2. Be happy Nick Moody didn’t “get down” as Jimbo was trying to signal to him after no. 10 made the interception with seconds to go. FSU deserved those style points after having another INT TD called back for the vicious but legal hit Greg Reid made.
3. Be happy Christian Ponder didn’t reinjure his drained and pained elbow with some of the hits he took on keepers.
4. Be happy FSU's in position to win a divisional title and a spot in the ACC title game in Charlotte.
5. Be happy Jimbo has a few pages left from the Riverboat Gambler playbook -- and finally used one. The beautifully executed trick play on the fake punt worked precisely because a trick play was the last thing Maryland expected.
6. Be happy Shawn Powell is such a great passer. Hey, he has a 100% completion rate after the forward flick to Mike Harris for the 33-yard shocker.
7. Be happy Bert Reed still catches more than he drops. He led the Noles with six grabs for 93 yards and some sweet YACs on the TD run. Come to think of it, be happy Reed proved he still has the moves.
8. Be happy FSU is 2-for-4 for the season on cliffhanger, nail-biting, final second victories.
9. Be happy that FSU’s D, even though trying its best at times to imitate the ’09 defense, was opportunistic and tightened up when the game was on the line. After the Noles took a 20-16 lead in the fourth quarter, the defenders forced two interceptions and a fumble.
10. Be happy FSU has the potential to finish with 11 wins on the season (if they beat the gators, win the ACC title game and knock off a bowl team). Unlikely? Yes, but remember that predicting 11 wins before the season could have gotten you committed. So be happy it’s gone from a pipe dream to an actual possibility.
Maryland was expected to struggle on offense and it largely has, as they rank 93rd in the country in total offense. However, the Terps have not committed many turnovers and with the midseason promotion of redshirt freshman Danny O’Brien at QB, they have run a lot less option than people expected. Speaking of O’Brien (1,571 yards, 54%, 16 TDs, 4 ints.), his emergence has been a key reason for the Terps’ unexpected success. O’Brien has been a good game manager, avoided mistakes, and generally put Maryland in good positions. Former starter Jamarr Robinson (349 yards, 53%, 4 TDs, 2 ints., 98 rushing yards) still sees the field some as a change-of-pace.
As expected, Maryland has a nice one-two punch at running back with Da’Rel Scott and Davin Meggett. Scott (431 yards, 4.5 average, 3 TDs, 12 receptions, 162 yards, 3 TDs) is a talent, but has been bitten by the injury bug most of his career. He has largely avoided that so far this year, but has been inconsistent. Meggett (575 yards, 5.5 average, 4 TDs) leads the team in rushing, but has actually seen his playing time decrease as the year has worn on. That is partly due to the emergence of D.J. Adams. Adams (193 yards, 4.6 average, 6 TDs) began with a role as the short-yardage and goal line back, but he has seen his playing time increase due to surprising quickness and persistence. The running game still isn’t all that special, but these guys can all get the job done and are serviceable.
The pass catching corps is largely Torrey Smith and a bunch of other guys, but that was somewhat expected. Smith (44 receptions, 752 yards, 8 TDs) is one of the ACC’s best and I’d be surprised if he didn’t have a long, productive NFL career. He’s a matchup nightmare due to his combo of size and speed. Smith has great playmaking ability, although he has been battling an injury lately. The other guy to look out for is Adrian Cannon. Cannon (27 receptions, 238 yards, 1 TD) had a big junior year, but has been somewhat inconsistent as a senior. He has a ton of talent, but still hasn’t put it all together. The rest of the WR group (Quintin McCree, Ronnie Tyler, Kevin Dorsey, Kerry Boykins, LaQuan Williams) have had moments here and there, but none of them have more than 11 catches so far.
The tight end group was a question mark coming into the season, but Matt Furstenberg (10 receptions, 166 yards, 1 TD) has been pretty solid.
Last year at this time, the Noles and Terrapins were only playing for pride. This year they're both 7-and-3 and squaring off to determine who wins the Atlantic Division. Our thanks to Matt at Turtlewaxing for giving us a better picture of the new, improved version of Maryland football.
What are the reasons for the Terps turnaround from last year's disappointing season?
A: I have to start with improved QB play. Chris Turner was a fine, if limited, starter last year but couldn't win games without a good offensive line and skill position players around him. Danny O'Brien seems to have a better feel for the game and a skill at making big plays. His ability to get the ball down field to Torrey Smith is a huge upgrade over Turner. The defense is playing better in Don Brown's second season. The ability to make some plays in the red zone and force turnovers is a significant difference from last year as well.
Still, a big difference is that the schedule has set up nicely for Maryland. Their ACC wins are against Duke, Wake Forest, Virginia and Boston College. That about says it all.
The Terrapins have a strong-armed QB in O'Brien and two productive RBs. Do they pass to set up the run, or vice-versa?
