Seminole's play key vs. Ga. Tech

Polley's senior season

September 15, 2000

This is the second of at least 11 weekly reports from former Dunbar star Tommy Polley, a senior linebacker for the defending national champion Florida State Seminoles. He will be talking with Sun reporter Bill Free regularly during the 2000 season.

Highlights: Making two crucial third-down stops among 12 tackles in Florida State's come-from-behind, 26-21 victory over Georgia Tech in Atlanta last Saturday. The 12 tackles in Polley's first start of the young season earned him the Atlantic Coast Conference defensive back of the week award and moved him into the team lead in tackles (18) over the first two games. "I was ready to play and went out there and had a good day against a team that was well-prepared for us," said Polley. "Georgia Tech's offensive coordinator [Ralph Friedgen] does a great job of getting information. They lacked some talent but fought hard all night."

Lowlights: Trailing 15-12 with 12:58 left in the fourth quarter wasn't exactly what Polley expected to happen in Atlanta, but he insisted, "I was never concerned. We have Chris Weinke, and I think he's the best football player in the country. He should win the Heisman this year. I don't know why he didn't get more recognition last year for the Heisman. All he did was lead us wire-to-wire to the national championship." Weinke led the Seminoles on two touchdown drives in the fourth quarter and passed for a career-high 443 yards in the win over Georgia Tech.

Mom gets little lecture: Polley said he had to straighten out his mother, Amy Polley, quickly when she arrived in Atlanta last week. "The first thing she asked me was, `How is the knee?' and I told her `Mom, I don't have an injury anymore.' " Polley said he spent time with his mom after the game. "It's always good to have her around." Polley underwent reconstructive surgery eight months ago to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his knee.

National "pub" grows: It has taken three years, but the rest of the country has finally discovered Tommy Polley. He is not only up for the Butkus Award as the top linebacker in the nation, but he is on the Bronco Nagurski watch list that honors the top defensive player in the country. "I played a significant role on this team my sophomore year, but it didn't lead to much attention my junior year because we had guys like Corey Simon [No. 6 pick by Eagles in first round of NFL draft], Jerry Johnson and Mario Edwards on our defense. I'll get the attention this year."

Bowden notices: Florida State's renowned head coach Bobby Bowden was among those who praised Polley for his play against the Yellow Jackets. "His range looked good. I saw him make a long run across the field," said Bowden.

Looking ahead: Polley and second-ranked Florida State play the team's home opener tomorrow at 3:30 p.m. against North Carolina at Doak Campbell Stadium, where the Seminoles have won 29 straight. The Tar Heels are led by quarterback Ronald Curry, whom the Florida State coaching staff is comparing to Virginia Tech's Michael Vick. "He's not as fast as Vick," said Polley. "But he can break you down." Polley said he is looking forward to his final home opener. "It's always great to play at home in front of your fans. You don't have all that traveling and time in a hotel room."

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