Gameday: NC State vs. Florida State

NC State (3-4, 1-4) faces Florida State (7-1, 5-1) in a huge road game for the Wolfpack. Gametime is set for 3:30, and the contest will be televised on ABC.

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Doak Campbell Stadium

NC State (3-4) vs. Florida State (7-1)
Saturday, November 6, 2005

Tallahassee, Florida

Florida State Links



Game Notes

Injury Report


Andre Brown, TB -
ankle sprain
Garland Heath, ROV -
knee sprain

Oliver Hoyte, LB -
ankle sprain
Derek Morris, OT - upper back strain
James Newby, OT - ankle sprain

John Ritcher, TE -
knee sprain

Jeremy Gray, CB -
foot injury
Kalani Heppe, OG - shoulder separation
Geron James, WR - shoulder surgery
John McCargo, DT - foot surgery


De'Cody Fagg, WR -

Trevor Ford, DB -
Tony Carter, DB - shoulder
Leon Washington, RB -

NC State Game Notes

NC State and Florida State have met 25 times on the gridiron, with the Seminoles holding an 18-7 advantage. The squads met from 1952-57, from 1963-69 and then resumed a yearly rivalry when Florida State joined the Atlantic Coast Conference in 1992.

NC State is one of only two ACC schools to post more than one victory over the Seminoles since they joined the conference and the only school to defeat them three times. In 2001, the Pack became the first league school since FSU joined the ACC to defeat the Seminoles on their home field.

The last four games between NC State and Florida State have all been nail-biters. The largest margin in those four contests was the Wolfpack's 10-point victory (17-7) in Raleigh in 2002. The last four games, which the teams have split 2-2, have been decided by an average of 7.25 points.

Last season's matchup was a classic defensive struggle. FSU won 17-10 in a contest that saw just 16 combined first downs and 244 yards of total offense (for both teams!). In 2003 at Tallahassee, it was an offensive shootout, with the 'Noles winning 50-44 in double-overtime. The 2002 Wolfpack win was another defensive fight, while NC State's win in 2000 was a more offensive battle (34-28).

The Pack has won three of the last seven meetings with Florida State, two of the last four and took the ‘Noles into double overtime before falling in Tallahassee in 2003.

To say that Wolfpack head coach Chuck Amato has strong ties to Florida State University would be putting it mildly. Amato spent 18 years coaching at FSU, and remains close with head coach Bobby Bowden and much of the Seminole staff. Both of his daughters, LuGine and Selena, are Florida State grads and Selena is married to Jarad Moon, a former center for FSU.

Amato coached the Seminole defensive line (1982-95), coached linebackers there (1996-99), and was Bowden's assistant head coach from 1986-99. He coached on two national championship and eight ACC title teams at FSU.

Two members of Amato's coaching staff also have Florida State connections. Defensive line coach Todd Stroud started at noseguard for the Seminoles from 1983-85, while safeties coach Manny Diaz was the defensive cinematographer for Florida State from 1998-99.

Two starters on the Wolfpack defense were once Florida State fans. The Pack's leading tackler, Stephen Tulloch, and cornerback Marcus Hudson, both had brothers who played for the Seminoles.

Tulloch, the eighth-leading tackler in the nation this week, is the younger brother of David, who was a backup defensive tackle for FSU in 1996 and 1997.

Hudson is the youngest of five brothers, all of whom played college football. Nate and Eric played defensive back at Bethune-Cookman, Kevin played cornerback and free safety at Iowa State, while the biggest brother, Jerel, was a 6'3, 277-pound starting linebacker and team captain at Florida State from 1999-2002.

NC State's contest against nintthranked Florida State will mark the second against a top-10 team this season, the eighth time the Pack has taken on a top-10 opponent since Chuck Amato took over the program in 2000. NC State has won one of those contests (vs. 10th-ranked FSU in Tallahassee in 2001).<> The Wolfpack posts an 8-49-1 all-time record against the top-10.

Entering the 2005 season, there was much talk about NC State's talented bevy of running backs. Although Darrell Blackman has been the starter for all but one game this season, freshman Toney Baker had led the team in rushing in four contests.

Blackman started the Southern Miss game, and Baker was in on the Pack's second series. Early in the second quarter, another freshman, Andre Brown, entered the game.

. Brown ended up carrying the ball 32 times, which tied as the seventh-highest total in school history, and rushing for 248 yards, the second-highest total in school history and the highest since 1977, when Ted Brown ran for 251 yards against Penn State.

Brown also had two receptions for 31 yards, giving him 279 yards of all-purpose yardage. That mark was also the second- best in school history, trailing only Torry Holt's 296 yards versus Baylor in 1998.

Junior defensive end Mario Williams has been a demon in the Wolfpack's last two outings, one reason that NC State has allowed an average of just 235.5 yards of total offense in those two contests. Williams set two NC State single-game records in the win over Southern Miss when he had six tackles for a loss of 16 yards and four sacks for 12 yards. Against WFU, he tallied three sacks and 3.5 tackles for loss. So ... in the last two games, he has tallied 9.5 tackles for loss and 7.5 sacks. He currently leads the ACC in tackles for loss.

Florida State Game Notes


Location: Tallahassee, Fla.

Enrollment: 38,886

Nickname: Seminoles

School Colors: Garnett & Gold

Stadium: Doak Campbell (83,000)

Conference: ACC



Head Coach: Bobby Bowden

Record at FSU: 278-70-4 (29 years)

2004 Record: 9-2 (7-1)

2004 Bowl: Gator vs. West Virginia (W, 30-18)

Starters Returning: 9 (4 offense, 5 defense)

2005 Record: (7-1, 5-1)

2005 Ranking: No. 8

The last four meetings between Florida State and NC State have been decided by 10 or less points. Chuck Amato's team won 34-28 in 2001 and 17-7 in 2002. The Seminoles have taken the last two meetings by scores of 50-44 (2003) and 17-10 (2004). NC State is the only team to beat Florida State three times since the Seminoles began ACC play in 1992.

Following Saturday's 35-27 win over Maryland, head coach Bobby Bowden is now 202-1-1 at Florida State (since 1976) when scoring 30 or more points in a game. The only loss when scoring 30 or more came in 1984 against Auburn in Tallahassee when the Tigers won a 42-41 contest. The lone tie was the 31-31 game against Florida in 1994 when FSU tied an NCAA record with a 28-point fourth quarter comeback to erase a 31-3 deficit. The Seminoles have won their last 85 games since the tie with Florida when scoring 30 or more.

