Good Fortune

<b>Ray Willis</b> relies on a no-nonsense approach when preparing for an opponent. Willis, one of just three offensive linemen to start every game this season for the Florida State Seminoles, is using that same mindset for the rematch against Miami in the Jan. 1 Orange Bowl. The Seminoles practiced for an hour Saturday before heading off for the holidays.

Willis, for one, is happy to get another crack at the Hurricanes, who have upended the Seminoles four consecutive times in the heated rivalry.

"We stayed focused on it every day," Willis said.

"We're very fortunate to be playing Miami. It's a great chance to give some payback."

The Seminoles, of course, fell at home to UM 22-14 on Oct. 11 in a driving rainstorm that turned Doak Campbell Stadium into a mud pit. FSU committed five turnovers in that game, with three leading to scores.

"We can't be using that (rain) as an excuse," Willis said.

"They won that day because they played like the better team that day. We can't keep thinking about the rain. We have to beat them. That's our goal."

Willis, who has started 23 games at tackle over his career, is considered a dominating run blocker that helped FSU running backs average a combined 4.6 yards a carry this season. He was named ACC Offensive Lineman of the Week twice this season following wins against Maryland and North Carolina State.

He joins Matt Meinrod and Alex Barron, who last week was named an AP All-American, as the three Seminole linemen to start every game this season.

Willis also doesn't mind the fact that FSU must turn around and face UM in its 2004 season opener.

"It doesn't matter. You definitely want to end that (losing) streakm," Willis said. "We look forward to the season opener, but everybody's focused on this game. We understand what's at stake. We want to beat this team bad."

Nole Digest Top Stories