Against the Wall

The FSU defense is getting ready to face another mobile quarterback in Clemson's Willie Simmons. Simmons, who grew up in nearby Quincy and was recruited by FSU but wanted to go elsewhere, leads an improved offensive unit that has increased its total yardage in each of the four games this season. The Seminoles' defense, meanwhile, is looking to recover from last Thursday's defeat at Louisville. "This is it. If we are not ready now, we are never going to be ready," DE Alonzo Jackson said.

The Florida State defense is getting ready to face another mobile quarterback in Clemson's Willie Simmons Thursday.

The Seminoles have already faced Iowa State's Seneca Wallace and is still scheduled to go against some of the nation's most talented quarterbacks in Miami's Ken Dorsey, North Carolina State's Philip Rivers and Florida's Rex Grossman.

At the moment, however, the Semioles' focus is on Simmons, who is fifth in the Atlantic Coast Conference in total offense (186.8 yards per game). Simmons, who hails from nearby Quincy and was not a FSU fan growing up, also has a nice supporting cast.

Over his last three games, sophomore tailback Yuseff Kelly has run for 285 yards (95 yards per game) and three touchdowns. Kelley is fifth in the ACC in rushing yards per game (75.5) and seventh in scoring (7.5). Wide receiver Kevin Youngblood, meanwhile, leads the ACC in receptions per game (5.5).

Overall, the Tigers have increased their total offense yardage in each of the four games this season -- (233 against Georgia, 336 against Louisiana Tech, 371 against Georgia Tech and 412 against Ball State two Saturdays ago).

Of course, the Seminoles are coming off a disappointing defeat at Louisville last Thursday. Senior defensive end Alonzo Jackson, who had four of the team's six sacks – FSU coaches graded the film and gave Jackson four sacks and not five – believes the Seminoles can bounce back.

"This is it. If we are not ready now, we are never going to be ready" Jackson said simply.

While Clemson (3-1, 1-0) is coming of a 30-7 win over Ball State and primed for Bowden Bowl IV, FSU is looking to regroup in a hurry.

Of course, defensive concerns remain. Opponents are averaging 20.6 points per game, 348.6 total yards – 245.2 passing and 103.4 rushing – and 5.2 yards per play. While FSU has trailed for just two minutes and 57 seconds in five games this season, it was unable to hold the Cardinals in overtime, scoring on their first play for the victory. FSU has been outscored 80-62 in the second half this season, including OT, and missed tackles continue to plague the unit.

Still, Jackson believes the Seminoles are better defensively from last season, though the numbers would lead to a lively debate.

"I am saying, last year we were scrambling around trying to say, ‘Man what is going on?' Now, everybody is back from last year pretty much. Now, we know," Jackson said. "That already happened. I know what I can do, I know what you can do. We need to go out there and do it. Everybody after that (Louisville) game was looking at film trying to see where we went wrong. Everybody. I had to wait. Normally, I am here early and I even had to wait in line to go look at film."

FSU is hopeful Clemson proves to be the perfect tonic. The Seminoles have been amazingly dominant in home games against the Tigers. Since joining the ACC e in 1992, FSU has beaten Clemson by a combined 210-10 in five games at Doak Campbell Stadium. No other series against the ACC is so tilted.

Clemson cornerback Brian Mance, who had two interceptions in Clemson's 41-27 loss to FSU last season and provides Clemson with an outstanding return specialist who ranked in the top 30 in the nation in punt returns and kickoff returns in 2001, says the Tigers need to prove a point.

"I feel like they have respect for us," Mance said Tuesday. "But we don't have the respect we deserve. The year before last they embarassed us and almost did the same thing last year. They won't overlook us but I don't think they respect us like they should."

Even so, FSU also needs to make a statement, especially defensively, following its tumble against the Cardinals. The ‘Noles appear to be in good shape.

Linebacker Michael Boulware is practicing and will play with a cast to protect a hand injury. He will be fitted for a soft cast before the game. Additionally, the Seminoles have decided to seek medical redshirts for injured defensive end Charles Howard and linebacker Marcello Church. Howard hasn't played this season. Church broke his hand in the opening game.

Bobby Bowden also believes the Seminoles have been productive off and on the field the past three days.

"They've been good practices," Bowden said. "They've done everything we've asked. The spirits have been good. Again, we just need to go out there (Thursday) and win a game."

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