Back To Work

Florida State held Miami to one offensive touchdown in its October meeting. Of course, not much else went right for the Seminoles in the 22-14 defeat at Doak Campbell Stadium. FSU, which arrives in Miami this afternoon, is looking to end its five-game losing streak to the Hurricanes in the Jan. 1 Orange Bowl. One player who hopes to make a major impact in his last collegiate game is senior <B>Darnell Dockett.</b>

Dockett, of course, has rebounded from a disappointing junior season that ended in controversy. He missed the Seminoles' trip to the Sugar Bowl following an arrest for accepting sports apparel for an unauthorized price. Dockett accepted his punishment, both in community service, court costs and university-imposed penalties.

A disruption last season, Dockett has disrupted opponents this year.

He set a school record for tackles for lost yardage. He has been healthy and in shape. He has been happy. During preseason practices, coaches made it clear to Dockett he needed to emerge as a positive force.

"Anything we did, it came back on me," Dockett said.

"If the defense got burned for a touchdown (in practice or scrimmages), it came back on me. If we jumped offsides, it came back on me. Everything was `Dockett you better do this! Dockett you better get them straight!' Even though we lost a couple games, I tried to keep everybody together. I tried to let them know it's not over with ... that we could still reach a lot of our goals, and we did."

The Seminoles ended the regular-season in dramatic fashion, beating Florida in The Swamp in the closing minutes on Chris Rix‘s bomb to receiver P.K. Sam.

Now they want to make amends for their earlier defeat to UM. FSU certainly had its share of mistakes in that game. The Seminoles had a punt blocked, lost an accidental onside kick and turned the ball over five times in a stretch of seven possessions.

Rix, who couldn't seem to overcome the rainy conditions, threw two interceptions and lost two fumbles. UM turned the second fumble into its third field goal to open the second half after the Seminoles held the Hurricanes at the 2-yard line.

FSU's defense tried to it best to help turn the momentum, forcing three consecutive UM turnovers in the third quarter -- interceptions by cornerbacks Leroy Smith and Rufus Brown and a fumble recovery by Bryant McFadden. But it wasn't enough to overcome the Hurricanes and wet conditions.

Dockett made no excuses following the game. And he doesn't want to hear any now as the Seminoles continue preparations for the Hurricanes.

For Dockett, who was named the Atlantic Coast Conference defensive player of the year and has been selected to several All-America squads, it's all about accountability, a trait he now embraces.

"I never knew I could motivate a defense the way I can," Dockett said.

"I never knew I could go out and practice real hard, and all of a sudden I look behind me and I got 10 other people doing the same thing. Basically, the influence. I never knew ... that I could go out and influence a lot of people the way I did this year. I think I did a great job. I give a lot of credit for the coaches. Cause they held me accountable for doing that, and I'm real thankful."


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