Gator Week

Florida State's offensive line is expected to be tested by the Florida Gators' athletic front on Saturday at Doak Campbell Stadium. As FSU fans are well aware, the Seminoles have had their way against the Gators, especially in Tallahassee. FSU is 7-0-1 in the last eight home meetings and has won four straight since the 31-31 tie in 1994. Overall, the Seminoles are 13-5-1 in the last 19 meetings (dating back to 1987) with UF.

When Florida State offensive coordinator Jeff Bowden views film of the Florida Gators' defense, he sees a skilled, athletic unit that has played exceptional at times.

"They are funny because you watch them and you wonder how they've lost a game," Bowden said.

"You can see the skill and you can see the talent up front. And then other games you are not sure. This game being the game that it is, we're going to see a pretty good defense. It's going to be a good matchup with their line and our line and then our backs running the ball."

Split guard Cory Niblock is excited about making his first career start against the Gators. Niblock, who will be starting his ninth career game overall since stepping in for an injured Matt Meinrod during the opener at Miami, says it will be important for the Seminoles to set the tone early.

FSU is averaing 160.9 yards rushing this season, nearly 30 more yards than a year ago. Tailbacks Lorenzo Booker and Leon Washington, who continues to battle shoulder soreness, have combined for 1,506 yards and 10 touchdowns.

"This is a game everyone watches, no matter who you are or where you live," Niblock said.

"This is my first chance to start against UF and I am really excited. Defensively, they aren't doing anything we haven't seen before. It's just going to be a matter of taking care of business up front. I thought we played well in the first half against N.C. State, but in the second half we really picked it up and you could see a change."

Jeff Bowden, meanwhile, continues to search for the production and consistency his unit displayed against Virginia last month.

In that game, the Seminoles scored five rushing touchdowns and quarterback Wyatt Sexton completed 20 of 26 passes for 275 yards and a touchdown despite having five passes dropped.

"But I don't see Florida's defense like Virginia's," Bwoden said. "I see more speed. It's going to take a big effort. We can't soley rely on the run. We are going to have to be able to throw and catch."

Of course, the Seminoles escaped from North Carolina State last Thursday, winning 17-10 in a game that was heavy on field position. Bowden and FSU's offense was slowed to a crawl by the Wolfpack defense, one Bowden said was as "good a defensive front seven as we'll see all year."

Bowden said the Seminoles will need to improve on their blocking against the Gators.

"I thought the kids were a little too excited," Bowden said.

"We were jumping at blocks, not waiting on them. We over-reacted to some defensive movements. We just whiffed at guys. I was surprised at how strong they were up front. They just manhandled a couple of our players at times up front. That might have caught our kids off guard."

Sexton also struggled in that game, though Bowden said he was pleased with his quarterback's second-half effort.

"I thought he executed well in that third quarter,' Bowden said.

"The fourth quarter, we didn't ask him to do much because we were trying to eat clock and not kill the clock. They gave us a bunch of opportunities to throw the ball down field in the fourth quarter but we didn't do it.

"When he had to make some big plays, he did it under some pressure. I thought he made some really big throws."


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