Sept. 5, 2009
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - As Bobby Bowden has often said following the final practice before a game: "The hay is in the barn."
The 18th-ranked Seminoles completed their final on-field preparations for Monday night's opener against rival Miami with a 15-period practice in shorts Saturday evening.
"We've covered everything we've needed to cover in the time we've had," said Bowden, who will try an improve on his 14-0 record when opening a season inside Doak Campbell Stadiu. "We've been very fortunate with the weather. I can never remember down here in Florida having a fall practice where we were not disturbed by rain or lightning. We did not miss a dadgum practice. That is amazing.
"We've done everything we can do. We've had time to do it. I'd hate to have to wait another day before we play that ballgame."
The Seminoles will have to wait until shortly after 8 p.m. Monday for the opening kickoff to Bowden's 34th season at Florida State.
Not surprisingly, the buzz of anticipation has grown louder with each passing day as kickoff approaches. As the Seminoles were briskly moving through their walk-through on the practice field, ESPN technicians were setting up for the nationally-televised contest. This will mark the 27th consecutive year the FSU-Miami game has found a home on network television.
After weeks of beating on each other, the Seminoles are anxious to see different colors across the line of scrimmage. No one more so than junior quarterback and second-year starter Christian Ponder, who guided FSU to a 41-39 win last season at Dolphin Stadium.
"I'm so comfortable with this whole offense, the scheme and the concepts; everything," said Ponder, who makes his second start in the series. "It helps me relax when I play. I'm not worried about anything. I'm just focused on playing and hopefully finishing well.
"We're excited for this game to get here. Everyone feels prepared."
The Seminole Nation won't have to wait much longer to have a few questions answered. Will defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews' unit be up to the task, after losing six starters from a year ago? Can the retooled receiving corps fill the void created by the departure of several key players?
"I feel like as a unit we're ready to make things happen," said sophomore receiver Taiwan Easterling, the team's top returning pass catcher. "We're going to come out and show people we can do it. We're real deep right now. When a guy goes down, I feel like the next guy is going to step up and show what he's got."
Defensive captain and senior linebacker Dekoda Watson believes the 'Noles will be up to the task of facing a Miami offense that could have changed dramatically in light of a new coordinator.
"We respect their offense as a whole," Watson said. "They have a lot of people to go to in different situations and that makes them hard to defend. But I feel we matchup well and have players that can do things to disrupt their offense."
Senior cornerback Patrick Robinson, who will celebrate his 22nd birthday Monday night, is equally confident.
"We're definitely ready to play," said Robinson, a Miami native. "We're very focused on this game."
At this point, the Seminoles are ready to get their pursuit of an ACC Championship underway.
"The only way we'll find out more about our team is to play somebody," Bowden added. "Have you got the right guy lined? Is the guy behind him better? Is this guy good enough there? ... Those are the things you answer when you play. We don't have a warm-up game to try it out. We've got to go right into your first game with what you hope is your A-game."