TALLAHASSEE — Florida State coach Bobby Bowden saw more evidence of his team's character on Saturday.
For the second game in a row, the Seminoles fell behind 10-0 and had to rally, this time beating Virginia Tech 30-20. On Oct. 16, they rallied past North Carolina State.
"You don't find out about a team until they've been behind," Bowden said Sunday morning. "If you go out there and get ahead of everybody and just keep winning, you still don't know how they're going to play when they get behind. Are they going to panic? Are they going to throw in the towel? So it tells you something about them."
But he did quip that he would prefer that his players started a bit quicker and showed that character earlier in the game.
Poll vaulting: The Seminoles jumped from No. 24 to No. 16 in the Associated Press poll, their highest ranking since they were No. 9 entering a home game against Clemson on Sept. 16, 2006. "We're trying to bring it back," said LB Dekoda Watson, who played against the Hokies despite a hamstring and elbow injury. "I've been wanting this for a long time. The good thing about it is, it doesn't have to stop here."
Now it can be told: Bowden said he wasn't sure QB Christian Ponder would play after not throwing Monday and Tuesday. Ponder was a bit sore after the N.C. State win. Bowden then fretted in the moments before Saturday's game that PK/P Graham Gano (groin) wouldn't be able to kick. Gano got a painkiller and hit all three of his FGs.
Attention grabber: Redshirt freshman WR Taiwan Easterling's leaping 4-yard touchdown catch between two defenders, when he got a foot down and hung on despite colliding with the padded goalpost, was a nominee for ESPN's game-changing play of the weekend. Vote for the winner on ESPN.com. Just as important, the play got his coach's attention. "When I knew that Bert Reed couldn't play, my hopes were that Easterling would take up that slack," Bowden said. "And he did."
D'Vo returns: Redshirt sophomore QB D'Vontrey Richardson, who hadn't played since the final three plays of the blowout win against Colorado in Jacksonville, got back into the rotation for FSU. He ran four times for 21 yards.
Forget a redshirt: Freshman TB Carlton "Ty" Jones, the former Middleton High standout who hadn't played since spraining his left ankle in the season opener, returned Saturday and had one carry for minus 1 yard. He's now ineligible to apply for a medical hardship, not that one was guaranteed had he sat out the rest of the season.
Twelfth night: The Seminoles continue to look for a 12th opponent for the 2009 season and a deal could be done soon. But despite some talks, they won't be playing USF or Florida Atlantic, Bowden said.
Brian Landman can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 226-3347.