Florida State was dominate defensively during a 35-3 run that started after the first quarter in Boston College last weekend — but it was the first and fourth quarters in that ballgame that has had the ‘Noles defense diving deeper in the film room this week.
“I feel like we just got away from our keys and our assignments in that game and that’s why they were able to get good plays on us,” FSU senior safety Terrance Brooks said. “This week we are really harping on knowing what your job is, doing it and executing it. I feel like we’ll be fine if we just go out there and do what we are supposed to do.”
Maryland’s offense represents the FSU defense’s toughest task yet with a dangerous quarterback in Brown, a gamebreaker at wide receiver in Diggs, a talented player like Deon Long on the outside and a good tailback in Brandon Ross.
The Terrapins come to Tallahassee with the nation’s 18th-ranked offense. Maryland is 17-of-17 in the redzone, too.
“They are more multiple,” Fisher said. “They are a spread look. They will be in all the spread looks that a lot of folks have gotten into now and it’s kind of the craze of college football. But they are very complicated and do a lot of different things and create a lot of different problems with great players.”
Maryland’s defense has been lights out so far this season.
Maryland has jumped out to a 4-0 start with an offense that ranks 18th nationally and a defense that ranks No. 6 in the country. But while there is no questioning the effectiveness of offensive players Brown, Diggs, Long and Ross, a mong others, the Terps defense hasn’t exactly faced an offensive powerhouse through a handful of games.
Even though Maryland is tied for the nation’s lead in sacks with 17 and is tied for third in points-per-game allowed at 10.3, it’s important to look at how the squad from College Park, Md. got to this point. FIU, which Maryland blasted 43-10 in the opener, is 125th overall in offense, Old Dominion is an FCS school, Connecticutt recently fired its coach and is 121st in offense and West Virginia is 78th.
Still, the ‘Noles aren’t taking the Terps lightly.
“They have a lot of blitzes,” Winston said. “More blitzes than we have seen, just from the variety. Some teams might be secondary blitz teams, some might be like edge pressures, but they have a lot of blitzing pressures they can get to. And then they mix up their fronts so sometimes we don’t know if it’s three-down or sometimes we don’t know if it’s four-down. They do a good job with that.”
Winston’s offense has been excellent at closing and opening halfs this year.
In all four of its games this season, Florida State has done something consistently that is quite remarkable.
In each of those games — all wins over Pittsburgh, Nevada, B-CU and Boston College — the Seminoles have scored on their last possession of the first half heading into the break and their first possession of the second half coming out of the break. Each score represents a huge advantage for the ‘Noles, who have excelled in two-minte drills and in setting the tone offensively for the final two quarters.
“It is just that shift in momentum that we have to have. We’ve got to learn to start playing with momentum; the momentum always has to be on our side because everyone is out to get us. That’s how we have to feel. And with scoring before the half, usually we get the ball back and that’s 14 points before they even touch the ball.
“So that’s obviously good.”
Will weather play a role Saturday when Fisher and the ‘Noles host Maryland?
Tropical Storm Karen’s presence in the Gulf of Mexico and its northern trajectory towards the United States means that the entire Gulf Coast is on high alert for impending bad weather over the next several days.
But while there was some early concern that the storm’s movement toward land would have an impact on the noon game between the ‘Noles and Terps, Friday-morning projections now suggest otherwise.
Still, it’s important to continue to monitor the storm’s movement. For the latest information, fans can call the official FSU Storm Line at 850-645-GAME.