The Seminoles have won 101 of their 110 ACC games played since joining the league in 1992. Not only do the Seminoles have the highest winning percentage in league history (.918), but they won 100 league games faster than any school in ACC history. It took Clemson 159 games to win 100 league games as a charter member of the ACC in 1953. The Seminoles have recorded more ACC victories than Georgia Tech (85 since 1979) and only one less than Wake Forest's 102 ACC wins (since 1953).

Graham Gano saw his first action of the season against Maryland as he handled kickoff duties to push FSU's total of true freshmen to play this season to 12. Letroy Guion, Greg Carr, Richard Goodman and Michael Ray Garvin saw their first playing time vs. The Citadel to join Emmanuel Dunbar, Geno Hayes, Neefy Moffett, Derek Nicholson, Rod Owens, Fred Rouse and Antone Smith (who all played against Miami) as true freshmen to play in 2005. The total number of freshmen to see playing time is 27 when the 15 redshirt freshmen are added.

Florida State freshman quarterback Drew Weatherford is on pace to break Philip Rivers' ACC freshmen passing record through eight games this year. Rivers threw for 3,054 yards in 2000. At his current rate, Weatherford would throw for 3,214 games in 12 games. Weatherford leads the ACC in passing yards per game (267.8) and TD passes (14). He leads the ACC in 200-yard passing games with seven and 300-yard games with three. He has also rushed for three scores.

Greg Carr, Willie Reid and Chris Davis all rank among the conference's top five in receiving yards per game. Carr is third with an average of 67.1 ypg (seven games), Reid is fourth at 60.7 ypg (six games) and Davis is fifth at 59.0 (eight games). Clemson is the only school with more than one player in the ACC top 10 in receiving yards per game (Chansi Stucky, 7th & Aaron Kelly, 10th).

Florida State enters Saturday's game against NC State as the ACC leader (ninth nationally) in passing offense with an average of 324.8 passing yards per game. After ranking third in the ACC with a 210.5 average in 2004, the Seminoles are averaging over 100 more yards passing per game this season than they did last season. FSU leads the league in total offense (23rd in NCAA) with an average of 444.1 ypg.

Florida State ranks second in the ACC in third down conversions with a .464 success rate. The Seminoles have converted 52 of 112 third down attempts in the first seven games of the 2005 season after converting a total of 42 of 177 (.237) in 2004.

Senior center David Castillo was named one of 16 finalists for the Draddy Trophy, billed as the "academic Heisman" on October 27 by the National Football Foundation. Castillo will receive an $18,000 post-graduate scholarship and will be honored at the a banquet at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York City. FSU is tied with Nebraska with the most winners since 1993. Ken Alexander (1993), Derrick Brooks (1994), Danny Kanell (1995), Daryl Bush (1997), Chris Weinke (2000) and Chris Hope (2001) were the other six Seminoles honored.

Florida State's offense has accounted for five more touchdowns through the first eight games of the 2005 season than the Seminoles accounted for in 12 games of the 2004 season. The Seminoles' 35 offensive touchdowns (18 rushing and 17 passing) are five more than the offense accounted for last season, 30 (19 rushing and 11 passing).

Florida State has scored on four of eight opening drives this season and those four scores have all been touchdowns. The Seminoles are averaging 7.3 plays and 46.8 yards on their opening drives this season. FSU has scored a TD on initial drives in each of the last two weeks (Duke and Maryland). The other two touchdowns on opening drives came against Boston College and Wake Forest.

Freshman wide receiver Greg Carr has caught 22 passes for 470 yards and nine touchdowns in just seven games played. Of those 22 catches, 17 have resulted in a first down or a touchdown. In addition, Carr has drawn five pass interference penalties and three of those have been accepted. Carr's nine TD catches are the most since Craphonso Thorpe had 11 touchdowns in 2003. Carr's nine scores are the most for a true freshman since Warrick Dunn found the endzone 10 times in 1993. In addition, Carr is now tied with former Virginia tight end Heath Miller for the most TD receptions by a freshmen in ACC history.

Freshman wide receiver Greg Carr is looking to become only the 13th player in school history with double digit touchdown receptions in a single season. The school record for touchdown receptions in a season is 15, set by Andre Cooper during the 1995 season. Since the start of the 2000 season, a total of five Seminoles have caught 10 or more touchdown passes in a single season - led by Anquan Boldin's 13 scoring catches during the 2002 season. Also on the list since the beginning of the new millennium are Craphonso Thorpe (11 in 2003), Talman Gardner (11 in 2001), Snoop Minnis (11 in 2000) and Atrews Bell (10 in 2000).

Drew Weatherford enters Saturday's game against Maryland as the ACC's leading passer with a 268.3 yards per game average. He also leads the league in TD passes, attempts and completions. Weatherford is looking to become only the third freshman in ACC history to lead the conference in passing.

Senior free safety Pat Watkins and senior defensive end Kamerion Wimbley have been named "half All-Americans" by The Sporting News. Other ACC players on the list include Boston College offensive tackle Jeremy Trueblood, Virginia Tech defensive tackle Jonathan Lewis and cornerback Jimmy Williams, and Clemson cornerback Tye Hill. FSU will face Hill next week at Clemson and could see Lewis and Williams in the ACC Championship game.

Four players on FSU's defense have already received invites to play in the 2006 Senior Bowl. Brodrick Bunkley, A.J. Nicholson, Kamerion Wimbley and Pat Watkins will represent Florida State in Mobile. The game is scheduled to take place on January 28 and will be televised by ESPN2.

FSU defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews will be inducted into the 2006 Alabama Sports Hall of Fame in a banquet on May 21, 2006 in Birmingham, Ala. Andrews, who was born in Daleville, Ala. and was a two-sport standout (football and baseball) at the University of Alabama. Andrews played under Bear Bryant and won the Hugo Friedman Award as the Crimson Tide's best all-around athlete. Andrews will be joined by Joe Ciampi, Mia Hamm, Lionel James, Buddy McClinton, Bob Veale, Jim "Peanuts" Davenport and Tim Flock at the induction ceremony.

