Virtually none of the Seminoles have watched a replay of the Fiesta Bowl loss to Tennessee, but it remains fresh in everyone's mind.
"As bad as it sounds, it might be the best thing that ever happened to this football team and I say that in respect to the seniors who left here without a national championship," QB Chris Weinke said Sunday.
"Speaking in terms of this year's team, we're hungrier than we've ever been. This team is not only loaded with talent and experience, but its hungry. And we're also confident. We're not cocky, but we're confident. We're going to come out of the gate ready to go and we're going to play like a No. 1 team."
FSU is the preseason No. 1 according to the ESPN/USA Today coaches poll and should be in that spot in the Associated Press poll when that is released on Saturday.
The Seminoles said that one reason Tennessee was able to beat them in the national championship showdown in Tempe was that some players were looking at personal goals and contemplating a professional career. In contrast, they say now, Tennessee was a tighter, unselfish group.
"It's been a tremendous driving force," All-America DT Corey Simon said. "We have the maturity on this team that knows what it takes to work hard and get better every day. As long as we come together and stay together as a team, that national championship is not very far away."
NEW KIDS ON THE BLOCK: Sunshine Network will feature freshmen TB Nick Maddox, QB Anquan Boldin, DE Darnell Dockett and DL Kevin Emanuel and redshirt freshmen WRs Talman Gardner and Greg Moore, OL Todd Williams , Brett Williams and Montrae Holland, DL Chris Woods and Tony Benford and LB Jerel Hudson in its new series that will profile some of the best newcomers in the state. The New 'Noles premieres at 8 p.m. Aug. 20.
MORE TV: Sunshine will televise six games (Georgia Tech, North Carolina State, Miami, Wake Forest, Clemson and Florida) on a tape-delayed basis; once at 7 p.m. on Sunday after the game and again on Monday at 1 a.m.
HE SAID IT: Told his son Tommy, the new coach at ACC rival Clemson, said he should be shot if he loses a game this season, Bobby Bowden responded: "If he don't win eight, he ought to be shot. You might have two shot coaches."
_ BRIAN LANDMAN