Last Go Around

<b>B.J. Ward</b> is gearing up for his final season at Florida State. And he wants to make it a good one. The athletic Ward, who started all 12 games last season at free safety, led the Seminoles in blocked kicks for a second straight year with three blocked field goals. That raised his career total to a record-tying seven blocks.

B.J. Ward is gearing up for his final season at Florida State.

"So far, so good," Ward said.

"I am getting ready for my last go-around at Florida State. It went by fast. Finally here -- now I want it to go by slow all of a sudden."

Sitting in the shade to escape the blazing sun, Ward had just finished his conditioning drills this particular afternoon. He watched as his teammates mingled and joke. The Seminoles are in good spirits as conditioning drills resume this week following a quick break.

"I am just trying to get better every day -- bigger, faster and stronger. That's the three things everyone talks about these days," Ward said. "I am just working on trying to get myself right. Not only stronger, but also smarter on the field. I am taking it one day at a time."

Ward, of course, is working towards a memorable senior season.

A phenomenal two-sport athlete who started all 12 games for the Seminoles at free safety last season, Ward led team in blocked kicks for second straight year with three blocked field goals.

That raised his total to a record-tying seven blocks with Bobby Butler (1977-80). Five of seven blocked kicks have led to Seminole scores and all came in victories.

Ward was just as productive on opponents' first three downs.

He ranked third on team with 80 tackles (40 solo, 40 assisted, three for loss) and also totaled six pass break-ups, an interception, and two fumble recoveries. Ward had six tackles against Miami in the Orange Bowl.

That's all fine and dandy, but Ward is preparing for the future. He expects FSU's talented secondary to be a team strength as the Seminoles open the season against the Hurricanes.

"We are too old not to lead the nation in pass defense," Ward said. "It's all on us. We don't have any room for mistakes, especially the first game. I think that's why we are all out here (conditioning drills) trying to get better."

Ward said any motivation must come from players -- not from defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews.

"It's not even coach Andrews -- it's us," Ward said.

"Coach Andrews can't do it all for us. Coach can tell us where to be on the field, but it's up to us to execute and make plays. It's more of a mental challenge. The challenge is for the entire team, not only the defense."

As Ward looks around at FSU's younger players, he realizes it wasn't that long ago when he first arrived on FSU's campus. As a veteran, Ward wants to make a lasting impression.

"It looks the same -- it looks like how you used to look when you came into college," Ward said and smiled.

"But guys seem to be getting bigger and stronger and faster at every position. Like the DL -- look at Clifton Dickson. He's going to be a heckuva dude. He's not only big, but he's quick. They are getting better, but it's on them to pick up the system."

Nole Digest Top Stories