The Florida State defense has allowed just one score on opening drives this season. The Seminoles gave up a touchdown at Virginia as they fell behind early and suffered their only loss to date. FSU has forced four punts, created two turnovers, and have had a missed field goal on the opponents' opening possessions through eight games.

Junior strongside linebacker Ernie Sims had his best game of the 2005 season last week against Maryland and was named Master Coaches Survey defensive player of the week. Vince Young of Texas (offense) and Josh Brown of South Carolina (special teams) were the other two players recognized. Sims recorded 11 tackles with an interception and a fumble recovery as FSU limited Maryland to just six second half points. Sims' interception in the fourth quarter set up a touchdown that gave the Seminoles a 35-27 lead. Sims did not allow Maryland tight end Vernon Davis (second in the ACC in receiving) to catch a pass when the coaches handed him that assignment. He also had a pass break-up, 1.5 third down stops and a QB hurry.

Senior weakside linebacker A.J. Nicholson and junior strongside linebacker Ernie Sims were named two of 10 semifinalists for the Butkus Award. Florida State was the only school with two players voted to the list of semifinalists. FSU has had two Butkus Award winners: Paul McGowan in 1987 and Marvin Jones in 1992.

Florida State has recorded 27 sacks in eight games this season, an average of 3.38 sacks per game. That total is tied for sixth in the NCAA rankings. Nebraska leads the country in sacks (39), followed by Louisville and Rutgers (33).

Press Conference Quotables

Bobby Bowden
Talk about Drew Weatherford: Boy, I tell you that's something. A freshman playing like he's playing. It's just hard for me to believe. You know that little pass he threw back and got intercepted? That's the kind of play you expect a freshman to make. It wasn't a wise choice to run to your right and throw back to your left. You see a guy there but you don't see these other guys coming. That's a typical freshman mistake. But the few that he's made, he's made up for them by making a great play. He's done that all year.

You're down 10 points and then six points and both times he's got to make throws to get you back in it: Yeah. Thank goodness for Ernie – there is a case of a defense making a great play that set you up with a touchdown. Now the rest of them, the offense made driving a long ways for it. That's really an improvement there.

Have you noticed that he doesn't seem to make the same mistake twice? I think that's probably true. I haven't checked his mistakes to see if he's duplicating them, but I don't remember him doing it. He learns good. He follows Daryl's teachings pretty good as far as reading his coverages. Last night, he dumped off twice. Looked out there and couldn't find anybody open and here comes [Chris Davis] coming across the middle. First down. A lot of them can't do that. They'll get glued on down field and there will be seven guys down there and throw it right there to them. And our offensive line, they did a good job of protecting him. People use different kinds of blitzes on us. They'll overload here or overload there and they'll do this or that. Our offensive line is like putting a puzzle together picking those guys up. I think they got one sack last night. They have done a good job.

The other thing that was encouraging to me was when Ernie Sims intercepted that pass that we ran the ball every down to score. You don't want to throw. You've got the game won and you don't want to make a mistake. If you don't make a mistake and get on in there and make some points – even a field goal – it will make them have to score a touchdown to beat you. So just to take the ball and run it in there for a touchdown was encouraging to me.

John Frady didn't play the whole second half. Talk about how Cornelius Lewis played: Cornelius Lewis -- in his first year, Jackie Claude was ahead of Lewis so we played Claude as a freshman. We had to have somebody and we redshirted Lewis. So spring training came along and Claude was way ahead of Lewis. Then Lewis began to make progress right at the end. He really showed some promise and you really began to feel a whole lot better about him. So ever since that time he's just gotten better and better and better.

What is it that you like about this zone-blocking scheme? What is it that makes it attractive to you? It's not so much the scheme we're using that is different than last year. We're using more zone blocking, but we've used zone blocking ever since Charlie Ward was here. The year Charlie started for us as a junior, we tried going to zone blocking all the way. But we couldn't get our running game going so we went back to assignment football – you've got him, you've got him, you've got him and so on. We've used zone throughout the years but haven't featured it. Now we're featuring it and they're beginning to get more familiar with it. The main thing is not missing a lot of assignments.

Why did everybody go to zone blocking? That's easy. If I had a blackboard, I could really answer that one. When you play assignment football you say, 'You've got him and you've got him and you've got him.' So we've got a bonnet on everybody. Now when the ball is snapped, I've got him but he takes off over there. Now I've got to pick somebody else up. He screened me off and I can't get to my man. If they would sit there the whole time, you wouldn't need zone blocking. If they'd stay right where you line up, you wouldn't need zone blocking. Twists and stunts hurt assignment football. You go to zone, everybody just blocks. I block that area and whoever happens to be there is who I'm going to get. So when they twist, they twist right into your block if you do it correctly. If you don't do it correctly and you step the wrong way, someone is free. Or if you step too far away, someone is free. So you have to get your timing down and you have to do it over and over and over. We'll probably be much better at it next year and the next year than we are right now. We're still learning it.

Is there any relationship to how basketball teams use zones to cover up deficiencies? Can teams use that scheme when maybe they don't have the great athletes? Possibly. Probably. Zone is like pass defense. In pass defense, you use zone and you use man. When you play zone, you sit in an area and you try to take whoever comes in there. In man, you've got that guy wherever he goes. So there would be similarities in zone pass coverage and zone blocking and so forth.

It seemed like every time you went to that three-man front in pass defense they ate your lunch: I hadn't looked at that statistically.

What's the strategy behind that three-man front? It's usually a third-down defense. Third and long. People are doing it on us, too. Everybody is going to that. The pros and everybody. You get more flexibility out of your linebackers. Who are your best athletes? Four down linemen and three linebackers? Or three down linemen and four linebackers? We're a lot more flexible with four linebackers. That's what a lot of teams are doing. Plus, these [linemen] are a lot harder to find. There aren't a lot of these great linemen. So if you've got a lot of great linebackers, use them. That's what everybody is doing. The pros are the same way. We had pro scouts visiting us last week and they were talking about how [linemen] are hard to find. A lot of people are going to three-man fronts because you get more flexibility. But all you have to do is step one of them up and you've got a four-man front. Step him up, step him up, step him up and step him up and you don't know where they are coming from. That's why everybody is doing it. What should have happened yesterday – and I don't know if it did – but our pass coverage should have been better out of the three-man front. But you don't get as good a rush. In a four-man front, you should get a better rush but you won't have as good a coverage because you don't have as many people back there. Now I don't know how that was working yesterday. It might not have been that way. They might have been doing better against that three-man front. Mickey knows.

