Sunday Blitz

The top five teams remained the same in this week's Associated Press college football poll after a weekend devoid of major upsets. Florida State and Washington State, meanwhile, were tied for sixth. The Seminoles, who are coming off a crucial road win at Virginia Saturday, are expected to be ranked sixth in the first Bowl Championship Series poll released Monday. FSU coach Bobby Bowden, who tied Joe Paterno on the all-time victory list, chatted with the media Sunday.

How impressed were you with David Castillo's play?

"Well, probably about Tuesday, it didn't look like he was going to play. It looked like (Bobby) Meeks was definitely out with a (shoulder) separation, and it looked like Castillo needed to sit out a couple of games, and just hope you get him back. Wednesday, Randy Oravetz put a new brace on his foot, with some kind of suspension in there for his ankle. He came out there to practice Wednesday, and he was jumping around like he had a new foot. I mean, I remember he came over to me – I was over in my cart – and said, ‘Boy, this thing feels good. I think I'm going to be OK. It feels better than it's felt all year.' Boy, that was good news, but I was afraid it was going to be a one-day thing.

"Meanwhile, we had moved (John) Frady to first team. Then, Thursday, he (Castillo) practiced good, and we contemplated starting Castillo, (to) go ahead and announce we were going to start Castillo. But we still were not sure about him, and we felt like Frady was a sure thing. So, OK, we're going to go ahead and start Frady, since we said we would, and then we'll come in there with Castillo early, especially if we need him. So we put him back in there, and he played well, and stayed healthy, used him and did not use Frady as much as I thought we would. Anyway, that's the way it revolved."

You called this win one of the guttiest you'd participated in in a while. Can you elaborate on that thought?

"Well, there's some games where you win with a big play. Somebody intercepts a pass and runs, unmolested, for a touchdown, 55 yards. There's some where you return a punt. Somebody returns a punt 65 yards, nobody touches him, and you win the game. There's some where you hit a long pass that's not contested for a touchdown. Then there's some, where you make a six-minute drive, nothing but a blood-and-guts type of a drive, hammer, hammer, hammer, hammer, block people, knock ‘em down, backs run hard, backs run over people – I thought that was probably one of the guttiest six minutes I can remember at Florida State in a long time, as far as physical is concerned. Now, our defense was doing the same thing, over on their side of the ball. They were holding ‘em and holding ‘em and holding ‘em, and yet they were still making first downs, but yet our defense was not letting them in the end zone more than they did. So, from that standpoint, I thought it was probably one of the guttiest games. I can't remember one like that in a while."

You stayed in the I-formation most of the game. Was pass protection an issue, or was spreading the offense just less effective?

"Spreading your formations out reduces you to the passing game. The passing game doesn't eat up much time, and it gives you a limited running game, which we don't feature like some teams do. Teams that stay in the shotgun all the time, they can get effective running game, because they're in it all the time. We're in the I-formation sometimes, split backs sometimes, four wideouts sometimes, three wideouts sometimes – like a lot of football teams. We don't feature the running game as much out of the shotgun. Anyway, that forced us into the I, where we had to block people. We were forced into a formation where we had to block people. There was no finesse going on. That was the thing that made me the happiest, and I think we can build something off of that."

You saw a team that featured the short passing game a lot. They moved the ball well between the 20s, even though they struggled in the red zone. Did facing that this week prepare you for seeing it again, since you're likely to see it against Clemson and certainly against N.C. State?

"We've sure got some good work ahead, because you're exactly right. With (Philip) Rivers at North Carolina State, you're exactly right, you're going to see the same thing. To run that type of offense, you have to have a great passer. You have to have a great passer, not a guy that goes out there and hits one out of five, even though one of them might be a long touchdown or something. You've got to have a guy that goes eight out of nine, nine out of ten, and things like that. They (Virginia) have that guy, who can pinpoint you. He had a couple of strikes last night where we simply could not have covered it any better, and he put it right on the money. Philip Rivers, same thing. It's going to be basically the same thing with probably better wideouts. Not probably – a team with better wideouts. That's coming up down the road. We've got Wake Forest next week."

Wake doesn't throw the ball very often, but they do hang onto the football with the way they run.

"They're good at that, too. They're somewhere right in between Virginia and North Carolina State. They'll throw the ball downfield a lot more than either one of those two teams, but they're very good at it. They always have an outstanding running game, too."

The day after the Sugar Bowl, you said – and I'm paraphrasing you – that a power running game doesn't fit FSU's style. Did this weekend's game signal a change in philosophy, toward a more power offense?

"No. All that's dictated by who you play. That's all dictated by defenses. Here was a defense that was going to play two-deep and not put you in the hole long, but not let you have a long pass. That was their whole goal, the whole football game – don't let Florida State have a long pass. Well, we got one the second time we had the ball, for a touchdown. So now, they got more determined, they're going to back up further. If a team's going to back up like that, and not let you have the long ones – then they're going to back those linebackers up, to keep you from getting the medium (routes). Then, you've either got to throw short, or run the football. And thank goodness, we were able to run the ball."

