Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Bowl Win Sets Bar for FSU; Offensive Changes Will Be Focus for Bowden in Offseason

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Bowl Win Sets Bar for FSU; Offensive Changes Will Be Focus for Bowden in Offseason

Article excerpt

Byline: Bob Thomas, The Times-Union

TALLAHASSEE -- Many will choose to remember Florida State's 9-3 football season as one that fell short of its mark.

Linebacker A.J. Nicholson, however, will look at Saturday's 30-18 Gator Bowl victory over West Virginia as a starting point, not a conclusion.

"We wanted these seniors to leave on a winning note, on a positive note," Nicholson said. "It wasn't a championship game, but it was a game of pride of saying: 'We're not what you think we are. We're better than that.' We went out there and proved it."

Nicholson, who led FSU with 12 tackles and an interception, will be at the hub of a returning group that hopes it learned from the mistakes of 2004.

While the Seminoles will miss defensive tackle Travis Johnson and defensive backs Bryant McFadden, Leroy Smith and Jerome Carter, the nucleus of this season's team strength returns.

Offensively, it's another story. The Seminoles labored to score throughout the season, and with the departure of quarterback Chris Rix, wideout Craphonso Thorpe and All-American tackle Alex Barron -- among others -- there are voids that must be filled.

FSU coach Bobby Bowden, however, believes the Seminoles must first address the team's offensive identity.

"In my years of coaching, I can never remember a year where our offense just went dry," Bowden said. "We just couldn't get it going. It made it very frustrating.

"I think we'll have to change our offensive philosophy a little bit next year."

Bowden has been hinting at changes on offense for more than a month, and while some might come in terms of coaching personnel -- moves he won't disclose -- strategic changes are sure to be made.

Facing defenses bent on blitzing, forcing quarterbacks to make quick decisions, Bowden said the 'Noles will take a long look at one-back formations featuring multiple receivers. He also said he has a preference for the shotgun formation.

In short, he likes the look that West Virginia used with quarterback Rasheed Marshall and tailback Kay-Jay Harris: a system coach Rich Rodriguez devised while working with Tommy Bowden and Tulane and Clemson. …

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