Florida State linebacker Ken Alexander injured his left palm Tuesday during practice for Saturday's Orange Bowl against Nebraska. Alexander, who leads the Seminoles in tackles, needed eight stitches to close a cut on his hand. He did not return to practice.
Starting nose guard Jon Nance injured a hamstring Monday and did not participate in Tuesday's workout.
Practices have been spirited. "It was a little rough," FSU free safety Richard Coes said. "I think that they are pushing us to the level of their expectations. I think the team is responding by giving a maximum effort on the field and in the meetings. We've covered all the bases right now."
Kanell remains No. 2 man
It is a decision they hope will not matter, but the FSU coaching staff will stick with the rotation it has used all season, meaning sophomore Danny Kanell will be Charlie Ward's backup at quarterback.
Kanell switched with Jon Stark throughout the season and was scheduled to play against Florida, but Ward went the entire game. Therefore, he will keep the backup's designation against Nebraska.
Kanell started FSU's game at Maryland, when Ward sat out with bruised ribs, and threw five touchdown passes. For the season, Kanell has completed 36 of 49 passes for 499 yards, seven touchdowns and no interceptions.
One may not be enough
If FSU coach Bobby Bowden wins his first national championship Saturday, he knows a different kind of talk will commence. "Imagine what they'll say even if we do win," Bowden said. "
"You're 64 years old, and you haven't even won two.'
The case for the Irish
Bowden admits Notre Dame could win the national championship. The Irish, who defeated the Seminoles 31-24 Nov. 13, lost to Boston College Nov. 20 to drop from first to fourth in both the AP and USA Today/CNN polls.
But if No. 1 FSU knocks off No. 2 Nebraska in a close Orange Bowl, Florida defeats No. 3 West Virginia in the Sugar Bowl, and No. 4 Notre Dame romps over Texas A&M in the Cotton Bowl, it could get interesting. Both the Seminoles and Irish would be left with one loss, and Notre Dame defeated FSU.
"Yeah, I could see that," Bowden said. "They beat us. They would deserve it, if all that happens."
Bowden added: "I hope nobody votes for them, but, yeah, they deserve it."
Cornhuskers wary of Ward
The Nebraska Cornhuskers seem to be observing Charlie Ward Appreciation Week.
"Charlie Ward would be a good I-back for us," said Nebraska defensive coordinator Charlie McBride. "His ability and instinctiveness are God-given. He has instincts for the game like a middle linebacker. That's what makes him the player that he is today.
"You couldn't see him sometimes in last year's (Orange Bowl) game; we had him surrounded and he'd still get out of it."
Planning a break from past
The underdogs feel they are being judged by their bowl performances. Nebraska has lost its past six bowl games and its past four Orange Bowls.
"We should've won some bowl games. I don't know if the teams were prepared well or they just played bad," linebacker Mike Anderson said. "This is a new team and a new year."
"Anybody who thinks we're going to lose because we lost before doesn't understand football," linebacker Ed Stewart said. "We're going to win, and then all that stuff doesn't matter."
_ BOB HARIG, RANDY CREMER