Bounce Back Bid

DURHAM, N.C. - Youthful Duke is reeling. Frustrated Florida State is anxious to rebound from defeat.

Recipe for a rout? Not according to Duke coach Ted Roof.

"People ask me when would be a good time to play Florida State and I really don't have an answer for you," Roof said. "(FSU) Coach (Bobby) Bowden will have his team ready to play as he always does. My focus is on getting this team better."

Still, circumstance is hard to ignore. Florida State can't wait to hit the gridiron following a week of answering inquiries that were anything but pleasant.

In addition to the escape, a Saturday afternoon visit to Duke (1-6) will also give the Seminoles (5-1) an excellent opportunity to work out kinks in the defense and the running game that doomed FSU in its 26-21 loss at Virginia last weekend.

"It'll be good for us to get back out there again," tailback Lorenzo Booker said. "That's how it is with this team because everybody has done a good job of taking the loss and putting it behind us."

The Seminoles endured a tumultuous week. On Monday, FSU coach Bobby Bowden suspended a pair of freshmen - wide receiver Fred Rouse and guard Cornelius Lewis - for one game as punishment for sideline blowups against the Cavaliers. Then speculation that heralded freshman tailback Antone Smith had asked for a transfer was put to rest Wednesday.

The loss of leading receiver De'Cody Fagg (separated shoulder) for at least one game is one final hurdle FSU will have to clear in Saturday's rebound attempt.

"Things like this are going to happen," linebacker A.J. Nicholson said. "You are going to win some battles and lose others. We shouldn't have lost (against Virginia) and have had to endure a week like that, but we have to move forward and make this the best season possible."

"There's no reason to linger on it," added quarterback Drew Weatherford. "We still have things to accomplish."

The Seminoles were in a familiar spot a season ago when they turned their attention to Duke following a surprising loss at Maryland. The hangover was evident - FSU led just 9-7 at the half before dispatching the doormat Devils 29-7. Frustrated by the lackluster play, several players spoke out in the locker room during halftime of that contest.

This time around, mindset may be improved.

"This year's team is a little different," Weatherford said. "There hasn't been any finger-pointing around here like in the past. Everyone realizes we have the rest of the season to play."

Among those reasons: Nicholson and teammate Ernie Sims learned Thursday that they had made the Butkus Award cut list; both are among the final ten candidates for the award given to the nation's best linebacker at season's end.

Nicholson, a North Carolina native, will be playing his final collegiate game in his home state.

Duke stumbles in on the heels of a 35-10 defeat opposite Georgia Tech. The Blue Devils have only beaten Division I-AA Virginia Military Institute this season and are breaking freshman quarterback Zack Asack.

Mismatch or not, goals for Florida State at this point are simple.

"Quit making mistakes," Nicholson said. "We've got to bring our 'A' game the rest of the way."


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