Full Strength

Florida State closes out is 13th Atlantic Coast Conference season at North Carolina State on Thursday night. The Seminoles will hold a light practice today before departing for Raleigh, N.C. FSU is expected to be full strength with the return of <b>Leon Washington, Craphonso Thorpe, Willie Reid, Bobby Meeks</b> and <b>Jerome Carter.</b>

The Florida State Seminoles should be at full strength on Thursday. Good.

FSU closes its Atlantic Coast Conference schedule at North Carolina State.

The Seminoles need a victory to keep pace in the ACC standings, a hair behind Virginia and Virginia Tech. The game also marks FSU's final road game of the regular season, closing at home against Florida on Nov. 20.

A number of Seminoles are expected to return from injury, including Leon Washington, Bobby Meeks, Willie Reid and Jerome Carter.

Carter, for instance, injured his shoulder on the Seminoles' first defensive series against Duke last Saturday. He was held out for the rest of the game as a precautionary measure.

"I am good. I am good to go," Carter said.

"It (injury) came on the fifth play of the game. They wanted to hold me out so I would be ready for (North Carolina State). They would rather have me this week than against Duke. But I am fine."

FSU, of course, is looking to get out to a quick start on the road. That may be easier said than done.

The Wolfpack leads the ACC in total defense (241.5 yards), pass defense (125.1 yards) and is third in rushing defense.

The team's solid defensive play, however, hasn't been enough to overcome a turnover-prone offense. The Wolfpack has used two quarterbacks, who have combined for 15 interceptions, three of which were returned for touchdowns. The team also has lost 11 fumbles.

FSU also has had its share of problems, especially on offense. Still, N.C. State coach Chuck Amato, a former assistant coach with the Seminoles, doesn't understand the criticism surrounding FSU's season.

"They are two field goals away from being undefeated, one of which was blocked. Not many teams can say that," Amato said.

"The fact is the Atlantic Coast Conference has gotten better and better as time has come by makes it very difficult for everybody. Every single game is tough. All the teams are good and improved. No one wants to play anybody anymore.

"I don't see it. I know they have lost two games but it's not like they have been blown out. They're talented and well-coached. They do an outstanding job coaching and getting the execution out of their players."

With a career-high 130 yards against Duke, sophomore running back Lorenzo Booker became the Seminoles' rushing leader through the first nine games with a career-high 743 yards.

Several Seminoles sit atop the ACC individual stats this week.

Antonio Cromartie and Pat Watkins are tied for the league lead in interceptions with four apiece.

Washington, who is expected to return to action afer missing two games with a shoulder injury, leads the conference in rushing yards per game (98.4 ypg). Defensive tackle Travis Johnson is tops among ACC defensive linemenwith 14.5 tackles for loss.

FSU coach Bobby Bowden, meanwhile, has extended his all-time Division I victories lead to eight (349 to 341) over Penn State's Joe Paterno. Bowden turned 75 on Monday, saying he wanted to continue to coach as long as his health remained sound and he continued to win.

SPECIAL LOOK

A special look inside FSU's team will be provided by The Sunshine Network, which is airing its season episode of "Under The Lights'' by examining the team's preparations for Thursday's game.

The one-hour reality show will first air Sunday at 7:30 p.m. statewide during Sunshine's "Prime Time 'Noles" block of programming. The show will be repeated Nov. 15, at noon and 8:30 p.m. and Nov. 17, at 12:30 and 2 p.m.

Because of ongoing construction at N.C. State's Carter-Finley Stadium, Sunshine will not be able to televise the game for replay as it has done with every other FSU game this season. The special show is in lieu of the replay.

The Sunshine Network has been allowed access with Seminoles players and coaches since the end of their game against Duke, and is following the team all week during meetings, practices and in the locker room before and after the game. Highlights from the N.C. State game itself also will be included in the show.


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