FLORIDA STATE RUN OFFENSE VS. MARYLAND RUN DEFENSE
big question mark for the Seminoles to start this season was
on the OL. Look, when you lose four of your five starters,
one has to wonder just how well the newcomers can gel by the
time games get started. And let's face it, even with quality
players up front in the past, FSU has never seemingly possessed
a dominating bunch. Well, North Carolina found out last week
that this OL is pretty darn good (but that's not really saying
much considering the defensive concerns the Tar Heels have
accumulated). Make no mistake - FSU's front is fairly talent,
and coaches will be the first to tell you that tackle Alex
Barron is one of the best tackles to play at FSU in quite
some time - they will reel off quite a few stellar names in
comparison. But they do have depth problems, in particular
in the middle. The guard and center reserves are freshmen.
As long as the starters stay healthy, the Nole's offensive
front can be quite a group.
on to the running backs
FSU has a stable of horses. Greg
Jones and his 252 pounds of muscle need no introduction. But
keep an eye on the very quick and shifty Lorenzo Booker, who
some considered the nation's top prep RB just two seasons
ago when the California native opted to attend FSU (over previously
anticipated Notre Dame) on ESPN's televised signing day. This
kid is Warrick Dunn in a nutshell
he is that good, maybe
will counter with a big, steady group on the DL. First team
All-ACC player Randy Starks (304 lbs.) has been a monster
at DT throughout the spring and August practices. He is partnered
with C.J. Feldheim (297 lbs.), so the Terps do have the size
to go toe-to-toe with the mammoth Seminole front. Before August
28th and the Northern Illinois loss, Maryland looked primed
to become one of the leagues best defenses. They held their
own versus RB Michael "Turner the Burner", but showed
lapses down the closing stretch in terms of stamina. Given
the heat of Tallahassee, it would be wise to rotate personnel,
and the Terrapins are healthy enough to do so. But will they?
There are questions concerning E.J. Henderson's replacement
at MLB, D'Qwell Jackson (6-1, 217, Seminole High School graduate
out of the Sunshine State), in terms of stuffing the power
game. Let's say the front lines are a draw, but FSU gets a
slight edge due to having the best RB-depth in the country.
SLIGHT EDGE: FLORIDA STATE
MARYLAND RUN OFFENSE VS. FLORIDA STATE RUN DEFENSE
big question has to be the status of RB Bruce Perry for the
Terps. It looks like he will play after a high ankle sprain
sidelined him so far in 2003. But don't look for Perry to
be the every-down back just yet - last week versus NIU, the
Terrapin running game looked anemic. Josh Allen and Sam Maldonado
(the Ohio State transfer) did most of the work. Neither one
appears to have breakaway speed, but both do show some toughness
and the ability to run hard.
question mark heading into the season for Maryland was on
the OL. Their status is an exact duplication of FSU's (see
above paragraph). Maryland has a major lack of depth, and
it did not help matters when big senior guard Lamar Bryant
was lost with a broken foot.
is a mismatch on the field, this is it. Florida State has
a huge advantage with a veteran group of defensive linemen
and linebackers. DT Darnell Dockett (from Paint Branch H.S.
in Maryland) will square off for the last time versus his
home state's namesake school. Jeff Womble and the return of
Travis Johnson from off-season legal troubles join him. We
can tell you now
the FSU linebackers are some of the
best in all college football, with Michael Boulware and Kendyll
Pope on the outside, and the depth at each position goes three
deep. Through the last two-year "dry spell" (FSU's
comparatively lower overall level for which many other teams
would kill), FSU still managed a solid run-defense. Well,
they are all back again with numbers overflowing
you need for the heat of early September. The Noles have a
huge advantage here.
BIG EDGE: FLORIDA STATE
FLORIDA STATE PASS VS. MARYLAND PASS DEFENSE
Chris Rix is a more poised QB as opposed to what fans witnessed
the previous two seasons. He still has issues that need work
- how he locks in on one receiver and/or pats the ball before
releasing. But the key for Rix will be finding ways "not
to lose" in terms of throwing those inopportune INTs
and losing costly fumbles (see 2002 Notre Dame game).
receivers are good enough to continue the quality wide-out
tradition at FSU. Locating skill position recruits in the
state of Florida isn't too difficult, which explains the success
the Noles have enjoyed throughout the years here. So many
names to go around
look at last week versus North Carolina,
where 10 different players caught passes. The big cat in that
Chapel Hill tussle was Craphonso Thorpe. Keep an eye on this
Maryland secondary takes the field, some of the names may
be pretty recognizable. That is because most of them have
been in College Park for quite a few seasons. Foxworth, Cox,
Williams, and Wilson have been through the Seminole-mill the
previous two outings, and now they are all juniors and seniors.
They know what to expect. In fact, this may be one of the
Top 10 defensive backfields on paper in the entire nation.
