FSU Offensive Preview

Youth is the name of the game for the Florida State offense. Most of the key components of the team that racked up over 550 yards against Miami last season have moved on to the NFL (Chris Weinke, Marvin Minnis, Travis Minor, Char-ron Dorsey). In fact, the only seniors on the offensive side of the ball are two wide receivers and a fullback, that's it.

Had the Canes and Noles tangled a few weeks ago you would have seen a much different Florida State offense. Following the struggles in the 2001 Orange Bowl head coach Bobby Bowden declared that there would be a new emphasis on the ground game. Through spring practice and two-a-days the Seminole coaches and players followed Bowden's declaration and for the first time in recent memory the passing game was not the center of the offense. In addition to changing the play selection to favor the run, new strength coach Jon Josh, who got his start at Nebraska, changed the team's focus from upper body strength to lower body explosiveness.

Chris Rix

Chris Rix ranks 6th nationally in passing efficiency

This strategy backfired when the Noles traveled to Chapel Hill on September 22nd. North Carolina stacked the line against the run but the Florida State coaches stubbornly stuck to the ground game. By the time they figured out the ground attack wasn't working it was too late as Tar Heel players had gained confidence, the crowd was in the game and the young Seminole players melted down.

After that stunning upset the focus shifted back to a wide open attack that has been Bobby Bowden's trademark since he arrived in Tallahassee in 1976. The following week the high-flying passing game was back in force as the Tribe quickly took a 42-7 lead by the second quarter and had nearly 400 yards of offense by the half. Freshman quarterback Chris Rix had his best game as a Seminole completing two-thirds of his passing attempts for 345 passing yards and three touchdowns.

Rix not only has a cannon arm, but is extremely mobile and athletic. During spring testing he posted a 4.49 40-yard dash and a 35" vertical jump. Look for Rix, and the Seminole coaches, to use his athleticism to their advantage Saturday. On the downside, as with most young signal callers, Rix is prone to making mistakes in both his reads and his patience in the pocket. At times he has opted to take off and run a little too quickly.

Unfortunately for Rix and the FSU passing game, both projected starters at wide receiver, Robert Morgan and Anquan Boldin, were lost during two-a-day practices to season-ending injuries. This has left the Tribe with very few play-makers. The one player who has shown he may be ready for prime time is Javon Walker. The 6'3", 210-pound senior has outstanding speed (4.35) and has really come on lately leading the unit with 328 receiving yards. The other senior target is Atrews Bell. The Jacksonville native torched the Miami secondary last year for 164 yards. To the surprise of everyone in Tallahassee Bell has only 134 yards in receiving and no touchdowns through four games. He could be saving his best for the Hurricanes.

The other receiver who could make noise Saturday is junior Talman Gardner. The former Parade All-American has had a disappointing college career so far due to chronic injuries. However, the 6'2" wideout is now healthy and is FSU's second leading receiver going into the weekend. Also working into the rotation will be freshmen Craphonso Thorpe, P.K. Sam, as well as former safety B.J. Ward.

Running the ball will be FSU's dynamic duo, Nick Maddox and Greg Jones. Known as Thunder and Lightening , the two tailbacks have drastically different styles. Nick Maddox (Lightening), at 6'0", 200-pounds, is your prototypical Seminole skat-back. He is extremely quick and deceptive when he runs but it is his receiving skills that makes him most dangerous - he was at wide receiver last season.

Greg Jones

Sophomore tailback Greg Jones

Backing up Maddox is 6'1", 240-pound bruiser Greg Jones (Thunder). Although he is listed as second string, don't be surprised if Jones gets a lot of carries Saturday. The sophomore from South Carolina has been dominating at times in practice and has shown flashes of greatness on some runs this season. When he gets a head of steam he doesn't mind punishing linebackers and defensive backs. His performances were so impressive during two-a-day practices that offensive coordinator Jeff Bowden was ready to appoint Jones as the starter over Maddox but was overruled by his father, Bobby Bowden.

At the fullback spot William McCray is FSU's only option. The senior starter has a ton of experience but is only an average blocker. The Noles' best blocking fullback, Randy Golightly, is out for the season with a torn achilles tendon. That leaves former walk-on Chad Maeder and freshman Eric Shelton , who made the switch to fullback last week, as backups.

In contrast to Miami, the tight end position at Florida State has been non-existent in the passing game. In fact, through the first four games the Seminole tight ends have caught only one pass for five yards. Senior Carver Donaldson and junior Patrick Hughes are the co-starters. If you see Chris Rix throw to a tight end this weekend you can pretty much consider it a "trick play".

Florida State's offensive line is the big question mark heading into Saturday. Despite having three high school All-Americans and a junior college All-American up front, this group has struggled both in pass blocking and creating holes for the running game.

Brett Williams

All-ACC offensive lineman Brett Williams

The most consistent performer is junior split tackle Brett Williams. The All-America candidate has started 19 straight games and is considered one of the top offensive tackles in the nation (right up there with Joaquin Gonzalez and Bryant McKinnie). Williams has consistently shut down some of the top pass-rushing defensive ends in the nation like Corey Moore and Alex Brown. On the other side is junior Todd Williams. Despite his 6'6", 315-pound frame, the other Williams is one of the best athletes on the team finishing third in overall athletic performance during summer testing. He has all the physical tools to be one of FSU's best all-time offensive linemen but is still a little raw and prone to making mistakes.

The middle of the line is led by Montrae Holland, who is FSU's best run blocker. The junior tight guard is the strongest player on the team boasting a 500+ bench press. However, chronic ankle injuries have limited his progress. At the other guard spot is junior college transfer Milford Brown . At 6'4", 325-pounds, Brown has incredible potential and may think he is destined for the NFL some day. In the middle is junior Antonie Mirambeau. Out of Miami Beach high school the player nicknamed Rambo was considered perhaps the top center prospect in the nation. So far his play as been adequate but not quite to the level that the FSU coaches and fans had hoped.

If there are any injuries FSU could be in deep trouble. Former starter Otis Duhart is out for the

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