' Bowden said Sunday. ``Just because you didn't get off to a good start (it) doesn't mean your season is over.''

Carr's two scoring catches against Rice give him 12 in less than a season and a half, three more than fifth-year senior Chris Davis, who continues to be plagued with dropped balls and fumbles.

However, freshman tight end Brandon Warren is increasingly becoming a receiving threat and now has 10 catches for a 12.1 average.

``He is a man,'' Bowden said about his first-year tight end. ``This guy's got exceptional athletic talent.''

Bowden, who raised his major college record win total to No. 362, played a bunch of true freshmen and got backup quarterback Xavier Lee some extended playing time _ before the game was out of reach.

Lee completed 5 of 11 for 111 yards, including a 57-yard TD to Carr. Drew Weatherford was 8-of-12 for 102 yards and a touchdown.

Despite the win over Rice, the Seminoles (3-1) dropped a notch to No. 19 in The Associated Press' weekly rankings released Sunday, just behind Clemson. The Tigers followed up their win in Tallahassee on Sept. 16 with a 52-7 win over North Carolina on Saturday.

Florida State's win, however, came at some cost as emerging freshman linebacker Marcus Ball suffered a serious injury to his left knee. Sophomore cornerback Tony Carter was also held out of the second half of the Rice game with two tender knees.

The Seminoles are now off until Oct. 5 when they visit nemesis North Carolina State, which upset Boston College in the final seconds Saturday for its first win of the year.

Bowden knows his old assistant, North Carolina State coach Chuck Amato, has had his number in recent years, winning three of their six matchups.

``There are not any secrets out there,'' Bowden said. ``It's blocking and tackling. If you block, the play goes.''