What did you see from Greg Jones?

"I thought he ran with more authority. I think Greg got into a situation – if you've watched us this year – where he had had some success running the ball and breaking things outside. In other words, running at the line of scrimmage and breaking it out right, or breaking it out to the left, and getting a lot of good gains. People eventually begin to figure that out. They say, ‘Hey, when he starts up inside, everybody hold your ground outside, because he's coming out there.' And he did that – played into their hands. Last night, he took it up in there and just kept going north-south. I thought that made him a different runner."

A lot's been made of you tying Joe Paterno. Have you spoken to him yet, or reflected on the achievement?

"No, we have not (spoken), and I imagine Joe's about like I am. That's probably the least – I don't want to belittle it, because it is nice – but there's no incentive for that. That's something that happens if you win, you know? The win means so much more – just the fact that we won the game. I was elated after that game – the way we won the game, and the fact that we did win the game. That other (accomplishment) was strictly a side event that occurred. It had no bearing on our motivation for the game. Now, I'll be honest with you – it might have meant more to our kids than it did to me. I've had some of them bring it up. I didn't even realize that they even cared, or even thought about something like that. It might have meant more to them than it did to me."

Virginia didn't get anything deep in the passing game. Because of that, do you tend to be less concerned with their yardage numbers and be not as concerned as you might otherwise be?

"Yeah. I think if you look back at football games that you have watched through the years, that we have watched, and we've been involved in, how many times have you seen a team – it happened with Texas Tech and N.C. State this year. I think Texas Tech threw for 600 yards and got beat. Sometimes, when a team gets a whole lot of yards passing the football, but they don't get in the end zone, they might as well have been running the ball. I've seen that happen before, and that was kind of the case. They got so much of that yardage, but still didn't get across that goal-line but twice. And those came from way out, didn't they? Didn't one of them come from 25, 30 yards out?"

How big was this win? It gives you a two-game lead in the ACC with just three conference games to play.

"When you don't have a playoff in college football, every win is big. Every win – it doesn't have to be Miami. It doesn't have to be Florida. It doesn't have to be Notre Dame. It could be Wake Forest. It could be North Carolina, it could be – every win is big, because we don't have a playoff. It's not like basketball, where you go out there and play the toughest teams in the country, take a few losses, and build yourself up for the playoffs. In college (football), every game counts. So how big is that win? It's just as big as the one next week will be, if we can win it. It's just as big as any of them we've had so far. You simply have got to win games to stay in the hunt."

You've been gashed by some misdirection plays, especially in the run game. Wake Forest's offense is basically all misdirection. Is it the same kind of thing that Duke and Colorado had success doing against you, or a different type of misdirection?

"Wake Forest runs misdirection about as good as anybody. They really have an excellent – and that's one reason they give everybody fits, is their offense. They run cross-bucks, where somebody hits up the middle and somebody swings wide. Are you going to defense the middle, or are you going to defense wide? They do a good job of that. Last year, they had us 14-0 in the first quarter, and we finally caught onto it."

You said Virginia forced you into a situation where you had to stick in the I-formation. Did you expect that coming in?

"They prefer to play that way. Virginia really emphasizes – they emphasize two things defensively. All you've got to do is read their manual. I read their manual. Their coach says, ‘Number one, we're going to stop the run.' That's the way they're going to play defense. ‘Number two, we're not going to allow a long pass.' That's their manual, right there. Where we won the game was we were able to run the ball, despite the success they've had in the past of stopping the run. Then our defense did just the opposite – stopped their run. Although they caught passes, they didn't catch but one long one, maybe two long ones. If you stop the long pass, and then stop the run, you've got a chance to win."

How much confidence did you feel in that situation, given your offensive line troubles going in?

"I was skeptical, because they hadn't worked together enough, they hadn't played together enough. When you take Castillo out of there, you're taking one of your outstanding leaders. Not only is he a good player, he's an outstanding leader. You're replacing him with a freshman (Frady), that's going to really be good one of these days, but still is not old enough yet to demand the follow-ship that a guy like Castillo would. Naturally, there were question marks. I think Jimmy Heggins did a masterful job with that offensive line. (Ron) Lunford moved to guard, gave us a solid player there. We didn't have Meeks, we didn't have (Eric) Broe, we didn't have Matt Heinz. All of those guys would have been potential starters at that guard position, had we not lost them. We moved old Lunford in there – I haven't graded the film yet, I've watched it, but haven't graded it. I think he played winning football."

Are you concerned about your kickoff coverage?

"Oh, boy. I better be. They got field position twice out of it. I think it's something we can fix. We are either playing the wrong guys or something else. We really have to analyze it. Duke hurt us real bad and I thought the reason for that was substitution. And this team last night hurt us at least two times with a right return. We have to really look at it. I am sure you are talking about one man out of his lane, or something like that. One man might be leaving a little bit too soon. They did a good job of execution. Virginia is a pretty darn good football team. We might have one year maturity on them. They are pretty doggone good."

