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Seminoles show their youth in opener

Quick strike: FSU redshirt senior Tony Carter returns a punt 68 yards for a touchdown during the first quarter.

Associated Press

Quick strike: FSU redshirt senior Tony Carter returns a punt 68 yards for a touchdown during the first quarter.

TALLAHASSEE — It might not have hit Florida State fans until Saturday night when the game finally got going just how young this year's team would be.

In all, 15 true freshmen played in the opening half against Western Carolina, which matched the number Arkansas played in its opener and the most so far this year in major college football. That roster included DT Moses McCray (Hillsborough High), LT Zebrie Sanders and RG David Spurlock, all of whom started.

Five more true freshmen played in the opening minutes of the third quarter.

The full list: K James Esco, LB Nigel Bradham, DT Everett Dawkins, LB Nigel Carr, P Shawn Powell, DT John Jones, OG Rhonne Sanderson (Plant), LB Vince Williams, TB Carlton "Ty" Jones (Middleton), WR Jarmon Fortson, OT Andrew Datko, DE Toshmon Stevens, DB A.J. Alexander, DB Ventoure Watkins, CB Terrrance Parks, RB Jermaine Thomas and TE Bo Reliford.

(Extra) special teams: The Seminoles, who scored only five first-quarter touchdowns last season, found the end zone as soon as they touched the ball.

Redshirt senior Tony Carter gathered in a punt and returned it 68 yards for a touchdown.

It was Florida State's first punt return for a touchdown since Willie Reid had one in the 2006 Orange Bowl against Penn State.

Rain delay: The game was set for a 6:06 p.m. kickoff, but lightning delayed that until 7:27. After playing five minutes, more bad weather led to a 55-minute delay.

Bad-timing award: The game-day program, printed well in advance, has a large photo of fifth-year senior QB Drew Weatherford, who had made 33 career starts (including the openers each of the past three years), but he was told Wednesday that he had lost the starting job to Christian Ponder.

Hall of Famers recognized: Former All-America CB Clifton Abraham was among the eight newest members of the FSU Sports Hall of Fame to be recognized at the game.

"It means a lot," he said of the honor. "It means all the hard work, all the blood, sweat and tears I put in, is recognized and that a prestigious university like this recognizes that I'm one of the best ones in history."

He got the call about his selection from former teammate and Bucs star Derrick Brooks. Abraham, who hadn't been back for a game since 1995, is looking to break into coaching in Texas.

Honorary captains: FSU, starting a game-day ritual, had former Seminoles serve as honorary captains. First up were Abraham as well as Larry Key, a former Citrus High standout who was the team's top rusher in 1974, 1976 (Bobby Bowden's first year) and in 1977.

Change of plans: Western Carolina avoided travel problems from Tropical Storm Hanna by leaving about three hours earlier than it planned Thursday, around noon, and driving all the way to Tallahassee that day instead of spending the night in the Atlanta area.

Keeping pace: With the victory, Bowden has 374 in his career, keeping him tied with Penn State's Joe Paterno for the most in major college football history. Penn State defeated Oregon State earlier in the day.

Seminoles show their youth in opener 09/06/08 [Last modified: Sunday, September 7, 2008 12:15am]
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