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FLORIDA 21, FSU 14 // Like previous losses, big plays elude FSU

Florida State quarterback Drew Weatherford didn't have the answer, but he knew the question that summed up why the Seminoles have had their worst season in a generation.

"We were missing something," he said wearily, "and we never could seem to find it."

The Seminoles (6-6), after an all-too familiar script this year, had their chances to win but came up just short against No. 4 Florida on Saturday, 21-14.

Not counting the 30-0 loss to Wake Forest on Nov. 11, their first home shutout since 1973, the Seminoles' other losses were by a combined 26 points.

The Seminoles haven't finished a season with only six wins since 1981, when they went 6-5 and didn't play a bowl game.

"A very disappointing year," coach Bobby Bowden said. "I think we'd get a unanimous vote on that."

But what went wrong? Injuries that depleted a defense that was young to start didn't help. Nor did inconsistent play from Weatherford and Xavier Lee. Play-calling can't be ruled out. Jeff Bowden has resigned as offensive coordinator.

"It's just been a funny season, a crazy season," senior receiver Chris Davis said. "One or two plays in all the other games, besides Wake Forest, weren't made."

As it has been all year, that play could be on defense. Cornerback Tony Carter got beat on the winning touchdown Saturday. It could be on special teams, too. Gary Cismesia missed a 40-yard field goal in the first quarter, his fifth miss in six attempts, and Michael Ray Garvin barely stepped out of bounds on what was 47-yard kickoff return but could have been a touchdown after the winning score.

The most cited culprit was the offense that lacked big-time playmakers.

Coincidentally enough, Bowden showed his team clips of FSU-Florida games from the 1990s on Friday night with Seminoles such as Warrick Dunn, Casey Weldon, Tamarick Vanover.

"Those guys were making big plays," freshman safety Myron Rolle said.

FSU didn't. Not Saturday, with just three plays of more than 25 yards. Not for the year. FSU has just 23 such plays.

"On behalf of the offense, I'd like to apologize to (senior linebacker Buster Davis) and all the guys on defense and special teams," Booker said. "They played all game, and had we done that, we probably would have won. But it wasn't a lack of effort.

"That was the first time in a long time I could look at everybody in the huddle, no matter who came in or who came out, and everybody was out there playing as hard as he could. ... All you can ask for is your best. Luckily playing at a school like this, when you get your best, nine times out of 10 you're going to win."

Not this year.

That kind of percentage was missing, too.

Brian Landman can be reached at landman@sptimes.com or at (813) 226-3347.

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