The Preview: Maryland Terrapins @ Florida State Seminoles


Time: Noon
TV: Raycom Sports - Tim Brant (pbp), Doc Walker (color) and Mike Hogewood (sidelines) will call the action. The game can also be seen on ESPN Gameplan or
Line: FSU -18.5
ForecastRain?  No Rain? Looks like heavy rain in the afternoon but it should hold off for the first half.

The Maryland Terrapins are coming off a 36-9 home loss to Virginia Tech.  They sit at 1-8 on the year against D1 teams. Their coach, Ralf Friedgen on that loss:

"I thought we improved in our offensive line play. Andrew Gonnella played probably his best game and I thought Terrell Skinner played a fantastic game. He had 13 tackles and really played well. We defended the run well, but what we didn't do was defend the big plays and the passing game. We have to make some more plays in our offense. There are some plays out there that we need to make and we didn't make them. On Monday night I showed about eight plays to the offense where we are very, very close to just sustaining the block, breaking the tackle or making the catch to make a difference."

Maryland Offense v. FSU Defense

As you can see (click to enlarge), Maryland's offense isn't very good.  83rd in the country and significantly worse than North Carolina (the next best offense FSU has played).  But they are better than USF, and like USF, they are starting a young running quarterback for the first time.


And Florida State's defense...


As you can see (click to enlarge), FSU's defense is 90th in the country.  Maryland put 31 points on NC State's 85th ranked defense on the road, and dropped 32 on Wake's 46th ranked unit, also on the road.  But that was with their quarterback.  Let's see what they are currently working with.

Here's Maryland's offensive depth chart:

WR-X 7 Adrian Cannon 6-2 204 Jr.-2V
LT 74 Bruce Campbell 6-7 310 Jr.-2V
LG 71 Paul Pinegar 6-4 290 Jr.-2V
C 72 Phil Costa 6-3 300 Sr.-2V
RG 77 Andrew Gonnella 6-6 305 So.-SQ or   78 Justin Lewis 6-4 320 Fr.-RS
RT 76 R.J. Dill 6-7 320 Fr.-RS
TE-Y 34 Devonte Campbell 6-2 250 Fr.-RS
QB 11 Jamarr Robinson 6-0 190 So.-SQ
TB 8 Davin Meggett 5-8 215 So.-1V &    23 Da'Rel Scott 5-11 200 Jr.-2V
FB 38 Cory Jackson 6-1 245 Sr.-3V
WR-Z 82 Torrey Smith 6-1 200 So.-1V
WR-F 24 Ronnie Tyler 5-11 190 So.-1V
TE-F 80 Lansford Watson 6-4 260 So.-1V

And FSU's Defensive Depth Chart:

LE 95 Kevin McNeil 6-2, 257, SR
DT 93 Everett Dawkins 6-2, 258, FR & 72 Budd Thacker 6-2, 276, SR
NT 90 Moses McCray 6-2, 298, SO & 99 Jacobbi McDaniel 6-0, 267, FR
RE 98 Markus White 6-4, 261, JR & 49 Brandon Jenkins 6-2, 240, FR
SLB 36 Dekoda Watson 6-2, 226, SR
MLB 29 Kendall Smith 6-1, 224, JR
WLB 13 Nigel Bradham 6-2, 235, SO
Backup LB 12 Nigel Carr 6-3, 230, SO
CB 15 Ochuko Jenije 5-10, 188, JR
FS 20 Jamie Robinson 6-2, 188, SR
RV 22 Korey Mangum 6-0, 202, SR & 10 Nick Moody 6-2, 228, FR
CB 21 Patrick Robinson 5-11, 194, SR
Nickel Corner: 5 Greg Reid 5-9, 175, FR

Phillip, a friend of Tomahawk Nation, will be helping us out with the Maryland team.

Jamarr Robinson is the new quarterback.  He runs a 4.66 in the forty yard dash so he'll give your defense all types of problems scrambling but at this point he's just not a good passer. In six quarters he is 17-43 for 130 yards, no TD's and no pick, though he has thrown a couple balls that could have been picks and a couple that could have been TD's if the receiver makes a play. Robinson won't throw over 200 yards against FSU in all probability no matter what the circumstance. Robinson is mobile, but not so mobile he's a game changer. He can't read coverages and hes pretty inaccurate.

