BY ARTHUR DiCESARE
ACC ATLANTIC INSIDER
In a game that pitted long time Florida State coach Bobby Bowden against the Alabama Crimson Tide a team he grew up idolizing, Bowden turned to rarely used Junior Xavier Lee. Lee was a highly toted player coming out of Daytona Beach Florida earning Mr. Football honors.
Florida State almost didn’t have this option, as Lee was very close after his sophomore year of transferring due to lack of playing time. He has the perfect quarterback frame at 6-4 and 235 pounds has been buried on the bench for most of his career behind Drew Weatherford, another five star quarterback who was recruited along with Lee and has started the majority of the games since they both enrolled at Florida State three years ago.
Bowden called upon Lee in the second quarter of a scoreless game and sparked a Seminole offense that had produced nothing but missed opportunities up until that point. Lee led the Seminoles to three touchdowns and a 21-14 victory over a Top 25 team. The signal caller threw for 224 yards and ran for a team-high 59 yards. Bowden, who has been looking for a consistent play at the quarterback position since Chris Weinke left in 2000, said after the game that Lee gives his offense a different look especially because of his ability to get outside of the pocket and make plays with his legs.
Lee was named co-offensive player of the week in the ACC with Maryland quarterback Chris Turner. Jimbo Fisher the offensive coordinator who was brought in from LSU to change what has been a dismal Florida State offense over the past couple years, along with Coach Bowden gives Lee the start for just the fourth time in his career in Saturday’s upcoming game as North Carolina State comes to Tallahassee.
With Lee at quarterback, you would think the Seminoles offense could finally take flight especially with all the weapons this offense possesses. With a never ending amount of receivers lead by senior De’Cody Fagg and junior Greg Carr and a gifted running back in junior Antone Smith -- the Seminoles have the ability to become what the early to mid 90s Florida State teams were. OK…maybe not that good, but certainly good enough.
Traditionally Florida State has been an extremely gifted defensive school that always has top rated units and numerous first round picks year in and year out. But don’t forget that Florida State has a rich offensive tradition as well, lead by two Heisman Trophy winners at the quarterback, Charlie Ward (1993) and Chris Weinke (2000). Florida State used to have the most exciting and diverse offense in all of college football and that’s a big reason why they used to dominate ACC play.
If Lee can be the spark that many believe he can be, the junior could bring the Florida State offense and program back to the top, and as a result Florida State could get back to offensive brilliance, Top five finishes and ACC dominance.