Gator Bowl Preview

The Mountaineers travel to Florida in search for their first bowl victory under Rich Rodriguez, while Florida State head coach Bobby Bowden looks to go 2-0 versus his former employer. Game Scorecard
Series: FSU 1-0-0
Thur 1/1/05, 12:30pm
Jacksonville, FL.

Alltel Stadium
Record: 8-3
AP Rank: 26
Last Game: Pitt
Returning Starters: 16
Defense: 8
Offense: 8
Click Jacksonville forecast
Record: 8-3
AP Rank: 17
Last Game: Florida
Returning Starters: 13
Defense: 4
Offense: 9
Rosters/ Bios
Press Release
Season Stats
2004 Schedule
First Meeting: 1982
Last Meeting: 1982
Rosters/ Bios
Press Release
Season Stats
2004 Schedule

Common Opponents to Date:

WVU 19 - Maryland 16 / FSU 17 - Maryland 20
WVU 27 - Syracuse 6 / FSU 17 - Syracuse 13


WVU - Erick Phillips (Knee) Out, Josh Bailey (Shoulder) Out, Eddie Jackson (Knee) Probable.

Florida St. -

Game Outlook:

WVU offense vs. Florida St. defense

Simply stated, the Seminoles have one of the fastest and most athletic defenses in the country. The Mountaineers will have a hard time sustaining long drives against this defense, so big plays become very important in the Blue and Gold offensive scheme.

The defense has one of the best linebacking trios in the country, led by Ernie Sims (6-0, 225) with 78 tackles, 4.5 sacks, eight tackles for a loss, five pass breakups and eight quarterback hurries. In high school Sims was a Parade All-American and considered by some to be the number one recruit in the nation.

Starting at weak side linebacker will be A.J. Nicholson (6-2, 234). Nicholson is second on the team with 76 tackles, four sacks, 10.5 tackles for a loss, four quarterback hurries and two fumble recoveries. The junior was named a Parade All-American and's No. 3 linebacker in the nation as a prep senior.

Rounding out the linebacking corp will be Buster Davis (5-11, 232). Davis has totaled 56 tackles, 7.5 tackles for a loss, four pass breakups and eight quarterback hurries during his sophomore season. The Florida native was regarded as one of the top 10 linebackers in the nation after his senior season of high school.

Teaming to form the Seminole front four will be Chauncey Davis (6-2, 258), Eric Moore (6-4, 250), Clifton Dickson (6-4, 300) and Travis Johnson (6-5, 290). Johnson leads the defensive line with 44 tackles, 17.5 tackles for a loss, 2.5 sacks and 12 quarterback hurries. The senior was a Parade All-American coming out of high school and was regarded as one of the top five players in the country. Dixon, the nose tackle, has recorded 15 tackles, six tackles for a loss and 2.5 sacks on the season. The sophomore was the 21st rated defensive tackle in the country after his final prep season.

Davis and Moore have combined for 37 tackles, 15.5 tackles for a loss, and 7.5 sacks from their defensive end position. Moore was a Parade All-American and was considered to be one of the best linebackers in the class of 2000 while Davis earned first team all-state Class 4A in Florida.

The speedy defensive backfield has lead in tackles by Jerome Carter (6-0, 214) with 64. Carter has also totaled 5.5 tackles for a loss and five pass breakups. Carter was considered one of the top 25 players in the country after his senior prep season and was named Class 5A Florida state player of the year.

Joining Carter at safety will be Pat Watkins (6-4, 210). Watkins has recorded 51 tackles along with four interceptions and 10 pass breakups. Carter was a Parade All-American choice as a prep senior and was considering the number one safety in the nation by

Manning the cornerback positions will be Bryant McFadden (6-0, 190) and Antonio Cromartie (6-3, 205). The duo has combined for 53 stops, five interceptions and 16 pass breakups. McFadden earned Parade All-American honors as a prep senior and was considered the top cornerback in the nation in the class of 2000. Cromartie was a Parade All-American and earned honors as the defensive player of the year by USAToday.
Game Info
WVU 8-3, 4-2
FSU 8-3, 6-2
Sat 1/1/05 12:30 pm
Alltel Stadium
Series: FSU leads 1-0-0
BCS: WVU-29 FSU-16
Line: FSU -8
Stats & Trends

By the numbers:
WVU is ranked 28th in total offense (418.00 yds/game), 7th in rushing offense (254.18 yds/game) and 106th in passing offense (163.82 yds/game).

