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Stewart Mandel's Two-Minute Drill


After running for a combined 46 yards in wins over Miami and Troy, No. 9 Florida State ranks 118th out of 119 teams in rushing offense. Why can't senior Lorenzo Booker (right) and the other Seminoles running backs get untracked?

You can blame the predictability of Florida State's pro-style offense. Troy, copying the Hurricanes' game plan from five nights earlier, often moved a safety into the box just before the snap. You can blame the O-line, a unit that the Seminoles haven't bolstered with great recruits in recent years. Or you can blame the runners themselves. That's what former Seminole Matt Meinrod, the starting right guard last season, did. Following the Troy game--in which Florida State needed a last-minute TD to win 24--17--Meinrod wrote a critical column for fan site in which he stated, "[An] obvious problem is our running backs' indecisiveness with picking their running lanes."

Coach Bobby Bowden is downplaying the problem. "This whole thing about having to establish the run to win?" he said on Sunday. "We've already proved two dang weeks in a row that ain't right." Don't be fooled: The Seminoles won't contend for the national title with a weakness in such a critical area.


Boise State running back Ian Johnson

New Broncos coach Chris Petersen is a realist when it comes to recruiting. "If a guy is phenomenal on tape, we're not going to get him," he says. Johnson (left) didn't blow people away with tapes from his career at Damien High in San Dimas, Calif., but on national TV last Thursday he repeatedly blew past Oregon State's defenders. The 5'11", 194-pound sophomore ran for 240 yards and five touchdowns in Boise's 42--14 victory. Johnson, who rushed for only four TDs last season, surprised even his coach with his speed. "He's the fastest [running back] we've had," says Petersen. "Give him a crease, and he has a chance to go the distance."


1. Mississippi State received much-deserved credit three years ago when it made Sylvester Croom the first black head coach in the SEC, but how patient will school officials be if his team doesn't start improving? The Bulldogs were 3--8 in each of Croom's first two seasons, and in dropping their first two games this year, they failed to score against South Carolina (15--0) and Auburn (34--0).

2. Missouri could be a sleeper in the Big 12. In a 34--7 rout of Ole Miss last Saturday, sophomore QB Chase Daniel showed surprising command of the Tigers' spread offense and the defense held the Rebels to 162 total yards and picked off three passes.

3. Purdue holds the most deceiving 2--0 record of any major-conference team. The Boilermakers have allowed a combined 870 yards in wins over I-AA Indiana State (60--35), which went 0--11 last year, and Miami (Ohio), a 38--31 OT loser last Saturday.

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