It's been a while since Ernie Sims has had a game like that: We needed that. A lot of people haven't been directing a lot of stuff at him. Ernie's about half linebacker and half defensive back the way he's put together. He's just a very good athlete who can run. He's got good speed. He could probably play strong safety for you. A lot of times, he'll get coverage on your best inside receiver. Their tight end was a great tight end, by the way. He's probably the first guy taken in the draft as a tight end, I would think. The guy has great speed and size and he's physical and everything else. So they gave Ernie a lot of coverage on him the other night. He didn't have him on that one play. We might have been in zone.

Your corners haven't gotten an interception this year and now you've got injuries there: We've got work to do down there. Dadgumit, they got those long passes. We used to not give those things up.

Have you heard anything on Tony Carter? I haven't heard yet. I saw him after the game and he had it pretty wrapped up.

Some of your assistant coaches said they thought this would be one of the toughest tests of the year with their offense: Well, we thought it would be the best offense we've seen this year going into that game. Ralph Friedgen is really a brilliant offensive man. He was in the pros with Bobby Ross and I think he was his offensive coordinator. Then he was with Georgia Tech and gave us fits when he was the offensive coordinator. One of the biggest things he does, which most schools won't do – Southern Cal won't do it – is run the option. Most people that feature the pass will not run the option. You really have to work on the option plus you have to expose your quarterback to blows. But they run that option and they run a good option. We defense that option pretty good. When you see them run that option a couple of times, somebody gets the dive. Somebody gets the quarterback. Somebody gets the pitch. And if somebody doesn't do it, it's straight to the goal line. We stopped that pretty good, but that makes you stop doing so many things that you like to do. Half your blitzes, it knocks them out. Because if you play man-to-man and they run the option and that quarterback is coming down the line and everybody has their backs turned to him, he runs a long ways. So we did a good job of stopping the option but so many other things open up. And then No. 44 [Maryland tailback Lance Ball], the coaches told me last week – Mickey and them said the guy they are afraid of is No. 44. He hasn't been a starter, but they said that's the guy we're afraid of because he takes the ball downhill all the time. He did run good.

Is there anything you can point to on the defense the last four weeks? The only thing I can think of – and I don't know – are we substituting too much? You look to see who's chasing these guys and they aren't familiar numbers. Right there at the end last night when we had to hold them, we left our first unit in there. They didn't do too much. I don't know if maybe we don't have to look and see if some of these young guys are not able to make plays that are allowing these teams to get back in the game. That might not be it. But that's the only thing I can see. Just like that touchdown run that Wake Forest nailed us on when they broke that reverse. When it's breaking, I'm sitting there and seeing who's chasing and those aren't the numbers I won't to see out there. (laughing) I'm seeing numbers and I don't know who they are. (laughing) Instead of those first-teamers.

At the end of the game, Mickey said he had three healthy corners. So depth is playing a role: That's right. He played what five or six DBs at the end there.

Before the season, your defense was as big a question mark as the offense wasn't it? There's this myth out there that you had this great defense coming back, but you had some concerns there didn't you? You are exactly right. We did so well the first three games that people said, 'Boy, they are loaded on defense.' But I had the same feeling. I saw our offense only had five guys coming back. Look over there at defense and they ain't got but five. I think a lot of that was assumed after we did so darn good early. Like any season, as the season progresses you begin to expose yourself to your opponents. They begin to say, ‘Uh-oh, here's a guy we can work on. Here's a guy we can work on.' We do the same thing. We spot things on them and they spot things on us. To me, they are doing a lot better than I would have expected before the season. But it's not like they were 11 veterans out there. Who had nine returning starters against us? Miami had nine or 10 returning defensive starters. That's a veteran defensive football team.

What's your biggest surprise of the season? Probably the two biggest have been your quarterback and No. 89 [Greg Carr]. That's the two biggest surprises. You didn't know what you had at quarterback. You knew you had talent, but you had talent that had never been exposed to I-A football. That has been the biggest surprise. And then Carr.

When did you decide he could do it? He didn't play in the first game: Well, in the spring he began to make plays but we've had spring-time wonders before. We've had guys have great springs and in the fall it didn't happen. He began to make things happen once he started playing. Was it The Citadel when he caught his first one? He's just earned more playing time.

With him, is it a case of where you have to wait for the right situation? Well, yes. Other teams are aware of him, too. A lot of times they will double him. They'll line up with four-deep back there and he's over here. They'll have a corner, safety, safety and corner. And when that ball is snapped, they'll have the corner come here and take it short and then the safety rolls up behind him and takes away the short-deep. You might get him coming across [the middle]. Now, when they do that it leaves someone else vulnerable. You can't roll up on everybody. You might be able to roll up on two people, but you've got four wideouts so somebody has to be free. Now your quarterback has to find that guy. That's where our quarterbacks have done a good job of finding that guy. Now you're not going to see a whole lot of single coverage on Carr, I don't think.

Maryland did leave him in single coverage late in the game, didn't they? Well, once you get down in the red zone they have to start bringing more pressure which forces some one-on-ones. That's why we start throwing to him down the sidelines on one-on-ones. We got two penalties off that. About the only way to get him is push him out of bounds, which is illegal.

If they call it, right? (laughing) That's right. Maryland does a great job on that. We figured that out last year. They are very tough on that.

Carr caught that four-yard touchdown and then a two-point conversion earlier in the year. Is he just as dangerous down close? Well, he has been. He caught a long one yesterday, too.

You seem to like Joslin Shaw a lot. When he came in the interview room last night, you singled him out: Well, here's a guy who wasn't in our plans early in the year. Shaw was a running back in high school. We wanted another receiver that year and we said let's just sign him as a receiver because we couldn't find what we were looking for in a receiver. So we brought him in there not knowing how well he could catch the ball. And he struggled catching the ball. He'd catch one, drop one, catch one, drop one, catch one, drop one. It didn't look like it would work. We considered moving him to corner. We considered moving him back to running back. But he stayed out there and this year he began to break through. I was watching him in practice and it didn't look like he was dropping balls. So he's a guy who has earned his way in there. When we play four-wides, he's a starter on our team and he's really done a good job. He's had several key blocks the last two games as well as catching the ball and running with it afterwards. You can see his running ability after he catches the ball. He's made a couple of nice little runs. He's earned his way up in to the rotation.

