Washington will Carry the Burden

If Leon Washington was given the title of offensive coordinator, Florida State's game plan would be real simple.

"I would run the ball, run the ball, run the ball and then maybe do some running," Washington joked at FSU's annual Media Day at Doak Campbell Stadium Sunday morning. "We wouldn't have any interceptions, I could you promise that."

All kidding aside, Washington realizes that he'll be carrying a heavy burden when the Seminoles open the season Sept. 5 against Miami. With his Seminoles guaranteed to be breaking in a new quarterback, the senior tailback knows that he'll have eleven sets of hungry eyes behind orange facemasks staring in his direction.

Washington won't have to shoulder the load alone.

Objective No. 1 for Washingon, fellow tailback Lorenzo Booker and a revamped offensive line will be keeping the pressure off of redshirt freshmen quarterbacks Drew Weatherford and Xavier Lee by moving the ball on the ground.

"We know we are going to have to run the ball to help these guys out," Washington said. "Miami knows that, too. They are in the same situation with (first time starter) Kyle Wright. We're up for the challenge."

Fortunately, the Seminoles have a accumulation of assets in their backfield. Sophomores Lamar Lewis and Jamaal Edwards were all-state runners in high school and have a year of mop up experience. Stalwart senior fullbacks B.J. Dean and James Colemen are two of the best in the business when it comes to putting a hat on a linebacker or picking up a tough yard or two.

However, its freshman Antone Smith that has been generating the most buzz among the backups in preseason camp. Smith, who scored 44 touchdowns and led his Pahokee team to a state title in 2004, has been gaining notice with his play in practice.

The speedster (4.36 40-yard dash) has already found his way into the rotation as a kick returner. There is distinct possibility that Smith could return the opening kickoff against a Miami team that be spurned late in the recruiting process even though the Hurricanes were his favorite team growing up.

"We've got options back there," Bobby Bowden said. "The question is: how in the world are we going to get everyone the ball? The answer is that there is a lot time left. Between now and then we could be dealing with ankles, we could be dealing with sickness, we could be dealing with injury. You hope that's not the case, though."

Bowden and his offensive staff are planning to get Booker, an excellent receiver, more involved in the passing game, freeing up some more carries for the reserves. Don't be surprised to see both Booker and Washington - arguably FSU's two best playmakers - in the game at the same time.

"I'm not to going to need as many carries the way they are giving me an opportunity to contribute," Booker said. "We've worked on a variety of different ways to get me the ball."

The goal: make Lee and Weatherford comfortable enough to make plays in their debut.

"We know we have to establish the run," center David Castillo said. "But if they stack the box, we'll throw it over their heads, too. Young or not, if you are playing quarterback at Florida State, then you are a good quarterback."


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