Sunday Blitz

The Florida State-Miami showdown is about preparation, emotion and execution. It's also about adjustments, and FSU coach Bobby Bowden said Sunday the Hurricanes made a crucial defensive change in their victory over the Seminoles. "They changed their defense all the way on us last night," Bowden said. "They played zone nearly the whole game.

They had been playing man for two years, strictly man underneath and two free safeties back there. We felt like they'd still do that, but bring those safeties up to stop the run. They did it very little. They played zone, where everybody could look in there and see if the ball was being thrown and drop back, and if it's being run, get up. We couldn't execute our passing game good enough. Even the two or three interceptions – all the turnovers were big. They had turnovers, too."

For the fourth consecutive season, the Seminoles (5-1) have been left searching for answers following a UM victory. Still, the good news was FSU slipped just two spots to No. 7 in the USA Today/ESPN football coaches poll following their 22-14 defeat.

After recording their 38th straight regular-season win, the Hurricanes remained in second place with five first-place votes and 1,514 points Oklahoma (6-0) remains at No. 1 after a 65-13 rout of Texas, earning 58 first-place nods and 1,570 points. Virginia Tech (6-0), which pounded Syracuse, 51-7, moved up one spot to third, while Southern California (5-1) and Georgia (5-1) moved into the top-five.

The Seminoles must now turn their sights to the Atlantic Coast Conference, where they face a crucial test at Virginia Saturday. Still, FSU had to deal with yet another UM hangover Sunday morning.

Bowden, who addressed a variety of topics during his weekly news conference, said the lone change he expects to make concerns the offensive line. The unit, which has been hurt by injuries and a lack of depth, was exposed by the Hurricanes' front.

Freshman John Frady played extensively in the second half after David Castillo aggravated a foot injury and his status will be re-evaluated.

Bowden said Ron Lunford, who has jumped from tackle to guard the past few weeks, could move into the starter's role at tight guard. Starter Bobby Meeks has not been healthy due to a number of ailments and reserve Eric Broe did not dress Saturday after aggravating a knee injury during practice. He could also be lost for an extended period of time.

"We'll have to do some adjustments there," Bowden said.

"We were snake bitten on the offensive line from the very beginning. We knew going in that's our biggest question mark, the offensive line. Now, they performed pretty well in the spring, they performed pretty well in the fall (preseason), and they performed pretty well up to (Saturday). So we knew that was a shaky part, (we) knew one of our keys this year was we had to stay healthy on the line. That hasn't happened."

Bowden also reiterated that quarterback Chris Rix gives the Seminoles the best chance of winning. He also doesn't expect any players on his team to point fingers at the struggling Rix like a year ago, when the Seminoles were plagued by inner turmoil. Bowden stressed he never entertained making a quarterback change Saturday, mainly due to the wet conditions.

FSU's five turnovers included two interceptions, and several other potential interceptions were dropped. Rix had four turnovers, leading to 16 UM points, and easily could have had three more.

"I think they know better," Bowden said.

"There's no doubt about it, Chris Rix gives us the best chance to win. There's no question on it. He gives us the best chance to win. I just didn't feel – your chances are fewer with an immobile quarterback against Miami. You'd better hope you've got somebody who can move around. That's the way we felt."

Bowden still noted, however, that Rix had problems with the elements. He said FSU also showed a new look with a five-receiver package at times.

"It looked like just bad throws to me," Bowden said.

"In other words, we did something we hadn't done before, that they hadn't seen, and that's put three receivers on one side and two over there, which is everybody. Then, you take that free safety back there – you take off with all three (receivers), and see who he wants to take. If he goes over there, we'll throw it here. We threw the first one in there, and he intercepted.

"The quarterback lobbed the ball, because you've got a wet ball you can't throw good. The other time, it was nearly about the same thing, and he just hung the ball up. I think he just probably has a difficult time throwing in the rain. I've had that before. I've had quarterbacks that couldn't throw in the rain, and I've had some that could."

Bowden also defended the Seminoles' play-calling from the UM 5-yard line early in the fourth quarter. Faced with first-and-goal and trailing 22-7, FSU called three consecutive Greg Jones off-tackle runs before Rix failed on a poorly thrown fourth-down pass attempt on a roll out.

"They play a real good coverage down there inside the goal line, and it's scary throwing down there in that situation," Bowden said.

"We felt like our best chance was to hammer it in there. Now, again, you're playing with a freshman center, and you're playing with a guard who would have been your third guard. That's probably not conducive to that. But you couldn't get outside. From the hash marks out was nearly dead, and that's a shame. As much as we throw flares, try to get it to those speedy backs out there, and as much as we had planned to use these speedy backs this week, it was nearly nullified by the weather."

The Seminoles, who entered the game with the nation's No. 1 scoring defense and No. 5 total defense, were supposed to do the defensive damage. The unit played well overall, but it was the Hurricanes who made the most plays.

"We wanted to spread them out, going in the shotgun and throw, and we wanted to pound them like we did last year running the ball out of the I-(formation)," Rix said.

"They did a good job for the most part shutting down both aspects, especially our running. We couldn't get anything in the middle, we couldn't get anything outside. We had a very good game plan. I thought they put us in good position. It was just a combination of conditions it hurt us in our game plan. We wanted to throw the ball downfield and stretch them vertically. The way the field was it evened out the speed of our backs and it just made it a level playing field. Their defense prepared and did better than we did."

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