Stretch Run

With half the season behind them, the Florida State Seminoles look to the rest of the year with a new brand of confidence. Off this weekend, the Seminoles return to practice Monday to continue preparations for next Saturday's home showdown against Notre Dame. "Effort's fine, effort's good, but I'm in this thing to win. I'm not trying to say, ‘Let's just go out and give a good effort.' I'm trying to get the win, that's how I feel," defensive end Alonzo Jackson said.

With half the season behind them, the Seminoles look to the rest of the year with a new brand of confidence. After suffering two close losses, the ‘Noles are well aware that their 2002 campaign is far from being a waste.

"I've expressed to them that the season is not over, that we're only half way through," head coach Bobby Bowden said. "We've lost one game in overtime, the other we got beat by a point against what we think is the best football team in the country. There's no reason for them to come out and not play with a lot of confidence, which we might have been lacking."

The losses to Louisville and Miami could have very easily been wins for Florida State and because both games came down to the wire, the Seminoles don't feel that they have that much to improve on.

"I don't think we need to bounce back," offensive tackle Brett Williams said. "After how we played against Miami, we all feel like we deserved to win, it just didn't work out that way for us. We played better in that game than we had all year. If everybody goes out with the same confidence, and plays the same way we played against Miami, we're pretty confident that we'll win the other games."

The offensive line has been playing especially well this season has been one of the only parts of the team that hasn't had an off game. Williams attributes senior leadership to the O-line's success this year, but claims that what the line has been able to do isn't far beyond its call of duty.

"We're seniors, that's just what we have to go out and do," Williams said. "We don't look at it like we're doing so much more than anybody else. We're just doing our jobs as seniors, we're supposed to be the ones that we can always fall back on."

But though the games against Louisville and Miami could have gone either way, the fact is, they didn't go the way FSU would have liked. The ‘Noles have two losses on the season and while they are equal in the standings, they were not equal in the hearts of the Seminoles.

"With the Louisville loss, you came out feeling like you didn't play to win but with the Miami loss, you feel like you played the best you could," Bowden said. " With one, you felt like you could look yourself in the mirror after, the other one, you couldn't. We played the best we could last week, you couldn't ask for much more."

The Seminoles led Miami for much of the game and it wasn't until the final minutes that FSU surrendered.

"The only thing that was frustrating was that we finally came together as a team and didn't pull out the win," Williams said.

The ‘Noles may have gotten an ‘A' for effort for that game, but that wasn't good enough for them.

"Effort's fine, effort's good, but I'm in this thing to win," defensive end Alonzo Jackson said. " I'm not trying to say ‘let's just go out and give a good effort', I'm trying to get the win, that's how I feel."

Both games are behind FSU now, and now is the time when the ‘Noles believe it's best to look ahead. With Notre Dame, NC State, Georgia Tech and Florida all waiting to take on Florida State, dwelling on the past is not a part of their game plan.

"You've got good people on your schedule," Bowden said. "You've got a couple undefeated teams, then you've got Florida and if they can get it together, they're about as good as anybody, then you've got the away games in the conference. So we've got a good schedule ahead of us but it's just a matter of us going out and playing the best we can play."

Perhaps the most visibly shaken by the Miami game was kicker Xavier Beitia who missed the last second field goal attempt that would have won the game for FSU. Even he agrees that it's about time to forget about Miami and focus on the future.

"Notre Dame is coming up and life goes on," Beitia said. "What can I do? No matter if I make 15 game winners Miami 2002 will always be there. I can't dwell on it."

The focus is now on Notre Dame who will come to Tallahassee on October 26. With an off week, the ‘Noles will get a little extra time to size up their next opponent and in that time, they will be working out all the kinks.

"I feel like we need to get together what we've been lacking," Jackson said. "We need to get in the film room and get with each other and try and figure out what went wrong. We just need to go into Doak Campbell Stadium and go against the No. 4, or No. 5 team in the nation, and try to get a win."

Nole Digest Top Stories