TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) -With archrival Miami up next, Florida State's Bobby Bowden is searching for answers.
At the season's midpoint, questions abound at Florida State around inconsistency at quarterback, a young offensive line, a nearly nonexistent running game and excessive penalties.
``We are not a sharp football team right now,'' Bowden conceded in a Friday teleconference. ``We're a team that still makes mistakes and in a close game it's going to get you.''
It did in Thursday night's 24-21 loss to Wake Forest, when the Seminoles (4-2, 1-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) matched their game average of 10 penalties.
``It's the foolish penalties that you hate, like jumping offside,'' Bowden said. ``We're trying to teach go, go, go, but we've got to be more disciplined.''
Coaches were also frustrated with quarterback Xavier Lee, who faltered in the third quarter and was briefly benched for his erratic play.
``He started the game and he has got to learn to finish it,'' offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher said.
Bowden said Lee missed Tuesday's practice to catch up on some academic work and it turned out to be costly.
``It's kind of feast or famine,'' Bowden said. ``He makes those big plays, everybody gets real excited and then he'll miss a couple. Until we get all that together we're going to have to struggle every Saturday.''
But Bowden sounded like Lee was still his man for the Miami game Oct. 20 if not the rest of the season.
``He does have the basic tools,'' Bowden said. ``He's got to eliminate errors.''
With the toughest part of the schedule ahead, injuries are mounting too.
Bowden said guard Rodney Hudson is out for a couple of weeks with a sprained right knee and linebacker Marcus Ball is slowed with a left ankle sprain.
The Seminoles will get a couple extra days to heal and prepare for the visit from Miami, which hosts Georgia Tech on Saturday.
While the Florida State-Miami game was once a marquee contest usually televised across the country and a national title at stake, the two schools are now in quest of a little respectability.
``It kind of reminds me of Alabama,'' Bowden said Friday. ``Both of us trying to get back to where we were.''
For the 77-year-old Bowden, it's starting to be a long climb - seven years now since Florida State's last championship bid.
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