- Jorge Milian
The Florida State Seminoles seem like a team on the verge of imploding
after Saturday's 35-14 defeat by Clemson.
FSU (7-3, 5-3) has lost three of its last five games, including the
first back-to-back losses since the school joined the ACC in 1992. All three
defeats have come to unranked teams -- Virginia, NC State and Clemson. That's
something that hadn't happened in Tallahassee since 1976.
Worse yet, things might go further downhill before they start to improve.
The Seminoles will finish the regular season Nov. 26 against No. 20
Florida in Gainesville. They'll likely face No. 3 Miami in the ACC title game in
Jacksonville on Dec. 3. A four-game losing streak heading into the bowl season
is not out of the realm of possibility.
What's wrong? Everything.
Start with the injuries that have knocked out starting tailback Leon Washington, three starting offensive linemen, standout defensive end Kamerion
Wimbley and several others.
"We're beat up as heck," coach Bobby Bowden said.
Defense, or the lack of it, has also been a problem. After permitting an
average of 12 points in their first four games, the Seminoles have been giving
up 26 points per game in their last six outings. Big plays have been a big problem.
Also, quarterback Drew Weatherford has appeared to hit a wall. The redshirt
freshman has thrown 11 interceptions in FSU's last five games. He has an
ACC-high 15 for the season.
Things got so bad during the loss to Clemson that Tigers fans began
chanting, "Who's your daddy?" in Bowden's direction. Clemson is coached by Bowden's
"Our team is a little exposed right now," Bobby Bowden said.
Defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka, a candidate for several major awards, had a
monster game against NC State. The 6-foot-7, 262-pound senior registered a
game-high 12 tackles, including 5½ for losses of 29 yards and 3½ sacks.
The Eagles (7-3, 4-3) finished with eight sacks against the Wolfpack. Kiwanuka was the key to a
BC defense that held NC State to 306 yards of total offense and freshman
running back Andre Brown, who rushed for 427 yards in his previous two games, to
12 yards on 13 carries. "It's by far the best game he's had this season,"
coach Tom O'Brien said of Kiwanuka. Sophomore linebacker Brian Toal injured his
shoulder on the third play against the Wolfpack and did not return. He is listed
as day-to-day for Saturday's game against Maryland. The Eagles cannot play
in the ACC championship game, but they can tie Florida State for first place
in the Atlantic Division if they beat Maryland. Quarterback Matt Ryan will get
his second consecutive start after guiding BC's win over NC State. Ryan
wasn't spectacular, but he was efficient, completing 8 of 16 passes for 185 yards and no
interceptions. The 6-foot-5, 221-pound sophomore also rushed for two
touchdowns. "I think he managed the game well," O'Brien said. The decision to move
Will Blackmon from cornerback to receiver for his senior season has been a
complete success. Blackmon is fourth in the ACC with 43 receptions and fifth with
569 receiving yards. He caught three passes for 151 yards against the Wolfpack.
Blackmon is also fourth among conference punt returners and seventh in kickoff
The Tigers (6-4, 4-4) have had some outstanding receivers over the years, including
Rod Gardner, Dwight Clark and Jerry Butler. But none of them accomplished what
Chansi Stuckey managed over his past two games by scoring multiple touchdowns
in consecutive outings. Stuckey scored twice on receptions against Duke on Nov. 5 and had two more against FSU on Saturday. Receiver Aaron Kelly set a
school freshman record with 155 yards against the Seminoles. Kelly caught seven
passes, two off the Clemson freshman record. Duane Coleman, a running back for
the first two games of 2005, started his first game at cornerback and
contributed nine tackles and a pass deflection while helping hold the conference's
top-ranked passing attack to 122 yards. Jad Dean's 20 field goals are three off
the school record held by Obed Ariri (1980). The Clemson-South Carolina game
will be shown on ESPN2. The game originally was scheduled to be shown on
pay-per-view only, which infuriated fans from both teams, who have been able to watch the game
on television for 19 consecutive years.