Cyclone Notebook: Wallace vs. Rix is Key Matchup

One of the most intriguing matchups of top quarterbacks in the nation this season could come as early as this Saturday, when Iowa State's <b><a href=>Seneca Wallace </a></b> and Florida State's Chris Rix square off at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City.

Both are already being mentioned as Heisman Trophy hopefuls and have been nominated for the Davey O'Brien Award, given to the nation's top signal-caller, after posting successful campaigns as first-time starters in 2001.

Wallace earned Big 12 Offensive Newcomer of the Year award after finishing second in the conference in total offense with 2,519 yards (2,044 passing). Rix became the first freshman to start at quarterback in the Bobby Bowden era. He led the ACC in passing efficiency after completing 165-of-286 passes for 2,734 yards and 24 touchdowns.

While Cyclone head coach Dan McCarney thinks it will be entertaining for fans to watch the two, he is more worried about how his defense will match up with Rix.

"I think you'll see two of the better quarterbacks in college football on the same field Saturday night," McCarney said during Tuesday's press conference. "I haven't seen all of them, but most of them. I think those two are just outstanding.

"The good thing is our number ones have seen one of the best quarterbacks around everyday in practice. They've gotten to contain him and chase him and pressure him. They've got to be sound in their coverage against Seneca. So it gives you some hope going into the game that we can do a solid job on defense."

Often overlooked about Rix is the fact that he's as good a scrambler as the Seminoles have had in recent years. As a freshman, he rushed for 389 yards and three scores on 99 carries.

McCarney said that added dimension to Rix's game will make him even tougher to contain. 

"He's an outstanding runner and you see it on tape," McCarney said.

Speedy Seminoles

As far as speed and the Seminoles go, it doesn't just stop with Rix. The Cyclones will be matched up against one of the nation's fastest squads. That applies to every position on the team. What concerns McCarney the most is the athleticism FSU brings with it to Kansas City. 

"Speed-- it always has and always will worry me," he said. "It's the first time I've ever coached against them. But all of the years I've watched them, the thing you see is they can run away from you and can run away from fast guys. They can run past fast guys. That's what you see. I know we've got some fast guys and a lot of the teams we watch on tape have fast guys. They run away from them."

Bobby Bowden's squad will likely have star wide receiver Anquan Bolden available for action, which gives that speed and athleticism a much bigger boost. The fourth-year junior is looking for a return to form after a torn ACL ended his 2001 season. Boldin made 41 catches for 664 yards and six touchdowns two seasons ago.

"We think he's going to play, that's what we're hearing," McCarney said. "He's not the only talented receiver. All three of those receivers that played extensively year are extremely talented. The thing that I worry about more than anything is just the height, jumping ability, hands and speed. They've got it all and that's why they'll play at the next level. The only real good, tall receiver we see in practice everyday is Jon Davis.

"But Florida State gets it down the field as good as anybody throwing the ball. They'll test you and test you consistently. If it doesn't work the first time, they're not discouraged."

O-line moves on without Vander Sanden

It's official. Senior Dewayne Johnson will start at offensive guard in place of the injured Luke Vander Sanden this weekend. Johnson will remain at the position he is more familiar with on the left side and junior Bob Montgomery has switched to the right side.

McCarney says the unit adjusted well from the time Vander Sanden went down on Aug. 7, but will face the ultimate test in a Seminole defensive line that returns intact. 

"We basically have lost four starters from a year ago," McCarney said. "We lost three to graduation and Luke Vander Sanden. Obviously it's a concern going into this game. Those kids have played well and practiced well since Luke went down. We went with DeWayne at left guard and Monty (Bob Montgomery) at right. It's been a good move. But it's really going to depend on our ability to protect Seneca."

Injury update

Vander Sanden was set to have the cast removed on his surgically repaired left ankle on Tuesday, said McCarney. He can now begin rehabilitating the injury and is looking at a return date in early October, most likely during ISU's off week.

"Hopefully he'll be on track to be back for the open week and get ready for the Texas Tech game," McCarney said.

Boyd Viers had surgery Tuesday to repair a torn ACL in his knee and will be lost for the season. However, the future of the redshirt freshman is cloudy due to the number of injuries he's sustained in a short time.

"We'll see as time goes on," McCarney said. "I think he still wants to try and come back to play. But he's had left shoulder and right shoulder surgery as a freshman, and now knee surgery as a second-year freshman. It can really weigh on you after a while, but we hope he'll stay with the program and stay with us."

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