Seminoles may be team to beat in '93 Bowden pleased with No. 2 finish

January 03, 1993|By Ken Murray | Ken Murray,Staff Writer

MIAMI -- Alabama has the national championship, Miami has the memories and Florida State has the heartache.

Maybe next year for the Seminoles?

The morning after Florida State zipped past Nebraska, 27-14, in the Federal Express Orange Bowl, the quest for No. 1 began anew for coach Bobby Bowden.

Because he has one of the nation's best big-play quarterbacks in Charlie Ward, because he has one of the nation's best defenses and because he has a lot of starters back, Bowden might begin next season as the team to beat.

It is an honor he would just as soon miss.

"I'll be honest with you," he said yesterday. "I could do without that. I hope they give that handle to Texas A&M or Notre Dame. I hope we don't go into the season No. 1."

For the second time in a remarkable six-year run, Florida State finished No. 2 this season. It was the third time in that span the Seminoles finished 11-1. Forget about the anguish of another near-miss, though.

"It's still satisfying," Bowden said. "I ain't spoiled enough to be No. 1. No. 2 is kind of high to me."

He could get spoiled by Ward, though. The junior quarterback passed for 2,834 yards and 24 touchdowns this season. He ran for another 552 and six touchdowns. Despite a Miami monsoon Friday night, he threw for 187 yards and two touchdowns against Nebraska.

Ward was so impressive once the Seminoles went to the no-huddle shotgun offense late in the year that he figures to become a prominent player in the Heisman Trophy hype next year. He wants no part of the favorite's role, though.

"I finished sixth in the Heisman voting [this year] and Marshall Faulk [of San Diego State] was second, so he is the front-runner," Ward said.

With a little more work, and a few more speedy wide-outs, the Florida State shotgun could be almost unstoppable next year.

"You could stick him [Ward] under center and let him run the kind of things Casey Weldon ran for us," Bowden said. "I think he's more dangerous when you stick him back there [in the shotgun]."

Bowden likes the fatigue factor of the no-huddle, but he also wants to have a run offense in reserve. The I-formation came in handy in Friday's driving rainstorm when the Seminoles were forced out of the shotgun. Junior tailback Sean Jackson rushed for 101 yards in the Orange Bowl slop, as the Seminoles gained more yards on the ground (221) than in the air (215).

Florida State figures to lose two key players -- four-year starting offensive tackle Robert Stevenson and three-year starting linebacker Marvin Jones.

Bowden said he expects Jones, winner of the Butkus and Lombardi awards, to announce tomorrow that he will enter the 1993 NFL draft and forgo his last year of eligibility.

Bowden spoke glowingly of Jones' career in the past tense yesterday, then caught himself.

"I'm still hoping lightning will strike him tonight or tomorrow and he'll say: 'I want to go back to school. I love school. I love room, board, tuition and books. And I hate income tax,' " Bowden said with a laugh.

The Seminoles defense was often overshadowed by Bowden's offense. But they held Nebraska to 144 rushing yards, 184 below the Cornhuskers' season average.

"I think defensively they're better than anybody we've played," Nebraska coach Tom Osborne said.

Said Bowden, "Our defense has got to be the best kept secret in the country."

Florida State finishes

How Florida State finished in the final AP poll the last six seasons:

Year.. .. .. Rec... .. ..Rank... .. .. .. .. ..National

.. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. ..champion

1992.. .. ..11-1.. .. ...2nd.. .. .. .. .. .. ..Alabama

1991.. .. ..11-2.. .. ...4th.. .. .. .. .. .. .. .Miami

1990.. .. ..10-2.. .. ...4th.. .. .. .. ...Georgia Tech

1989.. .. ..10-2.. .. ...3rd.. .. .. .. .. .. .. .Miami

1988.. .. ..11-1.. .. ...3rd.. .. .. .. .. ..Notre Dame

1987.. .. ..11-1.. .. ...2nd.. .. .. .. .. .. .. .Miami

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