FSU Football Notes

Several Florida State players recognize the importance of a good start. Getting on the board early and seizing the momentum makes their offense click. Starting strong will be a paramount goal on Saturday when the No. 8 Seminoles host a foundering – but dangerous – Clemson team that dominated them last season, also removing them from the national title picture.


"It's important to jump on the teams this season," slot receiver Willie Reid said. "Especially on Saturday when we have the home crowd behind us."

When that doesn't happen, look out. In Death Valley last season, the Tigers jumped out to a 16-0 lead and the FSU offense was never able to formulate a response. On one key third quarter drive, a long completion advanced the Seminoles to the Clemson 30. But complete lack of offensive rhythm resulted in three straight incompletions and a long field goal.

The Seminoles would like to jump on the Tigers – losers of two straight – in the same manner that they did against UAB last weekend. FSU scored on its opening drive for the first time in six games and scored on three of its first four possessions.

"We have to make them quit," center David Castillo said. "That's our goal. They are athletic and well-coached and, if you let them stay in the game, they have an excellent chance of hurting you."

And as their track record shows, the Seminoles also have an excellent chance of hurting themselves. Of those four first drives against UAB, two stalled in enemy territory. The results: one field goal and one missed field goal. The Seminoles tallied 145 penalty yards against the Blazers.

"We definitely need to cut down on the penalties and missed assignments," said Castillo. "A lot of times we'll go out there and get things moving and then have our drives shut down by turnovers and penalties."

IMMORTALIZED

FSU coach Bobby Bowden will have most of his family in attendance Friday when a nine-foot bronze statue in his likeness will be dedicated in front of the-newly renovated Moore Athletic Center.

Clemson coach and son Tommy and ABC commentator Terry – who will call the game – will both be on hand for the ceremony, which is scheduled to begin at 4 p.m.

WARD READY

Free safety B.J. Ward – a starter a season ago – will return to the field Saturday against the Tigers. Ward sat out during FSU's first two games with a shoulder injury while compliance officials looked into the status of credits he received in the summer correspondence course.

Ward has been academically cleared but is still nursing his injury. He'll play a few on defense but his limited range of motion will keep him from the field goal block unit. Ward is FSU's career leader in blocks.

Junior Pat Watkins has assumed Ward's roles at free safety and on the block unit.

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