QB Kanell gives FSU normal win Ward backup to return to bench

November 07, 1993|By Milton Kent | Milton Kent,Staff Writer

COLLEGE PARK -- Next week, when the top-ranked Florida State Seminoles head to Notre Dame for their showdown with the No. 2 Fighting Irish, quarterback Danny Kanell will occupy his normal spot on the sidelines, flashing signals, holding on kicks and carrying the clipboard.

There are worse fates in college football than Kanell's, considering that he backs up Charlie Ward, the favorite for this year's Heisman Trophy. Except that Kanell, who perhaps had the TC best day an FSU quarterback has had this season in the Seminoles' 49-20 win over Maryland, will likely slide back to third string, behind Ward and Jon Stark.

And that suits Kanell, a 6-foot-4 sophomore from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., just fine.

"I'm just glad that I could help the team, and that if something happens to Charlie down the road, the coaches will feel comfortable turning to me if they have to," said Kanell.

Under coach Bobby Bowden's system, Kanell, who threw for 341 yards and five touchdowns, and Stark, who also is a sophomore, split duties as Ward's backup, rotating from week to week.

It just so happened that this week, when Ward was ailing with bruised cartilage between his ribs and sternum, was Kanell's turn to be the second-string quarterback.

"I know that's kind of odd, but that's the way we've been doing it all year," said Bowden.

Who can argue with the coach of the No. 1 team in the nation?

In the first start of his college career, Kanell was coolly efficient, completing 28 of 38 passes. The five touchdowns were the most by a Florida State quarterback in one game since Peter Tom Willis threw for five scores in the 1990 Fiesta Bowl against Nebraska, and just one short of Willis' school mark of six. The 341 passing yards were the most for an FSU quarterback since Ward passed for 395 against Maryland last year.

"I'm very happy for Danny Kanell. He went out and got the job done," said Bowden, who said he decided Friday night to give Kanell the start.

Ward said: "People try to say that the offense is built around me, but it's an offense where if you're accurate, you can play, and Danny was very accurate today."

Indeed, Kanell spread the ball around with the precision of Ward, if not his flair.

"Today, we ran a lot of the same things that we run when Charlie is here. Maybe it wasn't as flashy as Charlie does it, but I think it went as well," said Kanell.

Receiver Matt Frier, who caught Kanell's second scoring pass -- an over-the-shoulder reception in the corner of the end zone -- said Ward's passes tend to have a bit more zip, but Kanell ran the offense with just as much control as Ward.

Kanell led the Seminoles to touchdowns in seven of their last eight drives.

Kanell admitted he wasn't exactly cool at the beginning, especially when his first pass, over the middle to Frier, fell incomplete, leading to Florida State's only punt.

But Kanell said Ward yelled words of encouragement from the sidelines during the Seminoles' next drive. Those words helped settle him, and shortly thereafter, he threw his first touchdown pass, a 17-yard strike to receiver Kez McCorvey on a rollout.

Next week, of course, things will go back to normal and Ward will start against the Fighting Irish.

But Kanell, who may not venture onto the field except to set the ball down for kicker Scott Bentley, will be ready, just in case he has to do more than hold the clipboard.

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