But in the rain with FSU's defense over-pursuing like crazy, this running back playing QB could give FSU some trouble.  I'd actually rather face Turner.  I talked to the Va Tech guys and they said Robinson is extremely erratic.  FSU is facing a less talented B.J. Daniels.  Maryland has always run some option and they rep the option in practice so I think FSU is in for a heavy does of option.  It would fit this kid's skill-set well.

Tough to evaluate this running back group cause of the bad O-Line. Da'Rel Scott, a first team all ACC guy should return from injury after missing the last five games. Hes our best runner. Hes averaging over 5 yards a carry when nobody else is over 4. He was fumbling the ball before he got hurt, so that could be an issue. The backups who played the last couple weeks were banged up themselves. They are not bad players they just don't have big holes to run through. Also with Jamar Robinson playing you can crowd the box, thus the RB's only got 7 carries against VT, the QB did most of the running (25 carries for 127 yards). Without a healthy Scott this group is pretty average. If they played with a good line they would get decent yardage, but they don't and aren't good enough to make things happen on their own. Scott put up big numbers earlier in the season, but in fairness to the other rb's, Scott played against a couple weaker defenses, (James Madison and MTSU) when he put up his numbers. Our fullback, Cory Jackson, might be the best blocking fullback in the ACC, but without an O-Line that only gets you so far.

Remember Dave Megget of the Giants?  That's his son.  A similarly fashioned scat back.  Scott is not a receiving threat but Megget has good hands.  If Maryland wants to use a fullback, that's fine by me.  FSU will play 8 men in the box like they did last year early on.

This wide receiver group is talented. Torrey Smith, Adrian Cannon, and Ronnie Tyler the top 3 guys are all good. If Turner is the QB this group could cause your secondary problems. This group is probably in the top third of the ACC. If we had a good O-Line or a run game to balance the pass, UMD could put up big passing numbers with these guys. Torrey Smith is a sophomore but probably has a future in the NFL. He broke the ACC KO return yards as a freshman and broke that record this year and has put up very solid receiving numbers. Smith has soft hands, good cutting ability, and low 4.4 speed. Adrian Cannon is a good possession WR. He runs around a 4.6 so not a deep threat that can stretch the field vertically, but hes got a thick body and very strong hands. Hes good after the catch, okay elusiveness and is strong and will break a lot of tackles by db's. Tyler is the slot, short at 5'9, hes an explosive athlete that is a good college receiver.

I agree with Phillip here.  FSU CB Patrick Robinson, one of the best corners in the nation and a likely first round choice should be able to limit Smith.  Jenijie should be okay against the other their #2.  Maryland doesn't have a tight end who catches a lot of balls, so that is a plus.

I would say the worst O-Line in the ACC by quite a bit.  We struggle to pass block and we struggle to run block.  Its not clear which we are worst at.  Occasionally they will have a good series or two, but this O-Line has yet to really put together an entire game, so FSU doesn't have much to worry about.  The O-Line started out young and inexperienced and has been exacerbated by injuries.  Bruce Campbell the best O-Lineman is playing pretty hurt.  Due to injuries 9 different guys have gotten starts this year on the line and another has played significantly.    Your D-Line will have its best game.

This is true.  Maryland's offensive line is highly questionable.  Campbell is actually a tremendous talent at left tackle, but as Phillip said, he's been injured.  Last year Maryland was one of a few teams to not double team Everette Brown and Brown absolutely abused the Terps.  They have struggled with quick rush ends so far this year and as Phillip said, FSU might have a good day.  I don't think he understands just how poor FSU's defense is, however, so don't get too excited, 'Nole fans.

