TALLAHASSEE — The young offensive linemen were told last Monday that the game plan for Colorado was to run the ball. And run it again. And again.
"We felt like, 'We're freshmen and sophomores, and they're trusting us to do this,' '' freshman LT Andrew Datko said. "Knowing that gave us more confidence."
And more incentive to prove they could pave the way. For at least one day, the line did just that as the Seminoles amassed 259 yards on 46 carries in their 39-21 win at Jacksonville on Saturday. But did the Seminoles exploit the circumstances (the Buffaloes seemingly wore down in the Florida heat) or was that a glimpse of things to come?
Here's a stat, perhaps skewed by the 'Noles (3-1, 0-1 ACC) playing two Division I-AA opponents to start the season, to consider:
They are averaging 212 yards on the ground and 201.2 through the air. The last time they averaged more yards rushing than passing was 1987.
"That's good," coach Bobby Bowden said Sunday. "It is surprising, though. When you look at the nature of our offensive football team, where the offensive line is the most inexperienced (group), you'd think the thing you would be less likely to do is run the ball consistently. … That's a good sign because if you can run the ball, you can always fake it and throw it. Now if you can't run it, all that faking don't do any good."
FSU's next opponent, Miami (2-2, 0-1), figures to make that job far tougher than Colorado did. It allows an average of 65 yards rushing, tops in the ACC.
Still, for the first time in a long time, FSU sounds like a bunch that knows it can run effectively against anyone, despite its youth and inexperience.
"That can become an identity for us, just as a hard-nosed football team," said junior TE Caz Piurowski, mentioning that the linemen, receivers and fullbacks understand their role as blockers and have embraced it. "We have the guys to do that and the attitude to definitely do that."
I ain't missing you …: Although Bowden won his first national title in the Orange Bowl, he doesn't miss that stadium. He had more painful memories there. "I'd rather play in Dolphin Stadium," he said, referring to the site of Saturday's game. "That daggum Orange Bowl was tough. Now, Dolphin Stadium is, too. But hey, there was no place in the country like the old Orange Bowl. I'm kind of glad we're not going back there."
The last word: "We really needed that win because if we had lost that game to Colorado, you'd be saying, 'Wait till next year; it looks like the same old deal.' But by winning that game, it still gives us a chance to be better." Bowden.