ACC: Mountaineers-Noles 010110

Highlights from Bowden's press conference

January, 1, 2010
1/01/10
7:50
PM ET
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Bobby Bowden is an entertainer. It's no wonder he's going to continue to make a living by speaking to people.

He had fun in his postgame press conference, and so did we. Win or lose, Bobby Bowden is one of the greatest characters in college football, and one of the best interviews.

Here are some snippets of what he had to say following the final game of his career:

On what the headline would be tomorrow if he could write it: "Well, my headline would probably be, 'Bobby Bowden pulled out another great win with his excellent strategy. He jerked the mic away from Jimbo Fisher and started calling plays himself. That's why they won.'

"Another lie. It would be another lie."

On being carried off the field:"They must have sent the littlest guys they could. They couldn't even lift me up. And so, anyway, I ended up walking off the field. They were determined to get me on their shoulders. So they did that when I came off that stage. I don't know how far they would have carried me, but I finally got them to put me down."

On throwing his hat into the stands:"I say, 'Dadgummit, that's my last game, they can't give me more than 15 yards. So I'm going to throw that hat up there for the last time to the band because they mean so much to me."

On planting the spear: "Yeah, I used to try to throw a javelin in college and it would just kill me when it wouldn't stick up. Throw that thing down there, and it is supposed to stick. I was wondering if that thing was going to stick. But I got it on my first shot, so I could be a pretty good spear thrower, I believe."

Any regrets?: "I wanted 400 so bad. I wanted 400 so bad because I felt like, well, Joe is going to beat me -- when they took away those games, Joe is going to beat me. And if I could just get to 400, it would be me and him. I could hang around with him and follow him around a little bit. But I wanted 400 but didn't get a shot at it."

Video: Bowden on Gator Bowl win

January, 1, 2010
1/01/10
7:49
PM ET

Florida State head coach Bobby Bowden talks about what the win at Gator Bowl means to him.

FSU wins one for Bowden

January, 1, 2010
1/01/10
4:31
PM ET
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- With nine minutes remaining in the game, as E.J. Manuel's two-yard touchdown run was under review, chants of "Bob-by, Bob-by, Bob-by," began to fill Jacksonville Municipal Stadium. This wasn't a game Florida State was expected to win, but this also wasn't the way Bobby Bowden expected his career to end -- on somebody else's terms. Considering the circumstances, though, it couldn't have ended better on the field for the Seminoles.

After a rocky start, Florida State regrouped on both sides of the ball and was able to end Bowden's legendary career with a 33-21 win against his former team, West Virginia. I'll be back from Bowden's final postgame press conference with more from this game.

FSU now has experience edge at QB

January, 1, 2010
1/01/10
3:51
PM ET
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- With West Virginia quarterback Jarrett Brown sidelined, Florida State has the edge on the field and on the scoreboard. In a bowl game that has turned into a battle of the backup quarterbacks, E.J. Manuel has the upper hand in experience. WVU backup Geno Smith entered the third quarter having thrown just 34 passes in four games this season. Now he's been tasked with leading the Mountaineers to a come-from-behind win against an emotionally charged FSU team that leads 23-21 in the fourth quarter.

So far, Smith has played well enough to keep the Mountaineers in the game, and he's already thrown more than Brown. Manuel, though, has a 2-1 record as FSU's starter, and that experience could prove to be the difference down the stretch.

In his fourth career start, Manuel connected with Jarmon Fortson for 26 yards and the first down with under five minutes remaining in the third quarter. It was a remarkable grab by Fortson, but two plays later, FSU scored on a 19-yard run by Jermaine Thomas. Manuel should have more confidence in this game, and FSU has done a good job of pressuring West Virginia's quarterbacks all day. If the defense can force Smith into a few rookie mistakes, the Noles could hang onto this edge.

FSU out to sloppy start in second half

January, 1, 2010
1/01/10
3:23
PM ET
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Florida State's undisciplined defense reared its ugly head to start the second half with a facemask and a late hit penalty on the same play. FSU entered the game No. 86 in the country in penalties, and continued the trend, helping the Mountaineers from their own 40-yard line to the Noles' 13-yard line.

But West Virginia couldn't do anything with it. They struggled under the direction of backup quarterback Geno Smith, who fumbled and recovered it, and the drive ended with a 33-yard field goal attempt sailing wide right.

Florida State leads 16-14, but this is anyone's game in the second half.

WVU's QB injured

January, 1, 2010
1/01/10
3:08
PM ET
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- WVU quarterback Jarrett Brown has an ankle injury and his return is doubtful. This is obviously a huge hit for West Virginia. Freshman Geno Smith is listed as his backup on the depth chart.

Notable halftime stats and notes

January, 1, 2010
1/01/10
3:04
PM ET
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- A few quick notables before the third quarter starts:
  • Former FSU players on the sidelines to honor coach Bobby Bowden include: Derrick Brooks, Chris Weinke, Greg Jones, Derrick Alexander, Deion Sanders, Warrick Dunn, and former defensive end coach Jim Gladden.
  • Noel Devine has already racked up 127 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries.
  • FSU has controlled the clock 18:32 to 11:28, and has six more first downs, but is only 2 of 6 on third downs.
  • Dekoda Watson has three tackles and two sacks. It's Watson's second multi-sack game of the season, as he also had 3.5 against Jacksonville State.
  • Jarrett Brown has thrown the ball just four times and been sacked twice. E.J. Manuel has thrown the ball 13 times.

