Cautious Bowden is rambling wreck, but Tech is no threat to Florida State

Phil Jackman

September 30, 1993|By Phil Jackman

The Mourning Line:

Bobby Bowden has a problem (snicker). The coach's three-ring circus (offense, defense, special teams) at Florida State has a relatively big Atlantic Coast Conference game against Georgia Tech Saturday. But, as he says, "You can feel it coming. You don't want it creeping into your thinking, a game against a dreaded opponent, but it does." There's probably no need to even mention who "dreaded opponent" represents but, just in case: Miami.

Tech put a huge scare into the top-ranked Seminoles last year: "They actually had us beat until the very end when we got lucky [29-24]," says the coach, "so we shouldn't have too much trouble remembering that."

If Bowden presses too hard, his 4-0 juggernaut, coming off a week off, might notice Tech is 1-2 with a seemingly confused quarterback at the helm. Too, if Florida State has a problem keeping its mind on the Jackets, imagine the assignment facing Dennis Erickson of the Hurricanes: They're home to a Division I-AA school, Georgia Southern, albeit one that has won championships at that level of ball.

"I don't even know how Southern made it onto our schedule, whether dropping the Florida game was part of it or not," says Erickson. "I'd much rather be playing a Division I school, but. . ."

* A strong nominee for top game in the East is West Virginia and Virginia Tech swapping knuckle sandwiches in Morgantown. The Mountaineers are 3-0, the Hokies 3-1 with a loss to Miami, which shouldn't count as a whole loss. Each pretty much had their way with Maryland, which tells you nothing.

"We're improved," says Tech coach Frank Beamer, "particularly at quarterback and in the offensive line, but I don't know if we're a great team as Don Nehlen has suggested." Nehlen, the West Virginia coach, paints every foe as laden with sure-fire All-Americas and potential All-Pros.

Last week, he made Missouri sound like the modern day "Monsters of the Midway" even though the Tigers were coming off a 73-0 pasting by Texas A&M. The Mountaineers frolicked, 35-3, but the coach moaned, "we weren't able to sustain an attack." Right.

* Virginia has romped past four straight opponents, outscoring them 151-42. To hear George Welsh tell it, though, you'd think it was the old days when the Cavs used to win two games per autumn: "Our offensive line has played fairly well, the defense has been pretty good and we have potential, but I don't want to get carried away."

No kidding.

Ohio University comes in for homecoming in Charlottesville and arrives with an 0-4 mark. The Bobcats gave Ball State all it could handle before bowing, however.

* Once again and for the (fill in the blank)th time, Penn State (4-0) is wary of Maryland (0-4). "Because," as Nittany Lions coach Joe Paterno says annually, "a lot of these kids know and played against each other and were recruited by both schools, etc., etc., etc." This supposedly fierce sectional rivalry stands at 34-1-1 in favor of the lads with the high-top black cleats from Happy Valley.

"We face an outstanding challenge against a very fine team," assures Terp mentor Mark Duffner, who remains as upbeat as anyone can, considering his "youthful" defense gives up 50 points per game. Where's (Maryland basketball coach) Gary Williams' defense when you need it?

Last year, Paterno said, "It's very difficult to get a running game going against Maryland. They like to play eight men around the ball. We won't be able to dictate the pace of the game."

Penn State won, 49-13, but didn't even grind out 300 yards on the ground (295).

* If you have any compassion left after your team lost last weekend, send it Temple's way telepathically. Ron Dickerson is the first-year coach of the Owls who have been beaten 58-0 and 66-14 the last two weekends. They play Rutgers at the Meadowlands Saturday and the Scarlet Knights are coming off a 31-7 pounding by Penn State that left coach Doug Graber "bitterly disappointed." Hopefully, he will recover.

Dickerson played 20 true freshmen against Boston College, which is very strange in this day and age of 23-year-old, fifth-year, redshirt seniors. "Rutgers might be better than California [58-0]," says the coach, who added how astonished he was at the lack of physical strength of the players when he took over.

* Perhaps the Boston College (1-2) game at Syracuse (3-0-1) can be termed the Confusion Bowl. "Trailing Cincinnati, 21-6, with 12 minutes to go in the game, I wasn't sure we're sure what direction we're going in," said Syracuse coach Paul Pasqualoni.

After you get that cleared up, you can work on B.C. coach Tom Coughlin's remark: "Lately, we've had to stop and ask ourselves where we were, why we were there and where we are going."

Very strange game this football, at least as preached by some coaches.

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