After the game, you said this was one of your top wins in terms of being excited. It seems like there is more of a sense of accomplishment after winning a game in this league than there ever has been: No doubt about it. The thing that impressed me yesterday was Maryland came in here looking like a ballclub. They didn't come in here looking like Maryland did 12 years ago where they weren't a very good looking club. This is a good looking bunch of guys out there. They've got a 6-foot-7, 330-pound offensive lineman over there. Some other big guys. A linebacker that many rate as the best in the country. A good, aggressive secondary. Just a good looking club that played good, you know? And to come back and win that game – you lost to Virginia the same way you won this one. If you played like this at Virginia, you probably win that game. Then we had the same kind of comeback that we had at Boston College. So those kinds of games are probably more gratifying than the ones where you got ahead and stayed ahead.

Is this still a learning process for your players and maybe even your fans? People have to wake up to the fact that the ACC has gotten better. They're learning. Time will make you learn that. This league has gotten pretty tough. You play Maryland and Florida State and that used to be, 'They ain't got a chance. It's Florida State.' Now you see what happens. Like yesterday, they looked about as good as anybody that's come in here. That's kind of the way it is nowadays.

With Weatherford, is there any one thing that surprises you more about him than anything else? Not really. He's just doing everything you want him to do. You know? The big thing is he's not making critical errors. You saw what happened yesterday when he made a critical error. What were his two interceptions? The one where he ran to his right and threw it left. And the other one was that screen where it was bobbled, right? I didn't see that. I hate those kind – those bobbled passes. They always seem to end up in someone else's hands. You have to credit Maryland for out-executing us. If a back can't catch the ball, knock the darn thing down. Don't let it hang up in the air. I don't think you can blame him for that interception, can you? I'll have to see it.

Was that the thing that just drove you crazy the last four years with so many of the same mistakes being made over and over? A lot of it, yes.

Is Drew's learning curve ahead of typical freshmen? His liability is not great. It's very seldom that he makes a mistake. So far.

Wyatt Sexton said he's coming back to practice this week. Have you talked to him about it? I have not talked to him about it. I talked to Daryl about it and Daryl wants to get him out there and get him active. We've got to do everything according to what the doctor says. What they're going to allow him to do, I'm not sure right now.

How good was it to have him back out there? I think it was good. I think it was helpful to the team. I think everybody enjoyed having him back out there and I think everyone enjoyed seeing him out there. What he's got to do is try to wean himself back in there.

He's been around some, hasn't he? Some. He's come out to practice at times. He's probably sat in some meetings at times.

Is he in school? Yes, but I'm not sure if he's taking a full load.

Is Leon Washington okay? He didn't seem to touch the ball a whole lot in the fourth quarter: He hurt his ankle or something. I hadn't talked to him. They said he hurt his ankle in the third quarter. I think he was back in there after that, but Booker was in there the whole last drive.

Have you seen much of N.C. State? I haven't looked at one play on them yet.

Did you see them on TV earlier in the year? I saw them against Clemson. I saw that. I know this – they had the No. 1 defense in the nation last year. And then this year a lot of that defense is back and they must be playing pretty good defensively right now. A lot of it this time of the year it boils down to who have you got hurt.

Have you been talking to Chuck each week? I have been.

What has he told you about the problems they're having this year? Just not making the plays they've got to make. They're stopping people pretty good. I think when they played Virginia Tech that Virginia Tech didn't get much yardage on them. I don't think. They probably intercepted a pass and went for a touchdown. He lost two weeks ago and I think he was winning and they threw two interceptions for touchdowns. I think that's what happened.

Has he talked to you about the heat he's been catching this year? A little bit.

How tough is it? A couple of years ago, he was the hot new coach but when you lose a couple of games it seems to snowball for a coach. Is that how it goes? My answer to that is 'what's new?' That's true everywhere. I'll never forget when I was at West Virginia. Tony Constatine was a writer up in West Virginia and he died last year. He was 97. And he was born on West Virginia football. So when I became the head coach at West Virginia in 1970, Tony would write an editorial every now and then and that's all he did. Tony was probably 70-something by that time. I'll never forget when we got beat up there and ol' Tony said, ‘It's what you've done lately. It's what you have done lately. What you've done in the past? Forget it.' That's the first time I had ever heard that. You win and everybody is happy. Then you lose and everybody turns. It's true everywhere. You just have to accept that as fact. Tommy knows that. When Tommy went into it, he knew that. When Terry went into it, he knew that. When Jeffrey went into it, he knew that. They've seen their daddy go through it. That's part of it.

Chuck's kids have always loved him but he's never seemed to have a real good feel on how to deal with the media. That's the area where he's been killed because it doesn't seem like he's built much goodwill up there. Those writers are killing him up there: No comment. (laughing) No comment.

Doesn't it illustrate the importance of the quarterback, though? He had Philip Rivers and they were riding high. You guys have a new quarterback and the same offensive coaching staff for the most part: Does that show you how important the quarterback is? Hey, look at the people who are winning right now. Look at that great quarterback Texas has. Look at that great quarterback Southern Cal has got. Look at that great quarterback that Virginia Tech has got. Boy, they are valuable. They are so valuable.

You mentioned that Ernie is half defensive back. You lose both your safeties next year. Would you consider playing him at safety? I doubt it because he probably plays better closer to the line of scrimmage. He's so valuable blitzing and picking up those short guys in the flat and all that. You'd hate to give him up there.

Is he likely to be like Michael Boulware who moved to safety in the NFL? No. Uh-uh. I think he'd be like Derrick Brooks. You know, Derrick Brooks came here with the idea of being a safety but he liked going forward. He didn't like backing up. So we said we'll just put you here. This guy is very much the same way. I don't think he'd like back-pedaling. He wants to get up there and go after that ball. If you had him back there, he'd get in trouble all the time.

