Smoke Signals

The third-ranked Florida State Seminoles are playing consecutive road games for the first time this season. They are coming off an emotional win at Notre Dame and realize they are walking into an emotional setting Saturday at Clemson. The Seminoles (8-1, 6-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) believe that provides more than enough incentive to keep their focus against the Tigers (5-4, 3-3 ACC) at Memorial Stadium. Kickoff is 7:45 p.m. and the game will be televised by ESPN2.

"Coming off a win against Notre Dame, we have to keep pace because we are in the national championship hunt and everyone here knows that," split guard Matt Meinrod said.

"I definitely think the focus is there and we've had a good week of practice."

Of course, "Bowden Bowl V" features a number of subplots. Clemson coach Tommy Bowden has come under fire for the Tigers' struggles and some believe he will be fired at season's end.

FSU coach Bobby Bowden, has come to son's defense this week but points out the Seminoles must win to clinch the ACC title and automatic Bowl Championship Series berth, not to mention remain in the national title picture.

"Like the coaches have been talking about this week, they are going to fight us, especially with the position Tommy Bowden is in," nose guard Brodrick Bunkley said

. "They are going to try to get a win on us -- that would be big, but we must take care of our part. That's the worst team to play, when they are not worried about anything."


Nosegaurd Jeff Womble (right bicep) and linebacker Kendyll Pope (right knee sprain) are listed as probable but expected to start. Pope also echoed his teammates' feelings, saying the Tigers have nothing to lose.

"From what we've seen, they are going to come out as an I-formation team. But they are going to give us a little shotgun, one-back," Pope said.

"We also have to be ready for any new wrinkles they try, like trick plays, reverses, throw-back screens, things like that. They have nothing to lose and they are going to lay it all on the line. We have to stay on our toes and be ready at all times."

Cornerback Bryant McFadden told TheTerritory he has been plagued by an injured groin -- not hip flexor -- for the past few weeks.

McFadden, however, says he also will start against the Tigers.

"It kind of flared up on me against Notre Dame and this week in practice, but I got a lot of treatment and I feel fine," McFadden said. "I am ready to go."


FSU's offense ranks near the top of the ACC in total offense (424.1 yards per game, second), passing offense (290.2, 2nd), scoring offense (34.1, 2nd) and rushing offense (133.9, 5th).

Clemson's defense, however, should provide a stern test. Linebacker Leroy Hill leads the ACC in tackles-for-loss (2.22 per game) and is seventh in sacks (5.0). The Tigers are fourth in total defense (342.4 yards per game).

"I think we are going to try to pound the ball," Meinrod said.

"I think Greg (Jones) is finally starting to feel healthy. But we are not going to abandon our passing game. We are going to be about 50-50. Our strength has always been our ability in pass-blocking. But I also think we are getting a run-blocking down as well and we are looking forward to featuring that this week."


One lineup change that may have gone unnoticed last week was on punt coverage, where Bunkley was inserted into the defensive line for the first time.

A grinning Bunkley thoroughly enjoyed the experience, one he hopes is repeated at Clemson.

"Notre Dame had a couple big guys up front, so I was used as a neutralizer or whatever," Bunkley said. "It was my first time on the punt (coverage) this season. It was pretty neat. I got a chance to roll the guard I was on. I rolled him up a couple of times. It was a cool experience, a good way to get intimidations."


As with most Thursday practices before a road game, after period one was completed, the offense and scout team moved into Doak Campbell Stadium for the remainder of the practice where crowd noise was filtered in while the defense remained on the practice fields. Clemson's Memorial Stadium's capacity is listed at 81,473.

"This week wasn't any different than any other week," defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews said.

"We got a lot done. At least I think we did, but you really never know until Saturday. The big thing is that we are going to be playing against better athletes than some of the guys we played against at Notre Dame last week. We've seen big, old, tall, skilled receivers like they got who can run like they can and make plays. We had trouble covering them last year. It's not going to be an easy chore again this year."

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