Noles Lose Meinrod for the Season

Florida State's offensive line took a big hit when Matt Meinrod went down in the second half and did not return. That may be the end of Meinrod's season, but his teammates want to make sure it's not the end of theirs, too.

Center David Castillo waited beside his friend Matt Meinrod, offering words of comfort. Meinrod knew from the moment it happened that his leg was broke.

Castillo's thoughts were there with Meinrod, but at times he also wondered about the team's future.

Meinrod's season has been snapped for the second straight year by an untimely and unfortunate injury. Reports during the game cited a fractured fibula and dislocated left ankle.

Florida State will most likely have to finish without one of its most reliable linemen and vocal leaders.

"Leadership wise that's tough," said quarterback Drew Weatherford, a native of Land O' Lakes.

On a third down play in the second half, Weatherford appeared to lose the ball after being sacked for a loss of three yards. In the pile of players that fought for the fumble, someone caught Meinrod from behind, causing him to roll awkwardly on his ankle.

Reserve OG Cornelius Lewis replaced Meinrod for the remainder of the game. Once a timetable is determined for Meinrod, coaches will have to address the long-term plan at guard.

"I had a conversation with coach (Mark) McHale and I said that we need our best five on the field," said Castillo. "We can't let our season get tanked because we lose one of our best linemen."

In the 2004 opener against Miami, Meinrod suffered a torn ACL and grade two MCL sprain and was sidelined for the season.

When he returned, teammates noticed a renewed sense of determination. After what Meinrod had been through, there wasn't anyone that wanted to get back on the field more than him.

"He's worked so hard in the weight room, the film room, and rehab," said Castillo. "He's done everything he can to help this team win. A couple guys on the team said they wish it was us instead of him."

Meinrod has been the anchor of the Seminoles' line this season, earning the "Top Blocker" award, a distinction given each week by McHale and graduate assistant Ben Odom.

"He's been one of the mainstays in (the line)," head coach Bobby Bowden said. "I hate to lose him. I felt like, this season, we had to be lucky on our offensive line to stay healthy."

In the weight room, Meinrod made a name for himself as the strongest player on the team. He lifted a combined 1,565 pounds (430 clean, 505 bench, 630 squat).

Fans dubbed him "Monster" Matt Meinrod and started a website, monstermatt.com.

Someday, Meinrod has said, he'd like a shot at the world's strongest man competition.

But, for now, Meinrod has another battle ahead of him and he has the confidence of those around him that he'll find a way to persevere.

"Nothing has ever really kept (Meinrod) down before," center John Frady said. "I'm sure he'll bounce back from this like he's bounced back from everything."


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