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FSU seeks throwback weekend

He started and ended Florida State's quarterback controversy within a matter of days, and now coach Bobby Bowden hopes there are no lingering effects.

Danny Kanell will be the starter today for FSU in an Atlantic Coast Conference showdown against Duke at Doak Campbell Stadium, just as he has been in the Seminoles' previous six games this season.

But Kanell is coming off two poor performances, during which he has thrown four interceptions and no touchdown passes. Bowden publicly wondered whether Kanell was the right man for the job, then quickly ended any speculation that he would change quarterbacks early this week _ although he did move redshirt freshman Thad Busby into the No. 2 spot ahead of Jon Stark.

"I hope I didn't hurt the kid's confidence too much," Bowden said of Kanell, who has completed 60.4 percent of his passes for 1,513 yards this season. "As we look at the film, we see a young man who's highly intelligent trying to do what you asked him to do but overdid it.

"That's why, gosh, he makes about three throws in that game (last Saturday against Clemson), and he's had a great day. I think he'll respond pretty good."

For the ninth-ranked Seminoles (5-1, 5-0) there would be no better time. In town for today's 12:05 p.m. game are the resurgent Duke Blue Devils, who are 7-0 and carrying their highest national ranking in nearly a quarter-century.

No. 16 Duke is 4-0 in the ACC for the first time since 1970 and threatening FSU's 21-game conference winning streak. The Seminoles could break the league record set by Maryland (1973-77) with a victory over the Blue Devils.

FSU achieved its 17-0 record-tying win over Clemson last Saturday despite a lackluster showing by the offense. The Seminoles moved inside the Clemson 20-yard line six times and came away with just two touchdowns and a field goal. (They also missed three field goals, which led to Scott Bentley being benched in favor of Dan Mowrey).

Bowden was upset that Kanell missed opportunities for touchdown passes near the goal line. But in reviewing the game, Bowden realized that his quarterback was simply doing what he had been asked to do. Against Miami in a 34-20 loss, Kanell threw three back-breaking interceptions. Against Clemson, instead of forcing the ball to a covered receiver, he threw it away.

Kanell said he understood his coaches' concerns.

"That's the story of college football," Kanell said. "You have to produce if you want to play. I was really frustrated we couldn't put points on the board. But I talked to Coach (Mark) Richt, and we both said this was a good learning experience for me."

"I studied more film than I have in my life trying to see what in the world the problem is," Bowden said. "Danny is so close, we cannot afford to move him. It was a lot closer on film than what I saw Saturday. He's missing by maybe a yard. If we can get that thin edge down, he'll be fine."

Despite the problems, the Seminoles still lead the ACC and are eighth in the country in total offense with 473.2 yards per game. They are first in the ACC and fourth in the country in passing offense with 307.2 yards per game. And at 36.2 points per game, they lead the ACC and are eighth in the nation in scoring.

"We're used to scoring a lot around here," said Richt, FSU's offensive coordinator. "We've been right there to do it. But we didn't convert. We were all spoiled by Charlie (Ward). Our fans were spoiled, the coaches were spoiled, and the expectations are high. That's understandable. But we've got to realize this is a new guy in charge. And the personality of this offense has yet to emerge."

In Kanell's defense, he is actually doing better than Ward at this point in his career. Two years ago, when Ward was in his first season as FSU's starter, he had already thrown 13 interceptions through six games. Kanell has thrown nine. And he's thrown for more yardage and as many touchdowns as Ward had at this point.

"Charlie got off to a terrible start. Danny didn't," Bowden said. "If you remember, it was the second half of the Georgia Tech game in 1992 (when Ward directed three fourth-quarter touchdown drives) where Charlie came to the front. Up until that point, we were not sold on whether we were going to make it. From that point on it was incredible.

"Who's to say this guy (Kanell) won't be the same way?"