Oct. 21, 2011
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — It’s the end of one streak for Florida State and hopefully the start of another.
The FSU football team returns to Doak Campbell Stadium on Saturday following three consecutive road games and a bye weekend sprinkled in for good measure. It will be 35 days in between games on Bobby Bowden Field and the Seminoles (3-3, 1-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) are hoping that the end of the extended period away from home coincides with the start of a winning streak.
But it won’t be easy because the Seminoles have been smacked by injuries this year.
Seminoles.com Senior Writer
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Offensive starters Andrew Datko, David Spurlock, Chris Thompson and Willie Haulstead are already out and most recently defensive tackle Jacobbi McDaniel went down with a season-ending leg injury. Freshman star Rashad Greene is still listed as questionable a game after his ankle injured kept him on the sidelines at Duke.
With so many guys either lost for the season or banged up and bruised, FSU head coach Jimbo Fisher reiterated this week that you can’t be too consumed with what has already happened and that off which can’t be changed.
“As a coach you can’t dwell on that, you have to dwell on the future,’ Fisher said. “Hopefully what we need to do is focus on finishing out this year and getting better every week, and we could still have a successful season and a very good season.”
Putting a successful stamp on the season means taking care of a Maryland team that started the year with a bang but has since fizzled.
The Terrapins (2-4, 1-2) kicked off head coach Randy Edsall’s first year in the turtle shell with a 32-24 win over Miami but since then have limped into this showdown with the ACC’s other Florida school. Like the Seminoles, the Terps have suffered from a rash of injuries and have losses to Virginia, Temple, Georgia Tech and, most recently, Clemson on their resume.
The struggles prompted a recent quarterback switch so now the run-first C.J. Brown is under center for Maryland. Last week against Clemson, Brown set the school record for most rushing yards by a quarterback so he presents a unique challenge that the ‘Noles have not yet faced in 2011.
That means the Florida State defense has to play especially disciplined — particularly up front.
“On our pass rush, we have to stay in our lanes and contain him,” sophomore defensive end Bjoern Werner said. “We have to be assignment-sound and everybody on the defensive line has to be in their rushing lane to contain him.”
While the Terrapins’ offensive identity has changed and will continue to take on the characteristics of Brown’s traits rather than those of former starter Danny O’Brien, the defense has had its struggles all year long and the ‘Noles will look to capitalize.
Maryland ranks 104th in nation in total defense at 435.33 yards per game and is 108th in the country in rush defense at 214.67. The Seminoles found success on the ground for the first time this season in the win over Duke and it was sparked by quarterback EJ Manuel and freshman tailback Devonta Freeman.
The Terps’ inability to stop the run and FSU’s new-found success in that aspect of the game could provide the proper blueprint for a big day on the ground come Saturday.
Should the defense do its job in limiting Brown as well as rising tight end star Matt Furstenburg and the offense moves the ball on the ground and through the air behind Manuel’s right arm, FSU would be in excellent position to come away with a much-needed second win in a row.
Doak Campbell Stadium hasn’t seen a game since Sept. 17 when Oklahoma came to town but more importantly it hasn’t seen a win since Charleston Southern was in Florida’s capitol city on Sept. 10.
“It’s big for us to come back and finally get to play at home so that we can show our fans in person that we still do have the same energy and excitement we had the last time we played at Doak,” redshirt senior wide receiver Bert Reed said. “There is still a lot of season left and we have a lot to play for. It means a lot to all of us to get things back rolling in front of our own fans and we are excited about that.”
Kickoff is set for 3:30 p.m. and the game will air live on ABC or on ESPN2 depending on where you live.
It’s Military Appreciation Day, so in addition to special ticket-pricing for those in the military and Nike Digi-Camo hats being worn by the coaches, there will be a joint Army/Air Force ROTC field march during the “Star-Spangled Banner” and a halftime musical tribute by the band to all branches of the military.
FSU men’s basketball player and former U.S. Air Force Staff Sergeant Bernard James will also serve as an honorary guest during the coin toss.
Stick with Seminoles.com before, during and after the game on Saturday and be sure to check out our Gameday Central page and Chop Talk. Come back just before kickoff to join a live interactive chat during the game.