A: O'Brien is the key to the offense like most QBs in college. When he struggles to find open receivers the running game often fails to pick up the slack. When O'Brien is clicking he does a great of attacking a defense. He is more cerebral than athletic. His style reminds me of a Peyton Manning, though he is obviously far less gifted.
Maryland’s running game isn't very good. James Franklin (offensive coordinator) normally tries to mix it up with short passes and bubble screens to a WR. Against a fast and physical secondary at Miami they were unable to pull that off. While RB Da'Rel Scott and Davin Meggett are both capable the offensive line is a patchwork affair that isn't able to open many holes in the running game. Maryland doesn't abandon the run even if it isn't working but I think this is a better passing team than running team.
What kind of defensive scheme does Maryland's run?
A: They play a version of the 3-4 with an attacking style. They do play a lot of zone and the corners are not suited for press coverage. Normally Brown will come with linebackers (Adrian Moten) or safeties (Kenny Tate and Antwine Perez) on the blitz. The best lineman is Joe Vellano who has a decent pass rush for an interior lineman. The rest of the group is fairly unimpressive. Tate is probably the best all around defender while Perez has shown the ability to make a big play in pass defense. As a group they are vulnerable to quick offenses that try to spread them out.
Do Maryland players have extra motivation to win a division and ACC title for Coach Friedgen in what could be his final season?
A: I doubt the players have extra motivation to save Friedgen's job, his contract expires after the 2011 season. They are aware of the talk in the media but the heat has diminished under Friedgen at the moment. That could change depending on the outcome of the final two games.
Update: ESPN's Heather Dinich is reporting that Friedgen will be back in 2011.
Any injuries to key players that will keep them out of the game?
A: Maryland has two starting tackles out at the moment, and has been without them for most of the season, but there are no other major injuries to speak of for this week.
Maryland homer Bruce Posner, who hosts Terp Talk on ESPN 1300 in Baltimore, writes in his blog that "Redemption Day Awaits Terrapin Nation." According to Bruce:
"FSU is already looking past the Terps figuring out what bowl they will play in and awaiting the Florida game. If you think the Seminoles are that strong remember BC had them deep on the ropes at Tallahassee. It took a 55 yard FG to beat Clemson
With Maryland players obviously getting fired up by similar words from Coach Friedgen, the trap game scenario comes into sharper focus. All the elements are there, including FSU looking ahead to the gator showdown, a cold night with a hostile crowd, and nagging questions about Ponder's arm.
That occurred right off the bat, led by another outstanding performance by Chris Singleton who backed up his triple double with a double double (30 points, a career high; 12 rebounds). Most shots the Seminoles took were either uncontested or the Bulldogs were run over and around physically.
That is when FSU was on its game. More on that later.
Gardner Webb tried man defense, zone defense, and double teaming. Nothing worked. Especially the double teaming.
Early on the Seminoles just picked that apart and displayed what they can when this team focuses. The motion was definitely in the motion offense in those first eleven minutes where Chris scored 17 points. Probably the best I have seen out of this team.
Right now you might be saying, "Oh, yeah. Two players. Didn't qualify, right? Who were they again?"
First, there's DeJoshua Johnson, the Rivals 4-Star WR from Pahokee who headed to East Mississippi Community College. Johnson had a decent first season (EMCC finished 5-5 and made the state JC playoffs), with 13 catches for 133 yards and one TD. Add to that three end-around rushes for 17 yards and a 17-yard kickoff return.
As a newcomer, Johnson's playing time was limited due to a deep roster of wide receiver talent. With several of them set to graduate, D.J. should have more opportunity to make a mark in 2011. He's also doing well academically.
The second non-qualifyer also suited up for East Mississippi. He's DT Damien Jacobs, a Rivals 3-Star from Houma, Loose-y-ana. Jacobs had quite a bit more playing time for the Lions, finishing with 28 solo tackles and 20 assists. That included four tackles for loss and one and a half sacks. The big guy also made progress academically. In fact, there's a slim chance Nole fans might see him next year. EMCC Coach Buddy Stephens says Jacobs still has issues with the NCAA clearinghouse, but if they're worked out he could bounce back to FSU this coming January.
The coach also told us that FSU has its eye on a couple more defensive studs on his team. However, he believes Jimbo wants to keep those players off the radar for now, so keep tuned for future updates.
“We were picked to finish last by all of the experts and that itself is an accomplishment. We’re not looking to stop there though. We have a huge game this week and we’re coming home so hopefully we’ll get a lot of people to come out and support us. Who knows what could happen? We have some issues like everybody does at this time of year but we also have kids that are playing their hearts out right now. As a coach, you can’t ask for more than that. They just laid it on the line. We have very good leadership from not just our seniors, but also our juniors and sophomores.”