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Florida State Seminoles again face BYU hoping to rebound from poor game

The more things change for Florida State, the more they seem to remain the same.

A year ago, the Seminoles were desperate to make a statement against Brigham Young after they needed a pair of last-minute touchdowns to avoid losing to Division I-AA Jacksonville State at home.

Now a year later, they will try to rebound from a lopsided loss against the visiting Cougars on Saturday and prove they are better than they showed against Oklahoma.

"This is a little different. We pretty much got manhandled," senior quarterback Christian Ponder said of last weekend's 47-17 loss. "But there is that (same) motivation that we want to redeem ourselves."

He and his teammates didn't just beat then-No. 7 BYU last Sept. 19 and snap its 18-game home winning streak. They overwhelmed the Cougars in every facet, cruising to a 54-28 win.

It was one of the Seminoles' most-complete performances in years, temporarily putting them back in the national polls and temporarily quieting the criticism of coach Bobby Bowden. The Cougars went on to win nine of their last 10 games to finish 11-2 and No. 12 in the Associated Press poll.

"It's not that you played so well against BYU. But whoever you would have played against, you overcame a game you didn't play as well in the week before and came back and played very well the next week," first-year coach Jimbo Fisher said. "They have done it themselves, so it is a good reference."

Fisher, who's fond of drawing on history, surely will mention to his team that while he was working at LSU in 2001, the Tigers fell to 2-2 after a 44-15 home loss to No. 2-ranked Florida. The Tigers bounced back to finish 10-3, winning the SEC championship and beating Texas in the Sugar Bowl. The Seminoles still could win the ACC title and reach a BCS game.

But can this year's Seminoles (1-1) replicate what they did a year ago against this BYU (1-1) team?

Fisher said that will hinge on how the players and the coaching staff use the Oklahoma game.

It offered powerful lessons — painful lessons, actually — that they must learn from. That might be most critical with two players in particular.

• Ponder led his team 70 yards for a tying touchdown in the opening minutes but struggled thereafter, finishing 11-of-28 for 113 yards, no touchdowns and two interceptions. The redshirt senior confessed he acted more like a newbie than an experienced starter.

"I think I started trying to do too much," he said. "When you want something so bad and it doesn't go your way, you try to make yourself find ways to do it. And that's kind of what I did. I let the pressure affect me a little bit. I can't allow myself to do that."

Ponder then borrowed a play from former Florida star quarterback Tim Tebow, who publicly pledged after a home loss to Ole Miss in 2008 that no one and no team would work harder than he and the Gators. Florida won the next 10, including against Oklahoma for the national title.

"I'm going to use it as motivation," Ponder said passionately about the loss. "I'm never going to have a game like this again."

• Greg Reid, a sophomore making just his second start at cornerback, had 10 tackles. But he glaringly missed some (a couple when he hurled his 5-foot-8, 185-pound body at receivers but didn't try to wrap his arms around them) and too often was out of position — as were many of his teammates — when Oklahoma ran its no-huddle.

"I learned a lot," he said. "I feel like it made me better and realize I'm not perfect."

Reid helped put last year's game at BYU out of reach when he returned an interception 63 yards for a touchdown and 37-14 lead early in the third quarter. Now he said he understands he can't rely on his athletic ability and speed to make plays.

"When you're as competitive as Greg is, sometimes you think, 'Okay. What can I do?' " Fisher said. "He's like Christian in a lot of ways, (thinking), 'What else can I do? What can I take above and beyond on my shoulders and try to find a way to win?' Well, sometimes, the harder you try, the worse you make it because you get yourself out of position or you do this or you do that.

"Sometimes, that's when you've got to take a deep breath, trust your teammates, trust the scheme you're in and just go back and relax and keep playing. He'll learn from it, and I'll take him every day of the week. I'm glad he's on my team."

A team looking to rebound. Same as last year at this time.

Florida State Seminoles again face BYU hoping to rebound from poor game 09/15/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, September 15, 2010 9:27pm]

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