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Sexton to start at QB for 'Noles

Florida State has a new starting quarterback, at least for a while.

Told senior Chris Rix will be out two weeks and perhaps longer with a sprained right ankle, coach Bobby Bowden announced Monday that Wyatt Sexton will make his first start Saturday against North Carolina.

Former Land O'Lakes star Drew Weatherford, a freshman, will back up and would forgo his planned redshirt season if he plays.

"We recruited him with the idea he would be the quarterback one day, so here we are," Bowden said of Sexton.

"Sometimes, this is the way a player is discovered; out of necessity. He might have been discovered next year; maybe discovered this year. We'll find out."

Admittedly nervous when he replaced Rix on Saturday, Sexton settled down and helped the Seminoles beat Clemson 41-22. He completed 17 of 26 passes for 162 yards and a touchdown.

Most important, he committed no turnovers.

Turnovers have plagued Rix's turbulent career, one in which he never had lost the starting job due to injury.

"I'll probably put in a little extra effort and make sure I'm perfectly prepared and not make any stupid mistakes," Sexton said.

"I'll probably still be a little bit nervous. But now that I've gone out there and run our offense and seen how great my teammates are and seen how I really don't have to do that much at all for us to kill teams, I think I'll be pretty comfortable."

The third-year sophomore had played sparingly until the fourth quarter against Alabama-Birmingham on Sept. 18, then came on Saturday, with his team down 7-3, after Rix hobbled off the field late in the first quarter.

Rix planted his right foot to fake a tackler and rolled his ankle. X-rays showed no fracture, and after returning to the sideline with his foot heavily wrapped, he told Bowden he could play. He didn't and has been on crutches.

"(Director of Sports Medicine Randy Oravetz) thinks it might be two weeks, and that might be two weeks at the earliest, too," Bowden said. "It's a high ankle sprain, a Grade II.

"We've had guys miss six weeks with stuff like that."

But Bowden is not looking beyond a two-week window and what might happen once Rix returns.

"There's no need to," he said. "It takes care of itself."

Sexton's play will be central to that, during games and practices. Coaches have criticized him for a lack of urgency in practice, showing up late for a couple of meetings and missing the team banquet at the end of the 2003 season.

Offensive coordinator Jeff Bowden said Monday that Sexton must work on handling the center exchange. He has a habit of pulling his hands back too quickly and bobbling the snap (as he did Saturday) or fumbling it (as he did against UAB; FSU recovered).

"It happens just about every day in practice, and that's really been a big concern," Jeff Bowden said. "That scares us to death. That's something you can't have because in a tight ball game, that costs you a ball game. That's No. 1 right now.

"The second thing is just see improvement week to week. I really thought he went out and played a good ball game that first ball game. I thought he did what he was asked to do. I'm not saying it was error free, but for a first (meaningful appearance), I thought he did a heck of a job. So now the only thing we can ask is that we get better each week."

The coaches have another job: prepare Weatherford to play, perhaps as soon as Saturday. If the Seminoles are ahead comfortably in the fourth quarter, Bobby Bowden said he would put Weatherford in the game to give him experience.

"It's definitely different," Weatherford said of moving up the depth chart. "It's not that I haven't been focused, but now I definitely have a chance to be in on Saturday.

"And it makes me real excited, of course, and makes me want to study a little harder and be more focused in practice and meetings."