Ward's backup gets lofty passing grade, too

December 31, 1993|By Don Markus | Don Markus,Staff Writer

MIAMI -- The question has not been raised this week, as the countdown to tomorrow night's Federal Express Orange Bowl continues. But the answer apparently is clear: if Heisman Trophy quarterback Charlie Ward gets knocked out of the game by Nebraska, Florida State would turn to Danny Kanell.

The 6-foot-4, 215-pound redshirt sophomore, who grew up in nearby Fort Lauderdale, is apparently the heir to one of the best college quarterbacks of his generation. And Kanell has the confidence if he gets the call against the Cornhuskers.

"It would definitely be overwhelming to come into a situation like that," Kanell said this week. "But I've always been ready to step in."

Kanell did just that earlier this season, when the Seminoles held out Ward the week before the game against Notre Dame because of bruised ribs. That came during a 49-20 win over Maryland, and Kanell responded by completing 28 of 38 passes for 341 yards, five touchdowns and no interceptions.

"I did get some good experience against Maryland, and in some other games when I came in during the third or fourth quarter," said Kanell, who finished the season 36 of 49 for 499 yards, with seven touchdowns and no interceptions.

Although he is expected to compete during spring practice with fellow sophomore Jon Stark and redshirt freshman Thad Busby for next year's starting job, Kanell is considered the favorite going in. Not that following Ward will be easy for anybody.

"It's definitely going to be some big shoes to fill," said Kanell. "If it was only the Heisman Trophy, it would be hard enough. But there's also a chance of following the guy who led Florida State to its first national championship."

Said quarterbacks coach Mark Richt: "It'll be like replacing Bear Bryant as a coach. Nobody is going to be able to do the same things Charlie has done. But Danny is a very competent quarterback. We as a staff have a lot of confidence in him. Of course, we hope we don't have to use him until next year."

Going into the Maryland game, the Seminoles figured they would rely on their running game in Ward's absence. But after getting stuffed on the first series, Florida State went back to the shotgun and Kanell had a career day.

"Even against a bad defense, it's still pretty tough to run our offense," said Kanell. "But it would be a lot different against a team like Nebraska."

The Cornhuskers can only hope.

Heisman or NFL for Jones?

Nebraska I-back Calvin Jones, in line to pass Mike Rozier as the school's all-time rushing leader next year, said he is undecided whether he will enter the NFL draft after his junior year ends tomorrow night.

"I've talked to Coach [Tom] Osborne, and he will try to get a feeling from the scouts about where I'd be drafted," said Jones, who finished with 1,043 yards on 185 attempts with 12 touchdowns despite missing two early-season games with injuries. "But until we're finished with Florida State, I wouldn't even ask."

Asked if the fact he named his dog "Heisman" reflects an overwhelming desire to win the award, Jones smiled and said, "Not necessarily. Any time anybody asks me about the Heisman Trophy, I tell them that I have plenty of them in my back yard."

Busy week for Ward

Perhaps Ward's hectic schedule is catching up with him.

The Florida State quarterback was limited in practice yesterday because of a head cold and sore throat, and returned to the team hotel to rest. "He'll be fine," coach Bobby Bowden said.

Ward is in such demand, Miami police officer Brian Calloway is serving as his security guard. "I really appreciate what he's done for me," Ward said. "At times, there just seems to be so many people around. He helps me get a little bit of breathing room."

Brooks on mend

Florida State linebacker Derrick Brooks removed a protective brace from his right hand for the first time yesterday. Brooks dislocated a bone in his hand in the second half of the Seminoles' regular-season finale against Florida.

"Today's the first day I'm letting it breathe," Brooks said. "I'm making improvement every day. I haven't had the chance to tackle with it. They [the coaches] have been monitoring my hitting. But I don't expect to be limited at all."

The All-America linebacker missed two games with cervical burners, and hasn't been 100 percent since Florida State's victory over Miami on Oct. 9. Through four games, Brooks had scored more points (18) than the Seminoles' opponents, but he hasn't scored since.

"When Derrick was healthy, I don't think there was a better defensive player in the country," said Florida State defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews. "Whether he can go out and regain that position, we'll have to wait and see. He's at a point where he's ready to turn loose."

Quote of the day

Florida State's Andrews, describing Nebraska's offense:

"Their guys are so wide-open sometimes," he said, "it looks like they're out there at recess or something."

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