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FSU keeps shutout in perspective

TALLAHASSEE — Defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews isn't comparing last weekend's shutout of Western Carolina to any of the other 17 his defenses have notched since his arrival in 1984.

He recognizes that the Catamounts are a Division I-AA team and a struggling one at that. Still, he's not simply ignoring the 69-0 win, one that is commemorated by a baseball with a nail plunged into the rawhide, a gift from a longtime member of the baseball staff, Chip Baker.

"Anytime you get a shutout, it's a huge accomplishment," Andrews said.

It obviously requires the defense playing well, but it also takes the offense and special teams doing their job and not committing the kind of miscues that give an opponent prime field position, if not points.

Consider: The Seminoles last shut out a team Nov. 4, 2006, a 33-0 rout of No. 6 Virginia at Doak Campbell Stadium. QB Wyatt Sexton, however, grabbed most of the headlines that day and, this time around, the play of QB Christian Ponder and the offense overshadowed the defense.

Consider: The majority of the players suspended for their involvement in the academic misconduct scandal are on defense, including projected starters at defensive tackle, Budd Thacker and Paul Griffin, top LB Dekoda Watson and star CB Patrick Robinson.

"We thought the performance was something to build on," Andrews said. "The challenge now is to be a better defense than we were last week."

QB derby: Don't be surprised if you see D'vontrey Richardson get on the field earlier Saturday against I-AA Chattanooga than he did against Western Carolina.

That's not to stir up a QB controversy. Ponder is the clear No. 1. But offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher likes what both can do and knows they need work in games.

"They're different, and they're the same," he said of the redshirt sophomores. "One is a much better runner than y'all think, and the other is a much better thrower than y'all think. They are both very multidimensional and have a lot, a lot, of attributes."

Not perfect, but not bad: Bobby Bowden had expected senior Graham Gano to handle all kicking duties (field goals and extra points, punting and kickoffs), but with him out with an injured right knee, the coach had to turn to junior K Zach Hobby (Countryside High), a transfer from Delaware, freshman P Shawn Powell and freshman James Esco on kickoffs. How did they do?

"Powell, Esco and Hobby were better than good," Bowden said.

Hobby did miss a PAT and a 43-yard field goal (one that was rushed when the kicking team didn't get on the field fast enough), but he hit nine PATs. Powell averaged 46.5 yards on his two punts and, though Esco had just one touchback, he and the coverage team limited Western Carolina to an average starting spot of the 28-yard line.

Numbers game: If the Seminoles hang 70 on Chattanooga this weekend, they will match the school record for points in back-to-back games (139). They hit that mark in 1992 when they beat Maryland 69-21, then Tulane 70-7.

He said it: "That was as strong of support as I can remember here. Of course with the weather, a lot of them had gone home. But they yelled and they screamed and for the first time, they got out there early when we were warming up. … The ones who stayed, those are the true fans. I told (director of sports medicine) Randy Oravetz, 'Go up there and get their names. I want their names.' " — Bowden.

Brian Landman can be reached at landman@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3347. Read his blog at blogs.tampa bay.com/seminoles for FSU news and ACC football news/predictions.

FSU keeps shutout in perspective 09/10/08 [Last modified: Monday, September 15, 2008 2:42pm]
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