Willie Reid and Chris Davis are two players whose careers have been limited by injuries until now. How satisfying is it to see these guys on the field and making these kinds of plays? When you sign them, you see that. You say, ‘This potential here is what we're looking for.' Then they get here and they get a shoulder knocked out. Then they get an ankle sprain. Then they get a knee hurt. And you just get nothing out of them. All of the sudden, they are injury free. Now they are beginning to do the things you saw in high school that you were hoping they would do. That is really encouraging. We've had that happen so many times. One of the greatest examples is Corey Simon. We signed Corey Simon and everybody was after Corey. He was probably one of the hottest defensive line prospects in the country. He comes in here and hurts – I don't remember what he hurt. Maybe it was his knee. So we redshirt him. Next year, he hurts his shoulder. So he doesn't do anything. Now he's finally a redshirt sophomore and he's ready to do something and he hurts his shoulder again. So he's been here three years and nothing's happened. So his next year, he starts off as the second-team defensive tackle. We're playing Texas A&M up there in the Meadowlands and [Larry] Smith gets hurt about the fourth play. Corey goes in and leads our team in tackles. He's kind of our most valuable player. When Smith comes back, he can't beat him out. He makes first-team All-American without our recommendations. Who expects to make first-team All-American without starting? He makes All-American the next two years and he has a great career. But for three years, you're thinking this poor kid will never be able to play.

Were you worried with Willie Reid that he might not get to show you what he had? You remember his first year we tried to run him at tailback and wide receiver. We got hurt at tailback and we moved him there and he did pretty dog-gone good. And then against Miami that year when they beat us so bad in the rain, he made a great leaping catch for a touchdown. They had some great corners, too. That showed you his determination. Then he gets hurt again. This year, he's stayed healthy. Boy, he's very important to us.

You're still having problems with penalties: We had, what, nine yesterday? How many did they have?

Four: They're just better coaches than we are. That's all I can say.

Is Fred Rouse going to see the field again this year? Yeah, if we can work it out. It was one of those games where you just couldn't get people in the game. Like Antone, we put him in there and nothing really happened. We just felt like it was too tight a ballgame.

Rouse isn't in the doghouse? No, he's not in the doghouse. We just got behind.

Will you get De'Cody Fagg back this week? Could be, but I'm not sure.

You can clinch your division this week with a win. Safe to assume you'd rather do it this week at home than have to go to Clemson and do it? No doubt about it. No doubt about it. You better get it done on your field. You don't know what will happen on that other field. This is a big game this week.

With these injuries you've got, do you look at these last three games as survival? That's what happens. One reason I've never liked the playoffs and some coaches may feel this way, too. Football is survival of the fittest. It's a game where injuries are prevalent. You start off in good shape and then you start getting guys hurt. When you get down to the end, it's kind of not who has the best club but who has anybody left? Who has anybody left standing? We've got three more games and two in the conference. You just hope you don't get any more hurt. But the other teams are hoping the same thing. Again, you get in a playoff system and you have to play four more games. Sometimes the best teams don't win because everybody is hurt.

Does not having a playoff system hurt a team like Georgia, who didn't have their starting quarterback yesterday? True. That's the other side of the coin.

Does survival seem more prevalent because the ACC is as strong as it is? I think so. I think there is more risk now in our conference than there has ever been.

With the 12-game schedule, would you rather play another league game or another non-league game? I'd rather play four non-conference games.

So you can get a guaranteed win in there? Well, you need to bring someone in that you'll be favored over. You need to bring somebody in that you'll be heavily favored over. (laughing) That ain't Alabama.

That hasn't always been your philosophy, has it? I think with our background of an independent, you think of money games. In a conference, you don't have to do that as much.

How well have you gotten to know Carr? What can you tell us about him? He seems like the most dangerous player on your offense right now? Yeah, if I was trying to stop Florida State one of the first things I'd look at is see what they are going to do with that No. 89. Where is he going to play? What do we have to take away from him? I remember recruiting to him and going down to his home one Sunday afternoon and there were a million people in his living room. Aunts, uncles, neighbors – everybody. Just wonderful people. He is very quiet. Doesn't say a lot. Very polite. One of those ‘yes sir, no sir' guys. It's not like it goes to his head. He's very humble. Gosh, he's so athletic. The catches he makes – that long catch he made, the guy is just nipping at his feet and he's about to fall and he still concentrates on the ball and makes the catch.

Can you talk about the growing confidence your team seems to have in Weatherford? That comes with time and it also comes with success. It comes with his teammates seeing him take some licks and taking some punishment and not withering and not griping and not pointing fingers. He's doing a marvelous job of that and they have responded by protecting him the best they can. The kids on both sides of the ball have commented on the play of the quarterback.

You said earlier in the year that he had big eyes – or you said something similar about him being very eager: It's very noticeable. The thing I've noticed when I'm up there in my tower is there might be a group of 50 of them over here and when they're supposed to go over there then he's first. He ain't the fastest guy out there but he's first. When I blow the whistle to call them together, he's right there. It's just his nature to be front row, looking you in the eyes. He just does that.

You probably have to be that way in a family as big as his: (laughing) What's he got, eight brothers? Last night after the game, there was a prospect there from his home. I can't talk about prospects. And I said, ‘Who's your buddy here?' He said, ‘This is Drew's brother.' I've eaten supper with them before but there's eight of them and I can't memorize them all. (laughing) I can tell you what I ate. I can tell you what it tasted like. (laughing) So anyway, I shook his hand and said, ‘Who is this?' This is his other brother. (laughing) ‘I remember you?' Now, who is this? ‘This is his other brother.' (laughing) Three of them.

You could end up with 8-10 years of Weatherfords at quarterback? I know it. Isn't that something? There is such a heritage of quarterback in their family. His daddy played at SMU and his grand-daddy played at SMU.

When your former quarterback was a freshman, you used the term "natural born leader." What's the difference? Is Drew more of a guy that people follow? I think you have to earn it. I think you have to earn it. I think Drew has earned it up to this point. He'd have to fall apart to lose it at this point. But the kids believe in him. I can tell the way they are talking to y'all. They believe in him.