Maryland runs a pro-style offense.  It's West coast based.  They typically man block, not zone block (FSU zone blocks).  If I was running Maryland's offense, I would probably use 3 wide receivers and two running backs, mixing in a lot of option looks for the young quarterback who is basically a running back under center.  The rain probably plays to Maryland's advantage if they elect to run some of the zone-read plays we've come accustomed to seeing teams run against Florida State, often with great success.  It's one thing to overrun a play.  It's another to overrun a play in the rain and be unable to recover in time.  I expect FSU to run more of the cover-2 stuff they ran against Wake Forest.  This should help because it allows FSU to keep all 11 eyes on the "quarterback".  It also will force the quarterback to work with his receivers.  FSU did not do this well against USF, and pair dearly for it via two bombs and multiple scrambles.  Playing an excess of man coverage in this game is a poor choice.  Maryland has some good skill guys and if FSU lets them play street ball, this could be interesting.  Against Zone, receivers must sit down in the voids, and the quarterback must recognize where these voids will be and throw the ball to the spot.  I do not think Maryland's guy under center can do that consistently.  FSU must make him do things at which he is not comfortable, and not allow him to hit the high-risk, high-reward stuff.  A good cover-2 or cover-3 zone can help with this.  In addition, FSU should refrain from excessive blitzing.  If there is any offensive line that FSU's defensive line can get pressure against, it is this group.  Maryland won't consistently beat a conservative FSU defense, but they could beat an aggressive FSU defense.  They have a veteran center who can make the calls and FSU's schemes aren't fooling anyone.  It's best to be very conservative, contain Robinson, and let him make mistakes.  I worry about this because it is defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews' last game.  Will the players be too hyped up to play good assignment football?  I don't know.

Working off a 68 play projection (about average), I expect Maryland to put up about 5.5 yards per play.  That's 375 yards.  24 points seems reasonable.  I'll go with that.  Can FSU top that?  Continue reading to see. 

Maryland Defense @ Florida State Offense

The Terps defense is not as bad as their offense. 

From their media guide:

They've actually been sort of solid on defense for most of the conference season (Cal housed them 52-13), though they struggled aginst the Hokies last week. They are allowing an average of 113 rushing yards per game (second in league play). LBs Alex Wujciak and Adrian Moten have been the top playmakers on a defense which has just four starters back from last year. Wujciak, a second-team All-ACC selection last year, has a team-high 113 tackles, including 11 vs. Virginia Tech last week. Moten has 58 tackles (second on the team), including team highs in tackles-for-loss (8.5) and sacks (6.0). Freshman LB Demetrius Hartsfield, was the third-leading tackler until he broke his hand and missed two games. He was back in action last week. First-year defensive coordinator Don Brown has a veteran secondary, though there have been injuries at that position.  Senior Nolan Carroll, the team’s No. 1 cornerback, was lost for the season vs. JMU with a broken tibia. Senior SS Jamari McCollough missed two games with a foot injury and played sparingly the following two weeks. Top safety reserve Kenny Tate sprained an ankle last week and will miss the rest of the season. CB Anthony Wiseman has a team-high eight PBUs and CB Cameron Chism has a team-best three interceptions. Seniors Travis Ivey, Jared Harrell and Deege Galt are veterans on the defensive line. The Terps are tied for second in the ACC in sacks (2.5 per game).

As you can see (click to enlarge), Maryland's defense is 69th.  NC State is the worst defense FSU has faced this year.  But Maryland is on par with BYU, and definitely worse than Wake Forest.  


As for Florida State's offense?   Click to go full-screen and you'll see FSU sits at 5th in the country.  This is an elite unit.


Maryland has faced the #9 rated NC State attack.  Without Ponder, I believe FSU's offense is probably top 25 but definitely not top 5.  These ratings reflect performance to date.  They can't account for the future impact of injuries.  They also played Va Tech, who like NCST, also put 35+ on them. #27 rated Wake Forest put 30+ on these guys.  But I don't remember any of those teams playing in a downpour.

Maryland Depth Chart

DE 57 Jared Harrell 6-5 265 Sr.-1V or 44 Derek Drummond 6-4 250 So.-1V
NT 96 A.J. Francis 6-5 315 Fr.-RS
DT 90 Travis Ivey 6-4 325 Sr.-2V
Anchor (DE) 56 Deege Galt 6-4 264 Sr.-SQ
SAM 54 Adrian Moten 6-2 230 Jr.-2V
MIKE 33 Alex Wujciak 6-3 255 Jr.-1V
WILL 42 Ben Pooler 6-3 235 So.-SQ or 59 Demetrius Hartsfield 6-2 230 Fr.-RS
CB 6 Anthony Wiseman 5-10 185 Sr.-3V  (Starter lost for year)
FS 1 Terrell Skinner 6-3 214 Sr.-3V  (Starter lost for year)
SS 4 Jamari McCollough 5-11 200 Sr.-1V
CB 22 Cameron Chism 6-0 185 So.-1V

