Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

SEMINOLES NOTEBOOK; Passing Game Gets a Greater Emphasis

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

SEMINOLES NOTEBOOK; Passing Game Gets a Greater Emphasis

Article excerpt

Byline: BOB THOMAS

TALLAHASSEE -- Florida State's coaching staff thought long and hard about the decision to open Saturday's game against Syracuse intent on passing the football.

That's what the players said they wanted to do in a Thursday meeting, and the direction the coaching staff was leaning, but it wasn't until four hours before kickoff that Bobby Bowden gave it the OK.

The truth is Bowden and the staff have shown a greater confidence in the passing game this season than in recent seasons. In many ways, FSU's offense is beginning to look -- at least in terms of scheme -- a lot like those teams in the 1990s.

"As long as they show me when we spread it out and throw it . . . you won't do anything stupid . . . then this is the way for us to go," Bowden said.

The numbers certainly bear that out.

Through four games, 145 of the Seminoles' 265 offensive plays have been pass attempts; nearly 55 percent. And it's hard to argue the results when the team is averaging 296.5 yards a game through the air and 14.6 yards per reception.

Comparing those figures to the totals through the first four games in 2004 provides a dramatic contrast. At the same juncture last season the 'Noles had attempted 131 passes in 301 total offensive plays -- 44 percent. The passing game was producing just 180.8 yards a game at 9.5 yards per reception.

Offensive line coach Mark McHale isn't overly concerned about the team's running game, which is averaging just 92.2 yards a game, compared to 185.8 yards yards at this point last season.

"When we were at Marshall with Byron [Leftwich] we ran the ball 25 times a game and led the nation in total offense," McHale said. "The next year we didn't have a good quarterback and led the conference in running the ball. You've got to do what you've got to do."

The Seminoles are averaging 388.8 yards a game in total offense and 34.5 points, compared to 366.5 yards and 30.8 points this time last season. More importantly, they are 4-0, while last season's team was 3-1

BROTHERS AT LINEBACKER

For the first time since the 2001 season, brothers A.J. Nicholson and Derek Nicholson, lined up together at linebacker Saturday. …

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