They still have never proved it against FSU, and this time
around the task will be their most difficult, seeing how Rix
is not longer an underclassman. Back in the summer, we would
have told you that Maryland held a big advantage in this match-up.
But after watching a lesser candidate in Northern Illinois'
QB Josh Haldi go 21-of-35 for 266 in beating the Terps, we
have to wonder if the Terrapin secondary is as good as advertised.
NIU receiver P.J. Fleck caught an amazing 13 passes for 116
yards, so what exactly do you think the Seminole receivers
will do? Maryland gets one more chance to redeem their poor
week one appearance, so let's call this one even.
MARYLAND PASS OFFENSE VS. FLORIDA STATE PASS DEFENSE
if we could rewind the clock back to last fall, or even this
past summer, we would have told you that Maryland and senior
QB Scott McBrien held a nice advantage in this department.
Especially considering the FSU pass-defense was borderline
disastrous. But McBrien took some huge strides backwards against
NIU. Granted, he has been hampered by a pulled groin muscle,
so the typical sprint-draws and option formations were not
necessarily available from Coach Ralph Friedgen's shelves
of plays. It appears, though, that McBrien is now essentially
100% ready, so look out for a much different approach.
at the Terrapin WR roster, the names are highly touted, with
guys like Jafar Williams and Latrez Harrison (the most athletic
player on the team). But again, this group laid a big goose
egg against NIU with both dropped passes and misjudgments
on where the ball was going. So now that leaves Florida State
much more competitive.
even mostly because the Seminole DBs are the best that long-time
defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews has had in the last three
seasons. Viewers will see Nole safeties Jerome Carter and
Pat Watkins as much-improved young guns. Both were top rated
at their positions coming out of high school, and you'll see
why much like last Saturday. Watkins was last week's Defensive
MVP as he led the team in tackles (8) and pass breakups (4).
The Seminole's sack-pressure on the outside is extremely talented
and deep on paper, but hasn't shown the ability to sack anyone
yet. The spring and August scrimmages showed otherwise, but
most are still waiting when it counts. Look for statistical
anomalies like this to average out as of Saturday. This match-up
should be the one that wins or loses the game for either team,
simply because it was FSU's Achilles Heel in 2002 and Tar
Heel QB Darian Durant was able to find enough holes last week.
Maryland will need to take advantage in this department if
they have any hopes of pulling this one out a win.
Knocking the Terps in this area is almost impossible - they
have a Lou Groza Candidate in proven kicker Nick Novak, and
a punter in Adam Podlesh who averaged 45.4 yards per punt
in his first ever appearance versus NIU. Maryland could have
taken a larger lead in this category if NC.net first-team
All-American punt returner Steve Suter was 100% healthy. The
problem is, Suter has a hamstring that just won't heel, and
his debut is still in question after sitting so far. This
one really hurts the Terps.
State isn't so bad either. Kicker Xavier Beitia, in his third
year starting, has been a rock. His streak of 80 straight
extra points was broken last Saturday as one got blocked.
Even more ironically amazing is that all SEVEN of his kickoffs
were for touchbacks in that Carolina game. But we have questions
concerning his field goal accuracy, as his confidence just
never seems to have rebounded after the famous "Wide
Left" in Miami last year. Hurting FSU is the loss of
Leon Washington (Mr. Florida Football, 2001) returning kicks
and punts. He should be out a few weeks after dislocating
his elbow in the opener. But FSU has plenty of skill people
as mentioned, so the drop-off isn't too bad. But Maryland,
even without the services of Suter, takes an edge in this
category. If the game boils down to a field goal match, put
the money on Nick Novak's deadly accuracy from any distance.
The game is in Tallahassee. It's the first week of September,
the heat and humidity is almost intolerable, and Maryland
Coach Ralph Friedgen will end up changing his shirt at least
ten times. That doesn't bode well for the team up north and
here's why. To quote Friedgen after watching game film of
FSU vs. North Carolina,
amazed at the number of players they have. I see three and
four teams on the field (for them) and that (UNC) was an away
game. It's hard to tell who the starters are and who the backups
say speed kills, but as Bobby Bowden would tell you, depth
especially in the literal heat of the early "summer"
season. FSU has made a mark of "out-talenting" teams
into the fourth quarter through avid rotations. You'll see
the same this week, in particular on defense, where fresh
legs are crucial. But don't write the "down-but-not-out"
Terrapins after last week's debacle. This defense is good
enough to give FSU fits, enough so that spotting Maryland
14 points is hogwash. FSU should win this game outright, no
doubt about it. Again, too much depth. But let's say this
has about as much of a chance at beating FSU as Northern Illinois
does of again beating Maryland. The problem is, the game is
in Doak Campbell Stadium.
Florida State 23 Maryland 14