Florida State-Syracuse Premium Notebook

Senior wide receiver Willie Reid returned to the lineup Saturday after missing the previous two games with a sprained knee. While Reid was not penciled in as the starter, the Kathleen, Ga. native fielded the first punt of the ballgame and was in on the first play from scrimmage in a four-wide set.

Reid finished the game with five receptions for 70 yards and a score. The touchdown reception came on a 43-yard highlight-reel type catch from QB Drew Weatherford.

"Willie Reid made some good catches out there that we had to have," coach Bobby Bowden said. "It was good to see him back because he's been bugged by injuries the four years that he has been here and he came off that injury."

Reid also alternated punt returns with freshman Fred Rouse through the first two quarters but was not used on special teams in the second half.


Former Florida State track and field star Alice Bennett Sims will be honored Sunday as a "Champions Beyond the Game" Sunday for her inspirational work in the community.

If the name Sims sounds familiar, it should, as Alice is the mother of standout Seminole linebacker Ernie Sims III. Her son, Marcus, is a highly touted football player from North Florida Christian High School in Tallahassee with a handful of scholarships offers from some of the nation's elite programs – including Florida State. Her husband, Ernie II, is a former fullback under coach Bobby Bowden.

"She deserves it," the younger Ernie said of the honor. "All that hard work and dedication even when she was in high school and broke all kinds of records she went through her ups and downs and it's paying off now."

From 1979-83, Alice earned seven All-America honors as a sprinter and long jumper. She currently works as the Assistant Director of the Winning America's Youth Ministries - a non-profit youth outreach program designed to help children ages 5-19.

"I'm a strong believer that your environment does affect you and impacts your life," Alice said. "(Ernie and Marcus) came up in a Christian home, they came up in a home where we believe in excelling in academics and athletics is just a part of our family. We've all participated in sports.

"We've always tried to instill in them to succeed in anything they put their heart and mind to. It's always like, you just got to be successful, because that's just the way they were raised.


Entering the ballgame, Syracuse's turnover margin of +2.67 was tops in the nation. At the conclusion of Saturday's contest, Syracuse finished with four turnovers compared to two lost by the 'Noles. Three of the Syracuse turnovers came from fumbles while the fourth was an interception by RV Kyler Hall.

Syracuse was also ranked sixth nationally in pass defense (128.3 yards per game) and 24th in total (292. 67 yards per game). The Tribe registered 396 yards through the air and 512 total offensive yards against that defense.


After scampering to the endzone on a 71-yard toss-and-catch from Drew Weatherford, TB Lorenzo Booker now holds career longs in catches and runs of 71 yards apiece. The redshirt junior has now recorded touchdowns in three of FSU's four games this season.

The Seminoles finished the 2004 season with no completions over 50 yards. They already have six this season (Kenny O'Neal 75, Booker 71, Chris Davis 56, Greg Carr 54, Rouse 54, De'Cody Fagg 51).

Xavier Lee does pay attention to the headlines.

The FSU quarterback admitted that he digested opinioned viewpoints from print, online and radio sources leading up to the game after admitting his frustration with his reserve role with the Seminoles last week.

Some even hinted at the idea of Lee transferring.

"A lot of people are going to speculate about this or talk about that," Lee said. "The bottom line is that I'm not going anywhere. I made a decision to come here and I'm going to stick it out."

Coaches inserted Lee into the lineup in the second quarter and promptly wowed with a 56-yard competition to Chris Davis that set up an FSU field goal. The Daytona Beach native returned late in the third and finished out the game.

All told Lee completed 5-of-10 passes for 162 yards in FSU's 38-14 win against Syracuse.

Lee said that he learned that he would play in a Thursday meeting and that coaches have kicked around the idea of him playing a weekly role.

"It was a burden off of my chest and it gives you a sense of accomplishment," Lee said. "It'll be good to get in there and get a feel for the game."


Former Atlantic standout Tommy Harris served as a captain for the Orange Saturday. Harris, a fifth-year senior, made the tackle on the game's first play from scrimmage from his weakside linebacker spot. Coming into the contest, Harris had 11 tackles and fumble recover to his credit. Wade Rollinson, who coached Harris at Atlantic, is now the head coach at Tallahassee's Leon High.


Syracuse University had one of its own in the booth - Orange alum Mike Tirico handled the play-by-play on ABC's broadcast. According to the SU media guide, 22 Syracuse graduates have full-time NFL or NCAA gigs as on-air talent. Included in that list is Sean McDonough, who called the Syracuse-FSU game last season.


Xavier Lee's 56-yard second-quarter completion to a sprawling Chris Davis provided FSU's longest gain this season until Booker's 71-yard touchdown reception in the fourth. The catches were the fourth and fifth this fall that have gone for over 50 yards for an FSU team that did not produce a gain of over 50 yards on any one play a season ago. Fred Rouse, De'Cody Fagg and Greg Carr also have receptions that have gained over 50 yards.


It took 111 minutes for an FSU opponent to produce points in the second half. After pitching post-intermission shutouts against Miami, The Citadel and Boston College, the Seminole defense allowed the Orange into the end zone with 4:06 to play in the third quarter. SU quarterback Perry Patterson made A.J. Nicholson miss on a bootleg left for the first Syracuse score of the game.


Players, coaches and fans alike cheered late in the fourth quarter when the Doak Campbell Stadium jumbtron flashed that Alabama had dispatched Florida 31-3. They groan periodically as No. 1 USC crawled back into its 38-28 win against Arizona State. "Once the game gets in hand, you can't help but take a peek," Booker said.


WR Chris Davis' 267 yards receiving through four games are already more than he has had in any single season of his career…With five touchdowns and a field goal, six different Seminoles recorded a score…The Seminole defense now has 19 sacks on the season after notching seven on Saturday…Opponents of FSU are now 0-for-5 on fourth down conversions…77 different scholarship and walk-on athletes saw playing time.


"It was nothing planned, it was just kind of an impulse. (Quarterbacks coach) Daryl Dickey wanted to do it and we had a two touchdown lead and I felt like, ‘let's do it.'" – Bobby Bowden on the decision to put Xavier Lee into the ballgame.

"Xavier got (experience) and I thought he responded very well. I was very pleased with his play." – Bowden on Lee's 5-for-10 for 162 yards performance.

"It's a role that Florida State is supposed to be used to having. The guys that got here in '02 with me; we are used to being the underdog. You know, everybody telling us we don't have it anymore in terms of the past Florida State teams. We've just got to stay focused and understand that if we do good they are going to talk good and if we do bad they are going to talk bad. As long we play for us and not anybody else, we will be okay." – Booker on FSU's more than likely rise into the nation's top 4.

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