I just wrote a commentary called “Finding Florida State,” a little play on the “Finding Forrester” movie that concentrated on self-discovery. To put it nicely, Bobby Bowden’s self-discovery involved a little bit of the “evil eye” all week long.
In the twenty-five years I’ve known him, I’ve never seen Bowden as angry as he was last week. I know it was a little out of line, and it was particularly pointed because he thought the attacks against Florida State were personal toward his son, Jeff, the team’s offensive coordinator. But Bobby was mad, and he didn’t mind showing it this time around. He was surly with the media, and terse with his players. He was looking for that “something” that would make the difference between his team thinking they were just another team and thinking they were Florida State.
There weren’t a lot of niceties in Tallahassee during the week.
Apparently it worked.
When the Seminoles came out of the locker room, they looked like a different team. They looked like Florida State, not just another ACC team. The ‘Noles have built their reputation on a national scale, recruiting players from all over the country and garnering fans from Florida to California. Perhaps they were having a crisis of confidence, or maybe they just were too beat up and not good enough to compete in that three week stretch where they lost to N.C. State, Clemson and Florida.
They were losing offensive linemen to injury it seemed every series and they looked like they were feeling sorry for themselves. But they were transformed against the Hokies; even offensive play calling seemed to be hitting on all cylinders. Jeff Bowden was supposed to be run out of town but when he opened the game throwing the ball all over the place with a freshman quarterback, he looked like the “Riverboat Gambler” his father was when he was calling the plays in the ‘80’s.
Drew Weatherford showed poise, toughness and a strong arm all night throwing to receivers that were getting open. Where were those patterns three weeks ago? Perhaps they were there all the time, but Weatherford either didn’t have time to find them or the receivers were not running very precise routes. Virginia Tech has a fast, strong and physical defensive backfield, but the Seminoles didn’t seem to care about how good the Hokies were according to the stats. They just went out and played, and that looked like the difference.
Watching that game, I kept wondering, ‘how could not one of those FSU players be named to the All-conference first team? However; you look at it, whether Virginia Tech underestimated Florida State or the Seminoles got their act back together, the credit has to go to Bowden and the ‘Noles. They were a two-touchdown underdog! Two touchdowns?
One thing Frank Beamer said during the week really made sense. “They might be down, but they have good players and when you have good players you can get real good real fast.”
And that’s exactly what happened.
Leon Washington, Lorenzo Booker and the defense went back to playing like they were capable of. No tricks, no fancy stuff, just better blocking and tackling.
Now everybody likes Penn State to beat FSU in the Orange Bowl. Didn’t Penn State have all kinds of problems just a year ago? They’re better, but when you’re the best team in the Big Ten, how good are you, really? Hasn’t anybody learned? Don’t count Bobby Bowden and his team out until he says so.
And he hasn’t brought it up yet.