Picking Up The Pieces

Florida State returns to practice today, hoping to shake the disappointment from its defeat to Miami and looking to turn in a better performance in Saturday's home-opener against Alabama-Birmingham. Off last week, UAB buried Baylor in its season-opener and is capable of throwing a scare into the Seminoles. Of course, FSU has a number of questions that need answered this week, starting with quarterback <b>Chris Rix.</b>

The reasons behind Florida State's lack of offensive production against Miami continued to be a topic of conversation on Sunday.

The Hurricanes held the Seminoles to 165 total yards and no offensive points in their 16-10 overtime victory in the Orange Bowl on Friday. FSU scored on a field goal after a UM fumble and on a 61-yard fumble return. The Seminoles failed to score an offensive touchdown against the Hurricanes for the first time since 1988.

While FSU tailback Lorenzo Booker pointed out a variety of reasons behind the Seminoles' struggles, there was a common thread.

"We just need to execute," Booker said Sunday afternoon after receiving treatment for a right shoulder contusion that will keep him out of contact this week.

"It seemed like we weren't doing the things that we had practiced for so long. Guys just weren't executing like we had hoped to and like we had been doing all the way up until this point."

FSU (0-1) returns to the drawing board today in preparation for Saturday's home-opener against Alabama-Birmingham (1-0), which was off last week after burying Baylor in its season opener.

The question that needs answered quickly is whether the Seminoles' lack of offensive production was a result of the UM defense or FSU's ineptitude. Quarterback Chris Rix never found his rhythm and suffered four turnovers, including a fumble in overtime that set up UM's winning touchdown.

"No one played a perfect game," Booker said.

"Chris made some mistakes that he probably wishes he could take back. Everytime we lose people say, 'Bench Chris. It was Jeff (Bowden, offensive coordinator). It was the O-line.' We don't too much worry about that. That's my quarterback and I am long past blaming it (loss) on one person."

Booker, who teamed with fellow tailback Leon Washington for just 83 rushing yards, felt FSU did not show its entire hand offensively due to breakdowns and defensive pressure. Despite being involved in the passing game in preseason scrimmages, Booker had three receptions for 10 yards and Washington did not have a catch.

"I still thought there were some plays that were very successful for us in spring, even in two-a-days and going into the fall, that we could have ran that maybe could have helped us win that we didn't," Booker said.

"I wish I could have gotten the ball more coming over the middle or out in the flat. It seemed liked whenever Leon or I would get open, Chris would get pressured. That was the plan going in. The plays weren't executed like we had hoped, and that kind of threw a lot of things off."

Despite losing four first-round selections, FSU learned UM's defense is no less dominating than in recent seasons. Booker also pointed to the Hurricanes' confidence and ability to rally late in games, relying on inspired play in the trenches.

"Their players definitely possess something that most team's don't," Booker said.

"No matter what the score is or no matter how much time is left, they don't ever feel like they can't win the game. I think that's very contagious to feel like that... the only time the game is over for a team like that is when the clock hits zero."

Booker stressed the Seminoles can't afford to dwell on the defeat and must look forward to their remaining schedule. And that success will be determined by FSU's ability to execute its offense, which did not happen in Miami despite Booker's belief the Seminoles were more physical.

"It might be a mental thing but guys definitely have to get over that and understand that Miami is just like everyone else, especially the way we pushed them around at first," Booker said. "

"If we turned it on for three more minutes, the game is over and that whole mindset is gone. But if we continue to miss assignments and not execute plays the way they are supposed to be, then this is going to keep happening."

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