First Step

The Florida State Seminoles depart for Miami today. Finally. In a game that could set the tone for the remainder of the season, the fourth-ranked Seminoles and fifth-ranked Hurricanes meet for the first time in Atlantic Coast Conference play. It has been an eventful week, from the game being switch due to Hurricane Frances to the tragedy surrounding coach Bobby Bowden's family.

Florida State and Miami.

Finally.

The Seminoles depart for Miami this afternoon in preparation for Friday's season-opener in the Orange Bowl. FSU, of course, has not beaten the Hurricanes since a 31-21 win in 1999.

Both teams are chomping at the bit to play in a game that was postponed from Monday because of Hurricane Frances.

"Well, it looks like we are going to play it," FSU defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews said following Wednesday's practice.

"It's been different with the delay. We were just about on track to play the game and then you have to get back up and start all over again. It should not be any different for us or for Miami. We just have a few extra days of practices."

Frances, of course, has brought tragedy to this game, as Florida State is mourning the loss of coach Bobby Bowden's 15-year-old grandson and former son-in-law.

John Allen Madden, a 45-year-old former Florida State lineman who played under Bowden, and his son, Bowden, were killed Sunday when their car was hit a by a utility truck that was helping restore power outages caused by the huge storm.

The funeral will be held today at 11 a.m (EDT) at First Baptist Church in Fort Walton Beach. Bowden and son Jeff, FSU's offensive coordinator, will fly in a private plane to Miami to join the team.

Bobby Bowden talked about the tragedy with the media during the league's conference call.

"To me this is life," Bowden said.

"I experience it with my players a lot. I have a player that loses a mother, a player that loses a father, or a player that loses a brother. You can't tell somebody else how it feels when it hasn't happened to them. Well now it's happened to me and it's happened to some of my players in the past. Now I believe I can sympathize with them a little bit more."

Still, Bowden said he hasn't discussed the tragedy with his players nor will he use his family's loss as a motivator for the team.

"Number one, I have not mentioned it to my football team," Bowden said. "They have come to me, many of them have, and offered their condolences. I wouldn't dare use that as any motivation for my team to play hard."

The Seminoles, meanwhile, plan to play hard, meeting the Hurricanes for the third time in less than a year.

"We played them the last game of the year," tailback Leon Washington said.

"We know what we have to prepare for. Everybody wants to play the game. We know what they do and they know what we do."

Andrews agreed, though he added there was enough time for both teams to tweak their approach.

"With this being the third time, you can change a lot of stuff," Andrews said.

"It is just like going into a bowl game. You can change a lot of things for a bowl game, but you can change even more things over the course of the spring, summer and fall. We will be doing some things differently and they will. It still boils down to fundamentals, execution, playing hard and making plays."

INJURY REPORT

OUT: C Dumaka Atkins (foot), FB Chad Canfield (concussion), TE Donnie Carter (knee), LB Rodney Gallon (knee), DT Aaron Jones (wrist).

QUESTIONABLE: C David Castillo (chest), OG Bobby Meeks (ankle), FS B.J. Ward (shoulder)

PROBABLE: TE Matt Root (hand)


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