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September 19, 2004

FSU-UAB Post-game Notebook

Four legs are better than two

The combination of Leon Washington and Lorenzo Booker combined for 175 rushing yards against an experienced UAB defense. With receiving thrown in, the two FSU backs finished with 224 all-purpose yards. In fact, Booker led all players with five receptions on the night.

Washington's 48-yard run on FSU's first drive marked his career long. His previous long was a 27-yard rush against North Carolina last season. On the play he had a clear path to the endzone but a defender was just able to trip up the junior tailback before he reached the goalline.

"Oh man, I'm telling you I can't get caught like that," Washington said. "I have to make that play. That was the first run I had and the offensive line created a huge hole."

Johnson racking up tackles for loss

Coming into this season Travis Johnson had some big shoes to fill taking over for Darnell Dockett at defensive tackle. Dockett left as FSU's all-time tackles for loss leader with 65 in his career. He also holds the single season record with 22, which he accomplished in 2001.

After his 3.5 tackles for loss against UAB, the senior from California already has 6.5 this season with nine games and a bowl game still left to play. If he continues at his current pace, Johnson will finish the season with well over 30 crushing the old record.

"I've always had it me and it was just a matter of time before everybody was going to see the things that I can do," Johnson told Warchant.com. "It's just my time to shine really."

Johnson now has 31 tackles for loss in his career placing him 9th on FSU's all-time list.

First Starts

Sophomore Ernie Sims made his first career start Saturday night. He got the start over senior linebacker Ray Piquion. The hard-hitting linebacker finished the game with five tackles, one for loss, and had a pass break-up.

"I was very excited about it," Sims said of earning his first start. "Even though it was UAB I was very excited and I was ready to get on the field and hit somebody. I was trying to run through everybody."

Joining Sims was sophomore guard Cory Niblock, who also made his first career start. He got the nod at split guard in place of Matt Meinrod, who was lost for the year after tearing the ACL in his knee in third quarter of the Miami game.

Fullback explosion

Last season you probably should have called FSU's fullbacks "blocking backs" since they rarely carried the football. On Saturday night the combination of B.J. Dean and James Coleman toted the rock eight times and scored two touchdowns.

"I like our fullbacks running the ball," offensive coordinator Jeff Bowden said. "If they can be effective on the inside run they can really open some things up on the outside. When teams are blitzing and stunting their line as much as UAB was doing tonight they have a chance to run right by some of those fullback runs and all the sudden he's in the perimeter. It's not a pretty play but it has a chance to be a big play. Where they were big for us tonight was in our short yardage situations."

The last time two touchdowns were scored by a fullback took place in 2002 when former 'Nole Torrance Washington scored twice in a game.

Coleman's second quarter touchdown was his first career score and Dean scored for only the second time in his career.

Freshman block party

True freshman linebacker Jae Thaxton's blocked punt in the second quarter was the first blocked punt by a true freshman since 2001 when Marcello Church blocked a punt that led to a touchdown against Virginia Tech in the Gator Bowl. Thaxton's block gave FSU the football on UAB's five-yard line. A few plays later James Coleman took it into the endzone from one yard out.

Post-game quote of note

Bobby Bowden on fan booing: "That is so unlike Florida State, they've only learned that the last couple years. That is so unfair. I would hate to say what I think of it. I loath those kind of people. Those Playstation All-Americans up there think they know football because they watch a game on TV. That's like watching Dr. Kildaire and thinking I can operate on a brain."

Notable

* FSU scored on its first drive for the first time since the 2003 Notre Dame game.

* Approximately 1,400 tickets were given away free to Hurricane Ivan victims.

* FSU is now a perfect 8-0 in games broadcast by ESPN2.

* FSU racked up eight sacks against UAB, which was the most since against Miami in 1998 when the 'Noles also had eight.

* True freshmen FB Joe Surratt, TB Jamaal Edwards, TB Lamar Lewis and WR Decody Fagg saw action in the game. They join Jae Thaxton, J.R. Bryant and Lawrence Timmons as other true freshmen that have played this season.

Defensive Stats (Unofficial)

Tackles:
T. Johnson - 6 (3.5 for loss)
E. Sims - 5 (0.5 for loss)
A.J. Nicholson - 5 (2.5 for loss)
B. Bunkley - 4 (1.5 for loss)
L. Timmons, W. Jones, S. McGrew, B. Davis with three each.

Sacks - W. Jones (2), DJ Norris (1.5), B. Bunkley, C. Davis, Nicholson, S. McGrew (0.5), C. Howard (0.5), and R. Piquion (0.5)

Block - Jae Thaxton



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