What does this mean for Xavier? Xavier has plenty of time if he remains patient. You can see potential all over Xavier. I just wish we could get him in games more. We'll continue to try. If we could ever hold on to a 14-point lead, we can get more of these guys in the darn game. You've got a 14-point lead and you're wanting to sub and next thing you know you are behind 17-14 or 21-14. So in a game that tight, you can't try a guy out. You just hope he plays his role and be ready to go. I remember when we had Casey and Brad and Casey got hurt against LSU and Brad started the next game against Lousiville. Brad had a great game and we won. Then Casey came back. You have to have that, kind of like a bullpen. When you go through a year, that guy is liable to go down at any time. Lee will continue to compete and with that athletic ability you don't know what's going to happen.

Can you see him being the same as Drew is now? I can see him eventually doing the same thing. Some develop quicker than others. That's true all the way down the line. But the thing is you see the potential that Lee has.

On that touchdown run, it seems like he has that ability to run. Do you have to encourage them to run when it's open? Daryl doesn't like them running. He doesn't encourage the running at all. What will happen is when they get back there to pass, if they get any heat they just take off. Well, we might have a guy who is just about to break open. He wants them to sit in there until the last moment and this guy will do it. This guy will sit there and take a shot to get that ball off. Some quarterbacks will run at the drop of the hat. Say the play hasn't even developed yet and he's taking off. Daryl wants them back there and looking everything over and then throwing it away if nothing breaks open. But you do want them running at the right time. If a great opportunity presents itself like yesterday, you sure hope they spot it and take advantage of it.

With Graham Gano handling kickoffs, did you get what you hoped for there? Well, I think the more he does it he'll get more confidence and start kicking it out more. They are so intent on kicking the ball right where they want it. We give them a spot and say we want the ball right there. We give them an area about this size and they try to get in that area. They get so intent on that that they hook it or put it over yonder or hit a bad kick. He got some good experience. We'll see if he develops. Remember, he's right out of high school. I'll never forget when Bentley came in from Denver and kicked for the first time. He'd already been on the cover of Sports Illustrated as our savior because we'd missed so many field goals against Miami. The first game he kicks off against Kansas he nearly whiffed it. You'd have thought it was an on-sides kick. But that's a freshman for you. I'm sure Gano went through some of that. But, boy, we've got to get better in that area.

Florida State Two-Deep Depth Chart

Depth Chart - FSU Offense

WR 26 Willie Reid 5-10, 186, SR ........ Had a career-high 227 all-purpose yards vs. MD...totaled seven receptions for a career-high 100 yards at UVA.

81 De'Cody Fagg 6-3, 211, SO .......... Injured shoulder at Virginia and missed Duke & MD games...caught 7 passes for 113 yards vs. The Citadel.

86 Rod Owens 6-0, 170, FR .......... Had one catch for 17 yards vs. MD...had FSU's first receiving TD this season...nickname is "Old School."

or 4 Kenny O'Neal 6-1, 195, FR .......... Had a 75-yard reception vs. Syracuse...father (Kenny O'Neal) played tight end for the New Orleans Saints.

LT 62 Cory Niblock 6-4, 301, JR .......... Made the move to tackle this season...started the final 11 games of ‘04 at guard when Meinrod was injured.

75 Ron Lunford 6-5, 358, SR .......... Stepped in for an injured John Frady at Duke in the first quarter...has played in 33 games over his career.

LG 68 Jacky Claude 6-4, 300, SO .......... First year in the starting lineup...named most improved OL in the spring.

74 Geoff Berniard 6-8, 320, FR .......... Saw action with the No. 2 offensive line in the first and second half against The Citadel.

C 63 David Castillo 6-2, 304, SR .......... Missed Citadel and B.C. games with foot injury...took MCAT during ‘05 captain on offense.

58 Dumaka Atkins 6-4, 315, FR .......... Played center late against, Baraka, plays at Miami...made ACC Academic Honor Roll last year.

RG 67 John Frady 6-4, 294, SO .......... Has started four games this year (two at center and two at guard) his shoulder vs. Maryland.

66 Cornelius Lewis 6-4, 328, FR .......... Has seen time at guard in 3 of the last 4 games...named top newcomer (with Greg Carr) by coaches in spring.

RT 79 David Overmyer 6-5, 299, FR .......... Has started the last nine games for FSU at OT...first career start came in Gator Bowl vs. West Virginia.

75 Mario Henderson 6-7, 307, JR .......... Started in the Orange Bowl vs. Miami on 1/1/04 in place of Alex Barron (only career start).

TE 14 Matt Henshaw 6-4, 255, SR .......... Did not have a catch last week against Maryland...has played in 39 games over his career.

or 88 Donnie Carter 6-4, 265, SR .......... Pulled down one reception for 12 yards at Duke...began his career as a defensive lineman.

87 Matt Root 6-6, 249, SR .......... Caught his second pass of the season at Duke (10 yards)...transferred to FSU from Notre Dame.

WR 5 Chris Davis 6-0, 180, JR .......... Totaled 40 yards on three receptions with a TD at Duke...125 yards receiving on nine catches vs. The Citadel.

89 Greg Carr 6-6, 196, FR .......... Led team with 95 yards on six catches at Duke with three TD's...eight TD catches leads conference.

1 Fred Rouse 6-4, 195, FR .......... Scored his first career touchdown (16 yards) against of four true freshmen to score this year.

QB 11 Drew Weatherford 6-3, 220, FR .......... Only player in the ACC with seven 200+ yard passing of nine children in his family.

9 Xavier Lee 6-4, 227, FR .......... Threw for 100 yards on 10-of-17 passing with 2 TD's at Duke...coached by former FSU QB Thad Busby in HS.

FB 36 James Coleman 6-0, 260, SR .......... Has played in 41 consecutive games..scored his third touchdown of the year vs. MD and has seven in career.

35 B.J. Dean 5-11, 258, SR ........ Started eight games last season with 23 starts in his career...originally came to FSU as a linebacker.

TB 3 Leon Washington 5-9, 202, SR .......... Rushed for 41 yards on 10 carries against Maryland...10th all-time at FSU in rushing.

or 28 Lorenzo Booker 5-11, 187, JR ......... Carried 14 times for a team-high 60 yards vs. MD...has rushed for a team-high 388 rushing yards this year.

30 Lamar Lewis 5-9, 188, SO .......... Played in the Maryland victory but did not have a rush, reception or return.

23 Antone Smith 5-9, 190, FR .......... Led team with 76 yards rushing on seven carries at Duke...had two TD's, including a highlight reel 45-yarder.

