"I feel like it has been, up to this point, about everything we could do," Bowden said of the Seminoles' preseason progress. "About on schedule.
"Are we where we want to be? No. No, we're not. Now we've got next week to get ready. We are now devoting a lot of our time to North Carolina. In fact, just about from now on, things will working against -- not so much against each other -- but against the scout teams getting ready for North Carolina."
Last year at this time, FSU was just two days away from its season-opener against Iowa State in Kansas City. Bowden believes the difference between a year ago rests with the Seminoles' defense. The unit has enjoyed a blockbuster preseason, dominating its offensive counterparts in three scrimmages.
"I feel much better because of the defense," Bowden admitted.
"(I) still have concerns with the OL. But that will come if they can stay healthy and keep improving. They did a better job of getting the right man. Our defense is doing so much moving, you don't know who to block. I am amazed they can do as good as they can do. It will help them when they are playing an opponent that does the same thing. As far as right now compared to a year ago, I have to feel we are not behind."
True freshman David Overmyer doesn't sound like a player overwhelmed by the intricacies of the offensive line.
"I just know we have to be patient," he said. "Everybody in front of me, it also took them time. My time will come. The defense was just throwing everything at us. We were just one man away from getting a block, a big play down field. We did a lot of great things but we also have a lot of things to work on."
Of course, FSU's most immediate concern remains its offensive line, specifically guard. Bobby Meeks has moved into the starter's role as Eric Broe continues to recover from an injured kneecap. Walk-on Garrison Sanborn played behind Meeks in Thursday's scrimmage.
Meeks, of course, has been slowed by asthma attacks this preseason.
"I initially pushed my knee a little too hard," Broe told TheTerritory.
"Now I am just having to push through it and rehab my knee again and get the swelling down. The goal right now is to get to 100 percent by North Carolina. That's the goal I am at right now."
While Broe was forced to sit out the half-scrimmage, cornerback Leroy Smith made his first scrimmage appearance of the preseason. Smith, who earned a starter's role in spring drills, has been hampered by a left hamstring pull since the start of practice.
Rufus Brown has replaced Smith in the starter's role.
"I think I am about 80 percent," Smith told TheTerritory.
"My hamstring is still a little tight. I just need to keep getting rehab so I will be ready for that North Carolina game. I felt pretty good (Thursday). When I got off the field, I had to keep it warm and stretched. I want to get out there. We have a lot of different packages. The thing is we just have to execute and things are going to work out fine."
Xavier Beitia's 27-yard field goal in Thursday's scrimmage appeared routine. He made the kick look easy, landing the football in the north endzone seats. Beitia, however, made a subtle change to his approach, one he thinks will help as the Seminoles' special teams continue their preparations for the Tar Heels.
"We came out yesterday (kicking scrimmage) but I didn't do as good as I liked to do," Beitia said.
"But as I was telling everybody, I don't feel it's me, or (holder) Joey (Kaleikini) or (snapper) Brian (Sawyer). It's a timing thing. I used to key the snaps. Chance (Gwaltney, last year's punter and holder) has a different way of holding than Joey.
"Today I made a different key point. I keyed his hand when he went up, that's when I went. The timing I felt great. I am starting to learn to focus just on my little six-inch box and don't' worry about what he's doing and he's doing. The kick today really felt good."
Senior nose guard Jeff Womble was redshirted with most of his recruiting class in 1999 when the Seminoles won the program's second national championship. He started 11 consecutive games as a redshirt freshman in 2000, when FSU went 11-2 and lost to Oklahoma in the national championship Orange Bowl.
Womble sees plenty of defensive similarities between those teams and this year's club.
"I haven't seen this kind of intensity on defense since my freshman and sophomore years, those two years when we went to the national championship back to back," Womble said. "Guys are out there just running around. You have young guys following the older guys. It's great to see."