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Assistant's exit could spur more changes at FSU

The shakeup of Florida State's offensive staff began Tuesday with the resignation of line coach Jimmy Heggins.

"I've enjoyed my 19 years at FSU, and right now, I think it's time to move on," he said in a statement. "I've got some other things I'm pursuing. I'll always be a Seminole."

Heggins, 49, did not return a call seeking additional comments. He didn't say anything to players after the Gator Bowl win against West Virginia on Saturday and said Sunday night he remained on staff.

Less than two days later, he was out.

"I'm not surprised because the rumors have been going around; not just this year, but for a couple of years," said junior guard Matt Meinrod, a former East Lake High star.

"We went 8-4, 9-5, 10-3 and now 9-3. Those are good numbers, but they're not up to Florida State's standard. You have to figure eventually something is going to happen."

Coach Bobby Bowden, out of town recruiting, said in a statement he accepted Heggins' resignation but is "sad to see him go." Still, his departure opens the door for Bowden to inject new blood into a struggling offense.

George Henshaw, who played at West Virginia when Bowden was an assistant there then joined Bowden's staff in Morgantown and Tallahassee (serving as FSU's offensive coordinator from 1979-82), is widely mentioned as the candidate to not only coach the line, but take over play-calling for Jeff Bowden.

"That's just pure speculation," said Henshaw, Tennessee Titans assistant coach/offense.

Henshaw, who was at the Gator Bowl to watch his sons, FSU junior tight end Matt and West Virginia senior safety Mike, face each other for the first time, has another year on his contract with the NFL club.

He said he and coach Jeff Fisher "just talked (Tuesday) about an extension."

Even if the next offensive line coach doesn't replace Jeff Bowden in the booth on game day, he will play a key role in a new-look attack.

Bobby Bowden wouldn't talk about possible staff changes in the moments after the bowl but mentioned a need to change to more of a one-back, three- and four-receiver attack to neutralize blitz-happy defenses.

"Blocking is entirely different," he said. "You have to scheme that thing. We've got some time and can do a lot of studying on it and get more versatile in that area."

Although the Seminoles lose two-time consensus All-America tackle Alex Barron, tackle Ray Willis and guard Bobby Meeks, they return a promising group led by guards Meinrod and Cory Niblock, tackles David Overmyer, Ron Lunford and Mario Henderson and possibly oft-injured center David Castillo.

Overmyer made his first start in the Gator Bowl and received praise for his play.

Bowden also said he has talented freshmen who redshirted, including Courtney Abbott, Dumaka Atkins and Geoff Berniard.

"If I had the year to do over, I'd probably play a couple of them," he said. "Overmyer got to play (Saturday) and got a lot of work.

"That's good. Instead of losing both starting tackles from this game, you lose one. Then we get big Meinrod back and try to get Castillo healthy again. We signed a lot of good offensive linemen last year, so we've got to get them ready to play this year."

Heggins had been the guy to do that.

A former fullback who moved to nose guard when Bowden arrived in 1976 and became a star, he joined the staff as a graduate assistant in 1981.

He became a full-time assistant in 1986 and has been the line coach since 1992. Since then, 11 players have earned All-America honors and eight have been drafted. Barron is expected to be one of the first linemen picked in April.

"Jimmy has been an excellent coach for us," Bowden said. "And I support his decision to expand his opportunities."

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