Maintaining Focus

The key to success over the next few weeks will be maintaining focus against conference opponents on the road, something that has hurt Florida State in past seasons. Bobby Bowden said the biggest thing that gives him hope is the way the team has fought in its first three games.

The question marks are starting to clear. The team has started 3-0 with wins over conference foes Miami and Boston College. And the young corps of players that man pivotal positions are turning the corner.

Now what?

As FSU embarks into the middle of its schedule, it seems like some of the Seminoles biggest tests may be behind them. Head coach Bobby Bowden's main concern now is how his team will fare on the road against other ACC teams.

"Every time you play a conference game, especially away from home, you face the same thing that we faced last night. You face the same thing that Miami faced last night," said Bowden referring to the Hurricanes 36-30 triple-overtime win against Clemson on Saturday. "If you're not ready for your ‘A' game, you can be had."

After a two-game homestretch, Florida State will trek to Virginia on October 15. Four weeks later the Seminoles are at Clemson for its last conference match up before the ACC Championship.

Recent history shows why Bowden is uneasy away from Tallahassee.

In 2003, Florida State, ranked No. 3 at the time, had its march up the polls quelled by an untimely 26-10 loss to the Tigers at Death Valley.

Last season, Maryland mucked another rebound effort when the Terrapins knocked off the fifth-ranked Seminoles, 20-17 in College Park.

Bowden is expecting some of his veteran players to provide the right mentoring to pull the underclassmen along and avoid the same mistakes.

"You let the guys that have been there before get the word to (the young players) that this is what it's going to be like," said Bowden. "A kid that has never experienced it, maybe there's no way to describe it to him where he understands it until he goes through it."

That was the case with quarterback Drew Weatherford on Saturday. Bowden felt that Weatherford, making his first start on the road, came around it the final quarters of the game. Some of Florida State's other uncertainties – young wide receivers, young defensive line, and an untested secondary – are also taking shape.

"We did have a lot of question marks coming in, and we still have some, but not as many," said Bowden.

Bowden added that he is finding out more about his team in each game, learning what will work best with his personnel.

He likened his current situation to the adjustments that were made with former quarterback Charlie Ward, who worked under center before finding success from the shotgun.

"We started off with Charlie Ward with one philosophy on offense and by the middle of the season we ran with a complete opposite mentality," said Bowden.

If there's one thing that has changed Bowden's perspective on this team and what fate may lie ahead, it's how his players have scrapped and survived to stay undefeated.

"We very easily could be 1-2," said Bowden. "They have done what they have had to do and win."


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