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September 28, 2003

FSU-Duke Post-game Notebook

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Bowden closing in on Paterno

Entering the season Florida State head coach Bobby Bowden trailed Penn State's Joe Paterno in career wins for Division 1A coaches by four. After Saturday that gap has narrowed to one. After the 20-14 loss to Minnesota, the Nittany Lions are 2-3 on the season. Meanwhile, FSU has moved out to a perfect 5-0 on the season and Bowden now has 337 career victories. With Wisconsin next up on the schedule for Penn State followed by a road game at Purdue there is a chance that Bowden could catch Paterno with a win against Miami on October 11th.

Second half success by the defense

If you are going to score on Florida State you better to it in the first half. The Seminole defense shut out the Blue Devils in the second half marking the fourth time in five games FSU has done that this season. That means out of the ten quarters played after halftime the only score so far came on a 42-yard run by Georgia Tech tailback P.J. Daniels in the fourth quarter. The defensive dominance has also showed up in total yards. After the Devil offense posted a respectable 185 yards of total offense in the first half, FSU's defense held the home team to only 90 yards over the final 30 minutes. On average Mickey Andrews' troops are surrendering 1.4 points and 80 yards a game in the second half.

By holding Duke to only 275 yards of total offense FSU has now held every opponent to under 300 total yards.

Jones moving up the charts

With his eight carry, 79-yard performance Greg Jones moved into seventh place on the FSU career rushing list. The senior tailback now has 2,182 career rushing yards passing Sean Jackson (2,133) and needs only 37 yards to pass Mark Lyles (2,218) on the all-time list. Jones did pass Mark Lyles on the all-time rushing touchdown list. His two-yard touchdown run in the first quarter gave the South Carolina native 21 for his career. He needs four more rushing touchdowns to pass Dayne Williams (24) and move into fifth place in this category.

Hello Tight Ends

Last season Florida State completed only six passes to its tight ends. The offense nearly tied that mark Saturday completing five passes to tight ends. Junior Paul Irons led the way with three catches for 42 yards, and sophomore Donnie Carter added two catches, including his first career touchdown.

"I don't know what got into our play-callers but we got the ball to the tight ends a lot," Bowen said.

Youth being served

Saturday's contested provided a unique opportunity for Seminole fans to get a look at the future. With a few starters nursing injuries, and FSU in control from the outset, several freshman and sophomores saw extensive playing time against the Blue Devils. Starting with the linebackers, true freshman freshman Ernie Sims led the team with eight tackles, and sophomore A.J. Nicholson tied for second with seven. He also added a fumble recovery for a touchdown in the third quarter.

Not to be outdone, freshman cornerback Antonio Cromartie recorded his first career interception and took it all the way back for a 71-yard defensive score.

"They all bring a lot of football ability to the team," Bowden said of his young players. "Cromartie, he does that in practice every day. The only reason he's not starting right now is he's a freshman. Number 34 (Ernie Sims) is the same way. He's making plays all over. It's the first time I've seen a penalty for a guy hitting too hard. The young guys are coming along lovely."

B.J. Ward Blocking Machine

Last season B.J. Ward was a nemesis for opposing kickers recording four blocks. So far in 2003 the junior safety has been quiet on special teams. That ended Saturday. Against the Blue Devils, Ward used his 41-inch vertical jump and perfect timing to knock down two field goal attempts. That effort tied J.T. Thomas' record of two field goal blocks in a game. It also moved him to six on his career bringing Ward to within one of the all-time career mark for blocks held by Bobby Butler who played at FSU from 1977 to 1980.

Quick Hitters

* FSU has never scored less than 44 points in every meeting with Duke.

* Kicker Xavier Beitia has outscored all of FSU's opponents this season by 39-37.

* FSU special teams defense surrendered a season-high 192 return yards on kickoffs.

* Each of Florida State's eight touchdowns against Duke were scored by eight different players.

* With four sacks on Saturday FSU is up to 22 on the season. The defense totaled 34 sacks in 2002 and only 14 in 2001.

* The last time FSU's defense scored two touchdowns in a game was against NC State back on September 18, 1999.

* Defensive end Kamerion Wimbley, linebacker A.J. Nicholson and guard Eric Broe all got their first career start.

* Chauncey Stovall and Antonio Cromartie each scored their first career touchdown.

Injury Report

There were no serious injuries to report. Wide receiver P.K. Sam (knee bruise) and center John Frady (shoulder bruise) suffered minor injuries early but both returned to action later in the game.

Defensive Stats (unofficial)

Leading Tacklers

E. Sims - 8
K. Emanuel - 7
A.J. Nicholson - 7
K. Wimbley - 6
R. Piquion - 5

Sacks: Nicholson, Womble, Dockett, and Howard

Tackles for loss leaders: Womble (2.5), C. Davis (2), K. Emanuel (2), Dockett (1.5).

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