Booker's jukes and gyrations in the open field wowed opposing defenders with regularity in his first two seasons in the field. Getting there, it seems, was the only thing that plagued him at points.
This season, the California native has been explosive hitting holes and hitting potential tacklers.
The best illustration came Saturday when Booker broke loose on a 52-yard run on a simple isolation run through the left side of the line. The redshirt junior shed a potential tackle from a linebacker to break into the secondary.
"Mainly its just confidence," Booker said. "I had never experienced failure in football until I got there. That's failure in my standards."
Lack of confidence, he says, hurt decisiveness at stretches the past few seasons. Booker identified a low point in 2003 when he was injured against Maryland and fumbled on the first carry in his return against Miami in the Orange Bowl.
"Things started adding up and I really didn't come out of it until this summer. I sat down in the film room and got tired of getting disgusted with some of the little things I was doing.
"I've picked up weight but I really can't attribute it to that. My confidence is finally where it should have been all along."
Teammate Leon Washington has picked up on the change.
"He's doing a great job of making decisions, hitting the hole and getting it five yards up the field. When you do that sometimes you might get it 50 yards up the field like he did last game."
Their autopilot rotation from the past few seasons has to the potential to be even more effective now that both are becoming more versatile.
"Last game was almost like a role reversal," Washington said. "I was catching passes and making guys miss and Booker was hammering it up the gut. I like it. We've done a great job of mixing it up."
PENN STATE PARALLELS
Now that Joe Paterno has reversed his Penn State team's fortunes, there has been a lot said and a lot written about the parallels between he and Bobby Bowden. It's inevetiable that there's more to come if the Nittany Lions can shock Michigan or Michigan State in the manner that they upset Ohio State last weekend.
"I tried to watch it and kept falling asleep. I probably saw a quarter and a half of it, " Bowden said. "Well, I am glad to see him win because is kind of encouraging me. Hey, when I get as old as him, I might be able to do the same thing."
PSU's turnaround also mirrors that of FSU's though 9-5 and 8-3 Seminole seasons didn't come close to the despair of losing seasons in Happy Valley.
"It's amazing what he's done," said Bowden, who voted PSU into the tot-ten on his coaches' poll ballot. "He's coming from further back than we have."
"I don't expect Joe to hang it up, to be honest with you. Joe is still young at heart and he seems to be in good health. Winning just rejuvenates you.. If you win, it rejuvenates you.
-Ernie Sims and Trevor Ford returned to practice Monday night.
-ESPN.com will have a live chat Thursday afternoon with Booker and Washington.
MCHALE CONFIDENT IN FRADY, LIKES LEWIS TOO
With the loss of starting right guard Matt Meinrod, sophomore John Frady will step in to replace the veteran. Talking with the media earlier, Frady said that he was prepared and confident to step into the "Monstrous" shoes left vacated by the veteran.
Offensive line coach Mark McHale feels the same way.
"He started for (David) Castillo at center and did a great job," McHale said. "We worked him at guard all last week and we have him there now and I am confident that he can get the job done."
Frady is no stranger to switching around positions but Saturday's game will be the first time he has seen a live rush from the RG spot. The new spot to the right actually may turn out to be Frady's more natural position when all things are said and done.
"He kind of likes it on that right side a little better to for whatever reason," McHale said. "He's had shoulder surgery and he's a little stronger in that arm and able to push a little bit better."
In addition to a new but familiar face at right guard, expect to see talented redshirt freshman Cornelius Lewis as well, helping block for fellow classmate Drew Weatherford.
"Cornelius Lewis has done a great job too," McHale said. "He stepped in there 24 snaps (against Wake Forest) and did a really great job so I will have Cornelius in there playing with (Frady)."
BROWN STILL HAS HIS REDSHIRT
While the ongoing discussion of "wasting redshirts" will forever be a debate for good reason, many posters and FSU fans can rest easy as defensive end Everette Brown has not fallen into that category. There was some debate as to whether or not the Wilson, NC native received playing time Saturday against Wake Forest after not seeing any action in the previous four games.
In fact, even a prominent Florida newspaper posted a picture in its weekly FSU photo gallery with a caption that mentioned Brown's name as making the tackle. (The player making the tackle was not Brown but with no clear number seen, mistakes happen).
"Nope I didn't play Saturday," Brown told RenegadeReport.com "I am definitely redshirting this year, it was a decision that the coaches and I talked about. They told me that I would get to play as a true freshman and they left it up to me decide if I wanted to sacrifice maybe 10 to 12 snaps a game or come back next year and really compete."
While depth is always a concern with injuries and other factors coming into play, the 6-foot-2 and 238 pound defender still thinks that his services will not be needed this season.
"I think that they will hold me out no matter but you never know," Brown said. "I don't think that they would waste the redshirt though."
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