FSU Depth Chart

WR 80 Jarmon Fortson 6-3, 223, SO & 9 Richard Goodman 6-0, 190, SR
LT 67 Andrew Datko 6-6, 283, SO
LG 57 Brandon Davis 6-2, 281, JR (Replacing AA Rodney Hudson)
C 60 Ryan McMahon 6-3, 282, JR
RG 79 David Spurlock 6-5, 285, SO
RT 77 Zebrie Sanders 6-5, 288, SO
TE 88 Beau Reliford 6-7, 241, SO (Starter Caz Piurowski lost for year)
QB 3 EJ Manuel 6-4, 223, FR  (Starter Christian Ponder lost for year)
FB 24 Lonnie Pryor 6-1, 195, FR
TB 38 Jermaine Thomas 6-1, 190, SO & 23 Chris Thompson 5-8, 173, FR
WR 86 Rod Owens 6-0, 183, SR & 83 Bert Reed 5-11, 165, SO & Taiwan Easterling

And FSU's Injury Report:

76 OT Garrett Faircloth (hip)
70 OT Antwane Greenlee (knee)
51 LB Aaron Gresham (knee) (For career)
44 LB Maurice Harris (neck; out for the season)
62 OG Rodney Hudson (knee)
97 DT Demonte McAllister (knee)
94 DT Justin Mincey (knee)
81 TE Caz Piurowski (knee; out for the season)
7 QB Christian Ponder (shoulder; out for the season)
74 OT John Prior (knee)
27 CB Xavier Rhodes (thumb)
11 LB Vince Williams (back)

9 WR Richard Goodman (groin)
Mister Alexander is also banged up but FSU didn't list him.


Let's see what Phillip has to say about Maryland's defense.

Probably the worst in the ACC.  The DT's are so-so, maybe the 7 or 8th best group in the ACC as far as DT's go.  The DE's are awful.  The rush end position (Harrell and Drummond) has yet to record a sack this season after 10 games.  This group generates no  initial pass rush.  The strongside DE (Deege Galt) is a 100%  effort type player and got a couple sacks by continuing to work and getting a sack after the play broke down, but this group is really awful.  Our DE's are by far the worst in the ACC from what I have seen at generating pass rush.  The DT's don't help with pass rush.  They use a three man rotation of guys weighing 330, 325, 310 (Ivery, Kerr, Francis) so they are okay agianst the run, teams have not really gash us by running right at us, but they contribute nothing to a pass rush.  Therefore you have four guys totally not capable of getting any pass rush.  The D-Line is serviceable against the run, but you want to be more than serviceable when that is the strength of the unit.

I think he's pessimistic here.  These guys actually do a decent job stopping the run.  They are massive inside and have good but not great size on the outside.  He is right though about their pass rush ability.  Maryland's pass rush from the front-4 is just not there.  In addition, FSU's offensive line is excellent in pass protection.  I do have some concerns about Davis working together with the other guys picking up the blitz.  Speaking of blitz...

LB: A solid, but not great unit. At MLB, 255 Alex Wujciak is big and strong and good in run defense. Hes not very agile or fast so you can pass on him, though he has improed his awareness there a little. Still, his pass coverage is the type thing that Jimbo will take advantage of. With Ponder you would have burned us like crazy passing over the middle with him cause Ponder is accurate. Wujciak is not fast or agile, buts aware and he took an inaccurate pass by Russell Wilson to the hosue on a 70 yard interception return the other week. Still hes probably one of the slowest MLB in the ACC if not the slowest. He leads the ACC in tackles and is fourth in the nation. Its hard to run against him cause he can off blocks well even if you get a O-Lineman to him cause of his size and strength. Running up the middle against us is maybe do-able, but with so many other weaknesses, teams don't even really bother to try. Adrian Moten one of the OLB's is very verstaile. Hes solid in pass coverage, blitzing, and against the run, but is not great at any of them. He leads the team with 6 sacks. I see him in the NFL eventually, not necessarily as a high pick, simply cause at the least he would make a good backup because hes no real weakness. Hes also a vocal leader of the D. The third LB is Demetrius Hartsfield a RS freshman. Hes got solid quickness and average straight line speed, and like a lot of freshman is inconsistent. At times he shows good instincts and an aggressive instinct that makes him effective. Other times he looks lost. As the season went on he got a little bit more consistent, his worst games as far as missed assignments were his first. FSU will be his second game back from injury after missing three games.

