Seminoles' Kanell answering Charlie Ward questions with style

September 10, 1994|By Paul McMullen | Paul McMullen,Sun Staff Writer

COLLEGE PARK -- One week before its "game of the century" against Notre Dame, Florida State came to Maryland last October with a No. 1 ranking and a "get it over with" attitude. jTC Apathy ran high among the Seminoles, with one exception: It was the biggest game of the year for Danny Kanell.

It was Kanell's turn at second-team quarterback when Florida State came to Maryland last year, so he got the start when coach Bobby Bowden decided to rest Charlie Ward.

"Some of our guys were overlooking Maryland," Kanell said, "but I know I did all I could. I was up for it."

How many college quarterbacks have done better in their first start? Kanell completed 28 of 38 passes for 341 yards and five touchdowns in a harder-than-expected 49-20 victory at Byrd Stadium. When Bowden said last spring that Kanell, and not Jon Stark or Thad Busby, would be in the "driver's seat" to replace Ward this season, that performance against the Terps was cited.

Kanell did nothing to change the pecking order in the Seminoles' opener, and he figures to rack up big numbers again today, when Florida State plays Maryland at Byrd Stadium for the second straight year.

The defending national champion, ranked No. 4, is coming off a tumultuous off-season. Five players, including All-America linebacker Derrick Brooks and three offensive linemen, remain suspended because of allegations they took gifts from agents during a shopping spree at a Tallahassee sporting goods store the day after last year's Maryland game.

Bowden said Brooks and two others will be reinstated for next week's game against Wake Forest, but the NCAA, stalled by a state law that restricts its enforcement procedures, claims that would violate its legislation. A federal court hearing will address the matter next Tuesday.

The "distractions," as Bowden calls them, took some preseason attention off Kanell, but he made plenty of noise last Saturday at Virginia. The Cavaliers put up an eight-man front that dared Kanell to throw, and he completed 32 of 48 passes for 330 yards and four touchdowns.

A scoreless first quarter included Kanell's first college interception and a brief chat with Ward via the press box phones. Kanell, a junior from Fort Lauderdale, is being asked to ++ replace the nation's premier college athlete, a Heisman Trophy winner who will pass on the NFL and play guard for the New York Knicks.

"Replacing Charlie, that's the No. 1 question I got all summer," Kanell said. "I'm a different quarterback, with a different style. It's important to us [the offense], and to me, that we develop our own identity."

Ward was a mobile scrambler. Kanell is a pocket passer. Kanell )) runs the 40 in 4.9 seconds, but he's got a stronger arm than Ward.

But there are similarities. Ward was dubbed the Choirboy; Kanell is a model citizen as well. The son of the Miami Dolphins' team physician, Kanell is a biology major who was the Seminoles' top sophomore student last year.

And like Ward, he is a two-sport athlete. A pitcher-infielder, he left a Seminoles' team that would reach the College World Series when spring football started.

Kanell will attack the Terps' small and inexperienced defense, which has allowed more than 550 yards per game during its past 12 games. Only Notre Dame and Florida scored more points against Florida State than Maryland did last year, but the Terps' offense struggled against Duke last week.

"Defensively, we have to adjust as best we can against a touchdown-waiting-to-happen offense," Terps' coach Mark Duffner said. "They might have the best defensive team in the nation. I'm not so sure they're not a better team than they were a year ago."

Florida State is nearly a five-touchdown favorite, and for the Seminoles, it's hardly a Sod Game -- one in which they'll claim a piece of Byrd turf as a memento.

"There are certain games you want your players to be sky-high, and certain ones you want a nice level approach," said Bowden, who couldn't recall the name of his opponent three days before )) last year's game here.

"You don't have but so many games you can get them fired up for every year. This is not one I'll try to get them to slice their wrists over."

COLLEGE FOOTBALL TODAY

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IN THE AREA. . .

Time .. .. .. Game .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. TV

12:10 p.m. .. No. 4 Florida State at Maryland .. .. 13, 7

1 p.m. ... .. Buffalo at Towson State . .. .. .. .. None

7 p.m. ... .. Virginia at Navy .. .. .. .. .. .. .. None

. . . AND AROUND THE COUNTRY 2:30 p.m. ... No. 6 Michigan at No. 3 Notre Dame .. 2, 4

p.m. ... No. 14 USC at No. 8 Penn State ... .. 13, 7

10 p.m. .. .. No. 5 Miami at Arizona State .. .. .. ESPN

* Area capsules, 7C; national capsules, 8C. * What's on TV and radio, 2C

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