Aug. 14, 1999
By BRENT KALLESTAD
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) - As always, perfection is the goal at Florida State in 1999.
"It'll be a shocking disappointment if we don't win the national title," tight end Ryan Sprague said.
For the fifth time since 1988, the Seminoles find themselves No. 1 in The Associated Press preseason college football poll. Florida State won the national title in 1993, one the years it started the season No. 1.
"We're used to having that ol' bull's-eye on our backs," coach Bobby Bowden said.
With a healthy Chris Weinke back at quarterback, Heisman Trophy-seeking Peter Warrick returning and seven starters from the nation's top defense ready to go, it's easy to see why so much is expected from the Seminoles.
Last season, Florida State, playing without the injured Weinke, came up just short of a national title, losing to Tennessee in the Fiesta Bowl. As Bowden enters his 24th year as Florida State's coach, he's still looking for that elusive perfect season.
"This time a year ago, I said we had a talented football team, but it's the least experience we've had in a long time," Bowden said. "Now we've got most of the same guys back. Most of those guys started. That's the reason for so much preseason optimism."
The Seminoles finished 11-2 last year, extending their NCAA record to 12 straight seasons with at least 10 victories and ranked among the nation's top four teams.
Bowden has three returning All-Americans among his 16 starters. There are also 19 fifth-year seniors.
"My only concern is the kids coming back with an attitude they're willing to do what it takes," Bowden said. "Complacency, that could hurt you and then of course injuries."
Weinke, who threw for 2,487 yards and 19 TDs, had surgery on his spine after he injured his neck against Virginia late last season. He will avoid contact on the field until the Seminoles open the season against Louisiana Tech on Aug. 28.
Also, former quarterback Dan Kendra is seeking to come back from a knee injury at a new position, fullback.
With Weinke out late last year, Marcus Outzen led the Seminoles to a pair of November victories, including one over Florida.
Warrick caught 61 passes for 1,232 yards and 11 TDs, and kicker Sebastian Janikowski had 27 field goals. And then there's Travis Minor, who ran for 857 yards.
The defense, anchored by All-American tackle Corey Simon and Jerry Johnson, allowed 11.5 points and 214.5 yards a game in '98.
Roland Seymour and Jamal Reynolds are the likely starters at end, with Brian Allen, Tommy Polley and Bradley Jennings at the linebacker spots.
Mario Edwards, Tay Cody and Reggie Durden give the Seminoles a talented group of corners to go along with hard-hitting safeties Chris Hope and Derrick Gibson.
As usual, the Seminoles should win the ACC title, with the toughest
competition coming from Georgia Tech. The night game is Sept. 11 in
Tallahassee. The other toughies are nonconference games against Miami on Oct. 9
and at Florida on Nov. 20.