2004 Seminoles Football Season Preview

<b>Head Coach:</b> Bobby Bowden, 269-67-4 at FSU in 28 years; 342-99-4 overall in 38 years. Bowden is the all-time winningest coach in Division I-A history in front of Joe Paterno (339) of <A HREF=http://pennstate.TheInsiders.com>Penn State</A>.<br><br><b>Last Season's Record:</b> 10-3 (Atlantic Coast Conference Champions)<br><br><b>Last Bowl Appearance:</b> 2003 Orange Bowl (16-14 loss to <A HREF=http://miami.TheInsiders.com>Miami</A>)

Key matchup(s): Sept. 4 @Clemson, Sept. 11 @East Carolina, Nov. 13 North Carolina, Nov. 27 @Maryland.

Star Power: Craphonso Thorpe, WR, Sr. 6-2, 200; Alex Barron, ST, Sr. 6-6, 308; Chris Rix, QB, Sr., 6-4, 210; Eric Moore, DE, Sr. 6-4, 244; A.J. Nicholson, LB, Jr. 6-2, 235; Bryant McFadden, CB, Sr. 6-0, 186.

Notable Additions: Barry Wright, Coffeyville CC, LB, 6-1, 220; DeCody Fagg, Hargrave Military Academy, WR, 6-3, 195. LB Jae Thaxton, Hart County (Georgia), LB 6-3, 225.

Notable Subtractions: Darnell Dockett, DT (graduation), Michael Boulware, LB (graduation), Kendyll Pope, LB (graduation), Stanford Samuels, CB (graduation), Greg Jones, RB (graduation), P.K. Sam, WR (early for NFL).

Notable Returnees: Alex Barron, OL, Craphonso Thorpe, WR, Leon Washington, RB, Chris Rix, QB, David Castillo, C, Ernie Sims, LB, Xavier Beitia, PK, Matt Meinrod, OL, Brodrick Bunkley, DL, Travis Johnson, DL.

2004 FOOTBALL SCHEDULE
09/06/04@Miami (Fla.)
09/18/04UAB
09/25/04Clemson
10/02/04North Carolina
10/09/04@Syracuse
10/16/04Virginia
10/23/04@Wake Forest
10/30/04@Maryland
11/06/04Duke
11/11/04@North Carolina State
11/20/04Florida
Offensive Overview: Athletic Chris Rix enters his senior season with 34 career starts and at the controls of a unit that features nine returning starters and has the potential to be one of the most effective in school history. However, the unit's success depends on the oft-criticized Rix, who can look spectacular one series and awful the next due to poor decisions. The success of the Seminoles' passing game will also depend on the healthy return of receiver Craphonso Thorpe, who suffered a broken leg last season against North Carolina State. Thorpe has been cleared for drills, showing off his world-class speed with a 4.3 40-yard dash in conditioning drills. Receiver P.K. Sam's decision to skip his senior season for the NFL was unexpected, but returnees Chauncey Stovall, Willie Reid and Dominic Robinson will get an opportunity to shine. While the departure of three-year starter Greg Jones will be felt at tailback, FSU is excited about the tag-team versatility that Leon Washington and Lorenzo Booker should provide. After losing four of five offensive line starters last season, the Seminoles welcome back all five starters. The unit is anchored by All-America split tackle Alex Barron and three-year starter Ray Willis at tight tackle. The Seminoles also features three quality tight ends in Paul Irons, Matt Henshaw and Donnie Carter.

Defensive Overview: Senior end Eric Moore must anchor a front seven that lost six starters, including tackle Darnell Dockett and all three linebackers -- Michael Boulware, Kendyll Pope and Allen Augustin. Moore led the Seminoles in sacks last season with 7.5 and has 11.5 over his career. Senior Travis Johnson, who has displayed flashes of brilliance, and junior Brodrick Bunkley must set the tone along the interior. Despite three new starters at linebacker, this unit may actually emerge as a defensive strength. The trio of A.J. Nicholson, Ernie Sims and Sam McGrew features a rare combination of quickness and athleticism. Senior Ray Piquion also expects to lend a steady hand, while Buster Davis, Marcello Church and newcomer Barry Wright are expected to provide quality depth. FSU's secondary should not have any excuses this season, returning three of four starters and plenty of key reserves. Seniors Bryant McFadden at cornerback, Jerome Carter at rover and B.J. Ward, who holds the school record for blocked kicks, at free safety are expected to excel. Juniors Pat Watkins at free safety and Leroy Smith at cornerback also should make a difference.

Special Teams Overview: Senior Xavier Beitia has converted 77.3 percent (51 of 66) of his field goal attempts during his career. Of course, he also has missed potential game-winning kicks against Miami in 2002, North Carolina State in 2003 and the Hurricanes once again in last year's Orange Bowl. The Seminoles, in a strange twist, also features two other kickers on scholarship if Beitia falters -- redshirt freshman Chase Goggans and incoming freshman Gary Cismesia. Coaches feel good about the potential of junior punter Chris Hall and snapper Myles Hodish, a former walk-on who must replace four-year starter Brian Sawyer.

The Seminoles will play for the national championship if... they can get by state rivals Miami in the opener and Florida in the regular-season finale. FSU has dropped five consecutive to the Hurricanes but has won five of its last six against the Gators. FSU has won 11 ACC Championships in its 12 years in the league, and the national spotlight will be on the league with the additions of UM and Virginia Tech. FSU features a veteran offense but a defense that will have new starters at seven positions.

TheInsiders.com 2004 College Football Preview
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