Salute To Excellence

Florida State ranks among the nation's top 20 in three major defensive categories, including No. 4 in scoring defense, and has allowed only two plays longer than 20 yards this season. Of course, that kind of good news brings a smile to the face of <b>Ken Alexander.</b> Die-hard 'Nole fans certainly remember Alexander -- the hard-hitting linebacker was FSU's leading tackler (122) during its 1993 national championship season. Alexander sees many similarities between the 2003 'Noles and his team.

Florida State ranks among the nation's top 20 in three major defensive categories, including No. 4 in scoring defense, and has allowed only two plays longer than 20 yards this season.

Of course, that kind of good news brings a smile to the face of Ken Alexander.

Die-hard Seminole fans certainly remember Alexander -- the hard-hitting linebacker was FSU's leading tackler (122) during its 1993 national championship season. He helped the Seminoles post a season-record three shutouts and limit opponents to 284.5 yards per game and 15 touchdowns overall.

Of course, that ‘93 defensive unit also featured such names as Derrick Brooks, Derrick Alexander and Corey Sawyer.

Alexander, now with the Department of Financial Services, is helping organize next week's festivities for the national championship celebration. The 1993 team will be honored when FSU hosts Colorado at Doak Campbell Stadium. At least 40 players from the ‘93 team plan to return for the fun.

Alexander, who has kept a close eye on the 2003 Seminoles, says he can already see similarities between the two teams. No. 10 FSU (2-0) is at home Saturday against Georgia Tech (1-1) in a key Atlantic Coast Conference showdown.

"What made our team special is the cohesiveness we had," Alexander said.

"We jelled together and we didn't allow anything to stop us from jelling together. Amongst all the great athletes and great stars and everything about that team, from coach Bowden down to the last walk-on, everybody became a family. That's what made us special.

"This year I see a lot of similarities between the 2003 team and the 1993 team. We have virtually a defense that has household names on every level, from the line to linebackers to the secondary. We finally have a secondary….we had an old saying with our secondary. They called themselves "The Sky Patrol" because they didn't let anyone come out throwing the ball. I think they are getting back to that old premise and coach (Mickey) Andrews has had a resurgence of "Sky Patrol." That has been the missing link of our defense in these years of struggling."

The Seminoles are coming off a stellar effort against Maryland, holding the Terps to 197 yards of total offense. FSU last held a team under the 200-yard mark three years ago against Virginia (199). Of course, FSU opened this season by blanking North Carolina 37-0.

"This group's got a chance of becoming a pretty good defense if it means enough to them,'' defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews "We're still not a great tackling team yet, but we're pretty good. People are showing some accountability, doing their job.''

Leading the "accountability" parade is defensive tackle Darnell Dockett.

His 13 tackles, including seven solo, lead a team that is playing two-deep at each position. The Seminoles used 24 defensive players against North Carolina, another 25 were credited with making at least one tackle against Maryland. FSU has only allowed a field goal in two games, and that came after a six-play, six-yard drive set up by a punt return and field position.

"We set a record for shutouts that year (1993)," Alexander said. "I want them to go ahead and break it. As a former defensive player, we like to seeing goose-eggs on that scoreboard."

Alexander also likes what he sees in the Seminoles' offense. Of course, the ‘93 team was paced by Heisman Trophy winner Charlie Ward at quarterback. Ward and Co. averaged 43.2 points and 548 yards per game.

"We have a great offense," Alexander said.

"We have a stable of running backs that possibly can start anywhere. We have the brutalizing running back in Greg Jones. We have the darting with Booker, Reid and Washington.

"We have a virtually unknown offensive line but they've been doing a great job. We have a host of receives that can compare to anyone through the history. They are young but they are good and they catch the ball. We have a good team this year and I see a lot of comparisons, a lot of similarities with that 1993 team."


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