Football Report

Florida State has been plagued by injuries along the offensive line since season's start. That trend continued throughout the regular season and has been an issue in bowl practice. FSU continues to prepare for the Jan. 1 Gator Bowl against West Virginia before breaking the Christmas holidays next week. The Mountaineers' defense is expected to test the Seminoles' offensive line.

Florida State hasn't had much luck with injuries this season, especially along the offensive line.

The Seminoles' problems began in the season-opener at Miami, when junior starting split guard Matt Meinrod was lost for the year with a torn knee.

The scenario isn't much better in December.

Senior tight tackle Ray Willis continues to be hobbled by an ankle sprain suffered in the regular-season finale against Florida. He was replaced in the lineup against the Gators by redshirt freshman David Overmyer, who is receiving plenty of bowl practice snaps.

At tight guard, Bobby Meeks also has been slowed this season by an assortment of hurts and aches.

Cory Niblock, who replaced Meinrod, has a bum right shoulder that require surgery following the season.

Center David Castillo has been hurt from head to toe -- well, not quite but close. The tough-as-nails warrior has a dislocated finger on his snapping hand that will require surgery following the season.

Brain Ross started against Florida but was replaced by Castillo in the second half following struggles.

Of course, Castillo's backup, John Frady, has been out for a majority of the season with an injured elbow. Frady also hasn't had any good luck -- he has re-aggravated the injury.

The center spot continues to be a problem.

FSU coach Bobby Bowden said the Seminoles suffered another injury when true freshman Dumaka Atkins went down on Friday.

"We are down to one center. We started the season off with five and today (Dumaka) Atkins got hurt," Bowden said.

"We had (David) Castillo, who we are holding out of the hitting drills. (John) Frady, who re-injured his elbow. Then we have walk-on Cory Brookins who had been out too."

Of course, Alex Barron has been a cornerstone for the line, earning All-America honors for the second consecutive season.

While many are disappointed in FSU's bowl destination, fullback B.J. Dean echoes the feelings of his teammates: It's important for the Seminoles to end on a positive note.

"The Gator Bowl is a good bowl," Dean said.

"It's not a BCS Bowl, but it is the next best thing. We went there my freshman year and it was a good time. It was my first time to Jacksonville and I had fun and the game was good. We are going to go there and take care of what we need to."

Dean also expects a tussle from West Virginia's defense.

"They run a 55 defense, it's kind of like a 3-4," Dean said.

"They are very aggressive and they will play hard from snap to snap. On film, we see that they run a lot of stunts and like to move their linebackers around to try and confuse teams. We are just going to have to get a lot of film work in and make sure that we are ready to play a hard fought game."

Practice notes

FSU worked out for 10 periods on the practice fields and then wrapped up the day with eight more periods in Doak Campbell Stadium on Friday. The last 15 minutes were used for 11-on-11 scrimmaging. Lamar Lewis rushed for nine yards before the defense got a sack from Chauncey Davis and a tackle for loss from Eric Moore. The offense bounced back with a pair of big plays in situational drills as Chris Rix hit Paul Irons on a 25-yard completion and Lorenzo Booker picked up 30 yards on a run. The day concluded with five plays of goalline. The offense scored just once, on a touchdown run by Leon Washington. Bryant McFadden recorded a sack, Chauncey Davis and Jerome Carter combined on a tackle for loss, and Ernie Sims stopped Jamaal Edwards in mid-air inside the one-yard line on the final play of the afternoon.

Supplied by FSU sports information.

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