By The Book

During Sunday afternoon's annual Media Day at Doak Campbell Stadium, Florida State tailback <b>Lorenzo Booker</b> paused when asked how he felt about the first week of preseason practice. His answer: different. In a good way. Click here for this update as the Seminoles continue their two-a-day practices today. FSU will hold its first preseason scrimmage tonight.

During Sunday afternoon's annual Media Day at Doak Campbell Stadium, FSU tailback Lorenzo Booker paused when asked how he felt about the first week of preseason practice.

His answer: different. In a good way.

"It's not as mentally stressful as it has been in the past," said the sophomore tailback. "You can tell everyone's excited but we're all moving in the same direction."

And by this time an experienced Seminole offense should be on the same page. The unit returns all but two starters from last season. Only tailback Greg Jones and flanker P.K. Sam – who departed early for the NFL – are missing from last season's 10-3 Orange Bowl team.

"What helps us the most is the camaraderie that we've built," said Booker, who along with junior Leon Washington will be called upon to replace Jones. "We came out there the first play and felt like we haven't missed a beat."

That's because both Booker and Washington saw considerable time in 2003 because Jones never returned to form while battling nagging knee problems. At wideout, Sam's replacements were called upon when leading receiver Craphonso Thorpe was lost for the season with injury.

In short, there has been more focus on execution and a little less on teaching during the first round live mini-scrimmages. The Seminoles have their first full intra-squad scrimmage scheduled for Monday's evening practice session.

"We've been working together so long, we're going to go out there and lay our bodies on the line for one another," junior center David Castillo said. "We have so much experience on offense we can't help that our expectations are high."

Comfort with the playbook and with his personnel has led offensive coordinator Jeff Bowden to add a few wrinkles to the playbook. Understandably discreet about the details, members of the coaching staff have only offered that the new plays will work to utilize the many versatile weapons that senior signal-caller Chris Rix – who will become the only four-year starter quarterback in FSU history - has to choose from.

Thorpe, the deep threat, is back. Seniors Chauncey Stovall and Dominic Robinson are possession options at receiver while Chris Davis and Willie Reid have a little more giddy-up. That's not including the backs and tight ends, which head coach Bobby Bowden promises he'll get the ball to this year.

"Having Cro (Thorpe) back is great," Rix said. "But I have these other guys, too. I have all the weapons at my disposal. It's going to be my job to get them the ball."

So does that stable of talent combined with fiver returning starters on the line and a fifth-year senior running the show create a comfort zone?

"Familiarity, sure. But a comfort zone, not quite," Thorpe said. "You can never really be comfortable playing football because you never know what I defense is going to throw at you."


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