BEATING UP THEIR OWN
Florida State's defense knocked eight quarterbacks out of games
last season, and this spring that unit has sidelined two more.
Unfortunately for the Seminoles, the latest victims are their
own starter-to-be, junior Dan Kendra, and one of his two
backups, sophomore Marcus Outzen.
In the annual Garnet-and-Gold spring game on April 4, Kendra
rolled to his right to escape a rush, planted to throw and got
hit around the numbers by freshman linebacker Bradley Jennings.
Kendra had taken harder hits earlier in the game, but this one
caused a complete tear of his right anterior cruciate ligament.
He had surgery last Thursday, but it's too soon to know if he
will be ready for the Aug. 31 season opener against Texas A&M in
the Kickoff Classic.
Earlier in spring practice Outzen, who had played well in the
team's first scrimmage, suffered a separated right shoulder. (He
is expected to be ready for the opener.) The injuries left only
one scholarship quarterback standing: Chris Weinke, the
25-year-old sophomore who reenrolled at Florida State in January
1997 after a six-year stint in the minors with the Toronto Blue
Jays organization. Weinke, the top-rated quarterback recruit in
the nation when he was first signed by the Seminoles, in 1990,
out of Cretin-Derham High in St. Paul, saw only mop-up duty last
season, completing a combined seven of 13 passes for 82 yards
and two touchdowns in two games.
It has long been Florida State's policy to give every
quarterback--even an undisputed starter--a green jersey in
practice, meaning that Kendra was eligible to be hit just like
every other player on the field. Two years ago the Seminoles
lost two quarterbacks in a spring game, forcing placekicker
Scott Bentley to take snaps for one of the teams. "We've [made
the quarterback fair game] for so long we don't think much about
it," quarterbacks coach Mark Richt says. "Now this happened, and
we are all pretty devastated."
Still, Richt contends the lessons that a quarterback learns
having to make decisions against a full-speed defense in
practice are worth the risk. "A lot of it has to do with
allowing a kid to make a play without blowing the whistle too
quickly," he says. "We didn't want to take away Danny's mobility
and ability to make a play out of nothing."
The Florida State injuries come on the heels of new rules aimed
at reducing the carnage during spring football. The NCAA banned
full-contact drills on the first two days of practice this
spring and mandated that the total number of full-contact days
be reduced from 10 to eight. Nevertheless, South Carolina lost
its top two quarterbacks, sophomore Victor Penn (fractured right
clavicle) and redshirt freshman Phil Petty (sprained left
ankle), after the two days of limited contact were over, and
played the last week of drills and the spring game with walk-ons
In three scrimmages in Tallahassee, neither Kendra (24 of 58
passing) nor Weinke (21 of 61) was exceptional, but each showed
his strong suit. Kendra can create offense by leaving the
pocket, and Weinke has a good downfield arm. Given Kendra's
exceptional physical condition--the 6'2", 240-pounder set the
team record in the leg press, at 1,335 pounds--the coaches are
keeping him No. 1 on the depth chart for now.
Florida State contacted the San Francisco 49ers and obtained the
rehabilitation schedule of Jerry Rice, who tore his ACL last
Aug. 31 and was back playing on Dec. 15. "We know it's a long
shot," Richt says of Kendra's being ready to play against the
Aggies. "But Danny's Number 1 unless we find out he won't be
ready in time."
Bowl Championship Series
THE PUZZLE COMES TOGETHER
You liked the Bowl Coalition. You loved the Bowl Alliance. Now
get ready for the Bowl Championship Series. The latest name
change is tied to the Rose Bowl's finally joining the Fiesta,
Orange and Sugar this season to virtually guarantee a national
championship game every year. "Alliance is an exclusionary
term," says Mark Mandel, spokesman for ABC Sports, which will
televise all four bowls and had a hand in renaming the
Here's an exclusionary term that crept in beneath ABC's watchful
eyes: $135 per seat, which is what a seat will cost at the
Fiesta Bowl, the Jan. 4 game that will decide the title this
season. Loge and club seating will be $195.
SEC commissioner Roy Kramer, coordinator of the Bowl
Championship Series, is busy developing a formula that will
determine which two teams get to square off for No. 1 each year.
Rather than use only the AP and ESPN/USA Today polls, Kramer is
looking into a point system that would take into consideration a
team's standing in both of those polls and in a
yet-to-be-determined computer ranking, plus the team's won-lost
record and strength of schedule.
The commissioners of the eight major conferences whose teams are
eligible for the Bowl Championship Series along with Notre Dame
want a procedure in place to break a tie if, say, more than two
teams with the same record are eligible for the title game.
Representatives of those conferences and the Irish will meet
next week in Dallas to discuss various systems.
MIXED SIGNALS FOR THE QB
If Texas A&M quarterback Branndon Stewart were king of college
football, he would install a universal language for calling
offensive plays. This fall Stewart will play his fifth season
under his fourth offensive coordinator, which is why he could
major in football linguistics. "Each coordinator is proud of the
terminology he's come up with through the years," Stewart says.
First Stewart learned the play-calling system at Tennessee,
where he began his career in 1994. Then he transferred and had
to master two sets of signals at Texas A&M under coordinator
Steve Ensminger and his successor, Steve Marshall, who left last
winter for North Carolina. At least Marshall's replacement,
receivers coach Steve Kragthorpe, isn't changing much this year.
"Under coach Ensminger each route had a number that I would call
in the huddle," Stewart says. "Under coach Marshall each play
has a name and the receivers have to learn routes." And at
Tennessee? "I don't even remember," he says. "It's been so long
BETTER SAFE THAN SORRY
The Secret Service could learn a thing or two from the
protection Arizona State coach Bruce Snyder has ordered for
sophomore quarterback Ryan Kealy in spring practice. Coming back
from a torn right ACL suffered on Nov. 28 against Arizona, Kealy
dons a gold jersey; defensive players are not allowed to so much
as bump him, and he sees live action only in seven-on-seven
Kealy should be ready for his team's Sept. 5 opener against
DRIVER SAFETY AT NOTRE DAME
Fighting Irish coach Bob Davie's winter pledge not to move
sophomore tailback Tony Driver to free safety lasted all of five
spring practices. On a team that finished 7-6 last season,
Driver is too good an athlete to sit behind senior tailback
Autry Denson.... ESPN asked Mississippi State and Kentucky to
move their game scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 7, in Lexington to
Thursday night, Nov. 5. Kentucky said no because it didn't want
to disrupt night classes at Lexington Community College, which
abuts Commonwealth Stadium and shares the parking lot.
COLOR PHOTO: RYALS LEE/FLORIDA STATE UNIVERSITY DOWNTIME The hit that injured Kendra's knee wasn't the first he took in the spring game. [Dan Kendra, Bradley Jennings and others in game]