Special Teams

PK 12 Gary Cismesia 5-11, 206, SO ........ Missed only FG attempt vs. MD...hit from a career-long 49 yards at Duke...10-for-14 on FG's this season.

37 Chase Goggans 5-9, 162, SO .......... Battling for playing time for short yardage field goals and PAT's...1-for-1 on PAT's this year.

43 Graham Gano 6-1, 180, FR .......... A first team USA Today All-American as a prep kicker last year...will also be the backup punter.

DS 76 Myles Hodish 6-0, 232, SR .......... Handled all snaps in 2004 for punts, field goals and PAT's.

HO 48 Chris Hall 5-10, 216, SR ........ Second season as the starting holder.

KO 43 Graham Gano 6-1, 180, FR .......... True freshman who handled KO duties for the first time vs. Maryland...36 of 38 HS kickoffs were touchbacks.

12 Gary Cismesia 5-11, 206, SO ........ 17-for-24 on field goals in his career with a long of 49 and is 39-for-39 on PAT's.

P 48 Chris Hall 5-10, 216, SR ........ Has dropped 13 of 34 punts inside the 20 this year...has allowed just 16 yards on five punt returns.

KOR 4 Kenny O'Neal 6-1, 195, FR .......... Track star who brought back three kickoffs for 74 yards vs. Maryland...fourth in ACC with 26.7 average.

26 Willie Reid 5-10, 186, SR ........ Had two kickoff returns for 40 yards against Maryland...four returns for 75 yards this year.

30 Lamar Lewis 5-9, 188, SO .......... Returned one kickoff for 15 yards vs. Virginia...has just two KO returns for 42 yards on the season.

23 Antone Smith 5-9, 190, FR .......... Regarded by many analysts as the top running back in the nation as a high school senior at Pahokee in ‘04.

PR 26 Willie Reid 5-10, 186, SR ........ Returned a punt 61 yards for a TD vs. Maryland...broke Deion Sanders' single season punt return record in ‘04.

3 Leon Washington 5-9, 202, SR .......... Has just six punt returns for 51 yards on the season...owns the FSU single game punt return yardage record.

1 Fred Rouse 6-4, 195, FR .......... Two returns for 21 yards vs. Wake...ranks second on the team with an average of 10.0 yards per return.

85 Richard Goodman 6-0, 177, FR .......... Has yet to return a punt this season for the Seminoles.

Depth Chart - FSU Defense

LE 98 Alex Boston 6-3, 260, SO .......... Started the last four games at left defensive end..tied for team-best with six intimidations vs. Maryland.

92 Darrell Burston 6-2, 250, JR .......... Limited the last four weeks with a shoulder injury...has added 40 pounds since arriving at FSU.

59 Neefy Moffett 6-1, 260, FR .......... True freshman who has seen increased playing time with injuries to DE...did not play vs. Maryland.

NG 52 Brodrick Bunkley 6-3, 284, SR .......... Tied for second in ACC with 11.0 TFL...No. 9 rated DT in the nation according to The Sporting News.

91 Emmanuel Dunbar 6-5, 285, FR .......... Had one TFL vs. of three true freshmen to see action on defensive line.

DT 96 Andre Fluellen 6-4, 285, SO .......... Recorded three tackles, one for loss, vs. MD...missed The Citadel game with an injury.

93 Letroy Guion 6-4, 282, FR .......... Had a TFL at Virginia...made first career start against The Citadel and had 5 tackles, including 2 TFL.

90 Aaron Jones 6-3, 284, FR .......... Father, Aaron, Sr., was a first round draft pick of the Pittsburgh Steelers and played nine seasons in the NFL.

RE 95 Kamerion Wimbley 6-4, 255, SR .......... Tied for first in the ACC with 7.5 sacks this season...credited with two sacks at Virginia and two vs. Miami.

6 Willie Jones 6-1, 248, JR .......... Had a sack vs. The Citadel...son of former FSU great Willie Jones...interned in the FSU SID office in the spring.

or 82 D.J. Norris 6-3, 252, SO .......... Three tackles, one TFL, 1/2 sack vs. MD...originally signed with FSU as a TE, but moved to DE in fall of ‘03.

SLB 34 Ernie Sims 6-0, 220, JR .......... Had 11 tackles, one INT, one FR vs. MD...father, Ernie, Jr., played FB at FSU and mother, Alice, ran track.

83 Lawrence Timmons 6-3, 225, SO .......... Had one tackle in win over Maryland...played in all 12 games last season as a true freshman.

MLB 7 Buster Davis 5-10, 237, JR ......... Has started the last 19 games for the Seminoles at MLB...recorded seven tackles, 1/2 TFL at Virginia.

44 Sam McGrew 6-3, 226, JR .......... Credited with one PBU and a tackle vs. MD...cousin Reggie McGrew selected in 1999 NFL 1st round -49ers.

WLB 54 A.J. Nicholson 6-2, 235, SR .......... Six tackles and a sack vs. Maryland...Nat'l Defensive Player of the Week at B.C. (19 tackles, 2 INT, TD).

39 Marcello Church 6-1, 230, SR .......... Credited with a team-high five blocks on punt returns...had a big game vs. Miami with two sacks.

LC 15 Tony Carter 5-9, 160, FR .......... Missed second half of MD game with a shoulder injury...father (Tony Carter, Sr.) played basketball at FSU.

29 Michael Ray Garvin 5-8, 179, FR .......... Two tackles in extensive playing time the last two weeks...had six tackles and a sack at Duke.

FS 22 Pat Watkins 6-4, 204, SR .......... Recorded seven tackles vs. Maryland...nine career interceptions over his FSU career is a team-best.

8 Roger Williams 6-0, 205, SO .......... Started for Watkins and was second on the team with eight tackles vs. MD...played in all 12 games last year.

RV 41 Kyler Hall 6-1, 201, SR .......... Credited with seven tackles and two PBU against Maryland...has started 14 games over his career.

40 Anthony Houllis 6-0, 208, JR .......... Has seen action in 20 straight games...named the top non-scholarship player on defense in the spring.

RC 18 J.R. Bryant 6-1, 181, SO .......... Made first career start vs. Maryland and had six tackles...a Sporting News All-ACC Freshmen selection.

11 Gerard Ross 6-2, 198, SR .......... Started the first seven games of the season...FSU's most experienced corner with 43 games played.

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