You moved into a sixth-place tie with Washington State in the AP poll. The first BCS poll is released Monday and you are expected to be sixth. Where do you see this team right now?

"Anybody with one loss that's in the top, I would say nearly in the top 15, things could work out for them. If the right people get beat and you don't get beat. So, we are in that mix, too. We just simply…the only thing you can do is take the next game and try to win it. If you start looking down the road, trying to prepare down the road, you will get this beat game and won't even have a chance to compete in it. Again, we are like about 15 other teams, maybe 10 other teams, just trying to manage to keep winning because the statistics on your side as far as many losses you have. My big concern through the first six ballgames was offensive line. Again, no depth. Hope none of the starters get hurt, yet two of them went down. So we've been lucky the other guys didn't get hurt. We've been lucky to survive even with the guys that are hurt. That's been my big question. Now, do I feel better about this game about that, yes if we can stay healthy. I think Lunford moving in there gave us a little more security. I think Frady being able to go and being ready to go, and the fact that Castillo is not out for the year, that makes me feel a little bit better right now."

Wake Forest runs a unique offense. Can you talk about how important it is for a school that size, in order to be competitive, to find a niche.

"We've always said in the coaching profession is if you have a weak offensive line -- not they are weak -- let's just say you don't have enough kids. You know Wake Forest doesn't have the luxury that Nebraska, or Notre Dame, or Miami, or Florida, or so and so have in big ol' offensive linemen. There's kind of saying and it's so true. If you are… I hate to use the word weak and I would sure hate for it to get back to Wake Forest because they are not weak -- but let's just say you don't have as many offensive linemen as other people. Then, use the wishbone because the wishbone you use a lot of brush blocks, you use a lot of low blocks, you use a lot of cut-down-at-the-knees. And that's why they've had a lot of criticism through the year for cutting at the knees. But they do it legally. They do it legally. But people hate to play against them because of it. So, anyway, that helps compensate for not having as big as offensive line you would like or maybe the depth. Coach Grobe has been able to utilize that in his style of attack. He has maintained a pro passing attack with a option-type blocking that drives you nuts."

In terms of preparation, it must be a nightmare preparation game.

"You are exactly right. The blocking technique of their linemen is different from what you see most of the year. Nothing illegal about it. It's legal as it can be. But, boy, if you are not ready for it, not prepared for it. You have to stay low. If not, you can have some problems."

Can you talk about B.J. Dean and his performance and his progression.

"It has been good but I think a lot of that success has to begin with the offensive line. Even against Miami, he ran the ball real good. He popped that thing about of there five or six yards. Fullback up the gut, five or six yards. You don't do that very often. And he did it the other night. But, you sure can't do that without blocking. Usually, when a fullback runs the ball, it's a guard, center play. If the guard can run the ball dead ahead, it's the center and the two guards that are doing the job. So, somehow, Lunford, Castillo, Frady, Meinrod were really do a good job in there and allowing that to happen. I think our fullback showed his wares in the Sugar Bowl. It was fourth-and-one or two against Georgia down about their 10 or 15 yard line, and we ran in him there and he ran over a couple of guys, about six yards. That's when we finally realized this guy can run the ball pretty good for a fullback. We've used him more since then. And, also, Coleman has been positive with the way he has run the ball. Again, you better go back and thank your two guards and your center."

You had a big night from Xavier Beitia, but is there any concern about your offense not being able to score n the red zone?

"Yes but the main thing is to come out of there with three. The main thing is to come out of there with three. What's bad is you go down there and come out with nothing. Somebody said, ‘Well, Florida State didn't do anything in the red zone.' Well, you did, too. Kicked four field goals. That's 12 points. You would much rather have a touchdown but the main thing is you did get something out of it. We will continue to work on it. A lot of that has to do with the score of the game. Can we afford to risk giving up three points by throwing the ball and possibly get an interception?"

Do you plan to get Lorenzo Booker on the field more?

"We need to. It's hard. It's not hard to rotate to two tailbacks but it's hard to rotate three. Two of them. Okay, you go, if you get tired we will put you in there. You go and if you get tired, we'll put you back in there. You could go with a three-man rotation but it's easier to go with two. And both of them were hot. You could have put Booker in there and he might could have broke the game up. But those two others guys were knocking off five, six, 12, 10 yards and you didn't want to do anything that might mess up that timing. I wish he could have gotten in there more, too. I am still anxious to see him. Since he got hurt in that second game, we haven't been able to see him. But I sure want to get him in there more. He can give you a different look than what those other two give you."

What kept him sidelined Saturday?

"The other two guys were doing what you wanted to do. Why put another guy in there to see if he could do it. He might have done better. But that's going to occur. He's just a freshman. I think he's probably got more patience than all of us."

Do you expect Bobby Meeks to be able to come back Saturday?

"I would think Meeks has got a chance. I talked to him after the game and he said he would. But he just might be saying that because he wants to play. The doctors will make the final say so."

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