Positive Vibes

Despite a sluggish second half against Iowa State, the Seminoles benefited from the efforts of returning receivers Robert Morgan and Anquan Boldin. In fact, FSU also could receive a boost in its home-opener Saturday from Jeff Womble, who continues to recover from a knee injury. Also, rover Claudius Osei talks about improvements needed from the secondary this weekend. "Before that game I had chills. It felt real good to get back out there, to see the crowd," said Morgan (pictured).

Senior receiver Robert Morgan speaks in measured tones concerning his return from reconstructive knee surgery. Still, Morgan admits he was overcome by emotion moments before he stepped on the field for the Seminoles' opener against Iowa State last Saturday in the Eddie Robinson Classic.

"Before that game I had chills," Morgan said. "It felt real good to get back out there, to see the crowd. I know it's gonna even feel better to be in front of a home crowd this weekend. I am really looking forward to it."

Morgan is one of FSU's feel-good stories. His journey has been oft-repeated, missing last season with fellow receiver Anquan Boldin following knee surgery. Morgan's case was more severe, however, as he also suffered nerve damage that made tapping his foot difficult.

Of course, Morgan's determination never wavered. That's not his style. His rehabilitation has been grueling, and the process continues daily. Morgan practiced just once-a-day during the preseason and he continues to deal with tendonitits. Morgan made his presence felt in FSU's 38-31 victory over the Cyclones, catching four passes for 57 yards. He hopes to improve on that performance in the Seminoles' home-opener Saturday against Virginia.

"Practice makes perfect," Morgan said.

"I will never be satisfied. I say 95 percent (recovered) I am still dealing with tendonitis a lot. It was sore after the (Iowa Sate) game. I just popped a couple of aspirin. Like I said earlier, that one-a-day practice helped me a lot. Hopefully, I can make it through the season because I haven't been doing too much pounding on it. It's just a matter of me staying focused and doing what I had to do out there."

Boldin (pictured), meanwhile, also enjoyed an impressive return, finishing with a game-high seven catches for 89 yards and two touchdowns – 2 and 31 yards from quarterback Chris Rix. Boldin's status was in question after he re-injured his surgically repaired knee during the team's initial preseason scrimmage. And there's also no questioning Boldin's determination – he wouldn't let offensive coordinator Jeff Bowden sub for him during the game.

"Things are looking good right now," Boldin said.

"I felt like I could have blocked a lot better. When I was not the primary receiver, I could have run better routes. That's things I have to work on. Not at all (tentative). It was a little sore, but when the lights came on I forgot about all that. I had been away a whole year. I wanted to be in there as much as possible. He (Jeff Bowden) said he was trying to save me for the fourth quarter, so I think we are going to do a little more of that this week."

While Morgan and Boldin stepped back on the field, noseguard Jeff Womble (pictured) is hopeful of playing against the Cavaliers after sitting out the opener. While Womble continues to recover from a Grade-2 MCL sprain suffered in a preseason scrimmage, he was suspended for the opener for violating a team rule. Womble was held out of practice Tuesday but his status will be re-evaluated today or Thursday.

"If it's up to me, I want to go," Womble said.

"Every time I tried to get in there (Tuesday), Odell (Haggins, assistant coach) was yelling, ‘Get out, get out. No.' He sent somebody in after me. I've been trying to get back since the day I went out. The day it happened, I thought it was much worse. When they told me it was just an MCL sprain, I was just busting my butt to get back as fast as possible. I am going to try to influence them. I am gonna tell them what they want to hear (smiling). I am not going to try to hurt myself. If I get out there and I really feel I can't go. ... I might take it as far as dress out for pregame and just see how it feels. If I feel I can do it or not, I am gonna go."

It's no secret the Seminoles can use Womble, who finished second among defensive tackles last season with 37. Womble, who was named "King of the Boards" and most dependable player following spring drills, watched the Seminoles opening victory on television. Like FSU fans, he saw his beloved team squander leads of 24-0 and 31-7. The Seminoles stopped ISU quarterback Seneca Wallace at the goal line on the game's final play.

"Darnell (Dockett) called me as soon as the game was over and he was like, ‘How did we look?' I told him the same thing," Womble said.

"You guys came out there that first half, guys were playing hard and everybody was running around. But the biggest thing was coming out in the third quarter, and keeping that intensity you had when you first came out there. I was like, you almost have to look at it like no matter how much you are up by, that second half you have to come out there like it's 0-0 all over again. You have to look at it like you are playing two different games. Just forget about that fist half.

"I think we as a defense have to learn, gotta have that killer instinct that teams in the past had. When we get a team down like that, we just have to put it away. It's hard to keep going out there, you know these guys really can't play with you, but you can't just go down to their level. You have to put them away."

The defense, which was supposed to be much improved this season, faltered as the Cyclones netted 443 total yards on offense, 313 of them coming on passes thrown by Wallace. The unit also suffered numerous breakdowns. The Cyclones scored their second touchdown Saturday on a 29-yard pass play in which their tight end sneaked behind the defensive backs and caught the ball uncovered. The Seminoles' secondary also allowed a 39-yard touchdown pass late in the fourth quarter.

Those mistakes overshadowed several big plays, including two by free safety B.J. Ward on special teams and a sack by rover Jerome Carter.

"We missed a lot of tackles," said rover Claudius Osei, (pictured) who made six - most among the safeties. "Because the (preseason) injuries slowed us down during practice, we couldn't practice at full speed. And that pretty much slows us down for the game. Nobody was really at full speed during two-a-days, so that hurt us a little bit. I am not 100 percent. My Achilles is hurting a little bit. I am trying to work through it, trying to play through it. Hopefully, next week with off week I can get some treatment and get it better."

Osei also believes the secondary will be better against the Cavs. The Seminoles will surely face a two-headed quarterback in Matt Schaub or Marques Hagan. Hagan, a freshman, split time with starter Schaub and completed 10 of 13 passes for 120 yards and ran 11 times for 45 yards and one TD in his collegiate debut in the season opener against Colorado State last Thursday. Schaub, meanwhile, threw for 132 yards with two interceptions and a touchdown in the Seminoles' 43-7 victory last year.

"We had a few breakdowns. Nothing that's not normal for a first game," Osei said.

"You are not going to be perfect – you are going to have breakdowns somewhere down the line. It (tackling) was alright. It can always be better. I was hooked up one-on-one a lot, so I couldn't do what I wanted to do in the tackling. I didn't play on the line as much as I wanted to, but it was alright. I didn't do it too well (one-on-one). I can work on leverage, contain. We don't get much practice through the week on one-on-one, but you have to be ready for the game."


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