Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Facing Champs Stirs FSU

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Facing Champs Stirs FSU

Article excerpt

Byline: Collin Mickle, Times-Union correspondent

COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- Florida State's 52-31 victory over Maryland last season provided little consolation for the Seminoles, who watched the Terrapins end their nine-year reign atop the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Losses to North Carolina and N.C. State ended FSU's conference title run and still rankle offensive tackle Brett Williams a year later.

"It's kind of a slap in the face for us," Williams said. "We let it go last year, beating Maryland and losing to two other teams that didn't win it."

For the Seminoles, the thought of a road trip to match up with the defending conference champs leaves a bitter taste. Two weeks of preparation have further stirred the Seminoles' emotions.

"It's humbling," quarterback Chris Rix said. "Even though last year was my first year, I know what Florida State has done in the past, the tradition they've had. Last year was the first year we didn't win the ACC -- that's just extra motivation for us. There's nothing we can do about last year. All we can do is focus on the future and beat them this year and make sure we get the title back."

Although FSU can't change what happened in 2001, middle linebacker Jerel Hudson thinks the 'Noles should go slightly further back for inspiration.

"We've got to bring the tradition back," Hudson said. "We're known for knocking people out, dominating, owning the ACC -- that's what we've got to do. That's what we'll try to do. It's very important to me and all the rest of the seniors."

Last year's senior class, led by stalwarts Bradley Jennings, Chris Hope and Javon Walker, presided over the worst season for an FSU squad since the 1986 team went 7-4-1. This year's seniors are determined to avoid a similar fate.

"I'd hate to be a senior and graduate from here without getting back the ACC championship," running back Nick Maddox said. …

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