Moten is undersized and doesn't do a great job of getting off blocks.  Otherwise, I agree with this.  FSU has a very good run game that has been steadily improving since Rick Trickett took over the running back coaching duties.  The backs now understand what hole to run through, an important part of being a running back.

The DB's are average to below average which is a surprise as many fans expected them to be good. We lost our top corner, Nolan Carroll, in the second game of the season. That hurt a lot. Sophomore Cameron Chism may have NFL talent but hes still learning the ropes. He's very good when the ball is in the air, has three picks, and is excellent in run help. That said he gives up some big plays and is susceptible to double moves and the like at this stage in his career (hes a true soph. who only played special teams last year). Wiseman the other corner is one of the worst starting cb's in the ACC. A three year starter who never has gotten an interception, hes a bad tackler, who is really bad when the ball is in the air. Hes is very suspectible to the long ball. Against the short ball, like slants, hes okay and will get some pass breakups, but hes such a bad tackler thats hes still not great there becaue those missed tackles turn into 40 yard players. The third and fourth corners, Richad Taylor and Trenton Hughes are about what you expect from backup corners. I think they are both slightly better than Wiseman, but there is inertia with returning starters and they are not that much better anyways. At S, we just lost Kenny Tate for the season at SS. With McCollough, who will be the strong safety agianst FSU, you got a saavy player capable in pass coverage, but not great in run help. At free safety you have Terrell Skinner, who had had a better junior year than senior year so far, except for the fact hes had his best two games of the season the past couple weeks so he may be coming on.

I have nothing to add to that.  A huge thanks to Phillip for his help!

I watched a bit of Maryland this week.  They blitz a lot.  I feel bad for this defense.  They get no pass rush, so they are forced to blitz.  But their secondary has really struggled due to losing two starters and just generally not having a ton of talent.  They are hurting either way.  

So, how to attack Maryland's defense?  We know that their front can't rush the passer but is very big.  And we know that their best linebacker is a liability in coverage.  They love to blitz.  And we also know that they are incredibly thin on the secondary.  So, how would you attack this?

I would spread them out and pass on early downs.  This puts pressure on already thin secondary.  It will tire out their big defensive tackles who certainly don't want to rush the passer.  It will stress their excellent linebacker who is sort of a stiff.  There is no reason to run right at Maryland, especially not without Rodney Hudson.  FSU needs to run at the edges and attack the undersized outside linebackers or defensive backs.  By throwing on 1st down, FSU can keep Maryland off balance.  The bubble-screen game could play big in this contest.  Anything to simplify the reads for freshman QB E.J. Manuel.  Most teams don't blitz much on 1st down, making it an ideal down to throw on because of the added time in the pocket.  Also, many teams are reluctant to blitz the spread because the blitz comes from a greater distance than against a traditional formation, thus taking longer to get there, being more readily identifiable, and affording the offense more time to react.

But undoubtedly Maryland will have some success with the blitz.  I doubt Manuel stays clean in this game.  But I do think he can hit a big play or two, interspersed with some less than desirable plays.  I don't think FSU can run quite like they did against Wake Forest.  FSU must pick up the blitz.  And if Maryland goes a little more conservative, then Manuel needs to be in sync with the receivers. 

Assuming FSU gets 68 plays, I think they can average about 6.75 per snap.  That comes out to 460 yards.  I like FSU to score 40 points.  And to be clear, I definitely think rain is a disadvantage for the 'Noles here.

FSU 40, Maryland 24  Maryland is the worst team FSU has faced to date, and though I expect Manuel to look rough at times, I will still project the big win.  

Chance of Victory:  88% (the exact percentage I predicted before the season).

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