FSU's Watson leads defensive awakening

January, 1, 2010
1/01/10
2:28
PM ET
JACKSONVILLE, Fla., -- This game has suddenly become more interesting, thanks to Florida State's defense -- namely Dekoda Watson. Watson came up with two big sacks on WVU quarterback Jarrett Brown -- one for a loss of 14 yards, and one for a loss of nine yards -- on the Mountaineers' last possession. They were the kind of fierce hits that can ignite the entire defense. Those two sacks followed Jamie Robinson's interception, which led to a touchdown for the Noles. Oh, and the sun has finally come out here.

Consider the momentum shifted.

WVU turnover proves costly

January, 1, 2010
1/01/10
2:18
PM ET
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Finally, Florida State got a momentum-changing play from its defense. Jamie Robinson intercepted Jarrett Brown here early in the second quarter and Florida State was able to score off the turnover. WVU leads, 14-10, but the play gave Florida State some life in this game.

Florida State's running game should be one thing it can count on. Jimbo Fisher needs to keep things simple for rookie quarterback E.J. Manuel, and with a veteran offensive line and talented running backs, it will help take some pressure off of Manuel. So far he's completed 50 percent of his passes. The best defense for Noel Devine and Co. in this game is to keep them off the field, and FSU will need to run the ball and control the clock to do that.

WVU gets the edge in the red zone -- again

January, 1, 2010
1/01/10
2:09
PM ET
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Nothing seems to be going right for Florida State. The Noles couldn't even take advantage of excellent field position, as they started their last drive on WVU's 24-yard line. After a poor pass by rookie quarterback E.J. Manuel, Dustin Hopkins' 37-yard field goal sailed wide left.

Was Florida State ready for this game?

Two trips into the red zone for three points. You have to wonder how much of a distraction all of the coaching changes and Bowden festivities have had on this team.

Big plays continue to hurt FSU's D

January, 1, 2010
1/01/10
1:48
PM ET
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- There is a hand-made sign hanging near the West Virginia band that reads "We (heart) U Bobby."

Since it's so close to the Mountaineers, it should read, "We (heart) your defense, Bobby."

This is what got Florida State in trouble all year long -- allowing big plays on defense. West Virginia has only had the ball for two possessions so far, but the Mountaineers have already proven that the Noles' defense didn't get any extreme makeover during the past month.

On second-and-13 from his own 26-yard line, Noel Devine took off for a 70-yard gain, a team record for the longest run in a bowl game for a Mountaineer. It landed WVU on FSU's four-yard line and set up the second touchdown of the game. WVU leads 14-3 with 5:13 left to play. It could be a long day for Florida State.

Flat start for FSU

January, 1, 2010
1/01/10
1:23
PM ET
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- So much for Florida State's defense coming out fast and playing inspired on behalf of Bobby Bowden and Mickey Andrews.

Instead, FSU's defense looked like, well, FSU's defense.

Bowden could have been lined up at linebacker out there and West Virginia wouldn't have cared. They'd plow right past him, just like they did on their opening drive. It only took eight plays to move the ball 72 yards for the 7-0 lead. Sure, it's still early, very early, but somebody had to set the tone in this game, and the Mountaineers' offense did that.

Will FSU's defense come through?

January, 1, 2010
1/01/10
12:35
PM ET
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Eventually, the celebrations have to end and the game must begin here at Jacksonville Municipal Stadium. Emotion will only carry Florida State so far as the Noles bid farewell to both Bobby Bowden and longtime defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews. During their pregame warm-ups, the Noles were bouncing around, waving their arms in the air, and looked like they came to play.

The thing is, they still have to play.

Florida State’s defense -- which is statistically one of the worst in the country -- will have to show dramatic improvement from its unimpressive identity all season. West Virginia has outgained eight of its 12 opponents this year in total offense. The Mountaineers enter this game just 106 yards shy of tying last year’s total offense yardage, 4,685.

If Florida State is going to have any chance at sending Bowden off with a win, they’ll have to slow down Noel Devine, who rushed for a career-best 1,297 yards on 225 carries, a 5.8 yards per carry average. He had six 100-yard rushing performances, and had six carries of 50 yards or more. And it’s the final performance for West Virginia quarterback Jarrett Brown, a redshirt senior who racked up 2,552 yards of total offense this year.

There are no lineup changes for Florida State or West Virginia. Everyone who is supposed to be here is here. Including the largest crowd to ever fill this stadium, though it’s still filling up very slowly. What happens on the field today is secondary to the story on the sideline, where Bowden will be coaching for the last time. But it’s still Bobby Bowden, and he still wants to win. We’ll see if his defense can come through for him one last time.

Gator Bowl greetings

January, 1, 2010
1/01/10
11:01
AM ET
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- It's literally raining on Bobby Bowden's parade.

The weather here is miserable. It's rainy, cold, and muddy. Fans are walking around in ponchos with umbrellas. There were a few thousand fans watching Bowden and his team take their walk from the buses to the stadium entrance. It was the first time Bowden had ever done that. He and his wife, Ann, were under an umbrella.

But I'm still not feeling it. It still doesn't seem as grand as it should be for Bowden's final farewell. This game -- the actual matchup against West Virginia -- is overshadowed by today's other games, especially the Rose Bowl and the Sugar Bowl. And it should be. But there's a chapter of college football history closing here today in Jacksonville Municipal Stadium, and so far, more people seem to be talking about the weather.

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