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GAME 2: FLORIDA STATE 51, N.C. STATE 17 // Rout doesn't stop worries

As is his custom after wins, Florida State coach Bobby Bowden tossed his cap to his fans.

But on this night, it wasn't solely a celebratory gesture. How else could Bowden scratch his head and wonder? Despite the outcome, a 51-17 rout of North Carolina State, he had an irritating, perplexing problem.

"I think we still have got to look and see if we're doing the right things," he said. "The inconsistency is what I don't like."

For much of the first half, the FSU offense looked enthusiastic and seemed vastly improved over its opening-game performance.

"We really wanted to come out here and prove a point that we are the same FSU that we've been in the past," quarterback Thad Busby said. "We wanted to put a lot of points on the board. We didn't put a great deal on the board, but we put a lot better numbers than we did against Duke."

In the decisive first half, Busby was 12-of-18 for 173 yards and a touchdown _ he rolled to his left, reversed his field to avoid the rush and fired a 29-yard strike to a diving E.G. Green in the right corner of the end zone.

But in the second half, he and the offense sputtered. Again.

The defense, however, remained consistent. It dominated. Again. FSU conceded only 182 yards and, as it did against Duke, the defense scored. Safety Shevin Smith, a former walk-on rewarded this season with a scholarship, returned an interception 60 yards. Earlier in the game, cornerback Troy Saunders blocked a punt that Byron Capers recovered in the end zone for a touchdown.

"I thought we played a lot better than we did in the Duke game," said tailback Warrick Dunn, who gained 108 yards, including a 51-yard touchdown run. "But we need to keep improving every game to reach our ultimate goal."