Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

'Noles Back on Target

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

'Noles Back on Target

Article excerpt

Byline: Bob Thomas, Times-Union sports writer

TALLAHASSEE -- Florida State coach Bobby Bowden believes he has seen enough improvement this spring to suggest the Seminoles will be better than last year's 8-4 squad.

"I think I see that," Bowden said after yesterday's Garnet & Gold game. "There's no reason we can't get back and be a contender. . . .

"We were off target last year. Maybe we couldn't help it with all the injuries, graduation [losses] and a freshman quarterback. I do feel like we're back on target."

Quarterback Chris Rix's continued development, an improved pass rush and solid kicking from Xavier Beitia highlighted the spring game, which pitted the offense against the defense, in front of a Doak Campbell Stadium crowd of 16,553.

"We're just further along; it ain't even close," Bowden said. "You've got guys running around that have already played 12 games. That's the big thing. This time a year ago you had a bunch of them that hadn't started a college football game."

Rix guided the first-team offense to a 10-play, 75-yard scoring drive on the opening series against the first-team defense for the only touchdown of the first half. The sophomore completed 3-of-4 pass attempts for 52 yards, including a 26-yard strike to P.K. Sam on the game's first play. Fullback Greg Tony finished the drive with a 6-yard touchdown run behind guard Montrae Holland.

Rix said the team's resolve and familiarity have been equally important this spring.

"[The mood] is a factor and so is everyone looking around them and seeing familiar faces," said Rix, who was 12-of-19 for 125 yards with one interception.

Senior defensive end Alonzo Jackson, selected the most dominating performer of the spring, capped the 15-day session with three of his unit's eight quarterback sacks. It's a promising start for a unit that managed 14 sacks last season and surrendered 356 yards and 26 points a game.

"I took it upon myself to say, 'Hey, I'm getting there and I want you all to meet me there,' " Jackson said of his pressure on the quarterback. "Every tabloid you read and every TV you turn on they say, 'Where's the Florida State pass rush? …

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