FSU is ranked 6th in total defense (270.64 yds/game), 1st in rushing defense (69.00 yds/game) and 17th in passing efficiency defense (106.43 rating).

Advantage: FSU

WVU defense vs. Florida St. offense

The Seminole offense will be lead by signal caller Chris Rix (6-4, 217). Rix has completed 50.8% of his passes (60-118) for 708 yards on the season. The senior has connected on two touchdowns while throwing five interceptions on the season. The California native ranks second among Florida State's all-time passing leaders.

Playing at tailback will be the combination of Leon Washington (5-9, 199) and Lorenzo Booker (5-11, 195). Washington has gained 756 yards on 126 carries, including six touchdowns. The junior was also named Mr. Football of Florida in 2002.

Booker has recorded 786 yards on 152 carries and four touchdowns. The sophomore, who was a Parade All-American, also ranks third on the team in receptions.

The wide receivers will include Chauncey Stovall (6-2, 216), Craphonso Thorpe (6-2, 192) and Dominic Robinson (6-1, 205). Stovall leads the team with 51 receptions for 771 yards and six touchdowns. Thorpe and Robinson have combined for 50 catches for 672 yards and two touchdowns. Thorpe was a 2004 All-American and Biletnikoff award candidate while Robinson was the MVP of the national high school all-star game as a prep senior.

The Florida State offensive line will be as good as West Virginia has seen this season.

Starting at center will be David Castillo (6-2, 301). Castillo has started 23 games over the last two seasons.

At the guard positions will be Bobby Meeks (6-3, 299) and Cory Niblock (6-4, 296). Meeks was considered as one of the best offensive lineman in the country as a prep senior while Niblock earned a starting position after a solid spring and fall camps.

Manning the tackle positions will be Mario Henderson (6-7, 330) and Alex Barron (6-6, 316). Barron earned All-American honors in 2003 while Henderson was one of the top 40 offensive lineman as a prep senior.

By the numbers:
WVU is ranked 29th in total defense (328.55 yds/game), 34th in rushing defense (126.55 yds/game) and 23rd in passing efficiency defense (108.95).

FSU is ranked 67th in total offense (364.73 yds/game), 65th in rushing offense (149.36 yds/game) and 56th in passing offense (215.36 yds/game).

Advantage: FSU

WVU special teams vs. Florida St. special teams

Handling the kicking duties will be Xavier Beitia, who has struggled at times this year, losing his job at one point. He was just 13-22 on field goals this year, but did not miss any extra point.

Chris Hall (5-10, 215), the Seminole punter, completed his first regular season as the starter. Hall averaged 42.1 yards on 63 punts, including one blocked punt. The junior earned first team all state honors as a high school senior in Virginia.

Returning kicks and punts for Florida State will be Antonio Cromartie (6-3, 205) and Willie Reid (5-10, 189), respectively. Cromartie has returned 19 kicks for 435 yards (22.9 yds per return) with his long being 61 yards.

Reid, a junior has averaged 13.9 yards on 37 punt returns during the regular season. The junior's longest return went for 48 yards.
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FSU Official Site
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Stadium Seating

By the numbers:
WVU is ranked 92nd in net punting (33.04 yds/punt), 33rd in kick returns (21.71 yds/return) and 19th in punt returns (13.64 yds/return).

FSU is ranked 26th in net punting (37.64 yds/punt), 55th in kick returns (20.27 yds/return) and 34th in punt returns (11.33 yds/return)

Advantage: FSU

Picks to Click:

On Offense: Chris Henry

On Defense: Pac Man Jones

Be sure to check out our Stats & Trends section for lots more match up information!


The Seminoles have been to a bowl game every year since their 31-12 dismantling of the Mountaineers in the 1982 Gator Bowl, amassing a 16-5-1 record. On the other hand the Blue and Gold has posted a 3-11 mark in postseason play since their last match-up with Florida State.

Even if the Mountaineers bring their elusive "A" game, the Seminoles will use their talent and speed advantage and put this one away early.

WVU - 7 Florida St. - 42

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