Whit Watson Blog: Weekend Update

First order of business: coaches do not watch film. They say they do, and newspaper columnists refer to it, and television analysts love to talk about "the films," but coaches do NOT watch film. They watch videotape, or digital video.

Nobody watches film anymore, and hasn't for probably 25 years. In fact, most video assistants now burn their scouting tapes onto DVD's, which players then toss into the back seats of their Escalades. Repeat: there is no film. Coaches use that phrase on reflex, harkening back to the leather-helmet days of dark, smoky rooms and clackety reel-to-reel eight-millimeters projecting onto a bare wall. Nobody does that anymore. There is no "Sunshine Network," and there is no film. Yet, on Sunday, I saw at least four "film" references in the papers. Work with me, people. Together, we can make a difference.

Next point: I picked Boston College to beat Florida State on Saturday, and I was wrong. Such is life. Still, even the most obstinate Seminole fans will admit that BC owned that game in the first half, and gave Florida State a hell of a run. My pick was not based on any aversion to FSU - rather, I thought Boston College was pretty good, and I still think so.

That being said, I really liked Terry Norvelle's point about the Seminoles during our combined Seminole-Gator Postgame on Saturday night - this is what you will get from Florida State this year. They are nothing if not resilient. Two redshirt freshman quarterbacks, a breathtakingly talented corps of young receivers, and a defense that can be impregnable at times. They have a whiff of destiny about them. On balance, the talent is not quite what it was when FSU was winning 11 of 13 Atlantic Coast Conference titles, but I think I like this team better. They find ways to win. They grind. It may be ugly, but when the scoreboard reads all zeroes, you'll like the result. We can relate to a team like this. And Mickey Andrews deserves every penny he makes.

There is an elephant in Florida State's living room that few in the state or national media are willing to discuss, and it has to do with Xavier Lee, the former Mr. Football in the state of Florida. A former Seminole football player with close ties to the current staff told me that Coach Bowden and his assistants are wary of handing Lee too much responsibility in the FSU offense because they are concerned about his head. By "head," I mean not just his football acumen, but his academic motivation. Lee, the story goes, is not an enthusiastic student, and the FSU coaching staff's worst nightmare is handing him the keys to the offense only to see him flunk out of school a semester later. Not saying it's a fact, only saying that I trust the source.

Further, many Florida State message boards have been lit up lately with arguments about Lee's "bad attitude" versus those who believe he should be on the field on every snap. I bring this up because during that comeback win over Boston College, ESPN sideline reporter Holly Rowe made an excellent observation.

Sometime during the second half, the venerable Ron Franklin threw down to Rowe for a quick hit from the FSU sideline. She noted - accurately - that Lee appeared detached from the FSU game plan, with his helmet on the turf and his mind wandering. He was chatting with other backups, laughing, and generally farting around, and did not seem ready to enter the game, despite the fact that Bobby Bowden had been using both quarterbacks in previous games. She was dead right. I wonder if Lee realizes this.

None of this is news to Seminole fans, but it doesn't get discussed openly. Xavier Lee is a transcendent athlete, so talented that one has to wonder why he's not getting more of a run. When you're down three points on the road, and your opposition is gashing your defense for three quarters, and the earth appears ready to open up and swallow your national championship hopes, you would think that the most dangerous football player on the field would at least be interested in the play calling. But he wasn't, at least, not to my eyes. Just throwing that out there.

I'm not here to pile on Lee. I just hope that he gets it soon. But at 3-0, maybe it doesn't matter, and maybe the FSU coaching staff knows it.

I'm not a huge fan of sideline reporters - and I've performed that role many times for Sun Sports - but I was really impressed with that report from Holly Rowe. She saw it, and reported it. Good for her.

Thirdly: two of the best comments we have ever had during our three-year run on Chevy Tailgate Saturday were heard over this weekend. The first was from Bowden, who said that his players appeared to be in "fairy-land" for much of the game against Boston College. The second was from Urban Meyer, who responded to a question from Steve Babik after the win over Tennessee thusly:

Steve: "Coach, what did you like about your offense tonight?"

Meyer: "Absolutely nothing." Pause. "Well, we won the game."

Right, and right. It was a slugfest in Gainesville. Two elite programs traded shots for sixty minutes, and the team with the strongest chin was left standing. Cut me, Mick. Winning ugly is better than not winning at all. If Florida contends for a national championship this year, it will come on the backs of the defense and special teams, and that should be enough for Gator Nation. Winning ugly is still winning, and that's what Meyer was brought here to do.

Next point: what does Larry Coker have to do? He takes his Miami Hurricanes to Death Valley for the first time and survives, and the internet nation is still opining on the next head coach at UM. Way too much "yeah, we won, but..." You won. Enjoy it. Is the swagger gone? Who cares? Winning is good, and losing is bad.

Final notes: USF is nine miles ahead of UCF in the race for entry into Florida's elite, and the Golden Knights are going to have to deal with it. Bethune-Cookman needs some help the rest of the way to contend for the title of top HBC in the country. And Webber International University showed more heart than any team in the state this weekend, kicking a field goal to send their road game against Campbellsville to overtime, then blocking a PAT attempt in the OT to preserve the win. Break up the Warriors.

See you next week.


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