Battling The Elements

Florida State offensive coordinator <b>Jeff Bowden</b> on Monday defended the Seminoles' game plan against second-ranked Miami. While Bowden admitted the rain hampered FSU's approach in the 22-14 defeat Saturday at Doak Campbell Stadium, it also included plays that should have helped offset the sloppy conditions. Bowden also reiterated what his father Bobby Bowden had said a day earlier -- <b>Chris Rix,</b> despite his inconsistency, gives the Seminoles the best opportunity of winning.

Bowden and the seventh-ranked Seminoles went back to work Monday in preparation for Saturday's key Atlantic Coast Conference showdown at Virginia.(4-2). The Cavaliers, formerly ranked No. 25, were forecast by some analysts to unseat FSU as ACC champion.

Bowden's most immediate concern offensively heading into the week is the Seminoles' makeshift line.

Plagued by injuries and a lack of quality depth, the unit could feature a pair of first-time starters in true freshman center John Frady and redshirt sophomore tight guard Ron Lunford.

Regular starters David Castillo (foot), Bobby Meeks (shoulder) and top reserve Eric Broe (knee) each have been slowed by injuries this season. Their status for Saturday's game will be re-evaluated.

Due to the shakeup, Bowden admitted the Seminoles may have to tinker with their offensive approach against the Cavaliers. FSU has attempted to balance its attack between the I-formation and shotgun.

"We have to look at what we are asking these guys to do," Bowden said.

"Can we ask them to do what these other guys have been doing pretty effectively? We have to ask what do we want them to get the best at, pass protection or run blocking? Whatever they are gonna get good at, we are going to have to do a lot of. That's exactly right. It may force us to look a lot closer at what we are doing and how much we are doing."

Bowden also reviewed what and how the Seminoles did against the Hurricanes. He felt FSU couldn't take advantage of opportunities due to breakdowns and conditions.

FSU suffered five turnovers and finished with 296 total yards. The Seminoles averaged 3.7 yards per play -- 2.7 on first down -- and converted seven of 18 third-down conversions. Critics have pointed to FSU's vanilla game plan and lack of adjustments.

The running game produced just 61 yards, the fewest rushing yards by FSU since 1994. With the exception of a 48-yard pass to Craphonso Thorpe early, FSU was not able to connect for any deep passes despite repeated efforts. Rix and the Seminoles also struggled with underneath routes.

"We have already said I wouldn't have done one thing different," Bowden said.

"We had a great game plan. We had great preparation. I obviously couldn't prepare for Castillo coming out of the ball game. We had a plan for Bobby (Meeks) splitting time. We didn't know we would lose him for the whole game. We thought we would go back and forth with him and Ronnie (Lunford), and I felt good about that.

"Even before the game, when it looked like it was going to be real wet, we had 10 to 12 pretty good calls that we felt were good under these conditions. What I didn't foresee was them allowing us to have that throw out wide, that's the one we couldn't make and we couldn't allow him to throw after the pick (Sean Taylor returned for a touchdown)."

Bobby Bowden quickly squelched any hint of quarterback debate Sunday by saying Rix gives the Seminoles the best chance of winning. Bowden said he never considered sitting Rix for a series or even a play while he struggled most of the game against Miami.

Jeff Bowden agreed, saying there's obvious separation between Rix and backup Fabian Walker.

"I don't think there's the concern in here as there is outside the program, outside the football team, outside the coaches," Bowden said.

"Like I said, how do you say it without sounding like you are making excuses because I hate excuses. We just couldn't have put him in a worst-case scenario than he was in Saturday. But he's clearly the best quarterback we…by far, clearly the best quarterback we have and our best chance at winning."

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